Sri Lanka Mini Guide
Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean which is famed for its beautiful beaches and for the production of tea, coffee, coconuts and rubber. About 20 million people live in Sri Lanka, which is situated about 30 kilometres south of India, and many of them are Buddhists.
Sri Lanka airlines operate flights between the island’s capital Colombo and many worldwide destinations. Other airlines which fly from Katunayake airport are Qatar Airlines and Emirates. Hiring a car in Sri Lanka is absolutely necessary as there have been some terrorist attacks by the Tamil Tigers group on public transport there including the buses and trains. Advice should be sought before visiting the island but this violence has not ever been directed at tourists.
Although many of the locals drive around on three wheeled tuk-tuks, rented cars are the recommended form of transport as they are cheaper and less prone to road accidents. Unusually, rented cars in Sri Lanka often come with their own drivers.
Often the vehicle itself is free, whereas the driver will charge a fee for his services. Some of these drivers are government-licensed and are extremely knowledgeable about the island. Mostly they will be multi-lingual with a rich knowledge of the island and its environment so they are worth hiring if you want to find out a lot about Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan government has launched several highway projects to bolster their economy and these include the Colombo-Kandy (Kadugannawa) Expressway, the Colombo-Padeniya Expressway, the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway and the Outer Circular Highway which it is hoped will ease Colombo's traffic problems. There are also plans to build a major bridge connecting the northern city of Jaffna to the Indian city of Chennai.
Sri Lanka has a hot tropical climate though it can get quite cold in the central highlands of the island. Ideally tourists should aim to travel there to avoid the monsoon season and the hot weather leading up to it. There can also be squalls in Sri Lanka during that time of year because of cyclones in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is a wonderful place to go if you are interested in wildlife and was the first country in the world to set up a wildlife sanctuary. Inland there are lush forests full of mahogany and teak trees and a number of animals can be seen such as elephants, deer and all kinds of wild birds.
Sri Lanka Factfile
- Sri Lanka used to be known as Ceylon up until 1972.
- It is well known for the production and export of such goods as coffee, tea, coconuts and cinnamon.
- The world's first female prime minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike was in Sri Lanka.
- The two official languages in Sri Lanka are Sinhalese and Tamil.
- The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR).
Is it safe to rent a car in Sri Lanka?
Renting a car in Sri Lanka is the most comfortable and easiest way to get around this large island in the Indian Ocean and yes, it is safe. As driving standards and road conditions can leave a little to be desired, hiring a car with a driver is a popular option and for those a little concerned about the safety of driving in Sri Lanka represents a great option and is still very affordable.
Can foreigners drive in Sri Lanka?
Yes, you are allowed to drive a rental car in Sri Lanka as a non-resident, however you are required to obtain temporary Sri Lankan driving license. An international driving permit is not sufficient. You can obtain the temporary licence from Colombo.