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FAQs on hiring a tourist driver or guide in Sri Lanka

How much does a driver cost? What is included? What to expect?

These are only few of the many questions that independent travellers have before starting a trip to Sri Lanka. Many travellers want to have the comfort and flexibility to hire a driver and then decide on the way where to sleep or what to visit.

Let’s see below what are the most common questions on how to rent a driver in Sri Lanka.

What is the average daily cost of a standard driver in Sri Lanka?

The cost of hiring a driver in Sri Lanka will depend on what is included and what is not included and on the type of vehicle you want to rent. Usually drivers have a fixed number of kilometres per day and they do not go beyond 80 to 100 kilometres per day.

This limit may seem very little for a tourist. However, consider that travelling in Sri Lanka is not as easy as in many Western Countries. The roads can be bumpy and any animals, cows, dogs, tuk tuks and lorries will make your trip really SLOW. See below for more information, on point 2.

The cost of renting a car with driver in Sri Lanka will vary. As a general rule, if the food and accommodation of the driver is provided, calculate an average of:


  • Up to 45 USD per day for a Budget Car. Such as a Suzuki Alto or a simple TATA Nano;
  • 50 to 75 USD per day for a Mid Budget Car. Such as a Toyota  Axio or a Prius;
  • From 80 USD per day for a Luxury SUV or Car. For example a Mitsubishi Santa Fe.


  • From USD 70/day for a Van for up to 6 pax: for example, a Toyota KDH Van or similar.

Another important factor that will change the overall cost of a driver in Sri Lanka is for how many days you are thinking to hire a driver. As a general rule, it will be more expensive to have separate transfers from one place to the other, rather than hiring the driver for the whole tour. This is because the drivers have to spend more money to return to their starting point and they tend to agree on a special rate if you book for at least 5 or 7 days.

As a general rule, expect to have higher daily rates for 1-3 day tours, compared to longer Round Tours of the island.

Another important factor is if you are hiring a standard driver only for transfers from one point to the other or you request the services of a Tourist Driver or Chauffeur Guide. Particularly Chauffeur Guides could be more expensive because they can also guide you to different tourist locations and explain many things about Sri Lanka. You can read more about the difference between Tourist Drivers, Chauffeur-Guides and National Tour Guides in our dedicated article.

How do I Calculate Travelling Time in Sri Lanka?

If you are an independent traveller and you are used to check itineraries, distances and traffic on your smartphone, put your phone in your pockets and relax! :-)

Remember that most of the time, the travelling time shown in Smartphone Map Apps is WRONG! DO NOT take Smartphone Map Apps in Sri Lanka as reliable sources of traffic calculation. There are too many variables in this countries that are not calculated by these fantastic tools. 

Animals, tuk tuks and lorries are EXTREMELY SLOW and will make your trip very long. The average speed of a tourist vehicle for your trip will be 50km/hour. Sometimes, due to the traffic (such as the Kandy-Colombo road) and the slow vehicles, 100 kilometres might be covered in 4 to 5 hours, unless you wish to leave VERY EARLY (4 am) and avoid day’s traffic. Remember, however, that life begins early in tropical countries. So by 6am, the roads will already be very busy.

This is the reason why many drivers will put a mileage limit of 100 km/DAY. We understand that you love planning all by yourself and maybe cover larger distances, but we really recommend you to listen to your driver’s recommendations when it comes to plan an itinerary.

Their local knowledge will really make a difference on your trip.

Example:if the driver recommends you not to do large stretches in one day (such as Sigiriya to Nuwara Eliya or Sigiriya to Galle!), listen to your driver and find an alternative solution that can work for both of you.

Alternatively, the trip could become very long, tiring for the driver and unsafe for all of you.

What is included in a Sri Lankan Guide or Driver’s Quotation?

Usually the following services are included in a Driver or Guide’s quotation:

  • Driver or Guide Service:  Driving Service only for the initially booked total number of days. If additional days are taken you will be charged of each additional day a driving fee, if the driver is available.
  • Driver’s or Guides Meals;
  • Drivers BATA: Only for the initially booked total number of days.
  • Fuel;
  • A/C;
  • Limited Kilometres per day (usually 100 km a day)
  • Car-Full insurance with Passengers;
  • All Taxes, VAT and Service Charges;
  • Parking fees other than Airport;

What is not included in a Sri Lankan guide or Driver’s quotation?

Usually the following services are NOT INCLUDED in a Driver or Guide’s quotation:

  • Driver’s or Chauffeur Guides Accommodation: This happens if the hotel that you have booked independently does NOT provide drivers’ quarters or accommodation. Most of the star hotels provide this service and also some Guest Houses. But this depends a lot, so you better ask the hotels. Alternatively, they usually charge an average of 10-14 USD/day for the Driver’s Accommodation and meals
  • Extra Km cost (which to be paid direct to the driver/guide, if not paid in advance): Usually the extra mileage is 45Rs per Km.
  • A Site Guide’s Fee, if not paid in advance.
  • Highway tickets (Must be paid directly by Guest, if not paid in advance)
  • Airport Welcome.  If you require the driver to come inside to the AIRPORT HALL AND WAIT FOR YOU THERE, there is usually an extra charge of 6 USD for a car or Van. Small Coaches USD 9.5, Large Buses USD 11, All Price are Per Vehicle.
  • Entrance fees for Tourist sites in Sri Lanka and for activities.
  • Any tips to the hotels staff, guides, drivers and porter chargers.
  • ETA Mandatory VISA on Arrival. (Log on to : ETA in Sri Lanka)
  • Travel insurances. Which is a must you should have for any form of losses or regrets.
  • Train Tickets in Sri Lanka: Some drivers may help to find/book your train tickets in Sri Lanka (expect an extra for this service). However, this is subject to availability and not everyone can provide this service.

Do I have to Tip the Drivers and Guides? How much shall I tip?

Tipping is a good practice in Sri Lanka. For more information on how much to tip a Driver or a Tour Guide, please read our general information article.

Now that you have the key information on costs, time of travelling and services of Drivers and Guides in Sri Lanka, just contact us and enjoy your trip in Sri Lanka!

You can also read more on the different types of Drivers and Tour Guides in Sri Lanka.

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