Getting in Sri Lanka
The only international airport in Sri Lanka is Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake, 30km north of Colombo. Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB), also known as Katunayake International Airport and Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport, is the main gateway to Colombo and in fact of Sri Lanka as a whole.
Sri Lankan Airlines is the national airline of Sri Lanka. It operates international flights to and from Abu Dhabi, Bangalore, Bangkok, Beijing, Chennai, Coimbatore, Doha, Dubai, Delhi, Dammam, Frankfurt, Goa, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Kuala Lumpur, London Heathrow, Male, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Karachi, Kuwait, Singapore and Tokyo Narita. Other airlines serving the country are Emirates, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Martinair, Condor, Cathay Pacific and lowcoast airlines Air Arabia from Sharjah. Expo Aviation operates many charter service to and from the following destinations: Abu Dhabi, Australia, Bangalore, Bangkok, Beirut, Cairo, Kozhikode, Chennai, Chittagong, Kochi, Dhaka, Dubai, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Jakarta, Jeddah, Karachi, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, Malé, Manila, Mumbai, Muscat, several cities in Africa and Europe, Sharjah, Singapore, Tiruchirapalli and Thiruvananthapuram. Domestically, Expo Aviation and Aero Lanka offer scheduled flights to Jaffna and Trincomalee from Colombo. Chartered flights are also available.
There are four international ports in Sri Lanka including Colombo, Talaimannar, Trincomalee, and Galle. There are shipping lines you could use between the Indian city of Trivandrum and Sri Lanka, but no regular passenger services exist.
The major domestic airport in Sri Lanka is Ratamalana at Colombo. There are daily flights to other smaller airports at Batticaloa, Gal Oya, Palali, and Trincomalee. However, flights to Jaffna are not available. Departure tax for domestic airport is SLRs 50. Chartered flights are also available. Deccan operates flights by plane or helicopter to the major tourist locations and can save hours in road transport but is very expensive.
There are airport taxis and vans in operation. They are cheaper for transporting you and your luggage to or from the airport.
On train, it is a pleasant way to see Sri Lanka. You can get to all major tourist towns by trains, but a few first-class carriages, air-conditioning and dining cars are available. New fast services are launched by the government to operate on the principal routes, including an inter-city express service linking Colombo with Kandy.
Travelling by car is the best option for getting around Sri Lanka. You have the freedom to stop when and where you want. Rented cars usually turn out cheaper than three-wheelers, and are less prone to road accidents--and are recommended by most hotels. Rented cars often come with their own drivers. Often the automobile itself is free, whereas the driver will charge a fee for his services. Some drivers/guides are government-licensed; some are extremely knowledgeable and multi-lingual, specializing in historical and cultural knowledge, and environment/natural history for your visits to the ancient sites and the natural reserves.
Public buses are the cheapest mode of public transport. However, they can be quite crowded. As a tourist, if you don't need to be travelling in the morning or evening or afternoon rush hours, then you can find that travelling during the in-between hours can be very cheap as well as giving a good glimpse of the city.
Intercity buses start and end in Colombo from the Fort area. You can get on one in-between but if you want a seat, better to go to the Fort bus stand. There are two stands: one for the inter-city buses that travel shorter distances, less than four hours and the the other for longer distances. Each city has a main bus stand where inter-city buses depart from or arrive at.
Other public transport by land
A popular mode of transportation for both tourists and local residents is the three-wheeler/auto/ tuk-tuk. It is a convenient means of getting around within a city, when one does not want to go on the crowded public buses or more expensive taxis. It is usually also safer to get an auto from the stand that is usually located at the top of the streets, as that means that they are registered under the auto-drivers group of that area and should any misfortune befall, it will be much easier to locate the area and auto.
There are no scheduled passenger services around Sri Lanka, but chartered a boat for diving and fishing is a popular way.
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