SRI LANKA TRAVEL GUIDE: FROM ELLA TO UDAWALAWE, UNAWATUNA, BENTOTA & COLOMBO

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Colombo Airport to Bus Station To Reach Colombo Fort

Travelers who are booking a flight to Sri Lanka usually land at Bandaranaike Airport. Bandaranaike is a regular-looking and decently sized airport that is not hard to navigate. As soon as our plane arrived, we breezed through immigration and into the lobby area with no complications. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to get from the international airport to Colombo.

1. Choose your mode of transport.

As other airports, Bandaranaike Airport is equipped with airport car service desks that provide transfers to hotels in the Colombo area. The rate is around Rs 3000 – 4000. You should also expect to see some men, presumably taxi drivers, offering their independent services once you step out of the airport arrival area. Their asking rate is anywhere from Rs 2000 – 3000 to get to Colombo. It is also possible to ask them to take you to Negombo or even Galle.

Average Rate: 
Negombo – Rs 1500
Galle – Rs 5000

Although there is a dedicated taxi desk with set prices, you can also encounter taxi drivers who are willing to negotiate the costs.

The way out of the airport to the bus

The way out of the airport to the bus

2. If you want to take public transport, then take the bus service that goes to Colombo Fort Station- the main train station in the city.

You may read in some guidebooks that there is a free shuttle that takes passengers outside the arrival area to where buses heading to Colombo are parked. However, in our experience, we were able to take the local bus that goes directly to Colombo Fort station just by walking a few meters outside the airport.

The bus parked at Colombo Airport

The bus parked at Colombo Airport

The bus is hard to miss as it is conspicuously parked with taxis and has a sign on top of its windshield that reads “Colombo Fort.” You will also see a flow of passengers getting on it with their luggage.

The bus waiting for passengers at the airport

The bus waiting for passengers at the airport

3. Pay your fare.

Once you’re settled in your seat, a person (also referred to as bus conductor) will walk through the isle to take the fare. We paid 250 rupees for two people. This rate is very cheap given the number of kilometers the bus has to cover.

At the time of writing bus tickets to and from the Colombo Airport to Colombo costed 120 rupees

At the time of writing bus tickets to and from the Colombo Airport to Colombo costed 120 rupees

In the past, public buses from the airport took almost two hours to reach Colombo. But because the new Colombo-Katunayake Highway is now opened, the journey is significantly shortened to less than an hour.

Kandy to Sigiriya

How to get to Sigiriya from Kandy | Sri Lanka | How long does it actually take to travel from Kandy to Sigiriya? And how on earth do I get there? Here is how we did it.

How to get to Sigiriya from Kandy

When we did research online about the best ways to make the day trip from Kandy to Sigiriya, we were surprised that there isn’t any solid info on a trip that so many people make. Some people wrote that it’ll take 2 hours by bus, some just 1, we were told in person it takes 5-6 hours one day by train. Nothing adds up. How long does it actually take to travel from Kandy to Sigiriya? And how on earth do I get there?

Here is how we traveled from Kandy to Sigiriya in one day.

Note: We were traveling in off season during mid-June. There is no one fool proof way because I’m sure buses change and, I mean, it’s Sri Lanka we are talking about.

Sigiriya Sri Lanka
Where is Sigirya and how do I get there?!

1. Wake up early and get yourself to the bus station in Kandy before 7:30am.

We got up at 6:30 just to play it safe and went to find the bus station. I should use the term bus station lightly because it is just a spot that buses seem to congregate. There are actually a few bus congregation spots in Kandy, all close together, somewhat near the train station. We headed to one and started asking around “Sigiriya?” And we were lead to the “main” bus station just past the train station where we eventually found the right bus after asking everyone along the way.

2. Ride the bus to Dambulla for about 2.5 hours.

We got on a direct bus to Sigiriya from Kandy that left at 7:30. That means we did not need to switch buses at Dambulla. The direct bus cost is 116 rupees each (~$1 CAD). You may need to switch buses, in that case, ask around for “Sigiriya?” And you’ll be pointed to the right bus, it is a small station.

Sigiriya Sri Lanka
Once you see the rock, it’ll be worth it.

3. Ride the bus about 30 from Dambulla to Sigiriya.

Straight forward enough? The bus will drop you off at the exit of the park. We arrived about 10:45 am.

4. BUY WATER from the shops down the road!

If you didn’t bring your own water, MAKE SURE YOU BUY SOME. I don’t know why but there aren’t any vendors in the park selling drinks. It’ll be a long hot day so make sure you have enough water. Whatever you think you need, get double. There are only large barrel dispensers labeled “drinking water” in the park, but I really wouldn’t trust that…

5. Walk around to the entrance and pay way too much for a ticket.

Foreign entrance fee costs the blood of a calf, a tiger’s tooth, and your first new born son (4260 LKR or ~$37 CAD). And when they say half, they mean half people, you know, children.

Sigiriya price 2016
Insane tourist prices as of June 2016

6. Spend enough time in the park to get your money’s worth.

Honestly we think bloggers and people we have talked to underrate how cool Sigiriya is. It’s a mysterious place that is endlessly fascinating. And the view from the top exceeded our expectations. More than just climbing to the top, we spend time exploring the surrounding caves and ruins, as well as learning about the history at the well-maintained museum. Only drawback is that I’ll say the staff is overall rude and unfriendly, at least in our experience. Is it worth the price? We think that’s the wrong question. It’s definitely worth he visit, and the price remains unjust. We spend a whopping 4 hours in the park.

Though if this sight is too boring for you there are many more things to spend time doing in Sri Lanka.

Sigirya
Being all model like in the cave ruins.

7. Walk back around to where you got off the bus to wait for a bus back to Dambulla. 

We picked up some snacks and more water from the shops just there and flagged down the bus when it came by. It only took us 30 minutes to arrive back at Dambulla from Sigiriya.

Sri Lanka Bus
Crowded Sri Lanka bus

8. Take the bus 2.5 hours back to Kandy from Dambulla.

The Kandy bus just drives down the main road, instead of coming into the station. So we waited at the side of the road with some locals also taking the Kandy bus. It was about 4pm and the bus was packed all the way back. We luckily got seats, but it’s rush hour, so the bus may take longer.

Sri Lanka bus
Anywhere you can sit is a seat.

9. Arrive back in Kandy about 7 pm and go eat some dinner!

Long day, but it wasn’t the worst now was it? It’s actually quite easy to make the day trip and we 10/10 recommend everyone should!

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