FAIR WARNING: This isn't exactly a review since we haven't tried this service yet, but it's one of the first of its kind in Sri Lanka we wanted to write about it anyway. Stay tuned, we'll try and get on it soon.
We first heard about this while at Hangover Hostels, and have never been so excited at finally finding a comfortable bus that can get you to places that are usually hard to access by public transport. It loops all the way around Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Ella, and Tissamaharamaya, which is great for backpackers.
Costs and Benefits
They offer two passes: one which you can just hop on and off for unlimited rides and without a travel plan; and the second is a 'value pass', for which you need a schedule and an itinerary. At USD 210, the Flexi Pass offers you flexibility to hop on and off as you please. The Value Pass costs USD 190, but requires you to provide a complete itinerary and reserve your seats as well.
Both passes offer unlimited rides and is valid for two months from your first ride. The pass itself, is valid for an year (but can be used for only two months from when you start).
Routes and 'Sectors'
The route is divided into four 'sectors', meaning that the bus stops overnight at the end of a sector, and then you get the next one the next day to continue on your loop. You can, of course, get down or hop in at any of the stops in between the sectors.
Each sector, or leg of the journey, is as follows:
- Colombo – Anuradhapura – Sigiriya – Habarana
- Habarana – Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Ella
- Ella – Kataragama – Mirissa – Galle
- Galle – Hikkaduwa – Colombo – Negomb
You can find the bus route's timetable here.
Other Relevant Info
You need to book or buy your bus pass at least 24 hours ahead of when you want it, and can't switch between different 'sectors' within the same day. There's only one bus per sector per day, so if you miss it you'll basically just have to wait until the next one flies along. They also don't run during from April to June but will recommence operations for the 'summer season' starting from the 1st of July.
Oh, and also? They provide free shuttle service during certain times from the Airport to their Seeduwa hop-on location.