Getting around Sri Lanka by taxi is very safe and comfortable, which is the most popular mode of travel among travelers. As an experienced traveler, I recommend you hire a taxi if you think of how to travel in Sri Lanka. However, there 3 main modes available for travelers with regards to traveling in Sri Lanka air travel (plane, helicopter) road travel, (Taxi, TUK TUK, public buses), and rail travel (train). Hiring a tourist taxi in Sri Lanka is very easy and affordable compared to most other countries in the region and it is very convenient, comfortable, and time-saving compared to the bus or train.

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We usually get a lot of emails from our readers about transport in Sri Lanka. Most of our readers are not aware of how to get their transport requirements fulfilled on their Sri Lanka trips. We get many inquiries every month with questions like “Where can we hire a vehicle for our trip?”, “What is the best way to get around in Sri Lanka?”, “Is it safe to travel on our own in Sri Lanka?”. This blog post will go to respond to many questions that you have regarding hiring a vehicle for your trip. We discuss many options that you can consider to arrange for your transport among with other essential information such as rates for vehicle rental, hiring a guide, etc.


Most travelers arrive in Sri Lanka by plane, with a large number of international flights arriving in Sri Lanka’s international airports, Katunayake international airport, and Mattala international airport. Katunayake international airport is the main international airport on the island and every international flight is landing here. Only a few selected flights are landing at Mattala international airport.

Many European, as well as Asian carriers, are flying to Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka is well connected with major countries around the world and every traveler can find easy access to Sri Lanka from Dubai. There are many daily flights to Sri Lanka from Dubai.

The number of possibilities available for air travelers in Sri Lanka has improved in the recent past, especially after the civil way. The domestic air travel system was considerably hindered during the civil way, due to safety reasons, domestic flights were not operated to the airports in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has many airports covering northern Sri Lanka, eastern province, southern Sri Lanka, and Colombo. Therefore domestic flights are capable of transporting goods and passengers to any part of the country. The recently introduced air taxi system (seaplanes) has become a very popular option among air travelers because it covers more ground than the other larger versions of domestic planes. There is a notable increase in domestic flights with the introduction of seaplanes because it enables improved access to many parts of the country.



The most popular cruise liners from Europe call on to the harbor of Sri Lanka and they bring a large number of leisure travelers to the island every year. Most of these cruise liners operate their trip to Sri Lanka during the winter season (November to April) because most European travelers arrive on the island during this period, which is the best time to visit Sri Lanka.

The passengers who arrive on cruise liners do not have much time to see the island and they have very limited time to explore the country because their ships are docked only for a limited time at the harbor. Therefore most travelers who arrive on the island on cruise ships take part in shore excursions from Colombo such as one day tour to Sigiriya, a Sri Lanka trip to Galle, a Colombo city tour, a Kandy tour, etc. Some of the cruise ships call on to all 3 major harbors of Sri Lanka (Galle harbor, Colombo harbor, and Trincomalee harbor) and allow their passengers to explore the area of each destination.

There are many travelers who participate in multi-day Sri Lanka tours such as Sri Lanka 5 days tours, 7 days tours, and 10 days of tours. In that case, the passengers make either an arrival journey from their home country or a return journey by cruise ship and they use air transport to fill the vacuum.


Traveling within the holiday destination is an important aspect of the trip and should be planned carefully. As for most holiday destinations no exception in Sri Lanka. Having a well-planned Sri Lanka tour itinerary with sightseeing, hotels, and convenient, speedy transport mode is very important to the success of the Sri Lanka trip. If you fail to plan a proper transport mode for your Sri Lanka you doom your Sri Lanka trip and you will fail to enjoy the trip.

You might be planning a Sri Lanka trip, and wondering how to travel in Sri Lanka, after all, that’s why you ended up on this page. To keep it short, I recommend you hire a Sri Lanak driver guide and a taxi to get around in Sri Lanka, it guarantees your safety on chaotic and messy roads. furthermore, it saves time and allows you to travel with comfort. However, there are a few other options that you can consider, and keep on reading to get more information.

  • Public buses
  • Trains
  • Private taxi
  • Tourist coach
  • Inland travel by plane
  • Helicopter
  • Motorbikes
  • Footbike


In this article, we discuss mainly the transport mode for foreign travelers. Therefore, if you are foreign and on a short vacation in Sri Lanka like most travelers, travel by taxi is the most recommended way to get around in Sri Lanka. Getting around by taxi in Sri Lanka is the most convenient, cheap, and safe way to do it.


Where you need to travel may not be easy and fun all the time, but when it comes to getting around Sri Lanka, at least, the island’s well-developed transportation system makes it relatively easy and painless. Whether you are nipping around Colombo in a TUK TUK or heading on to the interior of the country via motorcoach, train, or rental car, getting around in Sri Lanka is reasonably easy.


It is a good idea to plot the Sri Lanka tour in advance and consider the cost factor as well as the practicality of the travel decisions. Whoever wants to plan a drive in Sri Lanka, the most important piece of advice I offer as a native Sri Lankan is this: We have a left-hand drive system as opposed to most European countries. And it will be a bit awkward until you get familiar with it.


Traveling through the verdant countryside of Sri Lanka can be a very exciting experience, bringing the towns and lush green countryside that Sri Lanka is famed for within easy reach of every traveler, without having a dependency on public transport. Most cities and Sri Lankan attractions are well connected with a well-developed road network giving easy access to everything from major cities such as Colomb, and Kandy to remote villages.

Taxi is the most convenient, time-saving, and hassle-free system for getting around Sri Lanka. Booking a taxi is quite easy in Sri Lanka and it is not expensive too. With a large number of travel companies such as Seerendipity tours, you can book airport transfers and sightseeing tours at an affordable rate.

In order to make sure you are safe, it is always recommended to book a taxi with a local driver, if you are a foreigner and traveling around Sri Lanka on sightseeing tours, hire a taxi with a tourist board registered driver/guide. They are the professional staff trained by the Sri Lanka tourist board to educate tourists on the island, its people, and Sri Lankan tourist attractions.

To save time for your Sri Lanka holidays and other activities as well as to make sure you get the best price on the taxi, it is best to book your taxi before arriving in Sri Lanka. Usually, the Taxi fee includes car rental, gasoline, known as petrol, parking charges, waiting charges, driver charges and all taxes.

The price of the taxi hires differs depending on the type of vehicle you get. A cheap small taxi such as Indian-made Maruti costs around LKR 40 per km (around USD 0.30) while a mid-range sedan such as Toyota Corolla costs around LKR 70 per km (around USD 0.50). A luxury vehicle such as Mercedes will cost around LKR 100 per km (around USD 0.65). Rates of other larger vehicles are higher and the rate goes up as the seating capacity increases.


There is an instance in which taxi drivers are demanding travelers pay waiting fees and parking charges. But travelers are not required to pay them separately and it is included in the total package. And there are congestion-related fees applied in Sri Lanka as you drive in the city areas.

Choose the best vehicle for your one-day tour in Sri Lanka from a wide range of vehicles such as sedans, SUVs, mini-coach, micros, etc. We provide all kinds of vehicles at affordable rates.


Renting a car in order to get around Sri Lanka is very easy (though it is expensive), with several cars hire companies like Europcar and Avis, operating from Colombo. To save time and eliminate the complicated paperwork it is always recommended to book your taxi before leaving for Sri Lanka.

Apart from the can rental fee, gasoline, known as petrol, is also very expensive in Sri Lanka (and you pay for a liter, not for a gallon). You also have to pay the pricey parking fee too. Most rental cars in Sri Lanka comes with auto transmissions, if you are not familiar with auto transmission make a request for a manual transmission car in advance.

Foreign citizens need to have an international driving license to drive in Sri Lanka and also they should obtain a temporary permit from the Sri Lanka authorities. The minimum age to drive a car in Sri Lanka is 18 years. Note: public transportation between major Sri Lankan cities is very good and it is not essential to have a private car.

One can choose a highway coach as well as intercity air-conditioned mini-buses to travel between major cities. Even the train is a very good option to travel to many places around the island. Trains are cheap and comfortable compared to public buses as it is not as crowded as buses.


Sri Lanka’s rail network is one of the oldest in the region and dates back to the early 18s. A large number of people are using the train to travel around Sri Lanka. The trains are comfortable, cheap and easy to use, but trains tend to be late very often. Not only they are behind the schedule very often, but they also do not reach all of the good places too. Therefore you can’t rely entirely on the train to complete the entire Sri Lanka trip if you plan a Sri Lanka round trip.


Perhaps the train is the best way to explore the beautiful mountains of Sri Lanka, while you are on holiday in Sri Lanka. The train goes through the mountains, escapement, patches of forests, and tea estates. Most of the time, the track is girdled with uninhabited patches of forests.

Perennial waterways, cascading waterfalls, tea estates, and vegetable gardens are frequent scenes during the train ride in the mountains. Train tickets are available in three categories third class, second class, and first class, and prices are varied depending on the category. First-class compartments are usually with AC and provide a comfortable ride with luxury.

Sri Lanka’s upcountry rail journey is very popular among travelers and a large number of foreign travelers are requesting it. Traveling by train on the Sri Lanka upcountry trail track is a fascinating way to explore Sri Lanka’s tea country. It is a perfect opportunity to mingle with the indigenous people and share stories with fellow travelers.


Southern railways track is another popular track among holidaymakers in Sri Lanka. It provides easy access to many popular beach resorts such as Kalutara, Bentota, Galle, and Matara. The southern railway track connects Colombo, Galle, and Matara and provides easy and speedy transportation between these cities.

Sri Lanka has a well-developed railway network and is very useful to travel between major cities. In fact, the train journey in the mountain is considered to be one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. But they do not provide access to most small towns in the interior of the country.

The train network is operated under the government institution known as the Sri Lanka railway department. It is mainly a service-oriented institution aimed at providing the best service at the minimum cost. It is better to start your journey with, where you can search for itineraries, prices, and rail passes.


There are several options if you need to buy tickets, it can be done in advance through the website of the railway department or through mobile telecommunication networks such as Mobitel or at the train station. It is highly recommended to book seats in advance if you wish to travel with comfort in 2nd class or 1st class compartments. The seats in those classes are limited and fill up very fast.

Sri Lanka railway help desk number 1919 (through a local network)

Colombo Fort – Reservation Office 011-2432908

Rajadhani express is a private institution that provides service for luxury seekers, usually, they maintain one compartment of the train which has luxury seats. It is an air-conditioned compartment that has free WIFI. The Rail network is the quickest to reach any destination along the western and southern coasts.


Traveling by train is convenient and cheap. The maritime railway line connects all beach resorts such as Galle, Unawatuna, Bentota, Kalutara, and Negombo with Colombo. Same time upcountry railway track provides easy access to major places such as Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella, and Badulla.

If you wish to travel to the east coast or Northern Sri Lanka during your Sri Lanka tour again you can resort to train travel as it provides daily many trains to those destinations. Please bring Sri Lanka currency in order to buy tickets, credit cards are not accepted, only the local currency is accepted. Travel cards are not available and return tickets can be obtained only in selected railway stations such as Kandy, and Colombo.


Buses are one of the best ways to get around Sri Lanka and it is a viable alternative to taxis and trains and a very cost-effective way of getting around Sri Lanka. It definitely reduces your transport budget with a great amount of your holiday. Buses are available in all corners of the island, buses plying frequently between major cities but the number of trips connecting cities and remote areas might be much less opposed to the number of trips between major cities.


Buses are available in three flavors regular buses (without air-conditioning) and air-conditioned luxury buses and highway coaches. air-conditioned luxury buses and highway buses are much more comfortable than normal buses but the rates are about 2 times higher than the normal bus rates. Passengers must pay the fare onboard with cash, only Sri Lankan currency is accepted. The conductor does offer change, but it is advisable to present the correct fare as much as possible. Be careful when receiving the change and always ask for a ticket, to know the exact amount you have to pay.

Travel cards are not available in Sri Lanka and so the hassle of paying onboard can be expected, having a good pocket of loose coins make life easy. Buses are operated either by private bus owners or the Sri Lanka transport boards. Buses are a great way of getting around Sri Lanka, but it might take much more time to get from A to B than taxis or trains and it is the biggest shortcoming of public buses in Sri Lanka. Tickets for long-haul bus journeys and highway buses can be booked in advance through the booking websites.


TUK TUK is a motorized rickshaw that developed from a pulled rickshaw. This is a very popular way of getting around Sri Lanka and the most controversial transport method in the country. Theoretically, cheaper than the traditional taxi. TUK TUK has a small passenger area and can accommodate 2 persons, this is a taxi for poor people. If I am not putting a note on this mischievous motorized rickshaw the article is not complete, I think. Getting around Sri Lanka by TUK TUK can be fun and is a novel experience for most foreign travelers.


TUK TUK is the most widely available taxi on the island, used by beggars to millionaires. TUK TUK is good for a drive of a few kilometers but not suitable for a long drive (even though you can do it). There are many shortcomings in TUK TUK compared to other travel options and it is always good to be away from TUK TUK as much as possible. The main reason to avoid TUK TUK is the lack of safety, it is a just small structure made of iron pipes and covered by a leather sheet. In case of an accident, it is only the leather sheet supposed to provide you with protection.

Most TUK TUK drivers put a lot of gas on the small engine and drive fast, in some cases they maintain a speed of 70-80 km per hour, which is far faster than they are allowed to, 40km per hour. Since they have only 3 wheels they can easily be toppled, due to the lack of balance, I have seen many toppled TUK TUK on Sri Lankan roads. There have no doors, no windscreen on the passenger side, and no air-conditioning.


It is a widely known fact that TUK TUK drivers charge the customers far more than what passengers pay for the journey. If the customer is new to the driver he tries to manipulate the situation and turn it to his benefit and charge the passenger 2-3 times higher than the normal rate. It is not only happening to foreigners but also to local passengers. Due to the large number of complaints received by the government now meters are compulsory in all TUK TUKs. Believe me, but still, there are TUK TUKs without meters.

If you get into a TUK TUK that has no meter, there is a high possibility of paying far more than you should. Because you can not figure out how much you should pay. If you wish to have a short journey and do not want to wait for a bus TUK TUK is a handy option but get into a metered TUK TUK, in the first place ask the driver to turn the meter on and make sure the meter reading is zero. Thereby you can make sure that you get the maximum that you pay.


Cycling is an unpopular method of traveling among travelers in the country. Despite the good road network, still, lots of travellers are choosing the other form of traveling such as coaches and rail. Sri Lanka is a beautiful tropical island with tropical vegetation all around the country. Cycling is the best method to explore the mountains, escapements, forests, beaches, and near-desert areas of the island. Take a ride along the beautiful beaches of the west and southern coastal belt. Enjoy the sea breeze and the beautiful scenery along the way.


There are hundreds of rivers on the island and many of them are over a hundred kilometers long. This way water can be used to explore the beautiful tropical vegetation and uninhabited wilderness of Sri Lanka. You can paddle through the Sinharaja rain forest, and the kayak is one of the best ways to explore this primeval rain forest on the island. Madu Ganga (the second largest wetland of Sri Lanka) is an ideal place for novices to have a paddling experience. There are more than 100 islands in the wetland; many are located close to each other, therefore it is possible to glide from one to the next with ease.


Several canals and rivers on the island are being used for transporting goods and passengers on the island. Sri Lanka possessed a well-developed web of a canal that was used for transporting goods using boast during the Dutch colonial period. Some of them are still being used, for instance, the Dutch canal in Negombo. Boating in the Dutch canal is an unforgettable experience while it gives you a unique experience with the mixing of many facets of the local village life. It gives you access to the busy countryside, patches of forests, lagoons, pretty villages, the fishing community, and near-desert areas of North-west Sri Lanka.


Sri Lanka provides a large number of walking trails in remote areas, mountains, rainforests, and forest reserves in many parts of the country. One can have an adventurous walk in mountainous areas such as Nuwara Eliya, Kitulaga, and Kandy. If you are a foreigner you might be interested in exploring the historical cities of Sri Lanka, walking is the best way to explore most archaeological sites. Most historical places such as Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa occupy the vast land area. However the most important historical monuments are concentrated in a small area, and walking is the best way of going from one monument to the other.


There are a number of possibilities with regard to traveling in Sri Lanka such as Buses, trains, self-drive cars, motorbiking as well as taxis. Sri Lanka taxis is one of the significant transport facilitators on the island, undoubtedly which is the most popular way of getting around the island for foreign travelers. If you are a foreigner it is best to book a tourist taxi in Sri Lanka. Taxis are available in local taxis as well as tourist taxis. You can get a tourist taxi at the hotel or at the airport. there are many taxi operators that provide service through the internet.

Sri Lanka tourist Taxi is a very safe and comfortable transport method compared to the bus or train, they are often very crowded. Taxis are not only safe but also a very comfortable way of getting around Sri Lanka.

There is no compromise with regard to the cleanliness and safety of tourist taxis. The tourist taxis are modern vehicles and they are well-maintained. However, the normal taxis that are available in cities can be very old and they can not match the standard of tourist taxis.

Usually, the drivers of tourist taxis in Sri Lanka have a lot of experience working with foreign travelers. Therefore they are well familiar with places of attractions and hotels that tourists go to most of the time. These guides of tourist taxis in Sri Lanka can help you with sightseeing as well as information on the island and its people.


Tourist drivers are well-trained professional drivers and they had special training under the purview of the Sri Lanka tourist board. These drivers carry a special identity card and they are capable of communicating with foreign travelers. Under the training program, the tourist drivers are given some knowledge of the island, culture, tradition, religion, and its people so that they are able to answer most questions that guests ask about the country.

Normal taxi drivers do not carry the identity card issued by the tourist board, it means they are not specially trained to work with foreign travelers. They may not be able to communicate with you in English. Apart from the deficiency in language proficiency, they may not able to give you some knowledge about the island as they have not been trained to share information about the country.


Sri Lanka taxi prices per km varied depending on many factors such as vehicle type (eg. Sedan, SUV, van, Commuter), duration of the trip, number of kilometers of the trip, and language proficiency of the driver. Sri Lanka taxi price for the first km is 250 Rs and every additional km cost 150 Rs. The taxi price for tourist taxis in Sri Lanka is similar to the charges of normal city taxis. Usually, tourist taxis (sedan cars) charge US$ 50 per day and it includes a modern air-conditioned vehicle for 100km with a local driver/guide. If you use the vehicle for more than 100 km every additional 10 kilometers cost you US$ 5.


Local tour operators such as Seerendipity tour provide tourist taxis in Sri Lanka. Tourist taxis are available in tourist hotels as well.

Unlike a few decades ago one can find a well-developed network of taxis in the country today. Taxis can be obtained in cities around the island.  It may be difficult for foreign travelers to identify the taxis in Sri Lanka since they have no distinct color or Taxi sign on the roof of the vehicle. Most of the time the number of taxi facilitators can be observed on the body of the vehicle with a Taxi sign and it is clearly visible to the outside.

The most popular method of ordering a taxi in Sri Lanka is through the telephone and one needs to wait 10-15 minutes before the taxi arrives. The prices are charged for the distance and prices are varied depending on the taxi facilitator.


Local tour operators such as Seerendipity tour provide tourist taxis in Sri Lanka. Tourist taxis are available in tourist hotels as well. There is a possibility of booking a taxi upon your arrival at the Katunayake airport, however, the rates could be a bit higher than usual.

Even though it is possible to book a tourist tax at the airport for your arrival (from the Katunayake airport to Colombo or other cities), it is recommended to book a taxi before landing at Katunayake. Because you may not be able to get the best price for your taxi at the airport. When you go for spot hiring of taxis at the airport, the taxi drivers may charge you a lot more than the regular rate. There may be instances that you do not get a taxi for a considerable time period during rush hours too.


Taxis are provided with taxi counters in all hotels in Colombo and other leading hotels around the country. Finding a Taxi service provider on the island is not a daunting task, because there are a hundred Taxi service providers on the island. Some of the Taxi service providers offer island-wide taxi services with branches in most Sri Lankan cities and some other taxi service providers have only a few branches in major cities like Kandy and Colombo.


There are taxi stations in the cities, where one can get taxis but it seems to be difficult to find the exact place where the taxis are stationed, especially for foreigners. By paying some attention to places such as railway stations, bus stands, and religious places one might be able to find taxi stations while they are mostly located in such places.

Most of the taxis in Sri Lanka are air-conditioned but there are some none air-conditioned taxis as well. Prices may change the availability of air-conditioning in the vehicle. Taxis can be hired only for a particular hire or for a, even months.

There are few international companies on the island that offer self-driven vehicles, even though it is not a very popular way of traveling in Sri Lanka for most foreigners. These international Self-driven taxi providers are mainly confined to major tourist hubs such as Colombo, Kandy, and Galle.

However, the popularity of self-driven vehicles is on the rise among the local people, therefore many local self-driven vehicles providing companies, as well as a large number of individuals, who are providing this service, are scattered around the island. Therefore it is not a daunting task to get hold of the self-driven vehicle on the island anymore.


The tarevllers can enjoy the air taxi service in Sri Lanka now. However, it was temporarily stopped during teh northeast conflict in Sri Lanka, sighting the possible attack in the south using light aircraft. Air Taxi service on the island completely ceased indefinitely after the terrorist attack on a few aircraft by the terrorist in northern Sri Lanka. However, the air taxi service is available on the island since 2009.

Air taxi service is offered by a few operators in Sri Lanka. These operators have established regional offices in major cities like Kandy, Colombo, and Bentota making it easy to book air taxis to travel around the country. Air taxi service is expensive but it provides easy and swift access to many parts of the island. If you are on a short trip and need to travel around teh island in a short period of time, your best bet is an air tourist taxi.


TUK TUK, a small vehicle with three wheels is another popular transport method in Sri Lanka and they are to be found in all corners of the island. The TUK TUK can be considered a motor-driven rickshaw, which stands on three wheels. Unlike in rickshaws, the pulling power is coming from a small motor, fixed into the rear part of the vehicle.

TUK TUK is mostly found in Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, and Thailand, this small vehicle is known as the Auto-Rikshas in India. Sri Lankan people call it TUK TUK because it makes a “TUK TUK” sound once the engine is started.

TUK TUK is a very economical transport method though they are considered not comfortable or safe as normal taxis. Many TUK TUKs do not carry taximeters, making it expensive and difficult for passengers on most occasions, because these TUK TUKs do not have a standard rate on the ride, it is strongly advised to discuss the fare with the driver before commencing the journey in this kind of situation. TUK TUK can be recommended for a short drive rather than a long journey. TUK TUK is not installed with air-conditioning while the commuters get the fresh breeze from outside through the opened doors.


We try to make these articles as comprehensive as possible, therefore, we update the content regularly. However, there are instances when readers like to have more details on some content of this article. While some readers have not been able to get what they looked for. If you also feel like you need more information about traveling in Sri Lanka, we are always ready to help you with the information you need. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time for more information at