Car and driver hire in Sri Lanka, what you need to know?

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When you rent a car in Sri Lanka it is customary to get a driver along with it! Presumably, you need some time to get used to it, especially if you opt for a rent a car in Sri Lanka with driver for the first time… car and driver hire in Sri Lanka.

Car and driver hire in Sri Lanka: What You Need To Know

Unlike in most other countries in Asia, rent a car in Sri Lanka with a driver is a very common practice among the travellers especially among foreign travellers, rather than rent a self-drive car. Usually, when you book a Sri Lanka trip such as Sri Lanka 5 days trip, Sri Lanka classical 7 days tour, it includes a car and a driver unless you ask for a tour package without a vehicle.

Why should I rent a car in Sri Lanka with a driver?

When you rent a car in Sri Lanka it is customary to get a driver along with it! Presumably, you need some time to get used to it, especially if you rent a car in Sri Lanka with driver for the first time. It is highly recommended to arrange your driver with a car in Sri Lanka before landing at Colombo airport. If you are renting a car in Sri Lanka at the last moment, it might cause you a big loss due to the high rate and on the other hand, you will have to compromise with the quality of the vehicle.

Here are some important facts you need to know when you rent a car in Sri Lanka with a driver.

Why should I rent a car in Sri Lanka with a driver?

Why should I rent a car in Sri Lanka with a driver? why can’t I drive myself? Or take a bus, train or inland flights? Or book a package tour that includes entire ground transportation? rent a car in Sri Lanka with driver is the best option for travellers, who like to have privacy and comfort while exploring the country at their own pace, most of all it is safe amidst Sri Lanka’s chaotic traffic.

Self-drive vehicles

There are many options in Sri Lanka for travellers, who look for self-drive cars. Several international companies, as well as many Sri Lanka firms, allow you to have self-drive cars. But self-driving cannot be recommended, especially for foreigners due to the mental health and safety reasons, as road are not in good condition in some areas and traffic rules are largely forgotten by many people.

Inland flight Vs hiring a car with a driver

Even though the inland flights are good alternatives to a car and you can cover much of the ground in a short period of time, you will not be able to see much of the country as you travel. Therefore hiring a car with a driver is the best way to explore the island; after all, Sri Lanka is not a very big country and I bet you would not exceed the travelling distance 200km a day.

Rent a car in Sri Lanka with driver – how much does it cost?

The cost of the car with driver largely depends on the distance you cover in the trip. Usually, the type of car does not make a big difference with regards to the rate of the hired car.

Hiring a driver with foreign language proficiency

If you hire a driver that capable of speaking languages such as German, Italy, French, English etc with the car the rates increases around USD 10-20 per day. Most companies charge their customers per kilometre, and the customers are charged a minimum for 100 kilometres per day, no matter what distance they travel. There can be slight variations in the rates depending on the company; however, the following are the general estimates.

Rent a car in Sri Lanka with driver – Family sedan car

Typically an air-conditioned car, most of them are Japanese brands such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda. There might be Korean brands such as Kia and Hyundai as well. The vehicle that can be expected in this range is Toyota Axio, Honda FIT Shuttle, Kia Spectra, Nissan Sunny. These vehicles can comfortably accommodate 4 passengers (including the driver) and can cover large distances without any inconvenience. The cost of this type of car is around USD 50 per 100 kilometres.

Car rental for a sedan car

Toyota Premio, Toyota Allion, Nissan Skyline, Nissan bluebird are coming under this category. These vehicles have the seating capacity of 5 (including the driver). The rates of the car are around USD 70 Per 100 kilometres.

Rent SUV’s and luxury vehicles in Sri Lanka with driver

Toyota land cruises, Mitsubishi Montero, Mercedes Benz, Bluebird are typical vehicles provided in this category, the vehicle has a very spacious interior and they are categorized as luxury vehicles. This is the type of vehicle coming under the most expensive category and it would cost around USD 150 per 100 Kilometers.

Usually, the travellers are charged for the entire trip. For instance, you will cover a distance of around 1000 kilometres (USD 500) in a 7 days Sri Lanka tour. Earlier mentioned rates include Gasoline, insurance, tolls, all government taxes, parking, drivers’ food and lodging. If you hire a driver/guide that speaks a foreign language other than English it would cost you USD 10-20 more per day.

Rent a car in Sri Lanka with a driver, where can I do it?

Organizing transportation is a primary function of any travel company in Sri Lanka. Therefore you can hire a vehicle with a driver at any of the tour companies on the island. Same times most hotels have a travel desk providing transportation, tours and excursion to in houses guests. Usually, the rates for the vehicles at the travel counters are high compared to the rates of tour companies.

Car and driver hire in Sri Lanka at the airport

Most travel counters are capable of handling airport arrivals and departures very effectively, however, it is known fact that most drivers of travel counters are not able to provide information about the tourist attractions furthermore their language abilities are also not as good as drivers of tour companies.

If you plan a short trip from the resort and do not expect much information on the places you visit, hiring a car from the hotel is totally ok. But if you plan a multi-day road trip covering important tourist attractions such as Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Kandy it is recommended to hire a car from a reputable tour company on the island.  Unlike hotel travel counter tour companies have a large fleet and capable of acting swiftly in a situation like a breakdown of a vehicle.

Car and driver hire in Sri Lanka through individual suppliers

Hiring a car and driver in Sri Lanka from an individual is also possible usually some people do it through the internet or private contact. You will also find an attractive rate for your trip if you book a car in this manner. If you are hiring a car and a driver from an individual it is highly recommended to check if the vehicle is fully insured with passenger coverage. Usually, most private vehicle on the island is not with the passenger cover due to the high premium.

But it is not possible to give you a guarantee of the quality of the vehicle if you book your car this way. For instance, the car can be air-conditioned but without much cool. Because there is no quality control of the vehicle but if you hire a car from a tour company or the hotel the quality of the vehicle is guaranteed. Therefore it is very important to have a trustworthy contact if you going to book a car in this manner.

Arrange your driver with car in Sri Lanka through a tour operator

Usually, the tour companies in Sri Lanka provides hotel booking, vehicle, tour guides and if necessary sightseeing tours to their customers. Some recommendations are given on the latter part of the article. Most tourists in Sri Lanka start their trip in Colombo and head to the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, so these places have many options. Plan your trip properly and make some research and comparisons before deciding on what suit you best.

Where does the driver eat and sleep?

When you are hiring a car and driver in Sri Lanka, the daily allowance so-called driver bata is included in the price (usually a few hundred Sri Lankan rupees), with this allowance the driver is able to cover his daily expenses for meals and accommodation. Some hotels provide driver accommodation for within the hotel at the driver’s quarters, at an affordable rate. Usually, drivers are not sleeping in the car and vehicle owners arrange some form of accommodation for their drivers before the tour starts.

Some foreigner who visit the island often asks their driver to dine with them, especially when they are on the road, during lunch hours. This is not customary to Sri Lanka though. In every tourist restaurant (tourist board registered restaurant) there is a special table for drivers, which is the preferred place among drivers to eat.

It is the place for them to have rest and have a chat with fellow drivers come by; therefore they may not comfortable sitting in the sable with you. Inviting the driver to dine with, it does not hurt him, and perhaps he might accept your invitation. Don’t be surprised if he reluctant to accept your invitation, you know the reason already.

What do you really need to travel to Sri Lanka (officially)?

  • Visa
  • Valid passport
  • How is it travel alone to Sri Lanka?

Rent a car in Sri Lank with a driver- Tips and gratuities

Tipping and gratitude are customary on the island! And most drivers expect it. But how much should I give him? Is a question that every foreign traveller has his mind? Usually, we recommend between USD 7-10 per day (however it depend on the service he provides).

Car and driver hire in Sri Lanka from a tour operator

It is highly advisable to organize your holidays through an agent because travel agents take care of the organizing part of the tour. If you are travelling for the first time in Sri Lanka, you may find it difficult to find places to stay and important attractions.

Private driver with tour guide licence

In the first hand, you need to have a national tourist guide license holder to accompany you around the country. They are specially trained by the national tourist board of Sri Lanka; they are well educated and capable of giving trustworthy information about the country, history, nature, and people of Sri Lanka.

Cheap alternatives for travel agents

There is a possibility of hiring a tourist guide lecture for your trip to the country. You can find the contacts of these tourist guides through the internet. Hiring a trustworthy Tourist guide to solve most of your problems pertaining to Sri Lanka travel. They are also providing all services rendered by the costly travel agent for a fraction of the cost charged by the travel agents.


Accommodations are available in plenty for travellers in Sri Lanka. The prices of accommodation varied depending on the type of accommodation. One can find expensive luxurious accommodation to accommodation with very basic facilities for a few dollars.

It is highly advisable to have your accommodation confirmed before arriving in Sri Lanka. Otherwise, you may have to face some difficulties to find a proper place to stay. Furthermore, it is usually expensive when you make a hotel reservation as a walk-in guest.

Note: be careful with online hotel reservations. Some accommodation providers make a very rosy picture of the property through the internet but you may find it to be totally different once arrived in the place.

Travelling in Sri Lanka

It is highly advisable to sit in the back seat of the car. The drivers of Sri Lanka have their own traffic rules, which known only by them. It may seem to be a deadly task to drive in Sri Lanka but once you are familiar with it, you can live with it. Hiring a vehicle is the best way to travel to Sri Lanka. Public transportations such as Buses and trains take a lot more time than required for a drive and usually very crowded. Tuk Tuk is a good option against the public transportations; it is cheap but not suitable for a long drive.

Should I take a Sri Lanka package tour?

Sri Lanka is a country with one of the oldest histories in the world. It is one of the few countries that are continuously inhabited since the pre-Christian era. This Asian country has a lot to share with you such as thousands of years of old ancient cities, ancient religious sites, wildlife reserves, primaeval rainforests, attractions with Colonial influence and many UNESCO declared world heritage sites. Just pack your bag and take the tour it is highly worth to take a tour in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan Money

Sri Lanka Rupees (Rs) is the official name of the Sri Lankan currency and it is divided into 100 Cents. Most currencies available in the world are accepted on the island. You can change the money at the airport, where there is a large number of bank counters. Changing the money at banks enables you to have the best exchange rate while exchange rates in hotels are always lower than the banks.

What’s the meal like

Sri Lanka kitchen is known to be very spicy. Like in most Asian people, Sri Lankan also likes to eat spicily and adds a lot of spices, chillies and pepper. But for most of the palates, the foods are spicy but very tasty.

Note: if you can’t bear the spicy food ask the cook to prepare some food with less spicy or without chilli. It does not cost you extra. Another alternative is to have some ground coconut with spicy dishes. Ground coconut reduces the impact of spicy foods.


The country is endowed with a large array of tropical fruits. There is plenty of opportunities to get fresh fruit juices at very cheap rates. Thambili or King Coconut is the most popular thirst quencher in the country. It is a variety of coconut with a lot of tasty water and full of vitamins and mineral.

Rent a car in Sri Lanka with driver – what to keep in mind

  • Travelling between 2 cities in Sri Lanka might take more time than in many countries in Europe and other developed countries; it is mainly due to the slow-moving traffic in the cities. Otherwise, the road conditions in Sri Lank is very good, therefore travelling time in remote areas are considerably lower than in cities. Take the travelling time between cities to consider when you plan the Sri Lanka trip and allocate the plenty of time you need to pass cities.
  • In Sri Lankan case Google maps are working very well. And it shows you alternative routes when the main road is fully packed. Sometimes these alternative roads are known to the experienced drivers too. Google navigator can save time for you.
  • What every the vehicle you go for (Luxury, SUV, or an average sedan car) all are coming with well functioning Air-conditioning system. It would be difficult to drive in Sri Lanka without Air conditioning.
  • Don’t leave your valuables in the vehicles, especially the money and jewellery.
  • Try to plan your trip always with the return journey, because when you reserve a car it should return to the starting point and normally the price of the vehicle includes the price of the return journey.
  • You can book a car with a guide. Most travellers go for a driver/guide so that 1 person does both jobs saving a lot of money to you. Get hold of an experienced driver/guide to have the best experience on your tour. It is best to have a tourist board-licensed driver/guide because they are well trained for the job.

Rent a car in Sri Lanka with driver – other things to expect

  • Sri Lanka is a country with friendly people and therefore you might be invited to visit the family of your driver. Usually, people do it in Sri Lanka to show their friendliness and it is a warm gesture. However, most drivers are coming from middle-class families, they might be thinking that you give them a gift may be to their children, I know that many tourist grant financial assistance to these drivers. If the guy had been nice to you and if you are willing to make some kind of support to him, you can go ahead and do it! It is most welcome by your driver.
  • There is a possibility of suggesting some shopping to you by the driver. Usually, the shopping is included in most Sri Lanka tour itineraries. Even you book the tour with a tour operator or with a private driver/guide shopping is a part of the program. However, some activities are directly involved with shopping such as Kandyan cultural show and a cooking class at the spice garden.

Don’t be afraid to visit this shopping that included in the tour itinerary, it does not cost you anything, in fact, you can have a look into the places and their products while declining to buy. Because some of them help you to gather some knowledge about something you don’t know. Visiting a spice garden gives you the know-how of Ayurveda healing method, which is one of the oldest healing methods in the world, at the spice garden you also learn about a large number of trees, plants and herbs, most of them are not available in European countries.

At the gem museum, you can learn about the gemstones that are been discovered on the island and at the factory, you will be able to see the manufacturing process of the jewellery. So is the Tea factory you see the entire production process of World-renowned Ceylon tea. None of the activities in the tour itinerary is compulsory and guests have the freedom to cancel any of the activities on their wish, so if you feel that it is not necessary to visit those shops please convey the message to the driver, he will respect your request.

Some Recommended Companies when you need to rent a car in Sri Lanka with driver

Seerendipity tours is a company with a very good history and provide tailor-made Sri Lanka tour itineraries.  They also offer many pre-planned tour programs, therefore, you are not required for hiring a car and driver in Sri Lanka. The company has a Sri Lankan management and local staff. You make a booking directly with the local company means there is no middleman. Therefore you can make sure that you get the best rates for your activities. Click here for tour itineraries and rates. Seerendipity tours also offer a free consultation for travellers who need local expertise to plan a Sri Lank trip.

Car and driver hire in Sri Lanka with Uber

App-based taxi services like Uber a Cabs have set their foot on the island for many years ago and Sri Lankan had been a place for them to thrive. There are many local taxi services similar to Uber and provide valuable service to the Sri Lankan commuters. All taxi services charge their customers based on the distance of the hire.

Car and driver hire in Sri Lanka: 9 important tips

1. Car and driver hire in Sri Lanka: do it in advance

It is strongly advisable to search for the vehicle and drive before arriving in Sri Lanka. Recommendations from friend and relatives are very useful in renting a car in Sri Lanka with the driver, that way you can get very trustworthy and credible information on the vehicle and the driver you going to hire.

Don’t rely on the information published on forums such as Lonely Planet’s Thorntree, the recommendation available in those forums are mostly bogus reviews and most of those reviews are done by the drivers themselves (or their family members), some times their service is dubious.

2. Hire your driver and vehicle from a trustworthy source

If you can’t find trustworthy information on a driver, it is better to rent a car in Sri Lanka with a tour operator. You will possibly pay few USD extra for their commission; however, you do not need to be worried about the quality of the service of the driver and the quality of the vehicle.

The tour companies do not leave any room for complaints from their customers, because renting cars with drivers is one of their main services. The vehicles are technically very good since they are periodically checked by the travel companies, as a rule, travel companies do not use old cars due to the technical issues arises due to the ageing.

3. Make sure the vehicle is fully insured with passenger cover

When you rent a car in Sri Lanka with the driver, special attention should be drawn to the insurance policy of the vehicle. Most privately owned vehicles in Sri Lanka are not insured with passenger cover due to the very high premium.

4. Car and driver hire in Sri Lanka at the hotel is always expensive

Rent a car in Sri Lanka with driver can also be done at the travel counter of the hotel, usually, most hotels have a travel counter near the reception, where the in-house customers can rent a car. However, the rates are a little bit higher than the average rate.

5. Make sure the driver you hire can speak English

When you rent a car in Sri Lanka with a travel company, you can make sure the driver speaks English, however, if you rent a car from an individual there can be instances that the driver does not speak English. Due to communication difficulty, you will be deprived of valuable information about the places you go to.

6. Car and driver hire in Sri Lanka: Avoid taxi scam

Be clear about what you pay for. If you rent a car with a driver from an individual there are many add-ons pops up as the tour proceeds. Therefore it is advisable to ask the cost for the entire package from beginning to the end including driver fee, vehicles charges, gas, parking, taxes etc. Thereby you can avoid unlawful charges coming towards the latter part of the trip. 

However, if you rent a car in Sri Lanka with driver from a travel company, they will give you the all-inclusive rate leaving no room for you to pay anything for the transport once you started with the tour.

7. Ask for a written document from the taxi provider as to what includes in your car and driver hire in Sri Lanka

Before starting the tour, it is advisable to write down the cost agreed upon for the trip by both parties and duly signed by both parties. Keep a copy of the agreement, so there will be no question about whether it is 1000 rupees of 10000 rupees. If you rent a vehicle from a company there will be no such issues as the company issue a valid invoice and receipt in their letterhead.

8. Travel solo in Sri Lanka is safe

Travelling in solo in Sri Lanka is totally safe, however, having a friend or partner on the trip allows you to share the cost making you pay only half of the entire cost for the taxi, Usually, sedan car can accommodate up to 3 adults.

9. Hire a professionally qualified tourist driver/guide and

You will encounter a professional tourist board trained driver if you rent a car in Sri Lanka through a travel agent. They are professional tourist guide drivers, they drive very carefully and cautiously so that tourist feel very safe with them.

Most drivers in Sri Lankan are very fast ad roads are chaotic, it makes you have a heart attack in the back seat due to all the weaving back and forth, sudden stops, speed-ups, ask your driver to slow down. Don’t be afraid to do this! The driver might think that his fate is in the hands of the god but I like to believe that I have a little more control over my life.

Why you should choose Seerendipity for your car and driver hire in Sri Lanka?

Seerendipity tour is a fully locally owned travel company with the head office in Colombo. The highly experienced local staff is a key strength of Seerendipity tours and they can plan your dream holiday to Sri Lanka.

Best price for your Sri Lanka trip

When you book a tour with us, you directly book the tour with the local company, it means there are no middlemen and therefore you can guarantee the best price. Simply get in touch with us and let us know when you travel and what you like to see.

Local expertise and personalize service

Our staff make a personalized program for you, which you can change until you find the best package for you. You can also browse our existing tour packages for inspiration; all our ready-made tour packages are customizable and can be tailored to meet all your expectations. Write us on

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