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Transport in Sri Lanka - Different Routes

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Transport in Sri Lanka - Different Routes

Hello -

My girlfriend and I are visiting Sri Lanka for the second half of July. I've read a decent amount about transport on the forum but am still unsure of the best options from place to place.

We do not wish to be inconvenienced by travel mishaps, but would prefer to experience all of Sri Lanka including public transportation. For instance, we are excited to take the train from Kandy to Ella because we hear it is beautiful!

Does anyone have suggestions for when it is best to take a bus/train and when you should just hire a taxi/driver? We would love to know if it is that large of a difference in time v. cost.

Airport - Negombo Homestay (Taxi)

Negombo - Pinnewala - Dambulla Hotel (Taxi/Driver)

Dambulla - Kandy (Bus or Taxi?)

Kandy - Ella (Train)

Ella - Arugam Bay (Is driver best?)

Arugam Bay - Kataragama or Hambantota (Is driver best?)

Kataragama or Hambantota - Tissa - Tangalla - Galle - Hikkaduwa (What's best for the southern coast?)

Thanks!

Zach

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
49,600 posts
174 reviews
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1. Re: Transport in Sri Lanka - Different Routes

Hi Zach,

Based on what you write it's very hard to advise. Public transport works everywhere too, it's just that generally it's 50-60% slower than car and you have limited luggage space. For each asked route will give the times with bus (including transfers and waits) and car. Do note that if you pick car it's still the trade-off between roundtrip driver (Rs 45/km) and one-way rides (Rs 70-75/km).

Negombo - Pinnewala - Dambulla Hotel: 5.30 hours car, 8 hours bus (due to bad connections around Pinawela)

Dambulla - Kandy: 2 hours car, 2.30 hours direct bus

Ella - Arugam Bay: 3.30 hours car, 5 hours bus

Arugam Bay - Kataragama: 5 hours car, 6 hours bus

Kataragama - Tissa - Tangalla - Galle - Hikkaduwa: 5 hours car, 6 hours direct bus

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
4,668 posts
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2. Re: Transport in Sri Lanka - Different Routes

Erik's post has enough info for you to make an itinerary and decide.

Taxi and driver is always more comfortable and flexible and is the best way to travel around, maybe with the exception of the hill country train ride. But hiring drivers for one way transfers can turn out to be expensive.

You can also go straight to Dambulla via public transport and then come back to Kandy. The elephant orphange can be done as a day trip from there etc

The south west coast won't be too swim friendly in July. Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna will be relatively more active with restaurants and bars

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8 posts
27 reviews
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3. Re: Transport in Sri Lanka - Different Routes

Hi there, Erik - when you say a car does this mean a taxi? Is this something you can flag down in the street or pre ordered by the hotel or something I should look into before we go?

Thanks in advance

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
49,600 posts
174 reviews
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4. Re: Transport in Sri Lanka - Different Routes

Hi there,

No cabs to flag down except in front of luxury hotels.

What is described above is mainly the roundtrip car-driver model. Best to look into before you go as this way you can get a licensed tour guide doubling as a driver without extra cost, whilst arranging on the ground often gives you solely drivers with some English. There are also one-way cab rides possible, arrange them through hotel or the beach boys or tuktuk drivers etc; they are considerably more expensive than roundtrip per km as they have to assume an empty return to starting point. Price difference given above too.

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

5. Re: Transport in Sri Lanka - Different Routes

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