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Better to hire a car to explore the north ?

Haarlem, The...
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50 posts
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Better to hire a car to explore the north ?

Hi ,

My partner and I are traveling to Sri Lanka in July and staying for a month.

We want to visit Wilaputtu and Manner on the way to Jaffna and Ritigala and Minneriya on the way to Trinco and then beach hop for the last week or so.

Do you think we would be better hiring a car & driver for the first part of our trip?

Thanks

Emma

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Jaffna
Jaffna
Northern Province, Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
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60,622 posts
216 reviews
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1. Re: Better to hire a car to explore the north ?

Hi Emma,

It all depends on how much time and luggage you have. Buses (and trains) are fine but due to transfers and waits they're 50-60% slower than car-driver; and buses also accept limited luggage. Costwise public transport generally is less than 10% of the cost of private car-driver. Another disadvantage recently mentioned in the forum, especially for this area, is dust; when roads aren't that good travelling on a non-AC bus (as most buses here are) can be quite challenging if you're not used to the local combination of heat and dust.

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Hong Kong, China
3 posts
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2. Re: Better to hire a car to explore the north ?

how many days u plan to spend in the north?

I went to Jaffna from colombo last week. I took the early train (6:55am) to get Vavuniya then a bus to Jaffna . Get there by 6pm. vy tired public transportation tour!!! you will feel quite excited at the vy 1st beginning to c the fields the peoples from the window. but after 1~2 hrs , I just want to get there as soon as possible. its too hot and stuffy in both train and car. When u wanna open window to get fresh air, u cant imagine how much dust in the air. I clean my face with tissue after an hr in the train, the tissue turned to muddy yellow!!!!

I wont say its a bad experience to travel with public transport ,(as u can talk to the local) but if u hv a tight schedule( I spent 4days in the north, but to get and leave there cost me 2 whole days T_T), I will say better hire a driver. ofcoz, if u hv enough time u can stop somewhere to spend a night and continue the next day.

and I spent another day to get to Kandy from Jaffna. after tht, I hired a driver to get to around the South. If u want a driver, I will recommend him to u. His name is Praneeth, young but experienced local guide.

I dun hv his contact (coz was my fd to do the trip planning) but u can check his fackbook page to know more abt him.

https:/…299285990084345

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Jaffna
Jaffna
Northern Province, Sri Lanka
Kandy
Kandy
Kandy District, Sri Lanka
Haarlem, The...
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50 posts
12 reviews
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3. Re: Better to hire a car to explore the north ?

Hi,

Thanks for the replies.

We only travel with small backpacks and normally we travel by public transport.

This is our second trip to Sri Lanka and last time the buses and trains where great.

We found it really easy to travel around only it took all day to get anywhere.

I was wondering as the North has not been open to tourists for long would the transport be limited ?

We want to see as much as possible but there is not so much info on the North ?

Would we need a car for Jaffna itself to get about, see the islands ,Pedro Point etc?

The dust hadn't even crossed my mind thanks for the tip:).

Any ideas as to the cost of a car with driver?

Any recommendations?

Thanks

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Jaffna
Jaffna
Northern Province, Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka
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for Sri Lanka
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216 reviews
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4. Re: Better to hire a car to explore the north ?

Hi again,

Well the transport you use is for locals, not for tourists. The north is simply not as densely populated as the southwest but for sure 1-2 x per hour a bus on each main route. Plan carefully in case you don't board it at the starting point, otherwise you might have to stand for a while.

Inside Jaffna peninsula a tuktuk would be handy for some excursions yes; car is overkill for short distances.

Price for car-driver is based on Rs 70-75/km for one-ways and Rs 45/km for roundtrips, with a few extra constraints.

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

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Jaffna
Jaffna
Northern Province, Sri Lanka
Dunedin, New Zealand
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10 posts
36 reviews
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5. Re: Better to hire a car to explore the north ?

If you are used to driving on the left your trip around the north would not be a problem. You need to weigh up the costs of a driver versus the rental/ insurance etc of a rental

We found the driving in SL over all to be a lot less stressful than what we were advised (albeit with a driver)

compared to india where we live.

In short you should not have a problem if you drive slowly ie about 70 Km/hour on the open road and give way to anyone that looks like they have a death wish. Colombo is a bit chaotic but if one of you is driving and the other navigating, go for it !

Cheers Hamish

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Colombo
Colombo
Western Province, Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
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6. Re: Better to hire a car to explore the north ?

But if you want safety also against problems after accidents, DON'T selfdrive. See recent discussions, full car insurance in case of a problem does not protect tourists from being seen as a walking piggybank and ending up in jail if they don't pay quickly enough! This added with the many other negatives like 'hardly any or even no cost savings' (as car insurance is higher for tourists), risk of a badly maintained car, no time to enjoy the landscape as full attention is needed for the driving, etc. etc.

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

PS But OP also wants days of driving mixed with resting days on the beach, car rental fee per day would continue during beach days and hence it's really better to have the car back at starting point a.s.a.p....

Edited: 15 April 2013, 16:04
Colombo, Sri Lanka
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7. Re: Better to hire a car to explore the north ?

best is to hire a car to explore jaffna and other parts of the nothern sri lanka. The public transport would take time than you would have expected.

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Jaffna
Jaffna
Northern Province, Sri Lanka
8. Re: Better to hire a car to explore the north ?

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