Galle 2 Yala

How to Go from Galle to Yala National Park

Our next stop on this trip to Sri Lanka after Galle was to head to Yala National Park.  We’d attempted to visit when we were first in Sri Lanka 8 years ago, but the park was under a lot of water (it rained lots) so we abandoned that attempt.  Now we were determined to get there.  And so, we had to get to Yala from Galle right in the middle of the Christmas holidays!  Here’s our guide on how to go from Galle to Yala National Park.


It’s been the second time we’d spent time in Galle and we loved it even more the second time, even though we had a fabulous time the first time we were here as well.  Things have changed a little here, but in many ways are still the same.  I’m sad to be leaving, but I’m also excited to be heading to Yala.


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The Easiest Way to Get to Yala from Galle

By far the easiest way to go to Yala from Galle is to take a private transfer. Book early for the best prices.

Where is Yala National Park

You’ll find Yala in Sri Lanka’s far southeast corner.  The park covers two of Sri Lanka’s provinces, Hambantota and Monaragala.  Yala is 260 kilometers (161 miles) from Colombo.  It’s 190 kilometers (118 miles) from Galle to Yala National Park, using the Expressway.  It’s longer (much longer) to use the coastal road and local buses.

How to Go from Galle to Yala National Park – Transport Options

In this guide on how to go from Galle to Yala National Park, we’ll cover the fastest way to travel from Galle to Yala National Park, the easiest way to go to Yala National Park from Galle, and the cheapest way to get to Yala National Park from Galle.  We’ve traveled Sri Lanka on buses,  trains, and tuktuks, we’ve used taxis, and we’ve hiked Sri Lanka too.  And this route along the south coast of Sri Lanka we’ve done in both directions.  Our guide taking a Yala National Park Safari is here.

How to get to Yala National Park from Galle

You won’t find a bus or a train that takes you to Yala National Park from Galle.  The vast majority of people who are going to Yala will visit the National Park from the town of Tissamaharama and that’s where you need to get to.  Or if you’re not staying there, then to your accommodation from which you are visiting Yala.

So our guide covers you going from Galle to Tissamaharama, and then explains how to go to Yala from there.

You can take a series of slow local buses along the coast from Galle to Yala, but it will take you about 5 hours.   You can take a train from Galle to Beliata and then a bus or a taxi from there.  Much of the transport that you choose depends on how much time you have.  Private transport in Sri Lanka is NOT expensive and it can save you a whole lot of time too.

Taxi from Galle to Yala National Park

Taking a private taxi to Yala National Park from Galle is the fastest way to go to Yala National Park.  It is also the most comfortable way to travel.  You’ll be collected from your hotel in Galle and dropped off in your Yala accommodation.  You’ll likely be staying somewhere in or near Tissamaharama, so you simply give the name of your hotel there, and sit back and the journey it easy.  You can check prices for Galle to Yala National Park taxis here.

We traveled from Galle to Tissamaharama and it took 3 hours in a taxi.  You can book a private taxi here, or you can use the Sri Lankan taxi booking app PickMe to book it.  You can also use Uber in Sri Lanka, but Sri Lankans prefer PickMe (the fees are lower) and the prices on PickMe are usually lower than Uber.

Buses from Galle to Yala National Park

There is no direct bus from Galle to Yala National Park.  You’ll be getting a bus to Tissamaharama.  Actually, the bus goes to Kataragarma, but Tissamaharama is the stop before that.

Bus from Galle to Tissamaharama

You’ll need to catch the bus in Galle at the Kataragama Bus Stand.   You’ll be able to figure out the bus, it will have Kataragama on the windows. It will usually have this written in English, if not, just ask anyone.  Ask for Kataragama, not Tissamaharama.  The buses usually depart on time, but pull off quickly.  You’ll pay the conductor like most buses in Sri Lanka.

The bus will take about 4.5 hours to go from Galle to Tissamaharama.  And you’ll be dropped at the bus stand there.  Don’t stay on until it stops, as this bus goes to Kataragama.  Ask someone and keep an eye on Google Maps.

Sri Lanka Bus Galle

With Sri Lankan buses it’s always best to try and nab your seats first, stow your bags within reach, and try and figure out a seat with decent leg room.  If you’re not going far, then don’t go far from the door, as the bus WILL fill up and you’ll be halfway down the bus and have no hope of getting off quickly, especially with bags.  You’ll have to pay cash and it’s likely to be about 250 LKR per person for the trip.

Train from Galle to Yala National Park

So the first thing to note about taking the train from Galle to Yala National Park is that the train only goes part of the way.  You can get the train from Galle to Belliata. There are four trains a day that do this route and the train will take about 90-100 minutes.  However.

And it’s a big however. 

This train is coming from Colombo, and it’s likely to be pretty full by the time it gets to Galle.  Pretty full by Sri Lankan standards is like nothing, as a foreigner, you’ve probably ever seen.  We spend the best part of a day standing on a train from Colombo to Galle and while I’m laughing about it now, it’s mainly hysteria.  ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS pre-book seats on trains in Sri Lanka.  If you can’t prebook, then get on at the first stop on the line.  And guard that seat with your life too!

As much as I truly love Sri Lankan trains, I would not recommend using the train for this route, because you’re only on it for a short part of the journey, and the high probability is that you won’t be able to get a seat and then you’ll need to take a taxi from Beliata to Tissamaharama and Yala.

However, if you want to do this, keep reading.

Train from Galle to Beliata

There are four trains a day from Galle to Beliata.  The first train from Galle to Beliata is at 09:35 and the last train to Beliata from Galle is at 18:55.  It is always, always advised to get on the first train of the day to make this journey.  Then you have more time to arrange your onward transport.

Beliata to Tissamaharama for Yala

Once you’ve arrived at Beliata you’ll need to find a taxi.  There will usually always be tuk-tuks waiting at the train station, but they most likely won’t want to take you to Tissamarahama, you’ll want a car for that, as it’s about 82 kilometers (50 miles) to go from Beliata to Tissamarahama.  You can use the PickmeApp to work out how much it’s likely to cost.

However, for this journey, you should be prepared for the driver not to take you there for the rate that Pickme shows.  That’s because he is unlikely to be able to get a fare to come back to Beliata.  So the price will be higher.  If you can find a driver willing to take you.

The quickest way to get from Galle to Yala National Park

The quickest way to get to Yala from Galle is to take a taxi.  You’ll take the expressway and the journey should take about 3 hours.  It’s really easy.  And a very pleasant way to see this part of Sri Lanka.  If you prefer to take the coast road, then make it VERY clear to your driver when you’re asking him, that you want to take the coast road and that you’ll pay extra (time is money) for it.

The easiest way to go to Yala National Park from Galle

Take a taxi.  There’s no easier way to go to Tissamaharama from Galle than a taxi.

The cheapest way to go from Galle to Yala National Park

The cheapest way to get to Yala National Park from Galle is to take the bus.  Buy your ticket on the bus.  You can see the timetables for these buses, which actually start in Colombo here.  Check and confirm locally what time they pass by Galle, it differs on some days.

Want to read more about transport in Sri Lanka?  Our Sri Lanka Transport guide is here.

Travel Tips for Exploring Sri Lanka

Final Words on Going from Galle to Yala National Park

If you have plenty of time then you can take the local bus from Galle to Tissamaharama and Yala.  You can’t always guarantee that you’ll get a seat and this bus takes about 4.5 hours to do this route, but it’s very, very cheap.  A taxi will take about 3 hours for the same journey and it’s very comfortable and not expensive.  We’ve done the journey in both directions, the first time by bus and the second time by taxi.

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