Jaffna, Sri Lanka: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

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It is the capital city of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna district located on a peninsula of the same name. Jaffna has a population of 80,00 people approximately. It is Sri Lanka’s 12th largest city. Before the Sri Lanka Civil War, it was the most populated city after the commercial capital Colombo. After the civil war, people have started to return to their homes and they were displaced. It has not been a sfe place to visit for a long time.  Since the war ended in 2009, the city is slowly recovering, some people are returning and now, it is a safe place to visit. It holds plenty of attractions such as temples, beaches, churches and many more. The town has its unique and diverse identity with the legacy of Muslim, Portugese, Dutch, British and Sinhalese.


Getting There

There are several ways to get to Jaffna such as by plane, train and bus.  To start with, Jaffna has an airport based in Palali. However, there are no international flights to Palali. In order to get to Jaffna, visitors must fly into Colombo and get a domestic flight to Palali. There are daily flights from colombo to Jaffna. Flights are available from Europe, United states, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, the Middle East and many more. The air service is provided by the national airline, Sri Lankan Airlines. The other airlines are Qatar Airlines and Emirates.  Secondly, there are number of different buses from Colombo to Jaffna. They cost around Rs 900. The drive takes more than 9 hours. Bus drivers may frequently switch off air conditioning to save energy and petrol. Lastly, there are four trains run between Jaffna and Colombo which takes around 8 hours. Tickets can be  booked up to 45 days in advance but train tickets are usually sold out quickly. Booking in advance is advised.

Getting Around

Jaffna is not a very large city, therefore the transportation options are rather limited. The central area can be easily explored on foot or bicycle. There are other modes of transportation such as tuk tuk, bus and minivan. Tuk tuk is the most popular mode of transportation in Jaffna. They are the quickest and one of the cheapest way to get around in Jaffna. Negotiating the price beforehand with the driver is recommended, because very few of them use a tariff meter. Buses are the second option to use in Jaffna as most of the signs are written in both Tamil and English. Local people are ready to help when they are asked for directions. Next, there are minivans up for a hire if there is a need for transportation for the whole day. As the last option, bicycles are mostly used by locals to get around in Jaffna. There are a good collection of shops which have a service of bike hire.