The Best Holiday Guide to Sri Lanka

How to travel from Colombo to Galle by Train, Bus and Taxi

Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka and the location of the main international airport (Bandaranayke Airport), 32km south of the city. Galle is a popular tourist destination situated on the stunning southwestern coast, roughly 120km south of Colombo. There are multiple means of private and public transport between the two cities, which cover all budgets and offer scenic or express routes. This guide will detail how to travel from Colombo to Galle and includes fares, timings and advice.

Colombo to Galle by train

Trains to Galle depart from the Colombo Fort train station and there are three kinds of service that can be caught. The third class are the cheapest but are painfully slow stopping at every station along the route , the second class offer faster and a better standard of travel, while the express and night mail provide the highest standard. Depending on the service the trains take from two to four hours to reach the destination.

There are multiple departures during the day, and trains set off from Colombo between 06:35 to 18:50 while Galle trains depart at from 03:40 until 15:30. The railway between Galle to Colombo follows the coastal route and is extremely scenic – train travel is enjoyable in Sri Lanka (if you have the time!). Most of the trains have three classes and tickets are purchased from the ticket office before boarding; the fares are. (Prices correct spring 2015)
1st Class Rs.340 (LKR), $2.50.
2nd Class Rs.180 (LKR), $1.30.
3rd Class Rs.100 (LKR), $0.75.

Colombo to Galle Scenic Bus Route

The non-express bus route takes the Galle road along the coastline for the majority of the journey. This route passes through a number of major cities like Panadura, Kalutara, Beruwala, Aluthgama, Bentota, Balapitiya, and Hikkaduwa and offers views of modern and colonial Sri Lanka. The main disadvantage of this scenic route is the length of the journey between 2 ½ hours to 4 ½ hours depending on the traffic, whereas the express bus only takes 1 ½ hours. There are both state and private buses that make the journey, government-owned buses generally limit the number of stops, hence go faster. The Central private bus stand; where private-owned buses start, and the Central bus stop for the government-owned buses are centrally located on Colombo Fort opposite to each other. The Cost of travel is:
Normal fare Rs.135 (LKR), $1.00
Semi-Luxury Rs.200 (LKR) $1.50
Air Conditioned buses Rs.270 (LKR) $2.00

Express Bus via the southern highway

The recommended means of travel via the southerly highway is a luxury air-conditioned bus that starts from Maharagama near the Bo tree, which is approximately 14km south of Colombo. Maharagama can be reached by taking the bus route no 138 from the Colombo-Fort station. This journey would cost around Rs.35 (LKR), US $0.25, GBP £0.17 or CAD $0.34. The bus takes the high-level road to Kottawa, and subsequently enters the Highway.

From there, it goes to Pinnaduwa, the Galle exit, and then to Galle. The route is not very scenic as it cuts across the middle of the country. There is nothing much to see except the town of Walipanna, but the bus does not stop there anyway. The ticket price for the bus is Rs.380 (LKR), US $3, GBP £1.87 or CAD $3.67. This route would normally get you to Galle from Maharagama in 1 ½ hours. From Colombo to Maharagama, it would take about ½ hour to three hours, depending upon the traffic (Avoid rush hours).

Normal Taxi

The cost of a regular cab is Rs.7500 (LKR), approximately US $56 for a one-way journey for up to 4 passengers and luggage. The car will be a regular taxi and will offer air-conditioning and a decent level of comfort, common cars include Toyota Prius, Axio, etc. If going through the southern highway, an additional Rs.400 (LKR), US $3 needs to be paid as highway charges.

The trip from Colombo via the highway would take from two to three hours. If you take the Galle road, then it would take from 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours, the advantage of this route is you can ask the driver to stop at some of the stunning locations along the route, if you ask to stop do expect to pay an increased fare.

Budget Taxi

The cost of a budget taxi is around Rs.5000 (LKR), US $37 for a one-way trip including luggage and up to two passengers. The classification of a budget taxi is a service without air-conditioning and is typically a Tata Nano. If the route is to include the southern highway the highway fee must be paid, which is an additional Rs.400 (LKR) approximately US $3.

The trip from Colombo via the highway takes around two to three hours whereas the Galle road takes from three to four hours and both routes are very dependent on the traffic in Colombo. Also, remember to tip the driver for good service.

Our Advice

Our Advice is to choice a private taxi as these options give you an edge over other options since you can stop whenever and wherever you want. Once got out of the busy hassle, you will pass through modern and colonial buildings, and then come to the Kalutara Temple. Kalutara is a city, which is famous for many old colonial buildings, including the Richmond Castle. Next, you come to Aluthgama and then, to Bentota where the river meets the sea.

Many beautiful hotels are located within those cities. Then, you come to Akurala beach and the well-known Hikkaduwa beach that is two of the acclaimed tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. Passing Hikkaduwa along the sea, you come to Galle, which is filled with Portuguese, Dutch, and British landmarks such as the Galle fort and Galle international cricket stadium.

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