So you're arriving to Sri Lanka early! Great! Here's some extra info to guide you through the airport once you have arrived.
Bandaranaike International Airport is the airport you'll be arriving into and the good news is that it's small and easy enough to navigate. There are signs everywhere pointing you in the right direction and if you're ever lost there are plenty of staff and security guards on hand to help you out.
Once you disembark from the plane you'll head to Immigration first and then to collect your bag. Once you're in possession of all your luggage you can proceed through Customs to the Arrivals lounge. In front of you there are numerous places to change up money. We suggest travelling with about £30/$40 to change up just in case your bank blocks your card temporarily when you try and get cash from an ATM. This is completely normal and is usually solved with a quick phone call.
To the left of the cash desks, along the side of them, are some ATM machines where you can get cash and directly next to the exits out of the airport are numerous desks where you can get a local SIM for your phone. We recommend Dialog, as they have great coverage and often have the best deals. If you go to the counter the staff will help you get your unlocked phone sorted with data (4G) and calling time. Once you have cash and a way to communicate with home you can be on your way.
We recommend you book accommodation near to the airport in advance of your arrival in Sri Lanka. While it's true that you can just "show up" at a guesthouse, we feel it is best to have somewhere confirmed for you to be taken, in order to avoid any unnecessary stress or confusion after a long journey. You are free to book wherever you like, but Negombo is a lovely little beach town about 15-20 minutes' drive from the airport with easy access to tuk tuks and taxis. You'll need to meet us back at the airport on the day your placement begins, so location is key!
Back where you began, near the exit from Customs into Arrivals, there is a taxi rank. Here you can order a taxi to a specific place and they will tell you the amount it will cost and give you a receipt. This is the cheapest and safest way to get to your accommodation. If you do not use this service you may be descended upon by taxi touts once you leave the airport and this is often uncomfortable and intense.
Once you've ordered your taxi, follow your driver outside and keep an eye on your bag. Do not let anyone but the driver touch it, as sometimes men pick up your bag for you and carry it, but you then need to pay them.
We ask that you choose a time from the pre-arranged airport pickups to return to the airport and be take to your homestay with some of your team. You will need to let us know in advance which pickup time suits you best and as long as there is room for you in the allocated transport, we will collect you with the others at the airport at the time. If the time you requested is unavailable, we will offer you another option.
To meet us at the airport you need to enter back into the Arrivals building and not Departures. To enter the Arrivals hall you'll need to purchase a ticket, which costs 300rps (£1.50 $2.00). The booth to do this is located outside, along the wall, past the Arrivals entrance and near the end of the Arrivals building. When you present your ticket to the guards at the Arrivals entrance they may look at you strangely, but tell them that you are meeting friends and they will happily let you in. You'll need to scan your bags again. Safety first!
The reason we request you come inside to wait with us is because flights are occasionally delayed and often without advance notice. We don't want you waiting in the hot sun for an unpredictable amount of time and it'a also very busy outside and you may get a lot of attention. Come chill in the air conditioning, put your bag down and get to know some of your teammates. You can find us in front of the Dialog booth where you previously bought your SIM, we'll be in bright SLV.Global shirts. From here you'll all depart together with one of our team to your homestay. Please don't leave the airport again without a staff member. Happy trails!
We hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch with us in the SLV.Global Head Office on firstname.lastname@example.org.