Colombo to Arugam Bay Bus

Overview

As of August 2018 there are 2 luxury night buses with ac and 3-4 regular non-ac buses operating between Colombo and Pottuvil. The road is bumpy and has many sharp bends so only the very tired will sleep. You can expect two 20 minute stops on the way for food, drink and to use a bathroom.

Cost

The price for a regular bus ticket is about 500LKR and double that for the luxury bus, about 1000LKR.

Bus Times

For the latest Colombo to Arugam Bay bus times and info on how to book tickets in advance see Latest News. This journey will take about 7 hours by night and 10 hours by day.

Luggage Storage

The luxury Colombo to Pottuvil buses have storage available for surfboards and luggage. However, the regular buses are limited in space. Small items of luggage can be stored overhead in the luggage racks. See the many comments below for first-hand experiences!

Colombo-Arugam-Bay-Bus

Day or Night

All direct buses travel through the night, but if you want to travel by day then there is an option to take the number 98-2 bus to Monaragala (some of these are ac), and then take the number 303-1 bus to Pottuvil or Panama. This journey will take considerably longer as there is much more traffic during the day. In addition it is possible to take any number 98 bus as they all route through Monaragala before turning north. In fact some will take you as far as Siyambalanduwa which is the next town from Monaragala. From here there are local buses to Pottuvil and Panama. The last bus from Monaragala to Pottuvil leaves at 17:30.

Pottuvil or Arugam Bay

If the bus goes to Panama then it will stop in Arugam Bay and you will not need to get off in Pottuvil. If you are unsure of this then when you arrive in Pottuvil simply wait to see if all the locals leave the bus. Many tuk tuk drivers will come on the bus and offer you an inflated price to Arugam Bay and tell you that the bus does not go there. If the conductor does not tell you to get off then the bus is going to Arugam Bay.

Arriving in Arugam Bay

There are four stops on the main road arriving in Arugam Bay from Pottuvil, shown on the map below.

Bus Stop Map Arriving Arugam Bay

After you cross the lagoon bridge from Pottuvil at the top of the map it will take the bus approximately 1 minute to reach Bus Stop 1, a distance of 1km. From there, the bus stops are about 30 seconds apart. The bus stops for taking the bus to Pottuvil or Monaragala are shown on the Leaving Here page.

If the Colombo to Arugam Bay bus stops in Pottuvil then a tuk tuk to Arugam Bay will be between 200 and 300LKR depending on which end of the town you need.

Quick Links

Please read this page, all comments and the page Updated Bus Times before asking a question. Thanks 🙂

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Linda
5 months ago

Are these busses still running April 2022 please. Can’t find any information on this route now.

Dilshan
4 years ago

Can I get off at Buttala on this bus pls let me know I am a regular traveller who will use the service twice every week

Youn
4 years ago

The way I used to come to arugam bay from colombo with a night bus in Nov 2017. So there are two websites that you can book a seat through online!
1. Busbooking.lk 2. Busseat.lk
I used the second one, reserved a seat through the website and went to pay cash at foodcity (anywhere) where they handle easycash. My journey was from colombo 10 bus stand at 9:30pm to akkaribatu (I arrived around 5:30?am) then a local bus to pottuvil which runs from 6 am. It takes about one hour to get and then one more 10 mins tuk tuk ride to arugam bay.
(Little tip, when you arrive in akkaribatu, some tuk tuk drivers will come to you and says there are no buses, but there are. Just ignore them and have a hot tea from a local restaurant right opposite to the bus stand)

Also, once you make a booking, you will be recieved a google map link for the bus stand in colombo 10, but when I arrived there as the map says it wasn’t the stand. Ask your tuk driver as mine knew where the actual loaction was! It was about 5 min more drive.

Hope it helps!

Nele
5 years ago

I wanted to share my latest experience how to get from Colombo airport to Arugambay with two surfboards by public transport and we payed in total ridiculous 620 Rupies per person, about 4 USD. (Please note that English is not my first language).
From the airport we took the public bus for 130 Rs, there we had to place our surfboard at hand luggage above the heads, it was half-safe but went fine. When we arrived at the bus central station, we went to something like an information desk in the middle of the area, there we got instructed to go to the ticket office. At the ticket office we payed 490 Rs for the 7pm nightbus. The stuff at the ticket office told us, it should be no problem to get the boards into the bus, that we could store them in the back of the bus, at the trunk. They also told us, it could be possible that we get charged extra for our boards at the bus. (Till that point we had no idea how much space is in such a bus trunk, but the office stuff saw the big size of our funboards and they were very optimistic). Amusingly, when the bus came in the evening, we saw there was no chance to get the boards into the trunk (maybe really small shortboards would fit in). But finally we could store our boards in the back door of the bus vertical, which was safe cause the door was closed anyway for the whole journey and we fixed them with a cord which prevented them falling over. Luckily we were not charged extra for the boards. After 8 hours of an insane drive with very loud music (my earplugs couldn’t help) and slightly sleep we arrived in Arugambay, happy and alive. Who wants to do the cheapest and most authentically journey through Sri Lanka, I could recommend to go by public transport and I would always do it the same way.

Nele
5 years ago
Reply to  John

You’re welcome! Yes, it was such a red government bus. But more important: I have to thank you, because without your website we would have never found our way like this to Arugambay 😉

Jemima
5 years ago

Hello,
Can anybody please tell me if I can take a surfboard on the 10.15pm bus to A-Bay?
If it costs extra that is fine, I just want to know if it will fit?

Thank you 🙂

Mikaela
5 years ago

Hi there I want to take the bus from Colombo to Pottuvil at 10pm. I also want to take my 8ft surfboard. I noticed earlier in this forum that the bus is not a luxury bus. I emailed and asked if I could take my board and they replied with this “This bus does not have a separate luggage space. You can carry the surf board within the bus, but the bus staff might charge additionally for it if its limiting their space within the bus.
But in general, most of the international tourists use this bus to carry surf boards to Arugam bay”.
Do you think I risk it and take my board even though it is quite long?
Sorry for the long comment.

Myrta
5 years ago

I would like to take the 7:30pm bus from the bismahlla lodge to arugam bay… I send them a email a couple of days ago to reserv a seat. I never got a answer from them. Do you know is it possible? You have said they have only 10 seats for passanger who are traveling to arugam bay. I`m afraid to get stuck in Colombo:)

Dylan
5 years ago

I would like to book a bus from Colombo to Arugam bay for the 31st. I arrive at Colombo airport at 16:30. What is the best way to get to the bus from the airport?. I just have a short surfboard and a small backpack. Thank you

Ella
5 years ago

Hello, does anyone know how much the bus costs from colombo to Arugam Bay

Emma
5 years ago

Hi, we.re looking to get the overnight AC bus from Colombo to Pottuville and was hoping to book online in advance to reserve a seat, is this possible?
Thanks Emma

Dennis
5 years ago

I’ll post my experience here. I wanted to go for the 10pm bus but since it was fully booked, I decided to go for the 7.30 pm bus. I found the bismallah lodge (nothing indicates that they sell bustickets) and bought a ticket for 1.000 rupies. Two german girls who joined the bus last minute paid 1.100 each from what they told me. We left at around the said time. During the trip they played a very long movie with a guy talking in arabic about islam. Probably because of ramadan. When the movie finished, after the first stop, they turned on indian music. Yes, it was loud but not exteme. Earplugs are advised though. I managed to get some sleep, but not much, before arriving in pottuvil at 3.00 am. The bus then turned around and went north. We had two tuktuk drivers offering to take us into arugam bay. Their price started at 500 rupies per tuktuk and we got them down to 350. The ride into arugam then took several minutes. Two of us, one of them being me, didnt book anything for the night so we decided to look for a place to stay (didnt feel like staying up until i could check in into my booked place). Because its low season, i managed to find a place to sleep. currently the season is starting here though. Good luck to anyone undertaking the trip 🙂

Jacob
5 years ago

Hi guys, first of all thanks heaps for all the information, very very helpful.

Just a question how about renting a car and self-driving? Would that be something that is possible as i haven’t seen any information in regards to that option. Would the traffic and roads be better or worse than in Bali and Indonesia general?

Thanks again!

Sasa
5 years ago

Hello.
I am landing at 5:20 am morning at colombo airport.
I am considering to travel to arugam bay during the day.
Could you give me info from where i should take the first bus in colombo and how many transfers i have to make, in which cities?

sasa
5 years ago
Reply to  John

thank you! i will let you know how it went 🙂 travelling in july

Vetle
5 years ago

Hello!
We are two people arriving Colombo on the 21st not until 11.00 pm. Are there any options for us to take a bus that same night to arugam bay?

Charlotte
5 years ago

Is it possible to get to Arugam Bay with a surfboard, but avoiding the expense of a taxi? I notice you say that there is not room in the luggage compartment of the bus for surfboards.

Arthur
5 years ago
Reply to  John

How do I know I booked a luxury Bus ? I took tickets from the website busbooking
And my bus leave at 10:00pm (Colombo – ArugamBay)

Arthur
5 years ago
Reply to  John

Ok, then it is not a luxury bus.
I asked for surfboards, and they replied :

“Reservation is only for passenger seat and a one hand luggage per seat. The bus staff will additionally charge you for the extra luggages as they dont have a dedicated space for other cargo”

Do you know what could be the price of additional charge ?

Anushika
5 years ago

I was travelling to A-Bay last weekend. There is a CTB leaving at 5am from Pettah to Syambalanduwa. From there another CTB can be taken directly to Arugam Bay and you reach there around 3:30pm.
The journey is however really exhausting.
For our return journey we took the CTB to Monaragala, and from Monaragala took the intercity bus (AC Bus) to Colombo.
Both journeys took about 8-9 hours.
So going through Monaragala using an intercity AC bus is probably the best option as it makes the longest part of the journeu quite comfortable.
Hope this helps all bus travellers 🙂 .

Sam
5 years ago
Reply to  Anushika

Hey Anushika, where can I find the details for these buses, thanks Sam 🙂