Car rental in Sri LankaWhere to pick up
Popular car rental cities in Sri Lanka
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Car Rental in Sri Lanka: Visiting Some of the World’s Most Gorgeous Landscapes
Sri Lanka is – simply put – beautiful. With eight World Heritage Sites on the island alone, a visit to Sri Lanka is a visit to one of the world’s most gorgeous landscapes, populated with remnants of 2000 years of culture and a diverse population. Make the most of your visit by exploring countryside and city alike in the most intimate and comfortable way possible: via rental car.
Located close to the equator, Sri Lanka is basically comfortable to visit year-round. The best weather on the east coast typically spans from December to March, and the best weather on the west coast typically stretches from April to September.
The two official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala and Tamil. English is generally spoken in major tourist areas and Colombo.
The local time zone is Sri Lanka Standard Time, UTC+5:30.
The currency is the Sri Lankan rupee. Carry enough cash to handle your daily transactions, as credit cards may not be widely accepted and credit card fraud is becoming more frequent. ATMs are widely available in larger cities; Commercial Bank ATMs are most likely to accept international credit and debit cards.
Automobile hire is available in four cities throughout Sri Lanka: Colombo, Ragama and Negombo in the west and Hambantota in the south. Colombo International Airport is typically the most convenient and cheapest location to rent a car.
Citizens of all countries except the Maldives and Singapore can apply for a visa online, which allows for visits to Sri Lanka of up to 30 days and is valid for six months following the date of approval. Bring the Electronic Travel Authorization with you to your port of entry, where you will exchange it for a visa for the cost of 20 to 35 American dollars. Apply online at least 48 hours before you depart for Sri Lanka.
Driving in Sri Lanka
Driving in Sri Lanka is not for the faint at heart. City roads are full, traffic conditions often turn to congestion for no apparent reason, and other drivers are quite erratic. It is necessary to drive defensively, whether in Colombo or the countryside, and be on the lookout for potholes and quickly changing road conditions. With that said, driving will make your travels throughout Sri Lanka much more independent and intimate, and if you don’t feel comfortable driving yourself, hiring a driver is a viable and often inexpensive option.
- Left-Hand Driving
- As in nearby India and the surrounding countries, traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road.
- In towns and cities: 56 km/h
- On open roads: 72 km/h
- On highways: 120 km/h
- There are parking lots and garages in larger cities and free street parking in most other towns; particularly in Sri Lanka’s largest cities, however, ask your hotel for recommendations on where to best park safely.
- An international driver’s permit can speed up the validation of your driver’s license by the Automobile Association of Sri Lanka, which will be necessary for you to drive. It is possible to have your license validated in advance of your arrival by agencies in Sri Lanka for an extra cost, but this can save you a full day of waiting after you arrive.
- Highways or motorways are tolled throughout the country, but are typically well worth the slight extra cost.
- The minimum driving age in Sri Lanka is 18, but you will have to be 21 with a full year’s driving experience to rent a car without a driver, and you will face young-driver surcharges until the age of 25.
- Don’t stop for pedestrians; they will cross when they are able, and stopping for them is likely to cause a car accident.
- Many cars are provided with drivers, which is an excellent opportunity for you to relax and enjoy the view. Often drivers double as tour guides and can provide you a great deal of information as well.
Cheap Car Rental in Sri Lanka
Automobile hire in Sri Lanka typically starts at around $32 a day. Here are some of the best deals:
- Hyundai E-On or similar (mini class) – $32/day
- Suzuki Alto or similar (economy class) – $33/day
- Nissan Sunny or similar (compact class) – $46/day
- Hyundai Elantra or similar (intermediate class) – $54/day
- Nissan Sylphy or similar (intermediate class) – $65/day
Note that prices vary depending on the availability of each specific car and the season in which you rent. For the most accurate offers, use the search bar above.
Tips for Renting a Car Inexpensively in Sri Lanka
Booking prices are typically cheapest for rental cars one to three months in advance of your arrival date, regardless of the tourist season.
EconomyBookings’ locations in Colombo, particularly at the airport and the Hilton Hotel, can typically offer the cheapest prices in Sri Lanka, often beating the prices of other regions such as Negombo by more than $17 a day.
You can also save upwards of $4 per daily rental by extending your rental contract over a week.