Ever wondered what’s the cheapest way from Bandaranaike international airport in Katunayake to Dambulla? The secret lies in the fact that you should start using the Sri Lankan public transportation.
As I have already written in many of my articles about Sri Lanka, all the Sri Lankan cities are well connected by buses and trains, so if you start using them you can really save a lot of money. It really makes no sense to use taxis for your long distance trips and spend 300 times more unless you are carrying a lot of language or you are at an advanced age.
In this post titled “From Bandaranaike International Airport to Dambulla” I will give you a step- by-step procedure to reach Dambulla once you have landed at the Bandaranaike airport.
Here I would like to take a moment to say that unlike what people think the Bandaranaike International Airport is not in Colombo but in a city called Katunayaka. Katunayaka is 32 km north of the capital Colombo, or about an hour drive. This little fact is very important because you should take into consideration some routes which don’t involve passing through Colombo since it’s a chaotic city that could waste plenty of your time.
Step 1: From Bandaranaike International Airport to Dambulla.
At the exit of the airport there is a regular free shuttle bus to the Katunayaka bus station. The ride takes not more than 25 minutes.
Step 2: From Bandaranaike International Airport to Dambulla.
Once at the Katunayaka bus station catch the bus to Kurunegala. There are plenty of buses leaving for Kurunegala, one after the other; the ticket costs 90 Rupees (€0, 47) per person and it takes two and a half hours to reach Kurunegala. The red bus number five is the fastest one and it comes for 200 Rupees.
Step 3: From Bandaranaike International Airport to Dambulla.
Kurunegala is a main port of access to the centre-north cities. Here you will find the bus leaving for Dambulla. I caught the bus number 48, but there are many more options. Ask around if you need help; people are ready to help you out. The ticket from Kurunegala to Dambulla costs 86 Rupees (€0, 46) and it takes less than two hours.
In short, within five hours you can reach Dambulla with only 176 Rupees, meaning less than one euro.
Alternative to Step 1.
At the Bandaranaike International Airport there is a fixed price taxi counter. Book your ride here up to Minuangoda. It will cost you about 500 Rupees which is around 5 Dollars. This is the cheapest taxi option you can find. The journey up to Minuangoda will take 20 minutes.
Tell the driver to drop you close to the Kurunegala bus stop.
Using public transportation in Sri Lanka may sound a bit challenging but once you try it you will enjoy the real Sri Lankan culture. And, as you have already read here, it is the best way to save money while you vacation in Sri Lanka.
Know that there are no fixed timetables but don’t worry, buses run often. If I’m not mistaken, it’s every 15 minutes.