Car Rental in Colombo
Sri Lanka’s main city is an enchanting place full of colorful sights, fragrant marketplaces and historic landmarks. Within close driving distance of Colombo travelers can stumble upon serene beaches, wild jungles and animal sanctuaries offering a totally different experience to the bustling city life. With many wonderful places in Sri Lanka to see outside of Colombo, renting your own vehicle is the ideal way to get the full experience.
Where to rent a car in Colombo
There are several car rental agencies available directly from Bandaranaike International Airport, the primary airport serving Colombo. Almost all rental providers in Colombo are local companies but there are a couple of international providers in the city including Sixt and Hertz. There are more in central Colombo than there are at the airport so you may want to travel into the city first for a wider range of choices (and often cheaper deals). Be advised that you will need to get your driving license validated at a Sri Lanka licensing center before you are able to drive. It is also common for rental cars to come with their own driver so you will usually be given this choice when arranging your vehicle.
Driving in Colombo
The traffic in Colombo is often congested and gets very hectic during the morning and evening rush hours so it is best to stay off the roads during this time. The rules of the road are rarely followed by local drivers so it is often a free-for-all at intersections. It is best to drive defensively if you don’t have much experience driving in foreign countries. In Sri Lanka, traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road and it is a local rule that large vehicles like buses are given priority on the roads, so be prepared to make way. If you plan on exploring the country extensively it is highly advisable to get a satnav unit as roadsigns can be sporadic and aren’t always in English.
Parking in Colombo
Colombo has recently implemented a new smart meter parking payment system at over 1,500 parking spaces and counting. This makes it easier to pay for your parking rather than waiting around for a local attendant to take payment. There is also an accompanying mobile app which allows vehicle owners to extend their parking time. The price of parking in the city is approximately 1 AED per hour. Hotels and resorts in Colombo will usually offer their own parking arrangements so consult with your accommodation before your journey.
Where to go around Colombo
Along with the prominent attractions and museums around central Colombo, there are many unmissable attractions surrounding the city which are best accessed by vehicle. The Turtle Conservation Villa is a leading attraction just a short drive south of Colombo and ideal for families with kids. Many significant religious sites are within driving distance of Colombo like Sigiriya and Adam’s Peak as well as the venerated Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. The popular coastal city of Galle is also just a two-and-a-half hour drive south of Colombo and best known for its sprawling Galle Fort complex which overlooks the coast. Find out more places to visit with our guide to the top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka.
* This information is correct as of December 2018