Transport in Sri Lanka, how to travel around the country


Sri Lanka has an extensive system of intercity and urban buses. Intercity buses are the main mode of intercity transportation in the country. Most intercity buses at the same time is urban or suburban, i.e., they can drive part of the route through the city. To buses to virtually any place in the country, albeit not always quickly and not direct. The main bus center of the country is Colombo. So if you don't know how to get to something directly, you can always drive to Colombo and then change the bus to the right place.

Read more about buses in Sri Lanka and how to use them, read here...


Коломбо, Шри-Ланка The most fashionable tuk-tuk in Colombo View photos in 3D

The main public transport throughout the country are tuk-tuks. The impression that the locals are much more willing and likely to use tuk-tuks than buses, because the prices for them are very low. For tourists, tuk-tuks are also the best way to move short distances, but prices for tourists is much higher than for local.

Tuk-tuks are metered without them. To use a tuk-tuk with a meter much more profitable, but not so easy to find Tucker, ready to drive tourists to the counter. They go to all sorts of tricks, assuring that the meter is not working, and offer the trip at a bargain price. Better in this case to find another tuk-tuk.

However, tuk-tuks with meters occur not everywhere, but only in major cities. When traveling at a bargain price Tucker initially always call rates at least twice as expensive than the local, and have a very hard bargain. If you do not know the price, we can offer the price in two times less than claimed and traded up. If you know the distance to the desired location, it is possible to calculate the approximate cost of the trip for bargaining based Maxim RS 50 (refer to the currency of Sri Lanka's exchange rate) per kilometer. However for very short trip, this calculation will not work, because it is usually less than 150 rupees for a tuk-Tucker will not even find a room with a camper. Be sure to negotiate the price in advance and only pay after the trip.

It should be borne in mind that tuk-tuks – the transport is not the safest and not always convenient. Obviously, they are not air-conditioned and dusty. In the tuk-tuk comfortably fit two people, but you can squeeze and four.

Common rent a tuk-tuk at the contract price for the whole day for a sightseeing tour. In this case, the negotiated price or depending on the route or time. Many tuk-tuks offer their own interesting places and routes to visit. However, Tucker found a huge number of rogues, who, under the pretext of cheap travel sites is starting to carry tourists to tame places (restaurants, jewelry factories and exhibitions, etc.), where they receive tourists for Commission. So don't too rely on their suggestions of routes.


Бюджетное такси в аэропорту Коломбо, Шри-Ланка Budget taxi at Colombo airport

Car taxis in Sri Lanka are not particularly common. To find cars only in major tourist cities and airports. Just to see the car-a taxi on the street is not easy, more often it must be booked in advance by phone (easier to take the help of the hotel staff, i.e. to ask to the front Desk to order). The fare is quite reasonable and corresponds roughly to the cost of travel in the Russian provincial towns.

There are taxis on the meter, and travel at a fixed price. Better for short trips use a taxi with a meter, but for long trips, like a trip to your resort from airport or Vice versa, it is better to use a fixed cost.

Recently Sri Lanka has a new budget Taxi budget Taxi. Small Indian-made car can accommodate up to three passengers and no Luggage, cost about 30 percent less than a regular taxi. There is only one but when using them: if you have huge suitcases, you are with them just not to get into such a car.

Air transport in Sri Lanka

Air transport in Sri Lanka is developed very poorly, and is not needed, because the country is very small. The country has only a few domestic airlines, but most of them offers Charter flights on small planes or helicopters. Regular flights are very few.

Here is the flag carrier of Sri Lanka and their websites:


In Sri Lanka there is a network of Railways and well-developed routes. The cost of moving is high. But "convenience" of movement of trains are still inferior to buses. First, to get far from at any place, and second, the trains go very often crowded, so you just have to hang on to the handrail. But to use the train as a tourist attraction in Sri Lanka is very worth it. We are talking about trains the Central highlands of Sri Lanka (Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Badulla), during a trip on which the eyes of travellers stunning scenery. If you still use the train on its route in Sri Lanka you can not refuse, it is highly recommended to book tickets, high-class, or tickets to a special tourist trains or wagons. Are these tickets in any way inexpensive, but provide much more comfort.

The schedule of all trains in Sri Lanka can be found on the official website of Railways

To purchase tickets in advance via the Internet or inexpensive commuter and local trains is not possible. But there are special tourist trains and wagons, which you can book on sites or

Rent a car

The cost of renting a car in Sri Lanka starts from $ 30 a day (more discounts). If you have no experience and acquaintances on the island, it is best to rent a car from international car rental office, which you can do via the Internet. Not always the price includes unlimited mileage (on average 100 miles a day), and for the additional kilometers will have to pay extra. Insurance is included in the price. It is possible to rent a car in one location and return in another.

To rent a car in Sri Lanka legally no driver's license in its pure form, even international (in the form of booklet), will not work. Sri Lanka does not recognize any law but their own. But for foreigners invented two options:

  • On the basis of your international rights (in the form of a booklet) to obtain the so-called endorsement (Endorsement by the Automobile Association (AA)). This document can be issued independently to Colombo, and can be done from your home by ordering this service from the rental company (about $ 20) by sending them a scan of your documents.
  • Another option is to obtain a temporary permit Temporary Sri Lankan Driving License for a period of 30 days on the basis of national/(this is our plastic or old law) and certified translation. This procedure will have to be done independently to Colombo.

Given those challenges, as well as a rather unusual style of management on the roads, many tourists instead of self driving rent a car with driver. This service costs a little more, but saves you from many problems. In addition, many drivers act as guides and even conduct tours of the sights to look for a rental is not the rental offices, and travel agencies or via acquaintances.

And yet, driving in Sri Lanka is possible only when you turned 21.

Rent a motorbike (scooter)

Мотоцикл на пляже в Шри-Ланке

Rent motorbikes (scooters) in Sri Lanka is fairly common, but finding such a service is possible only in the most popular tourist areas on the coast. In the center of the country to rent a bike very difficult.

The rental price starts from $ 6 (RS 700) and reaches up to 10 per day. With the high price should bargain. Also be sure to ask for a discount if you take the bike for a few days: the longer the period the bigger the discount. Rental includes unlimited mileage and helmets.

With regard to driving licences, while officially Sri Lanka and does not recognize international and national driving licences of the new sample, the police are condescending. If you have in the new model and open category "A", you are in the helmet and never broke the rules, problems with the police most likely will not have that checked us (authors) repeatedly in practice. Just be confident, and provide all the necessary documents, and smile. Even if the police do not settle for this, the problem is solved on the spot small "fine". In addition to the motorcycle needs to be insured and proof of payment of taxes offered by the owner of the motorcycle. If these documents do not prove, the problem will be not only the owner, but you.

Read more about motorcycle rental in Sri Lanka...

Comments / recent posts on the topic on the forum
admin 22 may 2017, 11:03
Hello! From India to Sri Lanka can only be reached as from any other country, any simplified procedure no including visa. So you need to buy tickets from India to Sri Lanka, and to issue an e-visa ETA. On the other way. ...
Paul M 15 Dec 2017, 00:15
Hello, I can not find any site where you can buy a ticket from Ella to Hikkaduwa on any train or bus. Also wanted to ask about the local mobile operators. Necessary mostly the Internet. Suggest some kind of network? Just there to buy a SIM card (Colombo) and what the price would be for a package where a few minutes, but a lot of the Internet? Thanks in advance ...
admin 15 Dec 2017, 09:49
Hello Paul! And you will not find such a site. First, there are no such websites, electronic ticketing on trains and buses in Sri Lanka does not exist; and secondly, from Ella to Hikkaduwa can be reached only with a change in Colombo. Generally you do not see this as a big problem, tickets for 2 and 3 class will be able to buy on the spot right before the departure. Timetable here If you definitely want to travel first class in observation car, then it is better to buy in advance the plot of Ella-Colombo, but not necessarily. Available in advance through special sites to the Agency with a large wrap, but it will not be an e-ticket and the paper that you get in the place. On the Internet today, not to advise, has long not been there, but in General without problems to buy and use. If English little own in any shop with SIM cards explain what you need, you will be offered options. ...
Lauryn 15 Dec 2017, 17:33
Good evening! Going to Sri Lanka in the second half of January. If I'm on the ETA, do not tell me when it's ready? (including the upcoming NG) Or is it better to do it at the airport on arrival? I read that this is possible. Is this true? Thank you for your answer. ...
admin 15 Dec 2017, 17:38
Do not see the advantages of what to do at the airport. First of all expensive and secondly have at the airport to spend more time, you need it. Make from home a few days everything will be ready. ...
Yanita 05 Feb 2018, 18:35
We are traveling with a child. In Thailand no problem we went with the baby on the motorbike. Can there be a problem with the police in Sri Lanka if the motorcycle will be 2 adults and a child? ...
admin 06 Feb 2018, 09:29
Hello! Yes, it seems that even we are not forbidden to carry on a motorcycle in the front seat, and after 12 on the rear. But in Sri Lanka, motorbikes for transport is generally not considered, all ride, and many times with children seen. Well, even if there are complaints, the police (police on the roads, by the way, very little), solve the problem on the spot. The cops are here Oh-Oh-Oh-ry is corrupt, everything can be solved for a few bucks. Do not swear with them, and smile and even laugh, and everything will be OK. P. S. in Kandy into oncoming traffic on the bike flooded, and then as luck COP. He blowed, poulybalis each other, turned around and went back. ...
Lukas 07 May 2018, 18:55
Hello! I'm going to Sri Lanka in about a month and have thoughts on renting a scooter when I'm in Ella and perhaps also in/around Arugam Bay. I only have my Swedish drivers license (I know more is required) but I wonder about the consequenses if being pulled over? I was several times in Bali and just paid for a temporary license the first time which I could then show when it happened again. How expensive would a fine be in Sri Lanka, it is high risk to get pulled over as a tourist on bike and also, what is worse case scenario if I do get pulled over? Answers would be appriciated! Regards Lukas ...
admin 09 May 2018, 05:13
Hi Lukas! You are right, officialy you need to get a local drivers permit. But on practice you don't really need this, actually like on Bali too. I have expirience in driving all around Sri Lanka, have met twice policemens on the road and they cheked-out my russian driving license, and I don't have any problems and fines. ...
Оксана1083 31 may 2018, 13:16
How much is one day delay in the visa. We have tickets for 32 days. And how to do better. To change tickets or expired visa to pay ...

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