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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.