The international airport in Sri Lanka is the Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake, which is located 34 kilometres North from the capital Colombo, close to Negombo.
The national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines (flight code UL) flies to 45 destinations in 25 countries in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Far East. Some of its major destinations include London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Rome, Hong Kong, Beijing, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Dubai. Sri Lankan is one of the largest foreign carriers operating to India, with 90 weekly flights to 11 destinations. It is also the largest carrier to the Maldives with direct flights from Europe.
Some other international carriers serving Colombo are Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Czech Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Expo Aviation, Gulf Air, Indian Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Malaysian Airlines, Oman Air, Qantas Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airline, Royal Nepal Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.
Car Rental and Driving
Driving is easier and a much more pleasant experience when you are away from the congested main cities, but always carry a good road map and phrase book. Also, don't rely too much on verbal directions given by locals; Sri Lankans are very friendly and helpful and may try to "help" when they themselves don't know the way.
To drive in Sri Lanka, you will need an International Driving License or a temporary Sri Lankan license which can be obtained from the Automobile Association of Ceylon (tel: +94 11 242 1158), 40, Sir Mohamed Marcan Markar Mawatha, just off Galle Face Green in Colombo.
Unless you absolutely have to drive, the best option would be to hire a vehicle along with a driver - this doesn't cost a lot more than hiring a car on its own.
Transportation from the Airport
Mount Lavinia Hotel provides airport pickup and drop services. Simply tick the Airport Pickup box when you are making your reservation online. We also operate our own travel desk at the airport, where you can arrange transport to the hotel.
This may be the most comfortable way of getting around in Sri Lanka. Mount Lavinia Hotel provides a comprehensive chauffeur service.
100, Hotel Road,
Tel : +94 11 2736108
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Almost all parts of the country can be accessed by bus which have low fares. Bus services are operated by the Government as well as private bus operators. The sizes of the buses may vary from small, medium to larger vehicles.
Semi-express and express buses also ply the roads; they make fewer stops and therefore may reach their destinations a little faster. The fastest buses on the road are those identified as 'inter-city express'. These may be smaller in size with air-conditioning, tinted windows and padded seats and may be a lot quicker as they make limited stops.
Despite being slow, Sri Lanka's antiquated railway system offers a charming way of getting around the country, specially on the picturesque hill country line. Fares are quite cheap.
Inter-city Express Trains offer express services between Colombo-Kandy and Colombo-Vavuniya. There are 2nd Class seats and Observation Saloon seats on the Kandy trains, both of which can be reserved in advance. You can head to Kandy in the Observation car in the morning, and return to the hotel in the evening.
Fast-Passenger Trains offer semi-express services between Colombo and other major cities. Accommodation facilities may vary, but include restaurant or buffet facilities, 2nd and 3rd Class seats (which may or may not be reserved) and 1st Class Observation Saloon and Sleeping Berths (which can be reserved). 1st Class air-conditioned service is offered on some routes for groups making prior bookings.
Colombo Commuter Trains offer stopping and semi-express services from Colombo to destinations such as Aluthgama, Rambukkana, Puttalam and Avissawella. Local trains offer stopping services for commuters between Aluthgama-Galle-Matara, Maho-Kurunegala, Maho-Polonnaruwa, on the Matale Line, and on the Main Line above Rambukkana.
For more information, call train inquiries on +94 11 243 4215.
By trishaw (3-wheeler)
The most convenient way to make short journeys in the island, and even longer journeys where public transport services are not available, is by trishaw, also known as motorised rickshaws, tuk-tuks, three-wheelers and taxis. They are found all over the country and would gladly transport you to any destination and you may even enjoy the ride as the driver whizzes in and out of busy traffic.
Always be prepared to bargain and agree on the fare before you start the journey. A reasonable rule of thumb would be to count on around Rs. 30 per kilometre, perhaps a bit more in busy cities such as Colombo and Kandy and slightly less in rural areas. The charges may be higher in popular tourist destinations.
It's also a good idea to have change with you as some trishaw-drivers may say they don't have change in the hope that you'll let them keep the difference.