Getting there & away
CTB buses, private buses and minibuses all have separate but adjacent bus stations on Munai Rd. To prebook Colombo departures (Rs 250, seven hours), use one of several specialist booking offices, including Lambert Travels (222 7204; 60 Bazaar St) and Surena Travels (222 6152; Munai St).
For Polonnaruwa (Rs 50, two hours) there’s a noon CTB bus and plenty of private services bound for a variety of eventual destinations. Badulla-bound buses at 6.15am and 11.30am go via Maha Oya. For Arugam Bay or Ampara go in hops via Kalmunai (Rs 30, 1½ hours); there are frequent buses and minibuses. Post buses to Mutur leave at 6.15am and 12.30pm, taking the LTTE-controlled coast road. Trinco buses travel via Habarana; there’s a 6am express service (Rs 180, 5½ hours) that departs from outside Nazeera Travels (077 634 0351; 261 Trinco Rd); book your ticket at the agency.
You’ll need to book one to 10 days ahead for berths or sleeperettes on the 7.15pm overnight train to Colombo (3rd/2nd/1st class Rs 310/420/700) via Polonnaruwa and Valaichchenai. A day train departs for Colombo at 6.40am.