Important advice on travelling by bus in Sri Lanka
Buses in Sri Lanka come in a variety of colours and quality!
Government-run CTB buses come in a distinctive red colour and are quite well maintained. A motley collection of private buses operates all around the country as well. All towns have at least one bus stand where you can catch a bus at any hour to any neighbouring town. In major cities, CTB buses have a separate bus stand. In smaller ones, CTB and private-run buses are mixed together. A newcomer to the island is hence bound to be confused for a moment.
There are no fixed timetables but if you enquire around, other travellers will be all too happy to help you. Buses leave at short intervals (less than 30 minutes) to main cities. For the lesser-known destinations, you can expect to wait up to 2 hours.
Remember that buses can be very uncomfortable for long journeys. Plus, bus drivers tend pick up passengers all along the way and end up overloading the buses. Buying a ticket does not mean you are entitled to get a seat. Also note that buses are not equipped with racks to place your baggage which means that you will most probably end up travelling with your suitcase on your lap. Besides, if you are travelling in a group with a lot of baggage, some buses may refuse to take you. However, a bit of negotiating can help convince the driver to allow you. Note that the first two seats behind the driver are reserved for monks.