Bandaranaike International Airport
Bandaranaike International Airport (airport code CMB) at Katunayake, is the main International Airport in Sri Lanaka located 30 kilometers north of the island nation’s capital of Colombo.
Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport
Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport is the second international airport. This is placed in the deep south of the country close to the fast developing coastal town of Hambantota.
Charter flights can be arranged to any destination in Sri Lanka through Deccan Aviation Lanka (www.simplifly.com).
Deccan Aviation Lanka is a six year old helicopter and charter aircraft operator based in Sri Lanka. The company is authorized to operate both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft in the country. Today Deccan is the airline of choice for business or leisure travelers who place a premium on service, comfort and safety.
The company complies with health and safety standards of major global tour operators and NGOs such as TUI, Kuoni, UN WFP, ICRC, etc
I. Airport to resort transfers
II. Corporate transfers
III. Multiple site visits
IV. Aerial advertising
V. Wedding and Honeymoon transfers
VI. Regional transfers by private aircraft
VII. Short duration scenic flights
Trains connect Colombo with all tourist towns, but first-class carriages, air conditioning and dining cars are available on only a few. New fast services operate on the principal routes, including an intercity express service between Colombo and Kandy, otherwise journeys are fairly leisurely.
The Viceroy Express is the only passenger steam train still in operation in Sri Lanka. Every journey is hauled by a vintage, British locomotive, at least 50 years old. For details contact J.F. Tours and Travels (Ceylon) Ltd, Tel: 2587996, 2589402.
Traffic drives on the left. Flashing lights mean that the driver is asserting right of way. Avoid remote areas and travelling at night.
You may see a number of accidents; driving requires constant attention to the road. Country roads are often narrow and potholed, with constant pedestrian, bicycle and animal traffic to navigate. Note, however, that Sri Lanka’s massive road-building program is improving roads across the nation.
Punctures are a part of life here, so every village has a repair expert.
It’s dangerously acceptable for a bus, car or truck to overtake in the face of oncoming smaller road users. Three-wheelers, cyclists, or smaller cars and vans simply have to move over or risk getting hit. To announce they are overtaking, or want to overtake, drivers sound a shrill melody on their horns. If you’re walking or cycling along any kind of main road, be very alert.
Sri Lanka’s New Highways
Various new expressways are opening over the next few years. Most will be toll roads, with relatively cheap tolls. Besides new expressways in and around Colombo, other new routes include:
Southern Expressway The first new expressway completed. It is 161km long and runs from Colombo’s southern suburb of Kottawa, near Maharagama, to Matara via an exit near Galle. Until linking roads are complete, it can take as long to get from Fort to the expressway entrance as it does from there to Galle – or even longer. Plans call for the road to eventually reach Hambantota.
An extensive network of services to most parts of the Island is afforded with reasonable quality by the Sri Lanka.
Central Transport Board Tel: (11) 258 1120; website: www.transport.gov.lk). Private bus drivers are paid according to the number of passengers and can often drive rather dangerously.
Long distance services are operated from Colombo at the Pettah Central Bus Depot. There are two services, one operated by the Sri Lanka Transport Board and the other operated by private bus companies. The private bus station is located close to the Central Depot. Most of the buses have air-conditioning. Buses to the coastal towns depart every ½ an hour while Kandy is every 15 minutes.
These have yellow tops and red and white plates. In Colombo, taxis are metered but it is advisable to agree a rate before setting off. Drivers expect a 10% tip.
This is available from several international agencies. Air-conditioned minibuses are also available. Motorized rickshaws are also readily available for hire in towns and villages. Chauffeur-driven cars are less expensive and recommended.
Ideal for short journeys within towns and cities, and for short excursions, the country’s many trishaws would be happy to offer you a ride. The vehicles are mainly Indian-made Bajaj rickshaws. Most trishaws are not metered. Always agree on a fare beforehand.
Regulations / Documentation
Most roads are tarred, with a 56kph (35mph) speed limit in built-up areas and 75kph (45mph) outside towns. The minimum age for driving a car is 18.
In order to avoid bureaucratic formalities in Sri Lanka, an International Driving Permit should be obtained before departure. If not, a temporary license to drive is obtainable on presentation of a valid national driving license. This must be endorsed at the AA office in Colombo. (www.motortraffic.gov.lk)
Getting Around Towns and Cities
The Central Transport Board provides intensive urban bus operations in Colombo, where there are also private buses and minibuses. Fares are generally collected by conductors. Services are often crowded.
Tips for Travelling
Compared with many other countries it is relatively easy and safe for women to travel around Sri Lanka, even on their own, though most people find it an advantage to travel with at least one companion. On the beaches and tourist centers, some women have experienced harassment form local men. By taking some simple precautions you can avoid both personal harassment and giving offence.
Although it might appear dangerous for a woman to travel in Sri Lanka, unpleasant experiences are rare. In general, Sri Lankan males are courteous to females and bad verbal behavior of a few rarely escalates to anything more physical or threatening.
Sri Lanka’s society is conservative and many Sri Lankans will judge ladies by their dress style. The short skirt and figure hugging blouse are considered to be worn by someone who has loose morals.