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Best way to explore Sri Lanka_ a comparison of self-drive tuktuk, car with driver, bus, and train travel

Best way to explore Sri Lanka: a comparison of self-drive tuktuk, car with driver, bus, and train travel.

Are you planning a trip to Sri Lanka and wondering what the best way to explore this beautiful country is? Sri Lanka is a small island nation with an extensive road network, making it easy to travel around. In this article, we will compare four popular modes of transportation – self-drive tuktuk, car with driver, bus, and train travel – and help you decide the best way to explore Sri Lanka.

The Allure of Self-Drive Tuktuk

There’s something undeniably appealing about navigating Sri Lanka’s winding roads and bustling towns in your very own tuktuk. This three-wheeled vehicle, commonly used by locals, offers a unique and authentic way to explore the country. With a self-drive tuktuk, you have complete control over your itinerary, allowing you to stop at any point of interest and take in the scenery at your leisure.

Pros of a self-drive tuktuk

  • High flexibility: Travel at your own pace and explore off-the-beaten-path locations.
  • Authenticity: Immerse yourself in local culture by driving a traditional Sri Lankan vehicle.
  • Local expertise: the tuktukrental.com digital attractions map is your Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and Local Guide in a map on your phone!
  • Eco-friendly: tuktukrental.com offsets carbon emissions, making your journey more sustainable.

The Comfort of a Car with Driver

Hiring a car with a driver is a popular choice among tourists who prefer to sit back and relax while someone else navigates the roads. This option provides a comfortable and convenient way to explore Sri Lanka, with the added benefit of a driver who can provide insights into local customs and history, if they have the knowledge.


  • Comfort: Enjoy a spacious and air-conditioned vehicle during your travels.
  • Local expertise: Gain insights from a local driver who can recommend attractions.
  • Storage space: A car offers more luggage storage compared to a tuktuk.

The Budget-Friendly Bus Travel

For budget-conscious travellers, public buses provide an affordable way to get around Sri Lanka. This mode of transportation allows you to experience daily life alongside locals and witness the vibrant colors and sounds of the island nation.


  • Affordability: Buses are the most budget-friendly option for transportation in Sri Lanka.
  • Authenticity: Interact with locals and experience everyday life in the country.
  • Eco-friendliness: Using public transportation reduces your individual carbon footprint.

The Scenic Train Travel

Train travel in Sri Lanka is a fantastic way to witness the country’s diverse landscapes, from lush tea plantations to golden sandy beaches. With various train classes available, you can choose the level of comfort that suits your budget and preferences. Tickets are limited and highly subjet to availibity.


  • Scenic routes: Train journeys offer picturesque views of Sri Lanka’s stunning landscapes.
  • Affordability: Train travel is an economical option, with different classes available to suit your budget.
  • Authenticity: Interact with locals and enjoy a quintessential Sri Lankan travel experience.

The Comparison Table

This comparison table outlines the key differences between self-drive tuktuk, car with driver, bus travel, and train travel in Sri Lanka. The self-drive tuktuk option provides a unique, adventurous, and authentic way to explore the country, with the highest level of flexibility and independence. However, it also has limited storage space compared to a car with a driver. By comparing the pros of each mode of transport, travellers can make an informed decision about the best way to experience Sri Lanka.

Mode of TransportSelf-Drive TuktukCar with DriverBus TravelTrain Travel
CostAffordable, with potential savings on transportation costs, especially in tourist areas with no public transport. Taxi tuktuks are extremely expensive.More expensive due to driver fees, prices vary between $40 and $150 per day. Driver food and accommodation are often excluded as well.The most budget-friendly option, it is incredibly cheap.Affordable, with various classes available but minimal availably, especially on popular routes.
FlexibilityHigh – travel at your own pace, stop wherever and whenever you want. Have a coconut by the side, take the small road, venture into that tiny village and see everyone smile as you drive the people’s mode of transport!Moderate – dependent on the driver’s willingness to venture off the agreed route.Low – reliant on predetermined routes and schedules.Low – reliant on predetermined routes and schedules.
AuthenticityHigh – immerse yourself in local culture by driving a tuktuk. The tuktukrental.com attractions map gives a lot of fantastic insight.Moderate – interaction with the driver may provide some cultural insights. Depending on language knowledge. Often drivers take you to places they receive commissions.High – opportunity to interact with locals and experience daily lifeHigh – scenic routes and opportunity to interact with locals.
IndependenceHigh – freedom to explore without relying on others.Moderate – dependent on the driver.Low – reliant on public transportation schedules.Low – reliant on public transportation schedules.
AdventureHigh – unique and exciting way to explore Sri Lanka.Low – traditional mode of transport.Low – traditional mode of transport.Moderate – scenic train routes can be adventurous.
Access to Remote LocationsHigh – tuktuk’s size allows for easier access to narrow roads and remote areas.Moderate – limited by car size and road accessibility. Drivers often will not venture off the beaten track.Low – limited to bus routes.Extremely Low – limited to train routes, there are only a few on the island.
Eco-FriendlinessModerate – but tuktukrental.com offsets all carbon emissionsLow – car emissions not offset by any other rental company in Sri Lanka.Moderate – public transportation reduces individual carbon footprint.Moderate – public transportation reduces individual carbon footprint.
Storage SpaceLimited – tuktuk has less storage space compared to a car. More information about it can be found here.Moderate – car offers more storage space, depending on the size of the vehicle. Limited – dependent on available space on bus. They can charge more for big bags.Limited – dependent on available space on train.
Learning OpportunityHigh – learn to drive a tuktuk and navigate local traffic.Low – driver handles navigation.Low – limited interaction with transportation.Low – limited interaction with transportation.


Each mode of transportation offers a unique way to experience Sri Lanka, with their own set of pros and cons. A self-drive tuktuk provides an adventurous and authentic journey, while a car with driver offers comfort. Bus travel is the most budget-friendly choice, while train travel combines affordability with breathtaking scenery. Consider your personal preferences, budget, and travel goals when selecting the best option for your trip. No matter which mode of transport you choose

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