Bandaranaike International Airport - also known as Colombo International Airport - is the main international airport serving Colombo, the largest city in Sri Lanka. It is the home base of SriLankan Airlines - the country’s national carrier - and supports more than 20 other airlines within its 3 terminals. Terminals 1 and 2 are used exclusively for international flights whilst Terminal 3 is for domestic flights. Although already the largest airport in Sri Lanka, plans are underway (as of December 2014) for the construction of a new passenger terminal building and finger pier, as well as an additional exit to the Colombo - Katunayake Highway.
Getting around Colombo
Bandaranaike International Airport is located about 30 kilometres from Colombo, with different transport options available to passengers making the commute. The most popular option with tourists is the airport taxi - readily available outside the airport, the taxi service is supervised by the Airport and Aviation Services and boasts over 600 vehicles. Alternately, those who are comfortable with driving can rent a car from the airport and drive into the city via the Colombo - Katunayake Expressway, a 4-lane road that was opened only in 2013 and greatly reduces the travelling time between Bandaranaike Airport and Colombo.
For those on a shoestring budget, public transport options are also available. You can take a shuttle bus from the airport that will connect you to the main bus station some 500 meters away, and take a public bus from there into the city.
What to see and do
A bustling port city filled with sights, sounds and smells, Colombo is a treat for the senses. With everything from street markets to gorgeous mansions and high-end malls, your Colombo experience is what you make of it. But to help you get a feel of the history and heritage of this colourful city, here are some of the key places you can’t miss if you’re there.
One of Colombo’s most popular tourist attractions, the Galle Face is a beautiful coastal promenade that was once used as a golf course back in the 1800s. Situated on the stretch of land along the Indian Ocean, the Galle Face today offers sun, sand and sea and is perfect for a fun-filled day trip under the open sky. Go there with a picnic basket and a kite for your little ones, or bring a blanket and a book instead for a lazy afternoon reading with a sea view.
Next, visit one of the most important temples in Colombo - the Gangaramaya Temple, which has been standing for over 120 years. Established by the founder of the State University Vidyodaya Pirivena (the Venerable Hikkaduwe Sri Sumanagala Nayaka Thera) the temple is located near pretty Beira Lake in the heart of Colombo and serves different historical and practical purposes. It was the place where scholars such as Ratmalana Sri Dharmarama Thero, Waskaduwa Sri Subhuti Thero, Weligama Sri Sumangala Thero and others studied, and today is a vocational training institute as well as a place for Buddhist worship.
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