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Sri Lanka Transportation

How to Get There
International Flights
Bandaranaike International Airport is the main international airport of Sri Lanka. There are flights out of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Maldives, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, India, and Turkey, etc. This airport is not large and has two floors with many souvenir shops. The duty free shop inside mostly sells electric appliances, which is also a feature of Sri Lanka. 

Address: Canada Friendship Rd, Katunayake 11450, Sri Lanka
Telephone: 94-11-2-252861

How to transfer between Bandaranaike International Airport and other places?
Coach In Ewariwatte Junction Bus Station that is 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) far from the airport, coaches to Colombo, Negombo, Kandy and other cities are available.
Bus no. 187 from the airport can arrive at Bastian Mawatha Station in Colombo.
Taxi Can be reserved in the airport.
To Colombo's downtown: 22 miles (35 kilometers), 1.5 hours, 2,600-2,900 LKR
Train Katunayake Railway Station and Katunayaka South Railway Station where people can take trains to many places are both near the airport.
Tuktuk An alternative to Katunnayake Railway Station and Ewariwatte Junction Bus Station; tuk tuk fare for both rides is about 150-300LKR.
Ewariwatte Junction bus station is 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) far from the airport. If your luggage is not too heavy, you can walk there, too.
How to Get Around
There are two Sri Lankan domestic airlines now, Cinnamon Air and Helitours which takes only 40 minutes from Colombo to Trincomalee. Now main flights are between Colombo and Trincomalee, Colombo and Pasikoda, and Kandy and Sigiriya.

Schedule: The train timetable changes at any time. The online information may not be totally correct, even the info on the official website railway.gov.lk, so you'd better check the real-time schedule at the local train station upon arrival.
Morning recommended train from Colombo to Kandy: 5:55 A.M, and from Colombo to Trincomalee: 6:15 A.M. 

Train Type: Inter-city (ICE) Trains and Fast Trains. 

Train Classes: 1st-class seats are not available in every route and have the air conditioning; the passengers are mainly foreigners. 2nd-class and 3rd-class cars only with fans are not sold by seat numbers; passengers follow the rule of "first come, first served". 

Ticket Purchase: You can buy tickets on the day of departure at the ticket office; sometimes they are available only an hour before departure. You are recommended to arrive at the station at least half an hour in advance. 

Ticket reservation is also available and there are two methods:
1. Visiting Railway Stations - Reservations can be done at most 30 days before the "Date of the Journey".
2. Calling 365 from Mobitel/Etisalat phones or 1365 from SLT phones; the pre-sale period is also at most 30 days before departure; please note phone reservation is only accepted for intercity trains. 

Suggested Routes:
a. Haputale-Ella: across the famous Mackwoods Tea Factory;
b. Colombo-Galle: along the coast, reproduce the scene in "Spirited Away".
Note: Colombo is the center of Sri Lanka's railway network, that is, you need to go back to Colombo for transfer between different railway rides. 

a. There are no dining cars onboard and the train speed is low - you'd better prepare food and drink in advance, especially bottled water.
b. Bring a coat or blanket in case of the coldness in the mountains or beside the sea.
c. There is no enough toilets - relieve yourselves before getting on the train.
d. Delay of the train is common in Sri Lanka.
e. No broadcast on the arrival station; you'd better confirm with local people.
f. Keep the ticket before getting off.
Coach/ bus
Coaches are available between cities. There is only Sinhalese on it, so you'd better confirm the destinations before getting on. When it is difficult to find the bus stop, see if there are local people waiting in a shabby room on the roadside which is probably the bus stop. Passengers usually buy tickets after getting on. You may find the price is flexible sometimes, but it does not differ a lot and most passengers do not care about it. Foreigners can ask the conductor on the bus to give advance notice of the next stop. Buses with air conditioning are more expensive but more comfortable than normal ones, whose doors are open all the time. 

a. Get on early if you have large luggage because the bus is usually crowded and the luggage space is limited.
b. Take the bus before 3:30 P.M as much as possible because a trip usually costs over ten hours.
c. There is no fixed interval between departures. The bus will leave as long as it has enough passengers. 

Hot Bus Lines:
Kandy: line 1; Galle: line 2; Trincomalee: line 9; Polonnaruwa: line 48; NuwaraEliya: line 79; Negombo: line 240; Bandaranaike International Airport: line 187 

Renting a Car
The rental fee is charged by day or by distance. It usually costs 7,500-9,000 LKR per day or per 70 miles (110 kilometers). If you hire one car for several days for long-distance travel, you need to pay extra 1,500 per day as the driver's accommodation fee. Some hotels offer the drivers free accommodations, in which case you don't need to pay extra. Tips for the driver are usually about 10% of the total rental fare. If the service is good, you can give more. 

Few taxis, except those in Colombo, have the meters. There is car-hailing service in Kandy and Colombo. The price is 60-100 LKR /km. Taxi is not suggested unless you have much luggage or enough budgets. 

TukTuk is the main traffic tool in Sri Lanka's cities, and it is easier to hail a TukTuk than a taxi. If you are not sure about the price, ask more drivers for the offer. It is a wise choice to travel by TukTuk between scenic spots for a half-day or one-day tour, and then pay the fee in the end. Some coastal cities even have the service of chartering a TukTuk, about 1,800-2,000 LKR per day and the owners will teach travelers how to drive it.
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