How to get around Sri Lanka ? 5 affordable ways

You are going to book your air ticket to Sri Lanka soon and yet you don’t know the best way to getting around Sri Lanka ?
Then, keep reading to find out the best ways to travel across the island in style.

Getting around Sri Lanka is not a huge problem as Sri Lanka offers you a set of options for transportation that fits any budget.

'It should be affordable and comfortable!'- Everyone's ‘ultimate getting around rule’ -which is why we have listed the best ways to get around Sri Lanka that satisfy everyone's getting around rules, with pros and cons of each.

5 cheap and best ways to get around in Sri Lanka


How to get around Sri Lanka?
Local buses at a bus stop in Sri Lanka(Photo Credit-Flickr/shankar s.)

This is the most popular mode of public transportation, preferred by most of the budget travellers to travel around Sri Lanka that has categorized into three categories as

  1. Normal busses-Run on almost every rural road/Normal fare/Slow/Stop at every bus stop along the ride/Crowded/No room for luggage
  2. Semi luxury busses-Long distance bus service/Double the fare/Fast/Stop only at main bus stops/Not that crowded/Seats are available for pre-booking/No room for luggage
  3. A/C busses-Long distance bus service/Air conditioned/Double the fare/Fast/Stop only at main bus stops/Comfortable than semi Luxury buses/Seats are available for pre-booking/No room for luggage.
How to get around Sri Lanka?
Inside of a  normal fare bus in Sri Lanka(Photo Credit-Flickr/Sailing Nomad) 
Check here to see Bus schedule and routes in Sri Lanka.
If crowd and sweat are not problems for you less luggage space will be the only problem you'll be facing in buses in Sri Lanka.


How to get around Sri Lanka?
Trains in Sri Lanka(Photo Credit-Flickr/yuen yan) 

If you are looking for a dirt cheap method to get around Sri Lanka trains are the best. You don't feel much tiredness and discomfort ,no matter how long you travel by train, as you'll have a lot of interesting scenery pass by. Also, you'll find vendors, selling cheap and yummyy traditional snacks which will add an extra taste to your ride.

Trains are the best way to travel the hill country,no matter what your budget is, as you'll catch a lot of beautiful views along the way to the up country.
Tea plantations, waterfalls, greeny mountains, mist and the dark tunnels....
If you travel in Luxury check out this luxury train rides in Sri Lanka.
How to get around Sri Lanka?
Scenic train ride to up country(Photo Credit-Flickr/Deirdren)
Train service in Sri Lanka allows you to pre-book seats .Or you can buy a ticket at the railway station. (I highly recommend you to pre-book your seats.)

In every train, you'll find three classes. As,
  • 1st class - Perfect, if you don’t like to get disturbed by the crowd and don’t mind missing the true Sri Lankan train vibes/Higher fare compared to the normal train fares
  • 2nd class - Less crowded/Double the fare
  • 3rd class - It is where usually local people travel/Cheap /Crowded
I must mention Sri Lankan railways schedules are terrible. It's not an odd if your train is a bit late.I'm talking about a 20 min BIT here.Maybe an hour.And try to avoid trains just after office hours as they can be really crowded.

3.Tuk Tuk (Three-Wheeler)

How to get around Sri Lanka?
Three-wheeler in Sri Lanka(Photo Credit-Flickr/)
Tuk Tuk?
NOo..It's 'Three-Wheeler' in Sri Lanka.Meaningful right?!;)

People find a ride on a tuk-tuk is a very refreshing way to get around Sri Lanka.

It can get a bit bumpy but a ride in a three-wheeler is an absolute fun.Three-wheelers are the best option to travel short distances in Sri Lanka without getting distrusted by the crowd.

When you hire a three-wheeler,select a one with a decent looking driver and make sure to discuss the price before you get in. Sometimes it might be hard to find a fixed price because different drivers have different rates.

So don’t be afraid to bargain if you feel the fare is not fair,after getting an idea about three-wheeler rates here.Some drivers may try to take you through long ways, though there are much shorter routes to reach your destination. So yeah..good luck!

4.Rent a car

'Rent a car' services have more reasonable rates than Tuk Tuks! Also, it's more comforting! Some services may charge for km while some charge for hours.Rent a car and air port shuttle service rates in Sri Lanka usually, start from 50 USD per day.

Plan your rent a car arrangement and airport shuttle transfer in Sri Lanka with a tour operator I trust.

5.Self drive

If you need more privacy or if you are afraid that a third person may go crazy seeing you on 'holiday mode' self-driving is the best.Only if you are confident (I mean Damn confident) with your driving skills and have one of these documents.
  • An International license endorsed by the Automobile Association of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) (Endorsement not required if the driving license mentions Sri Lanka in a list of countries it is valid in)
  • A Permanent/ Temporary Sri Lankan driving license

You can book self-drive service for 90USD (per week) and above depending on the vehicle.
Be ready for surprises because, you will witness a lOots of rule breakings, careless driving , loud horns and more.

Price comparison

Trains < Buses < Tuk Tuk < Self-drive < Rent a car

Hope this post will help you in your trip to Sri Lanka.If you find anything useful don't forget to share this on your favourite social media and support us.
If you have any question regarding travelling Sri Lanka join my Facebook group  Sri Lanka Traveller'

Here's to your Sri Lanka trip!
    Blogger Comment


  1. This is really detailed and very helpful for someone who is considering visiting Sri Lanka! Thanks Sheli for the information!

    1. Thanks Trinity.Thank you so much for visiting my blog

  2. Just shared on fb at Expat Post Sti Lanka!

    1. That's great Orana.Thank you for your support :)

  3. We did them all except rent car/self-drive.

  4. Hi Sheli,
    Interesting article about public transport in Sri Lanka, Thanks.

    There will be an alternative mode of travel in Sri Lanka starting in December 2016, a hop on hop off bus for independent travellers.

    Check this out on or FB page

    Would like to invite you for the next trip in Sri Lanaka.

  5. Hi Sheli,
    Interesting article about public transport in Sri Lanka, Thanks.

    There will be an alternative mode of travel in Sri Lanka starting in December 2016, a hop on hop off bus for independent travellers.

    Check this out on or FB page

    Would like to invite you for the next trip in Sri Lanaka.

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  9. Every airline and airport website has information about security requirements and how much time will be required to get to your gate. Travel


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