These pages have grown from being advice for our Volunteers, to wider advice for guests of the Fig and Gecko Hostel who are likely to travel further. So, for whatever reason you are reading this, I hope it helps you. Enjoy!
If it has helped you, please pass on the information you have for other routes, and we shall add to these as we go to help others.
Buses, Trains, Planes, Hire Cars, & Tuks Tuks.
Use these pages to help plan your travel in Sri Lanka
Car hire: We can arrange car hire for you from LKR 35 / KM
Airport Transfer: We can arrange an airport transfer to Anuradhapura by car from LKR 8,500
Bus routes, timetables, Apps, & Maps
Busses criss-cross the country 24/7,
Fares are low. Within Anuradhapura, LKR 15 / £0.10, The 12 KM to Mihintale, is LKR 35 / £0.30. Anuradhapura to Colombo, about 5 hours, cost LKR 350-400 / £2.
A/C buses will cost more.
Public transport can be packed, particularly on Friday and Sunday nights, and Monday early mornings, as well as at the end of school each week day around 11:30, and 13:30, before, on, and after poya days, as well as festival times.
Quick Tip - Bus Numbering
The buses are numbered according to the routes they travel
.e.g. The #04 route is from Pettah / Colombo Fort - Mannar via Negombo and Anuradhapura.
It will read '04 Mannar', or alternatively, #04 Colombo / Mannar.
other #04s will read Negombo, Chilaw, Puttalam, which is theri termination town on route #04
The train service is the same each day.
Inputting your start time as 00:00, and your end time as 23:59.
Inputting Anuradhapura to Kandy will draw a blank.
You need to input Anuradhapura - Pologhawela Junction, then Pohologawehla Junction to Kandy
Advance Ticket Booking
Advance Ticket Booking is available at Colombo Fort. To my knowledge, all other stations give only limited advance booking. e.g.
The day before, or 2-3 hours before the train departs. You will need to check at each station
Self Drive Hire Car
Driving LIcences in Sri Lanka
In order to drive legally in Sri Lanka you will need to bring with you an International Drivers Licence, which you convert into a licence to drive on Sri Lankan roads at the AA office in Colombo (before you ask, I have no idea why AA Colombo is named AA Snooker here on Google Maps). The licence will cost you about £20. Reputable car hirers will ask for this licence.
Self-Drive Cars may be hired from about £15/day, but expect to pay more.
The vast majority of car hire places have no web presence.
We cannot recommend a car hire company.
As a tourist myself, and a resident I have tried to hire cars. Sometimes there is no proper insurance. Cars hired out by small local hire places often hire out cars owned by local people, and often these cars are in a poor state of repair. Those with dedicated fleet cars will cost more.
Hire a car and driver
Car and Driver
We at Fig & Gecko Hostel and Tours can arrange a car (and hotels) for you from LKR 45/KM, plus LKR 2,500/day, which covers includes driver's food (LKR 1,000), and accommodation (LKR 1,500),
We are also able to arrange minibuses, from LKR 50 / KM. But this depends on availability,
We only use drivers we know and trust
Drivers get commission from restaurants, tourist attractions, and hotels for taking you to them. So if you do hire a driver independently, ensure you have a good idea of where you are going, and what you want to do. And remember, you can say a polite - and when persistent - a very firm 'No!' when asked to visit 'friends', 'relatives', or 'cousins' who have shops.
Three Wheelers / Tuk Tuks
Tuk Tuk Hire for Self-Drive
Tuk tuks can be hired in Colombo or Negombo for travel around the country. The price of tul tuk hire for locals is about LKR 250 - 500, depending on the make and model.
I get lots of people at the Fig and Gecko telling me what a great deal they had for LKR 3,000 / day!
Tuk Tuk prices
These should be LKR 40 - 50 / KM. If they are more, stop another one.
My Milometer / my meter doesn't work
Say No! and take another tuk tuk.
Getting picked up at bus and train stations / scams
The best advice I can give is this:
1. Walk 20 yards outside the station and hail a passing tuk tuk, who will be less likely to scam you. See our page on Scams, under Tuk Tuks.
2. Many people picked up at the stations will be charged either a higher price (my meter / milometer doesn't work), or, if there is the chance of a tour, a cheaper price, before convincing you to take a tour with them in the afternoon or the following day.
If you wish to be polite and take the driver's number, do so, but do not agree to a tour with a tuk tuk driver until you have spoken with us at the Fig and Gecko.
3. Where are you going, says the driver. The Fig and Gecko (or A N Other), says you. Don't go there says the driver, it's 'bad', . I will take you to ... who will then pay commission to the driver.
Planes, Sea Planes, and Helicopters
And why not ... what better way to see Sri lanka than from the air,
There are 3 operators that we know of, listed below:.
Helitours is operated by the Sri Lankan airforce offering regular flights on fixed wing aircaft to certain military airfields (e.g. Trincomalee to Ratmalana), as well as chartered aircraft to other military airfields not having a regular service (e.g. Anuradhapura). They also offer a helicopter chartering service.
The cost of the regular flights is affordable, and they operate to and from Ratmalana airport in the south of Colombo, which is easy to access by road, but traffic congestion msut be considered when planning your journey there.
In our experience, booking online has not worked, and so we have booked at the airfield (they have opened the booking office especially for us!). You will need to go to the airfield with your passport, and the full fee in cash. To find out which services run regularly, you can use this flight selector , and call them. If you have any questions, or wish to try to book online or over the phone, please call them; we have always found them to be very helpful.