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IDP is essential when driving abroad
International Driving Permit (IDP), regulated by the United Nations, certifies that you are the holder of a valid driver's license in your country of origin.
Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world.
How to get your IDP
Fill in the forms
Have your driver’s license and delivery address handy
Verify your ID
Upload pictures of your driver's license
Wait for confirmation and you’re ready to go!
How to get international driving license for Sri Lanka?
You can apply online for IDL via our website in a few simple steps:
1. Fill the international driving licence Sri Lanka application form
2. Upload 2 passport size photos
3. You will get approved within 2 hours or less.
The physical copy will be shipped to you anywhere you want. So you can apply for IDL from your country before the trip, from anywhere in the world: from India, Italy, Norway, Spain, Philippines, Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Taiwan etc.
Do you need an international driver’s license in Sri Lanka?
IDL allows you to drive motor vehicles in foreign countries. And, yes, it is essential, especially when you pass by some checkpoints in the country. It could be one of the things authorities might want to see during inspections. Car rental companies may also require your international driving permit.
If you want to drive a motorcycle, your IDP will be covered as type "A" and you will be able to drive or rent motorcycles in this country.
Once you get an international driver’s license for your trip, you must present it to the Department of Motor traffic for a temporary driving permit. Your temporary Sri Lankan driving permit and your international driver's license must go together since the latter serves as your local driver's license English translation.
What is the price for international driving permit?
The price for international driving permit in Sri Lanka is $49, which is valid for one year. You can choose from 1 to 3 years of validity for your international driving permit.
How to get Sri Lankan driving license?
This type of driver's licence is available for tourists who are in country for more then 6 months. It could be obtained at the Automobile Association of Ceylon in Galle Face, or the Department of Motor Traffic in Werahera.
Most Important Driving Rules
Being a tourist, apart from plotting out your destinations and schedule correctly, it is also best to have the freedom with your time and no other way to do it but to rent a car. Driving can be challenging, considering some narrow roads and road traffic. Familiarization is key! It pays to be familiar with the place, the people, and the road rules for a fruitful trip in this island country.
Some country roads may require you to drive on the right side of the road. When you go to Sri Lanka, you have to drive on the left side of the road.
Don’t miss out on essential documents
You can expect checkpoints in some places across the country. So don’t forget your IDL with you, together with your driver’s license, passport, and some identification cards. These might be needed on certain inspections. It pays to be ready.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is prohibited
Road accidents are one of the most deadly accidents in the world. Drunk driving can lead to minor and significant injuries. For those who will be caught drunk driving, there is a fine between LKR 25,000 to 30,000, and your license might be suspended for up to 12 months. A driver must not consume over 0.06% of alcohol.
Three different speed limits
Authorities are strict on these speed limits. For residential or rural areas, your vehicle speed must not be more than 50KPH. When passing through urban roads, you have a speed limit of 70KPH. Meanwhile, highways and expressways are 100PKH. Police officers will not hesitate to stop you when you go over the speed limit, even when you pass through expressways.
There is a corresponding fine for not wearing seatbelts while you are on the road. It is essential for both drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts. Toddlers should be provided with car seats and seatbelts should not be shared with them.
Do not use cell phones when driving
Though it has been a habit for some to check their cell phones now and then, it is prohibited when you are driving. You must know that you can use your cell phone, especially when you expect an essential call to use the hands-free system.
Observe road signs while driving
Road signs have three languages on them, Sinhala, Tamil, and English. These first two are the country’s official languages.
How can you miss the long coastlines of this country on the east and south coasts? Then go up north and enjoy flora and fauna inside some of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Learn history and religion. Learn how to make tea. And experience and taste first hand their authentic and exotic spices.
Most tourists would always start their trip in Colombo. There are also great locations in the capital that you can enjoy. Beira Lake is in the city’s heart, surrounded by busy commercial businesses and other buildings. There used to live crocodiles in the lake when the Portuguese constructed this to protect its people.
Now, this is a home for a variety of plants and animals. Though this is in the heart of the city, you can still relax, go on picnics, boat rides. The lake is also great for pilgrimages. For you to appreciate the place more, it is advisable to visit the site in the morning. It opens at seven in the morning and closes at six in the evening. November to February is the best time to visit since the air is more relaxed and low chances of rain.
- Beira Lake is just a five-minute ride from central Colombo.
- Head west on McCallum Rd/AC6 toward Kovil Veediya.
- Turn left at Lake House Bus Stop onto Colombo - Batticaloa Hwy/Colombo - Ratnapura - Wellawaya - Batticaloa Rd/Parsons Rd/Sir Chittampalam A Gardiner Mawatha/A4.
- Turn left at Air Force Hq Bus Stop onto Kew Point Rd.
- Turn right at SLPA Security Training School on Morgan Rd.
Now let’s get to know more about the lovely country. Don’t fail to visit its national museum that has been there since 1877. It was founded by Sir William Henry Gregory, the British Governor of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Explore rooms two to five of the museum as it showcases that mirrors ancient country, and also a must-see before you drive to ancient cities and Kandy.
Different kinds of arts will welcome you as you enter the museum, such as carvings, statues from ancient times, guns, swords, and many more. You can visit and discover the museum from 9 AM to 5 PM. They are open all year round except for public holidays such as the full moon, Poya Days, Sinhala and Tamil New Year Day, Thai Pongal, Ramazan, Christmas, etc.
- This is just an 8-minute car ride from central Colombo.
- Drive along Darley Rd/T. B. Jayah Mawatha, Dr Colvin R de Silva Mawatha/Union Pl, Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha and Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha.
- Turn left at SriLankaExporters.
- Destination will be on the left.
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
It is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy with a golden roof. The temple houses the sacred tooth of the Buddha. The room housing the tooth is open to devotees and tourists and is heavily guarded. The relic is placed in a gold casket, the reason you don’t see the relic once you visit there. The best time to visit the temple is outside prayer times around 5:30 AM, 9:30 AM, and 6:30 PM.
- Travel time from Colombo is about 3 hours.
- Follow McCallum Rd/AC6 and T. B. Jayah Mawatha to Maradana Rd/AC19.
- Take Colombo - Kandy Rd/A1 to Gannoruwa Road/Hector Kobbekaduwa Mawatha/B365 in Central Province.
- Follow Gannoruwa Road and AB42 to Kandy Rd/Kandy - Jaffna Highway/Sri Dalada Veediya/A9 in Kandy.
- Drive to Sangaraja Mawatha.
- Turn left at Provincial Health Ministry to stay at Sangaraja Mawatha.
The Gal Vihara
Located in the North Central Province of Polonnaruwa, this is one of the most famous rock temples in this country. Here you can see four different images and sizes of Buddha - a large seated, a smaller seated one, a standing Buddha, and a reclining Buddha. The tallest of them all is the standing Buddha that measures 7-feet tall and is the most visible.
Visitors usually visit The Gal Vihara in the morning, around 8 AM to 9 AM, so if you want to enjoy the place with fewer people, you might as well schedule your visit in the afternoon. Most tourists usually visit the site for about 30 minutes. You might also note that Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are the busiest days in Gal Vihara.
- You can check out The Gal Vihara after visiting the sacred Bodhi Tree. Travel time is about more than two hours.
- Take Mihindu Mawatha and New Elkaduwa Road to Bandaranaike Mawatha/A28.
- Take Kandy Rd/Kandy - Jaffna Highway/A9 and A11 to Hingurakgoda Rd/Minneriya-Hingurakgoda Rd/B287 in Minneriya.
- Follow Hingurakgoda Rd/Minneriya-Hingurakgoda Rd/B287 and Polonnaruwa-Hingurakgoda Rd/B552 to your destination in Nissankamallapura.
Sigiriya Lion Rock
They are also called Sigiriya Fortress that sits in the northern Matale District near Dambulla’s town. Considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, get ready to be amazed by the 360-view after climbing the 1,200 stairs to the top. On top of this rock was King Kashyapa’s palace, according to an ancient chronicle.
Reaching the top is not that hard since the right paths and stairs are already built. This 200-meter square-shaped rock is home to murals, gardens, a swimming pool, and a palace. The climb will take you 45 minutes, it also depends on your pace, and it's better to visit here in the morning when there’s less crowd. Once you reach the top, tour around the rock for 2-3 hours.
- If you are coming from The Gal Vihara, travel time is only more than an hour.
- Continue to Polonnaruwa
- Continue on Polonnaruwa-Hingurakgoda Rd/B552. Drive from A11 and Sigiriya Rd to Dambulla
- Turn right
Horton Plains National Park
For hiking enthusiasts, this is for you! This national park is a 3 169 hectare, full of flora and fauna; few of them are the rarest. You can do a 9km, 3-hour trek from the visitor center, which serves as a jump-off point. Start your hike early in the morning to avoid the extreme heat come noontime. Hortons Plains is the coldest and windiest place; enjoy that while you trek.
This national park is also home to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. And as you go along with your trek, you will see World’s End - a sheer cliff that is about 4,000 feet above sea level. You can enjoy the cold waters of Baker’s Falls. It is best to visit Hortons Plains from January to March as these are considered as drier months in the region.
- It takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach Hortons Plains from tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya.
- Head southeast on Peradeniya-Badulla-Chenkaladi Highway/A5
- Turn right at Magasthota Police Post onto Blackpool - Magasthota Rd.
- Turn left at Pradeep Motors onto Blackpool-Ambewela-Pattipola-Horton Plain Rd/B512.
- Turn left at Hiru Holiday Bungalow to stay on Blackpool-Ambewela-Pattipola-Horton Plain Rd/B512.
- Turn right at Ambewela Jct onto World's End Rd/B512.
Ella is a small town in southern part of the country. 8km from the center of town lies a famous cliff called Ella Rock. Upon reaching the town, you can hire a local guide to accompany you on your hike. Hiking will take about 2-3 hours depending on your pace. Inside you will see forest-like Eucalyptus trees. Just like any other hiking trip, the earlier, the better! It’s best that you set off early so you can view the landscape from the top.
- From Horton’s Plains National Park, you can reach Ella town in 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- Take Ohiya Rd/B508 to Beragala-Hali Ela Hwy/A16 in Bandarawela
- Continue on A16 to Ella
- Turn left at Ella city center and information onto Ella - Passara Rd/B113
Negombo is considered a commercial city on the west coast. During the colonial era, the Negombo lagoon’s shallow waters became one of the vital trading ports. If you want the quiet and cool sea breeze, don’t fail to visit Negombo beach. It is better to set out early, have with you a coffee or breakfast, and enjoy the serene sound of the waves. You might meet local fishers setting off for fishing. And while you’re at it, make sure to witness its picturesque sunset while lying on brownish sand.
- Negombo City is about an hour’s drive from Colombo.
- Take Maradana Rd/AC19, A1, Sebastian Canal Rd, Dr. Britto Babapulle Pl, ... and A1 to Colombo - Katunayake Expy/E03 in Wattala.
- Take Maradana Rd/AC19, A1, Sebastian Canal Rd, Dr. Britto Babapulle Pl, ... and A1 to Colombo - Katunayake Expy/E03 in Wattala.
- Continue on Chilaw - Colombo Main Rd/Puttalam - Colombo Rd/A3. Drive to Poruthota Road in Negombo.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Sabaragamuwa and Southern Provinces. This 7, 648-hectare forest reserve is home to over 50% of rare and endangered species of mammals, butterflies, insects, reptiles, and amphibians. Camping, trekking, hiking, and bird watching are allowed but should supervise the reserve in charge or wardens.
From months May to July is the southwest monsoon season with heavy rainfall that can cause mudslides. So it is best to visit this reserve from January to May and August to December, months where rain is least expected. This is also for you to appreciate the forest reserve better.
- From Hiriketiya Beach, it would take you close to three hours to get to Sinharaja Forest Reserve.
- Take Hiriketiya Rd to Colombo - Galle - Hambantota - Wellawaya Hwy/Tangalle Rd/A2
- Continue on Colombo - Galle - Hambantota - Wellawaya Hwy/Tangalle Rd/A2. Take Dikwella - Beliatte Rd/B101, Beliatta - Walasmulla Rd/B54, Walasmulla - Katuwana - Middeniya Road/B485, Ambagahahena, ... and Batandura Rd to Deniyaya Pallegama Road in Deniyaya
- Continue on Deniyaya Pallegama Road. Take Kolam Enigma Dombagoda Rd to Lankagama Deniyaya Rd
Gal Oya National Park
Another must-visit place if you are into biodiversity and wildlife. This 29,000-hectare reserve is located in the Uva and Eastern provinces. You should not miss the elephant herd that can be seen throughout the year in this national park. You can tour around the area through jeep or boar safari.
Here lie 32 terrestrial mammals like elephants, axis deer, water buffalo, leopard, and many more. Forest vegetation here has three kinds - forest, shrub, and grassland. The best time to visit Gal Oya is between June to December, when it’s the dry season. It’s also the best time to see elephants.
- The fastest route going here is from Kandy, for almost 4 hours.
- Head southwest on Baladaksha Mawatha toward Getambe Kandy By Pass/William Gopallawa Mawatha/AB42.
- Take Haragama Rd/B413 and Mahaweli Raja Mawatha/B492 to Jambugahapitiya-Mahagama Rd in Uva Province.
- Take Ritigaha - Arawa Rd to Bibile - Uraniya - Mahiyangana Rd/B57 in Rideemaliyadda.
- Continue on Bible - Uraniya - Mahiyangana Rd/B57. Take B527 to Pallang Oya - Inginiyagala/B350 in Eastern Province.
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