Because Sri Lankan roads tend to be narrow, it is advised to rent a compact car; plus, the island is small enough for you to navigate in one day. If you plan to explore the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you may want to upgrade your rental car to a four-wheel drive, as the roads are more rugged and hilly.
Renting a car in Sri Lanka will provide you with the most freedom and save you much more time than if you used the time-consuming train service. Often, public transport cannot take you to certain areas like a car can. To navigate around the country, it is recommended that you rent a GPS device from your car hire company, which you can get for around 2,121 LKR (12 USD) per day.
You will find several new highways in Sri Lanka that provide great driving conditions for your rental car. The Colombo-Katunayake Expressway connects the Bandaranaike International Airport to Kelani Bridge on the coast, a route you can drive in 30m. The Southern Expressway is 161 km (100 mi) long and extends from the south in Kottawa to Matara, while the Outer Circular Expressway links the Southern Expressway to the Katunayake Expressway.
To make the most of driving around Sri Lanka, it is important to know the rush hours on the roads, particularly in major cities. It is advised to drive in cities and large towns like Colombo only between 8:30 am and 2:30 pm, or after 8:00 pm in the evening.
25% of our users found a car hire in Sri Lanka for €27 or less
Book your car hire in Sri Lanka at least 6 weeks before your trip in order to get a below-average price
FAQs about hiring a car in Sri Lanka
Compact (Ford Focus or similar) is the most frequently booked car hire type in Sri Lanka.
When you rent a car in Sri Lanka, you will need to drive on the left side and overtake on the right side of the road. Unless otherwise signposted, you need to give way to cars on the right. On newer highways, you will find tolls that are priced depending on the distance traveled and the car category, with prices starting at 100 LKR (0.57 USD). Road rules that must be adhered to are the prohibition of mobile phone use while driving and the requirement to wear seatbelts at all times.
If you plan to rent a car in Sri Lanka, the minimum age for drivers is 23 years old, and they must have had a valid driver’s license for two years previously. Any drivers under 25 years old will incur a young driver surcharge. You will need to get your driver’s license validated by the Automobile Association in Sri Lanka, which can be obtained by your car hire agency for an additional fee.
You will find that the average price of petrol is 164 LKR (0.93 USD) per liter, or the equivalent of 3.52 USD per gallon, when you rent a car in Sri Lanka. Because petrol is regulated by the government, petrol prices are the same at various petrol stations, so you do not have to shop around. Many of the island’s petrol stations are open 24h and offer self-service.
When driving on Sri Lankan roads, you will need to follow the national speed limits. In residential areas, the speed limit is 56 km/h (34 mph), and on national roads, you can travel up to 72 km/h (44 mph). On highways, the maximum speed limit is 120 km/h (74 mph).
The rates displayed include all taxes and fees for hire cars for the class listed and were found by KAYAK users in the last 24 hours. Offers are subject to change and may not be available on all car hires listed or dates of travel. Some hire car providers charge additional fees for other services (GPS, infant car seats, etc.). Please check the website of the respective hire car provider.