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Sri Lanka – Travel

Get Into Sri Lanka –

Electronic Visa (ETA)- Electronic Travel Authorization System can be obtained prior to arrival at a cost of USD30. SAARC country nationals pay USD15. For VOA at the airport most OECD nationals will have to pay for a USD35 visitor's visa prior to going through passport control at the airport. You can pay this using a credit card. Visa is valid for two entries within a 30 day period. If you are transiting, you may leave the airport for up to 24 hours (the transit time allowed is 48 hours) without a visa but the immigration officials would try to persuade you to get one, unless you have a hotel voucher supplied by Sri Lankan Airlines or ask for a bribe - typically half the cost of the visa.

By Plane –

There is air service to and from Colombo provided by the national airline, Sri Lankan Airlines. Flights are available from origins throughout Europe, United States, Southeast Asia, Australia, China, Japan, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. Other airlines include Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Emirates with transits typically in middle-eastern countries. British Airways have direct flights from Gatwick Airport to Colombo.

By Taxi –

Airport Taxi There are some taxi counters, some belonging to 4 / 5 star hotels, providing air conditioned taxis on a fixed price basis depending on the destination. It is highly recommended to agree on the fare beforehand to avoid being overcharged. As of March 2015, the fare was between LKR 2,500 & 3,000 to Colombo so do shop around for the best rate.

Kangaroo Cabs is a very reputable taxi company in Colombo that has special deals starting at LKR 1750 from the airport to Colombo in new air-conditioned taxis.

There is also a mini van taxi service counter in the arrivals hall providing transport services. The rates are not cheaper than air conditioned taxis but a mini van will seat more than four passengers. The services are primarily for the locals so if you do not hold a Sri Lankan passport, they may refuse to offer you one.

By Bus -

This is the cheapest way to get into Colombo. The air-conditioned public bus, is operated by Sri Lankan Transport Board (SLTB), to Colombo central bus station from the airport. Come out of the airport, turn left and walk all the way to the end of the building, cross the road and you will see a big bus in the car park. The cost is LKR 110 (as of May 2016) and it takes about 30 minutes as it takes the expressway to Colombo. The last SLTB-operated bus from Colombo is 7.30 pm, and last bus from the airport leaves at about 8pm. Note that the schedules are not fixed, but expect a bus at twice an hour. If you do not see an SLTB-operated bus, there will be a privately-operated bus all the time, even at the nights. These buses stop at the same spot SLTB buses start from (airport), or the road next to it.

Get Around in Sri Lanka –

a.    Galle face Green Promenade –

The Galle Face Green is currently a 5 hectare ribbon strip of land between Galle Road and the Indian Ocean which is now the largest open space in Colombo. This is a popular destination for children, vendors, teenagers, lovers, kite flyers, merrymakers and all those who want to indulge in their favorite pastimes next to the sea under the open sky. On Saturday and Sunday evenings, the land is busy with day trippers, picnickers and food vendors. There are two large hotels that border the strip; the Ceylon Inter-Continental Hotel and at the other by the quaint Galle Face Hotel, one of Sri Lanka's oldest and most popular hotels, with a variety of old world charm including old furniture, hand carved doors, balconies and high ceilings. It is also used as the site for Sri Lanka's national day celebration held annually on 4 February.

b.    Colombo Zoological Gardens –

Colombo Zoological Garden is one of the oldest zoological gardens in Asia. It has a substantial collection of worldwide animals. It is open all year long and can be reached by public transportation. The zoo has 3000 animals and 350 species. Diversity of the zoo is indicated by the presence of an aquarium walk through aviary, reptile house, butterfly garden and many cages and enclosures.

The zoological garden has a small, but picturesque butterfly garden which is decorated with small shrubs, trees, creepers and small streams. Internal temperature and humidity of the house is controlled by artificially created mist. The butterfly garden exhibits 30 species of butterflies with their all stages of life cycle for educational purposes.

Colombo Zoo has been designed into a beautiful landscape of colourful flowers, foliage and water fountains, the zoological garden is probably one of the few remaining places in the country where nature blends with a large variety of animal life.

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