One of the most diverse and exciting cities in Asia, getting around Colombo is easy. Buses and trains make this process simple.
Try buses for cheap trips around Colombo and trains if you’re headed to other destinations in Sri Lanka.
From the Airport
The busy airport is called the Bandaranaike Airport. The airport is about 40 kilometers north of the main center. You can get to the center using several methods. Taxis are efficient but the may run into traffic along the way and can be costly. The bus can be cheaper option. Look for a free shuttle bus that will bring you from the airport to the bus station. From there you can catch buses into the main city. The 187 bus offers comfortable seating and lots of space to place your baggage. There’s a new motorway that goes directly from the airport. It will take about 40 minutes but can take longer during rush hour so try to avoid it during this time.
Getting around the City
Once you’re here, buses are a useful way of getting around. Many have air-conditioning. Keep in mind that most will not run on time so you ignore the posted bus schedules. Fortunately, they run very frequently in the more traveled areas so you shouldn’t have long to wait. If you’re in a hurry, look for the express buses. The fares are higher but they will head for the expressways rather than the side streets. The buses are incredibly cheap so they serve as the major form of working class transport. Keep this is mind and be aware you might not always get a seat. While the bus signs are in Sinhalese and Tamil, the bus routes are in English so you identify them. Trains run through several lines in the city. They are often faster than the buses and just as inexpensive. There are three central bus stations in Colombo. They’re all near the market area in Colombo where you will also find the central train station. If you’re confused, head for the information office. They speak English so they can help you sort out the lines and figure out which one you want to take. If you like cars, you can rent a car on a daily basis for a small fee along with a driver to take you where you want each day.
Traveling Out of the City
Colombo can serve as an ideal base to explore the rest of the country. Trains are a popular method of transport. The hub of the transit system is Fort Station. From here, you can find dozens of trains to bring you almost anywhere you like. Trains are divided into three classes from first to third. Trains can also get very crowded but they generally leave on time so get there early.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about transportation in Colombo.