Sri Lanka is a small island in the Indian Ocean with a good road network including many main roads and large number of smaller roads. People of Sri Lanka also enjoy the convenience of highways. Average road condition in the island is at a satisfactory level, but there can be traffic jams in major cities such as Colombo, Kandy and Gampaha due to the increasing number of vehicles. There are many ways of traveling around the country during your holiday in Sri Lanka and some of them are discussed below.
How To Get Around Sri Lanka
Hiring A Private Vehicle in Sri Lanka
Hiring a private vehicle with a driver is the best and safest option to travel around the island for foreign travelers. Vehicles can be hired for a day or several weeks depending on your requirements. It might be the best option, when it comes to doing a round tour of the country. Most hotels have their own fleet of vehicles with drivers for in-house guests. So you can easily book a vehicle with your hotel. Alternatively you can hire a vehicle and a chauffeur with a travel agent. This way you can explore the country and save lot of time as well because these drivers are well aware of the country’s attractions. The chauffeurs employed by travel agents hold the license from Tourist Board of Sri Lanka in order to work as chauffeur guides. It is a requirement of every chauffeur guide. Travel agents are also capable of providing chauffeurs with knowledge of English and some other languages. Hiring a private vehicle is the stress-free way to enjoy what this country has to offer.
Should I Hire A Self-Drive Car?
There are many companies where you can rent vehicles for self-drive. You need to have an international driving license and the passport to rent a car. The company may demand you for a cash deposit in some cases too. In Sri Lanka, self-drive may not be the best transportation option. Quite a few Sri Lankan drivers, especially tuk tuk drivers have their own set of rules on the road. All vehicles are left-hand drive, but drivers overtake vehicles on both sides (left and right). To top it up, they usually don’t check for opposite traffic while doing so or obey the traffic lights in some cases. It has become a norm to keep driving while amber is on before it becomes red or green. That being said, this behavior is changing fast due to strict observance of traffic rules by the police. Due to the increasing number of road accidents the police have taken measures to minimize the damage caused by vehicles, and large numbers of policemen are employed on the road. For a foreign driver, it may take few days to get used to it.
Should I Use A Taxi?
Hiring a taxi can be a handy decision, if you need the vehicle only for a short journey. It is one of the easiest modes of transportation here. A taxi can be arranged by a phone call. They usually inform how long it takes to pick you up. Unlike other type of car rentals, taxis charge a waiting fee. Therefore, be aware of the cost if you leave the vehicle parked for a long time during your journey. Taxi drivers are not capable of disseminate trustworthy information about the island since they are not trained to do so. The rates of the taxis depend on the company. Usually the rates starts from LKR45.
Other Modes of Transport
Other than what is mentioned above, there are few other options to get around Sri Lanka. Buses, trains, inland flights and TUK TUK are the other popular transport modes among tourists. TUK TUK is a mini vehicle with open sides operating on 3-wheels. It can be a good solution for a short drive but not suitable for a long journey. Even though they are less convenient to travel, it’s widely available on roads. You can find metered TUk TUKs and non-metered ones but rates come as close as for a luxury vehicle. Hiring motorcycles is also an alternative to travel around Sri Lanka although it’s quite risky due to existing driving habits. Therefore, it’s best to avoid hiring a bike. Buses and trains are less convenient and usually take more time than you can afford to give. But, it gives you the best value for money. Long distance trains can give you some great views of the island. Inland flights are also a good traveling mode to reach a destination with very limited time although it is the most expensive method of transportation.
Enjoy your holiday in Sri Lanka!
This is a guest post by Sri Lankan travel blogger Sanjeewa Punchihewa.