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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Joanna James Joanna James
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List of travel methods in Sri Lanka – Ways to get around Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka for a holiday and wondering what methods of transport to use? Read on!


Head to the Airport

As of late, there are more and more domestic flights that are available in the country. If you’re starting out your journey from the capital, these flights can be taken from Colombo International Airport, also known as Bandaranaike International Airport, or Water’s Edge, to locations across Sri Lanka such as Anuradhapura, Jaffna, Hambantota, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Passikudah, Trincomalee and Sigiriya. This option is obviously more costly than the rest on this list, however, it will cut your journey time in half and is likely to provide you with scenic bird’s eye views of the land as you fly past.


Take the Train

There are train services running daily to most districts in Colombo. This is a relatively cheap and effective way to travel from A to Z. If you’re thinking of undertaking a lengthy journey by train, consider buying tickets to air-conditioned compartments where possible, as it can get quite hot and humid, especially when the trains get crowded.


Catch a Bus

For intercity travel, buses are a dirt cheap option. Just make sure to mind your step when getting on and off as the drivers tend to have a poor habit of driving off while passengers are still mid-ascent or descent. Do note that the buses can get pretty crowded at times, so you may not always be able to get a seat, in which scenario you’re advised to hang on tight as the buses here lurch quite violently as the drivers make sudden switches between lanes.


Hail a Cab

There are many traditional cabs or taxis operating in Sri Lanka, usually as part of a private cab service. These services use normal cars to transport passengers. Despite the title, unlike in Thailand and the USA, taxis in Sri Lanka cannot be hailed by the side of the road; they have to be pre-booked. This can be done through a phone call or a mobile app They charge by the metre and start out with a flat rate that has to be paid a minimum fare for any hire. There are also taxis privately owned by certain hotels and resorts. While these are reliable and convenient as the hotel handles everything, they do tend to be on the pricier side. If you’re staying at a Colombo city hotel such as the Mandarina Colombo or any other, and need to call a cab, just ask the front desk to arrange one for you; but do make sure to specify whether you want one from a local cab service or the hotel’s own cab service as there is likely to be a significant difference in fare..


Hop into a Tuk-Tuk

If you’re stranded on the side of the road and are in need of an immediate life, flag down a tuk-tuk or trishaw. Also known as three-wheelers, these partially enclosed vehicles are fun to ride in and are cheaper to use than traditional taxi services. The most common way to catch one is to flag on down as they drive past, but in recent times bookings are increasingly being made through mobile apps like PickMe and Uber. These apps can also be used to book Nano cab services which operate fleets of Tata Nano cars which are essentially mini cars. These tend to fall into a price category in between the three-wheeler and the traditional cab.

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