Getting from Negombo to Dambulla by bus is actually quite easy (and cheap) but it does take a while.
The first thing you need to know: there is no direct bus. You’ll have to hop onto another bus in Kurunegala.
Don’t forget to check our entire journey at “Sri Lanka in 3 weeks on a budget“.
Negombo bus terminal
So where do you take that bus to Kurunegala? At the Negombo bus station. We had some difficulties figuring out which bus station we should go to, but people in Sri Lanka are very friendly and helpful. On Google maps, it’s called the Negombo bus terminal.
Once you’re there (either by tuk-tuk, taxi or another bus) search for the sign which says Kurunegala. It should be bus number 34.
Make sure you buy something to drink before you hop on as these busses have no airconditioning. At some bus stops, people will hop on the bus and sell some food, yet we haven’t seen anyone sell drinks.
Bus 34 will take you in 2 to 3 hours from Negombo to Kurunegala bus terminal, depending on traffic.
Kurunegala bus terminal
Kurunegala bus station is big and chaotic, once you see the signage above the vehicles it gets easy to find your bus. People are always ready to help you so don’t hesitate to ask something. Keep in mind, always check with the bus driver before you hop on the bus to double-check the information given.
Once you’re out of the city center of Kurunegala, you’ll pass through the beautiful landscape of Sri Lanka. You’ll see fewer houses and more fields with palm trees and other local vegetation.
After a 2 hour bumpy ride, you’ll arrive in Dambulla. The bus driver dropped us off at the first bus stop in Dambulla (near a bank/atm), but according to our tuk-tuk driver, there is a big bus terminal in Dambulla too.
If you’re wondering what the price is of a bus ticket from Negombo to Dambulla, you’ll have to add the Negombo to Kurunegala and the Kurunegala to Dambulla prices:
- Bus from Negombo to Kurunegala: 100 RS per person
- Bus from Kurunegala: 95 RS per person
The total equates to 195 RS (which is 1,05 EUR or 1,22 USD).
The total journey from Negombo to Dambulla takes about 4 to 5 hours.
- Negombo – Kurunegala: 2-3 hours
- Kurunegala – Dambulla: 2 hours
Busses should be every 20 mins in the morning. Don’t take the bus too late as it’ll get warm in the busses if there’s a lot of traffic and thus air is not coming in through the windows.
Heavy backpacks have to be stowed in front of the bus. We took the second bus to Dambulla because there was no place left to put our luggage on the first one we saw.
Where did we stay?
Winston beach hotel. A nice hotel at the beach, you can use the (very clean) pool of the hotel next door if you drink something there whilst enjoying the sun & swimming pool.
Lak View Family Resort. Yes, Lak.. the lake was not in sight, but the owner is very friendly and helpful. He even picked us up at the bus station 🙂