Although Sri Lanka is small in size travelling around the island can be frustrating and time consuming. The country’s narrow roads, congested with pedestrians, cyclists and trishaws make travelling difficult. However, once you leave the hustle and bustle of Colombo, you can enjoy many scenic drives around the coastal line or in the hill country. Sri Lanka is beautiful and even though small in size offers visitors many travel options.
Now it’s possible to do a city tour of Colombo as well.
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 travellers who place a premium on service, comfort and safety.
The company comply with health and safety standards of major global tour operators and NGOs such as TUI, Kuoni, UN WFP, ICRC, etc
- Airport to resort transfers
- Corporate transfers
- Multiple site visits
- Aerial advertising
- Wedding and Honeymoon transfers
- Regional transfers by private aircraft
- 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.
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.
3. Trishaws (Tuktuks):
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. Most drivers offer a decent fare, charging approximately Rs. 50 per kilometre.
4. Car hires:
This is available from several international agencies. Air-conditioned minibuses are also available. Motorised rickshaws are also readily available for hire in towns and villages. Chauffeur-driven cars are less expensive and recommended.
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 licence to drive is obtainable on presentation of a valid national driving licence. 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.
The following chart gives approximate journey times (in hours and minutes) from Colombo to other major cities/towns in Sri Lanka.
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 centres, 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 behaviour 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.