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Jaffna is the cultural town of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka. Jaffna District, the northernmost region of the Island of Sri Lanka, is one of the oldest habitation sites in Lower South Asia, populated by Tamil speaking people. Jaffna is situated within ten degrees of latitude to the north of the equator. It is in close proximity to the sub-continent of India and separated from it by the Palk Strait and the Bay of Bengal.

Get in[edit]

From the last week of October till to the first week of January can be considered as monsoon rainy season. In this time you can expect heavy rain fall while some places used to go under floods.

By plane[edit]

Palali Airport

Jaffna is the northern capital and has an airport based in Palali. Due to the current circumstances there are no international flights to Palali. To get to Jaffna one must fly into Colombo the southern capital and get a domestic flight to Palali.

There is air service to and from Colombo, provided by the national airline Sri Lankan Airlines. Flights are available from origins throughout Europe, United States, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. Other airlines, include Qatar Airlines and Emirates. Colombo's international airport is at Katunayake.

By bus[edit]

There are several private bus services operating from Colombo to Jaffna, cost varies from 900 Rupees onwards for a person. The drive takes half a day to complete (9 hours +) following the A9 motorway which runs through the middle of Sri-Lanka. From/to Vavuniya the journey costs approximately 180LKR by private bus and takes around 3.5 - 4 hours. Currently the road is being upgraded causing slight delays. Vavuniya has good connections to other parts of the Central North. Alternatively buses pass through Anuradhapura (1-1&1/2 hours south) however Vavuniya to Jaffna buses leave regularly throughout the day so any waiting in Vavuniya should be minimal.

Travellers are advised that bus drivers may frequently switch off air conditioning to save energy and petrol. However, this causes the air to warm up and be stale in the enclosed bus. Unfortunately, complaining does little. Hence do take precautions.

By train[edit]

There are four trains a day to Jaffna from Colombo theoretically taking 6-8 hours (count on 8-10+). Observation (LKR 1,100 one way), 1st and 2nd class tickets may be booked up to 45 days in advance but these go quickly so book well in advance. Popular one is the Express train which is fully air-conditioned and the ticket fare is Rs 1,500/- per passenger. Unfortunately, tickets can be booked in person at Colombo Fort, Wellawatte, Vavuniya or Jaffna station. You can reserve your tickets through your Mobitel and Dialog connected mobile phones. No on-line booking facility available as of March 2015. Most of the trains offer Buffet cars where you can purchase coffee and cold drinks along with snacks.

Get around[edit]

Jaffna street

Once in Jaffna there are several modes of transport.

By auto (tuk-tuk)[edit]

these are three wheelers which are very common in south east asian countries. These are the quickest and probably the cheapest way to get around to places. Before board the three wheeler ask for the price. Normally they used to charge from Rs 100 - Rs 150. Very few of them are fitted with tariff meter.

By bus[edit]

Public transport system available in Jaffna are the buses. See for route maps.

By Mini-Van[edit]

These are private hire mini-vans, best if you need transportation for the whole day.

By Bicycle[edit]

The locals get around on cycles and Mopeds, and (fairly ropey) push-bikes are available for a few hundreds rupees per day at some guesthouses. One can cycle out to the islands along the quiet (ish) roads. There are a good collection of shops (including an ice-cream shop) in Velanai but be warned the roads are almost completely shade-free; so be prepared for a lot of sun although of course it is a very easy flat cycle. Keep watch for war-damaged buildings and note that the beaches on the islands (including 'Chaddy beach') are not really worth considering as swim-worthy by Sri Lankan standards.


Nallur Temple

Nallur Temple A bustling and beautiful temple which is worth a look. Note that you must be barefoot to walk the temple grounds and men will need to remove their shirts to enter the temple. Free entry.

Selva Sannithi Temple

Nagapoosani Temple (Nainatheevu)

Jaffna Library

Nagadeepa Temple

Sri Naga Vihara Temple

vaddu kannaki amman temple -vaddukoddai

Point Pedro Take a bus from the central bus station (Rs. 68 one-way) to Sri Lanka's most northern point. The journey will take an hour to the town of Point Pedro from which it is a 5 minute walk north to the Point Pedro sign and a small beach. Worth a half-day trip. The red buses marked Point Pedro depart every hour from Jaffna.


  • Nallur Kovil Thaer Thiruvizha (Chariot Festival) This is one of the biggest festivals in Jaffna at the greatest temples in Sri-lanka. This is a feast for the senses while the faithful are praying and the chariot is being pulled through the temple grounds.
  • Thai-Pongal (harvest festival) Thai Pongal happens on January 14th and it is the celebration of good harvest. There will be fireworks and celebrations all thorugh the day and night. All temples hold special Pongal poojas where people make pongal in front of the temple.
  • Theepavali The festival of light.

  • Tamil New Year the tami new year is celebrated on the 14th of April. the new year according to tamil calendar.


There isn't a lot to do on Jaffna unless you arrive at festival times. Nallur Kovil Thiruvizha (festival) is the biggest event in the Jaffna calendar when all the faithful come home to pray.


Palmyrah products such as jaggery, its dried roots and handy crafts made of its leaves are very popular here and are cheap too. You can find virgin gingerly oil that used to be extracted using the slow process. Its quality is nearly equal to olive oil.


Don't miss the Jaffna ice cream, the sweetest in the whole world. Chinese rolls dipped in chili sauce are unique in taste over here, if you can handle hot and spicy. Odiyal cool a kind of thick soup can be vegetarian or with seafood. The main base is Odiyal flour.


Water isn't good because of mineral content. The local brew is toddy, from the coconut or the palmyrah tree. Toddy from the palmyrah tree is sweeter.


  • City Hotel Jaffna, No: 70/6, K.K.S. Road, +94 021 2225969, [1]. Comfortable and furnished rooms, all equipped with LCD TV, Safe and Bathroom with hot and cold water. Facilities and services are Restaurant, Bar and Gymnasium. From USD 73.20.  edit
  • Blue Haven, 70 Racca Road, +94212229958, [2]. A/C suites equipped with cable TV, broadband internet access, private toilet and bath. Some of its facilities and services are banquet hall, swimming pool, restaurant and ample parking. From LKR 3,664.32.  edit
  • Raamni Guest House, 47-49 Clock Tower Road, Jaffna (5 mins walk from Jaffna Bus Station), 0094 (0)21 2220936, [3]. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 9am. Close to Food City and Jaffna Hospital. 10 Furnished a Rooms Available - All Ensuite and with Ceiling Fans. One with Air-Conditioning. Safe, central and quiet location. Broadband, Fridge and TV in shared lounge area. Walled court yard garden to front and back of house. 15 - 35 USD.  edit


Get out[edit]

Buses depart to various places around Sri Lanka from the Jaffna central bus satnd, including Mannar, Batticoloa Kataragama and to Colombo. A full timetable is provided at the inquiries desk at Jaffna bus station, though tickets can only usually be bought on the bus on the day of travel.

Kandy - public bus 8 hours Rs400 - there are regular public (red) bus towards Kandy during the day. So don't believe in any of those people telling you that the bus has departed and asking you to ride on his vehicle instead.

Trincomalee - public bus 88 departs at 04.00, 04.15, 06.00, 07.00, 11.00, 12.00, 14.15, 16.15 and 19.00, costing around Rs. 250.

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