Why Drive in Sri Lanka
Driving in Sri Lanka requires a certain amount of skill but it is by no means an unachievable feat. The country might be small in size but there are many scenic routes around the coastal line and the hills that make for an unforgettable drive. As long as you keep some of the unique characteristics of the country in mind, you will be greatly rewarded by the experiences that await with the liberty of a car rental.
Even though Sri Lanka’s infrastructure suffered greatly from decades of civil war, the country still enjoys some of the greatest road density in South Asia. In 2004, the Government of Sri Lanka sought assistance from the World Bank to develop roads and increase connectivity and interaction between provinces for social integration and economic development. The reconstruction and management of existing roads through a proper management system has resulted in the improvement of the livelihood of locals and also paved the way for the tourism industry to flourish.
If you are an adventurer or someone familiar with driving in Southeast Asian cities, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to acclimatize to self-driving in Sri Lanka. If you are accustomed to the pristine road conditions, say from the United States or Europe, then perhaps it is best to leave the driving to a local expert – choose Car Rental 2 Go’s car with private driver option.
Understanding the Sri Lankan Road Network
A class roads refers to the national highway network, with an average speed limit of 70 kilometres per hour.
E class roads are high speed, high traffic corridors. They are an extension of A class routes that have difficulty coping with the high traffic volume. The speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour.
B class roads are major provincial roads that are used as feeder roads for A and E class roads, with a speed limit of 60 kilometres per hour.
C class roads are local residential roads with a speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour.
Mixed Road Conditions
The road conditions in Sri Lanka are reasonably decent but can vary greatly as you move towards different parts of the country. As a general rule, the urban centre has decent roads that you would expect with any city. Trunk roads are well-paved and in excellent condition. As you move towards the rural outskirts and into the Central Highlands of the country, the roads are less polished as compared with the city. As such, they can be pretty challenging to master. With this in mind, be sure to map out your journey carefully and only drive to locations that you are confident with depending on your skill level. We recommend avoiding remote areas and also travelling at night where visibility is poor.
A New Meaning to ‘Share the Road’
Most roads in Sri Lanka are single lane. You will not only be sharing the roads with other road users but also pedestrians, bicycles, trishaws, motor bikes, buses, trucks, cows, goats and various other livestock and animals.
Avoid the standard peak hour traffic during the start of the day and end of the working day, and you will most probably be fine dodging the occasional herd of cows rather than muscling your way through hundreds of other crazed road users. The key here is to drive defensively. Note that other road users flashing their lights means that they are asserting their right of way.
Police Presence Everywhere
There is police presence everywhere in Sri Lanka, especially in the commercial centres. Be sure to have your Recognition Permit (a special document issued by AA Sri Lanka) with you at all times while on the road. It is common to get pulled over to inspect your papers on a random basis.
Colombo, known as the “Garden City of the East” during British rule in the 19th century, is the capital city of Sri Lanka. The city is renowned for its beauty and abundance of verdure. A centrepiece of Sri Lanka’s economic development, Colombo is attracting the attention of investors wanting to establish their glitz and glamour in the up and coming South Asian city. Galle Road, the major highway along the coast of Colombo is bound to captivate international attention with rapidly booming developments capitalizing on the unbeatable view of the Indian Ocean. Make Colombo a must-visit stop when you are on your way towards the southern beaches of Sri Lanka.
About Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is a small island nation located in the south of India. The island nation boasts a terrain of rainforests, diverse wildlife and endless idyllic beaches. It is famous for its ancient Buddhist ruins, including the 5th-century citadel Sigiriya, an ancient palace and fortress complex of significant archaeological importance. Sri Lanka is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Anuradhapura, a sacred city featuring well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan civilization. The historical influences of colonialism has resulted in a city that boasts a unique blend of fort-and-port cities such as Galle, Trincomalee and Jaffna, all beckoning the eager traveller to explore.
Driver’s License Requirements in Sri Lanka
You will need an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) in order to drive in Sri Lanka. On top of that, it is mandatory to get what is called a “Recognition Permit” from the Automobile Association of Ceylon, located on the 3rd Floor, 40 Sir Macan Markar Mawatha, just off Galle Face Green in Colombo (a few metres from the Ramada Hotel). You can reach them by phone at 011 242 1528. The Recognition Permit, issued on the spot, will cost 1500 rupees and is valid for up to twelve. The police here are known to do random paper checks on foreigners – be absolutely sure to secure the document before taking off with your rental car.
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