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Last updated : Nov 2009
Sri Lanka Getting Around - Internal Travel
Sri Lanka Internal Travel - Getting Around Sri Lanka -

Ratmalana at Colombo is the domestic airport. Flights operate every day to smaller airports at Gal Oya, Batticaloa, Palali and Trincomalee. The airport at Jaffna is temporarily closed.

Departure tax: None.

Helicopter tours

Helitours of Ceylon along with pilots from the Sri Lanka Air Force, offer charter tours to main tourist destinations.


Trains operate from Colombo to all the tourist cities and towns, but good quality carriages, air-conditioned and dining cars are available on only a few. Newer fast services are available on the major routes, which include an inter-city express service between Colombo and Kandy, otherwise journeys are quite slow paced. The total network covers 1,500 kilometres or 900 miles.


Traffic drives on the left. Most roads are tarred. The speed limit in built-up areas is 56 kilometres per hour or 35 miles per hour, and 75 kilometres per hour or 45 miles per hour outside towns.

Bus: The Sri Lanka Central Transport Board offers a massive network of services of reasonable quality.

Taxi: Most towns have taxis available. Travellers are advised to agree a price before a journey.

Car hire: Car hire is available from several international operators. Air-conditioned minibuses are also available. Chauffeured cars are cheaper and advised. Avoid driving in remote areas and traveling dark hours.

Documentation: To avoid bureaucratic formalities in Sri Lanka, an International Driving Permit should be acquired before departure. A temporary license is procurable on presentation of a valid national driving licence. This needs to be indorsed at the AA office in Colombo. 18 is the minimum age for driving.


Bus: The Central Transport Board offers extensive urban bus operations in Colombo, where there are also private buses and minibuses. Conductors generally collect fares and services are usually crowded.

Taxi: Metered taxis with yellow tops, and red and white plates. Drivers expect a 10% tip.

Travel Times

The following chart provides rough travel times (in hours and minutes) from Colombo to other major cities/towns in Sri Lanka.
  Air Road Rail
- 2.30 3.00
- 3.00 3.00
- 1.45 1.45
- 4.00 4.30
- 9.30 9.00
- 0.45 0.45
Nuwara Eliya
- 3.30 5.00
0.45 5.30 6.00
1.00 6.00 7.00
1.00 6.00 7.00
- 6.30 -
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