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Depending on how much money you want to spend, how much comfort is important to you and where you are planning on visiting, there are several ways to explore Sri Lanka.  Regardless of your budget, during your stay, you will probably travel by various forms of transportation, so read about each form of transportation below and enjoy each journey as a new experience!

Most visitors will probably want to rent a car with a driver.  This is relatively inexpensive and you can tailor your trip to go wherever you want to go.  Your driver will also be able to give you helpful information and make sure that you get to where you want to go safely.  Reputable car companies have insurance and their drivers are properly licensed.  In addition, most tourist hotels provide complimentary overnight accommodation for your driver.  Vehicles can be rented for long trips or short journeys - costs are either fixed per day and/or by distance.  Most vehicles are late model cars, however vans are also available, if desired.  The more luxurious the vehicle, the higher the cost will be, however costs are generally reasonable.  Agree on how much your journey will cost or what the rate will be in advance.  It is customary to tip your driver at the end of your journey.  

For a list of companies that provide vehicles with drivers, please click below:

Driving in Sri Lanka is challenging, at best - there are many types of vehicles competing for a limited amount of space on the roads, some drivers being very aggressive in their manner of driving.  For foreigners and those not used to this kind of driving, it can be very stressful.  In addition, as most foreigners do not know how to get to to places where they want to go, it can be quite easy to get lost while driving and/or have to keep asking for directions.  For these reasons, it is not recommended to rent a car and drive yourself unless you are comfortable driving in a different country and can handle the stress of doing so.  If you chose to rent a car and drive yourself, make sure your vehicle has insurance & you have an International Drivers License and have it endorsed at the Automobile Association of Ceylon.  For more information on these requirements, visit their web site at:

Here is a list of vehicle rental companies:

Sri Lanka has an extensive train network that covers a good portion of the country.  Fares are very inexpensive and some routes are very scenic giving you a beautiful view of the ocean or the countryside.  There is more than one class of service on most routes.  Depending on the time of day, trains can be quite crowded and, during peak times, it may be advisable to get a higher class ticket to avoid having to stand in a crowded train compartment.  Trains can be taken for short journeys or for long trips.  Even if you are planning on using other means of transportation on your trip, take a train at least once.  You will meet friendly local people onboard and will have a wonderful and unique experience.

Government and private buses travel almost everywhere in Sri Lanka.  Government buses tend to be older and less comfortable - and therefore are less expensive.  Private buses are of different classes - some are similar to government buses, while others are more luxurious and some have air conditioning.  There are local buses that make many stops and others which are express buses with limited stops.  Buses can get quite crowded.  If you want a better chance to get a seat, it is best to get on a bus at its starting point.  Fares vary based on how far you travel with conductors collecting fares on the bus.  If you are not going to the end of the line, be sure to signal when you want to get off the bus and be by the door to get off when the bus stops.  Be warned, most drivers drive quickly and aggressively.  If you do not handle stress well, you may wish to consider other forms of transportation.

These three wheel taxis seem to be all over and are good for traveling short distances.  They are inexpensive and can be quite an experience.  It used to be that you would negotiate a fare in advance, however most three wheels now have meters in them which means that you don’t have to haggle over a price.  Make sure you have change as three wheel drivers usually will not have whatever change is needed.  A small tip is appreciated.  There are many three wheel’s to chose from - if a driver refuses to use his meter or his meter is “broken”, you may want to wait for another one.  Be wary of three wheels waiting outside tourist destinations - they may ask for extremely high fares.  It may be better to walk a little down the road and catch another vehicle that is driving by - they may be more willing to use their meter and charge a reasonable fare.  


For a map of Colombo area bus routes, visit here:

For a list of other bus routes in Sri Lanka, visit here:


For train schedule information, visit here:

For more information & to make advance reservations, visit here:


Micro-car taxis are becoming increasingly more popular in larger cities.  These taxis are about the same price as three wheels, but are more comfortable, usually have air conditioning and shield you from outside dirt, wind and rain.  It’s possible to reserve one by phone and have them pick you up, as well.  A good option for driving around town to your destination or for sightseeing for a few hours.

Here’s a list of Micro-Car Taxi companies: