Car Hire in Colombo
This information is correct as of July 2015
Once known as the Garden City of the East, Colombo is now rapidly emerging as a must-see spot in South Asia. It has become a nice city to explore due to a widespread historic restoration of its landmark colonial architecture. It also has a range of stylish restaurants, galleries, and museums, which can be entrancing to check out, especially due to various aspects of cultural significance.
Where to hire a car in Colombo
Various car rental companies can be found in Colombo, where you will find plenty of local operators offering a selection of different types of vehicles. Several suitable choices can be found here, such as a sedan which can do well enough on paved city roads. A 4WD, on the other hand, may be better if you are planning trips to the countryside, especially rough terrain on out-of-the-way routes. A car and driver is also an option to consider, especially if you prefer someone else doing the driving.
When planning to drive in Sri Lanka, be sure to make sure that your documentary requirements are in order. Coordinate with your provider about what to bring. Essentials such as your driver's licence and an International Driver's Permit (IDP) should be prepared early. You will also have to obtain an additional permit to drive in Sri Lanka, which can be applied for in the third floor of the Automobile Association of Ceylon. Insurance should also be worked out to have some financial coverage, just in case. A good map or atlas will also come in handy, so better find a reliable one to help you on the road.
What to expect when hiring a car from Colombo
Driving in Colombo can be a test for your defensive driving skills. The situation on the roads is chaotic and congested. Narrow two-lane highways, overloaded trucks, poorly driven buses, and a variety of other vehicles such as ox carts and bicycles can be found here. This makes it important that you are well versed in manoeuvring properly. Might is right is the motto of the roads here, which makes it necessary for you to move where you can. Determine your best direction and proceed while watching out for pedestrians and other motorists.
Tolls are present in three of Sri Lanka's motorways: E01, E02, and E03. Cash payments are accepted, with electronic toll collection being installed on various exit points. Information on congestion charges is unforthcoming at this time, but you should allot some finances, just in case. Some streets are one way, so be sure to check your map or ask around before going through unfamiliar side routes.
Getting to your destination
A modest beach town located close to the airport, Negombo has a range of decent hotels and restaurants, as well as an interesting old quarter. You will find an old Dutch Fort here, as well as several religious buildings and the main fish market.
Take Colombo - Kandy Rd to Colombo - Katunayake Expy/E03. Follow Colombo - Katunayake Expy/E03 to Chilaw - Colombo Main Rd/Negombo Rd/Negombo-Colombo Main Rd/Puttalam - Colombo Rd/A3 in Katunayake. Take the exit from Colombo - Katunayake Expy/E03. Follow Chilaw - Colombo Main Rd/Negombo Rd/Negombo-Colombo Main Rd/Puttalam - Colombo Rd/A3 and Archbishop Nicholas Marcus Fernando Mawatha to Grand St in Negombo. This route has tolls, with around an estimated travel time of 50 minutes.
A large suburb of Colombo on the south-western coast, Moratuwa is surrounded on three sides by water. It is also well known for being the birthplace of Veera Puran Appu, a hero who rose against oppression by the British in Kandy.
To get here, take Darley Rd/T B Jayah Mawatha, Dr Colvin R de Silva Mawatha/Union Pl, and C W W Kannangara Mawatha to Philip Gunewardena Mawatha. Go onto R A De Mel Mawatha, Galle Rd and A2 to De Soyza Rd/Moratuwa - Piliyandala Rd/B295 in Moratuwa. At the roundabout, take the first exit onto De Soyza Rd/Moratuwa - Piliyandala Rd/B295. It can take about an hour to reach the area, depending on the traffic conditions.
Situated in well-irrigated valleys between Adam's Peak and Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Ratnapura is a famous trading centre for the area's gem stones. There are several small museums on gemstones here, which contain modest displays and showrooms.
Take T B Jayah Mawatha and Maradana Rd to Colombo - Kandy Rd/Sri Sangaraja Mawatha. Keep right to continue on Colombo - Kandy Rd/Sri Sangaraja Mawatha. Continue to follow Colombo - Kandy Rd and pass by Azda Gas Center (on the right). Take Avissawella Rd/B435, Colombo - Hanwella Low Level Rd/AB10 and Rajasinghe Mawatha to E02 in Kaduwela. Drive from PNR Hwy/A8 to Ratnapura. Toll roads will be passed along the way, with the drive taking around two hours and 30 minutes.