Sri Lanka – 1. Introduction

Motorcycle: Honda XR 250 Baja at 15 USD per day from Negombo Motorcycle Tours. Deposit of 100 USD is required.
Distance Covered: ~1500KM
Reference: Lonely Planet Sri Lanka and free local maps
Spendings: 650 USD excluding air tickets and insurance (250 USD for bike rental and petrol, 100 USD for ticketings, 200 USD for lodgings and USD100 for food). 1 USD is worth about 115 Rupees.
Quick Review: Cultural sites, hill country and beautiful beaches

Negombo > Anuradhapura > Trincomalee (Nilaveli) > Sigiriya (Polonnaruwa, Ritigala, Dambulla) > Kandy > Delhouse (Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada) > Nuwara Eliya (Horton’s Plains) > Haputale > Galle (Unawatuna) > Colombo > Negombo

Clockwise loop around Sri Lanka, a teardrop-shaped island off the tip of India

If you would like a copy of my actual GPS route and some waypoints (as shown above) in Garmin GDB format (to open using Mapsource), just post a comment and I will send the download link (2mb file) to your email address.

Unlike some of my previous long-winded trip reports, this will be a very brief report with mostly photos.

The Sri Lanka trip report is divided into the following sections:

  1. Introduction (You are here)
  2. Journey Day 1-2 (Negombo to Anuradhapura)
  3. Journey Day 3 (Anuradhapura to Trincomalee)
  4. Journey Day 4 ( Trincomalee to Nilaveli to Sigiriya)
  5. Journey Day 5-6 (Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Ritigala, Dambulla, Kandy)
  6. Journey Day 7 (Kandy to Dalhousie – Adam’s Peak)
  7. Journey Day 8 (Adam’s Peak to Nuwara Eliya)
  8. Journey Day 9 (Nuwara Eliya to Horton Plains to Haptale)
  9. Journey Day 10 (Haputale to Galle)
  10. Journey Day 11-13 (Galle to Unawatuna to Colombo)

Disclaimer: This trip was taken in December 2009. The information is provided β€˜as is’ with no warranties and confers no rights. If you are interested to know more, please add a comment and I will update the post with more details. :)

71 thoughts on “Sri Lanka – 1. Introduction

  1. Hi, I am really impressed by your trips. Could you possibly send me the GPS route and waypoints? I am going to Sri Lanka in three weeks so IΒ΄d like to plan my route before. And you look like a very experienced traveller. I can find the places of interest by myself but the routes…routes are the problem in Sri Lanka…you would help me a lot, if you send me these files. Anyway, I wish you luck in your future trips…

  2. Hi there, very interesting to see your route through Sri Lanka. We’re going there in a couple of weeks and are keen to do something similar. Although we know the country quite well, independent navigation is really tricky so it would be great if you could send the GPS routes.
    thanks very much! Lois

  3. I will be in Sri Lanka in August intending to ride a bike to most of the places you visited and I would appreciate it if you could forward the GPS coordinates.

  4. Hi
    I love the trips that you have done they look really really interesting.

    I am interested in your route. could you send me the gps link. I am planning on going in march.
    that would be great thank you. sri lanka is the one i am interested in
    thank you
    justin hooke

  5. Atticus,

    Planning on visiting Sri Lanka in a couple of weeks and are debating whether it would be possible to rent motorcycles to get to Arugam Bay. Thoughts?

  6. Hi, saw your trip and it looks awesome. need some advice. my hubby and i are thinking of renting bike to go mainly the coastals. its just a simpler way of getting from Negombo to Unawatuna, instead of transfering by public transport.

    My hubby rides bike in SG and has a 2A license. Is our license recognisable in Sri Lanka? What is the rough amount you think we have to pay for bike rental to go so far.
    Your bike rental guy caused you to have to pay for a fine because of expired bike licence. Did he refund you the fine?

    Sorry for the multiple questions but hope you can reply asap cos i need to make a decision to go or not to go Sri Lanka by tomorrow night. Hope you can reply soon. Thanks! Btw I will be pillioning my hubby so… safe or not?

  7. Hi Jasmine,

    Please note that the roads from Negombo to Unawatuna are mostly straight, flat and heavy in traffic.

    You should apply for an international driving permit at AA Singapore. The IDP does not specify the class of the riding license. You would need to bring both the IDP and your local driving/riding license to Sri Lanka. When I was there, there were frequent stops and couple of checks by police/military.

    I remember paying less than USD20 per day. for an XR250. You can check the cost with Suranga.

    He refunded me the fine.

    Safe or not I cannot really answer. But FB666Y (from SBF) did pillion his wife on a XR250 in Sri Lanka including the hill country area. πŸ™‚

  8. Hi, I am very interested in your trip info, it looks awesome! We are leaving for 3 weeks on saturday, just can’t wait for it.
    By the way, is it necessary to have an international licence?
    Thanks a lot for your help!

  9. hi, i m goin sri lanka soon, could u pls send me the route? and also wht is the thing to be careful, like food, drink, at night time, etc? thanks ya!

  10. Hi wm,

    File sent to your email.

    If you want to be real careful, you can stick to restaurants with good crowds and avoid road side stalls, and stay in your hotels at night.

    But that’s not really the fun of traveling yaar? I guess just some common sense would be fine.

  11. An amazing trip and seems like a lot of fun. Am just about to start and had a similar route planned. but want to travel on more back roads.

    Thanks for the nice travelogue and maps.

    I just got a deal for 22$ from a guy in Colombo. Will try in Negombo. Trying to get the official license approval from here first.

  12. Hi, we’re planning to go to Sri-Lanka this October and your route seems to be excellent!
    Can you please send me the GPS coordinates!


  13. Hello Atticus,
    i am planning to go to Sri lanka soon. As i read, good streets to find is the problem. could you provide the CPS coordinates for me??
    Thank you a lot and save drive

  14. Dear Sir,
    Planning to Visit Colombo by next month. Kindly request you to send me the GPS coordinates.
    Loved your pictures.

  15. Hey! great trip and in the midst of planning one myself. Very helpful resource! Like everyone else the GPS coordinates would be much appreciated!

  16. Hello!
    I’ve read your report and I thought of trying the same rout.
    I’ve never ride a motorcycle before.
    Do you think It will went well?

  17. Hi there, I would like to make trip from Colombo to Hikkaduwa to Ceylon Tea Trails to Pinnawala Elephant sanctury, and back to colombo in 8 days by bike. Do you think this is possible, my bf has a new license and this will be our first ride, would you recommend this?
    Any other info would be great on roads we should take, thanks for your help!!! :))

  18. Hi Syreeta,

    If you bf is a new rider, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to start riding in a unfamiliar country (assuming you are not local) especially with a pillion and backpacks.

    Why not get a car? I am sure it would be a lot of fun as well.

  19. Hi again, we have booked hotels on a route as follows over a week and a half;
    Colombo – Hikkaduwa
    Hikkaduwa – Hatton
    Hatton – Kandy
    Kandy – Colombo
    I would be really greatful if you would be able to advise of the best roads to take and the condition of the roads in August? We have ridden by moped on long rides in India and before, so he has some experience, just new to motorbike…..

    Many thanks, Syreeta!

  20. Perhaps you can stick to the highways. Even though the traffic can be heavy, the roads are in generally good conditions.

    August would be the dry season so should be a pretty good time to ride.

  21. That’s a useful website.

    The truth is that I have not been to most of the roads you intend to take except for the Kandy to Hatton leg. But looks fine to me.

    Have a great and safe trip! πŸ™‚

  22. Hi…. Looks like you had great trip.. all be it wet one..!! πŸ™‚

    just quick question did you need to get a local permit as well as your own licence and international permit.. ? As I contact the guy you rented from to be told a local permit will cost $40 which seems high and surely unneeded if I already have an international permit ( only $15 in the states )


  23. Hi Glen,

    I didn’t get a local permit.

    When I was checked by the road blocks, I only had to produce the motorcycle papers and my international permit + driving/riding license.

    Did Suranga say that a local permit is required?

  24. Hi Again! Im just getting ready for the Journey this week, what riding gear do you think will be necessary to wear due to safety and time of year now?


  25. You know, it’s rare to find someone as talented as you are. I know you went on the trip for your personal enjoyment, but to post so much information and pictures, it’s one hell of a gift you’re giving everyone, including the country’s tourism.

    I’m planning to visit Sri Lanka end of October and I was wondering if they have motorcycles, it seems like it’s become my obsession to travel to countries with bikes. Makes the trip a little more fun, no?

    So I came across your page and I was literally shocked. Thank you for posting all this and because of you, I wish it was end of October already.

    Can you please send me the coordinates? I’m planning to do the same route you’ve done. Thank you a million times.

    Much love,

    Ahmed Houri
    A Lebanese Motorcycle Fanatic

  26. Question, do you think the rain will be a problem if I go end of October? I’d love to swim in the ocean and drive around on the motorcycle. Do you recommend I go anyway?

  27. Hi Ahmed,

    Thank you for your very kind words. πŸ™‚

    Yep, you can find motorcycles for rental. I saw two outfits in Negombo and one of them was listed here. Haha, I can understand that traveling on a motorbike can become pretty addictive.

    October seems to be the shoulder season. See Well, there’s never a best time to visit a place. So why wait? πŸ˜€

    How’s the motorcycle rental scene in Lebanon? I hope I have the chance to visit the area in future.

    Anyway, I have sent the link to your email.

    Have a great trip and post back if you can!

  28. Hey mate, would be intersted in looking @ your waypoints as a starting point for my trip. I’m thinking of going to Jafna with the same sort of plan, any suggestions? I’m going to assume since i heard the road is re-opened it shouldn’t be too hard to get there!

  29. Hi Char,

    Link sent to your email.

    I do not have the latest information on Jaffna but it seems like a long ride north from Anuradhapura. On the way back, maybe try a road closer to the eastern coast to Trincomalee?

  30. You are a 100% right! I have rescheduled my trip to new years! I can’t do it end of October but I’ll do it at the end of the year.

    Lebanon is a beautiful country with lots of beautiful tracks up the mountains, through the city, and by the beach. However, rental is difficult to find. I have been looking for quite a while and I can’t find anyone that rents.

    If you’re going to visit one day, let me know and I’ll see if one of my friends can you lend you his bike!


  31. Hey. Thanks for the great info. I’ve done some great trips riding through Cambodia and Laos – planning on sri lanka in October. A couple of my firends do not have bike licenses in any country, but have experiece. Sounds like there is a need to product licenses/papers in srilanka on occassion. Any tips on how to get papered enough to avoid endless hassles there? And if we can’t get papered should we still plan to go, or will that just be toruble? Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  32. It’s true that I was stopped quite a few times in Sri Lanka. Only on one occassion was my license checked.

    Officially, you should have your international driving permit and your country’s riding license. It might seem pausible to pay your way through any trouble. But I couldn’t recommend that could I?

    I can only suggest that you check with Suranga on the current situation in Sri Lanka.

  33. Great report Atticus thanks for the effort. 3 of us have booked a bike trip for April/May 2013 for 3 weeks pretty much following the same route with the odd side trip. After a bit of research we booked our bikes with Yellow Fleet in Negembo, 2 XR250 Baja and a Serow at US$25 a day. Slowly counting the days. If you could supply GPS data that would great.
    Stay Safe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *