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Tips For Driving In Sri Lanka


For a small island country Sri Lanka is packed with many attractions to delight and surprise visitors. It boasts of rich biodiversity, cultural and religious heritage, colonial architecture and history, tropical marine life, national parks, beautiful beaches and great food.   

To get around there is modest quality public transport in the form of local buses, auto rickshaws known as tuk-tuks, inter-city trains, as well as taxis and cars for hire.

Doing a self-drive trip in Sri Lanka however has its own charm and benefits, since it enables you to move about places of interest at your pace and convenience. You also have the freedom to reach those off-the-main-tourist-track places that are so worth visiting yet tend to be difficult to access by public transport.

Here are some tips and guidelines for all you self-driving enthusiasts planning a trip to Sri Lanka.


1. To be eligible to drive in Sri Lanka as a visitor, along with a valid driving license from your home country, you need a temporary driving permit from the Department of Motor Traffic in Sri Lanka. The other option is to get your International Driving Permit (IDP) endorsed by the Automobile Association of Sri Lanka. Keep your passport and Sri Lankan Visa handy as you would require to show it to the authorities during verification.

2. Driving is on the left side of the road in Sri Lanka.  

3. Traffic can be chaotic with congested roads and vehicles in all shapes and sizes jostling to pass each other. This is especially true in bigger cities like Colombo and Kandy. Using indicators to signal will make driving a bit easier and less risky.      

4. Once you are out of traffic, you will find it a pleasure to drive in Sri Lanka as most of the roads are quite well maintained and properly marked.

5. Watch out for elephants crossing the road when driving along highways, particularly the ones closer to the national parks. Given that Sri Lanka is a relatively small island with a large elephant population, there is a fair possibility of seeing a herd of wild elephants crossing in front of your car. Stop at a safe distance and let them pass first.  

6. One must-do drive is the one in Hill Country between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya or Ella. You will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding lush green hills, mountain ranges and sloping tea plantations.

7. Having a good navigation system fitted in your car can be quite useful especially if you drive off the main roads and highways. Get a Travel Guide for Sri Lanka to be better informed about the country.  

Follow these tips and drive safely in Sri Lanka. However you should also be prepared for any eventuality. This is why it is important that you are insured. It is advisable to buy an international travel insurance policy that will cover you in case of an accident, hospitalisation, lost luggage or even trip cancellation. You can buy Travel Insurance for Sri Lanka before you leave for your trip. 

Your Sri Lankan vacation will be incomplete if you don’t visit at least one of the many fabulous beaches fringing its coasts. And of course you should not miss out on tasting a plate of delicious kottu and other traditional Sri Lankan dishes

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