We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

Sydney
Level Contributor
4,046 posts
199 reviews
Save Topic
Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

I have just returned from an amazing solo 16 day motorbike ride through Sri lanka. A trip like this is not for the faint hearted and I researched extensively before proceeding with this challenge.

I have 40 years riding experience in places including Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and several rides through Vietnam.

I travelled from Negombo thru Colombo and south to Hikkaduwa. The scenery was amazing, the traffic hectic and the roads were excellent.

From Hikka I rode to Galle, Unawatuna, Welegama and Mirissa on the south coast and then headed to up the east coast toTangalle and Tissa, then on to Arugam bay.

After a lazy beach respite in Arugam I headed west into the highlands to Ella, Haputale, Nuwara Eliya then Kandy before finishing my planned circuit in Negombo 16 days later.

From each location I would do day trips after booking into my accom, which I had a shortlist of and which suited my budget.

It was an awesome experience and a challenge that I will always remember. The friendliness of the people and the food was extraordinary.

Tips:

1) I think my biggest tip would be to select the best Motorcycle rental company. After researching on TA and similar I chose Negombo Motorcycle Tours. The emails and contact flowed freely from the onset and Suranga, the owner was amazing to deal with. He arranged my Sri lankan riders permit and provided airport pickups and accom at his guesthouse in Negombo.

He arranged the proper Insurance and the most reliable motorbike that I have ever ridden, a Honda XR 250 trail bike. The reason that the bike was so reliable was due to the fact that Suranga only uses imported genuine parts, and also that his mechanics maintain the bikes in top condition. I did not have a single problem with my moto and take my hat off to Suranga and his staff. He also provided maps and fine tuned my itinerary to make the most of my tour.

2) I carried a very up to date map which I used many times as the signage in SL is a bit tricky. I also found that Google maps were pretty spot on, and again found this App invaluable.

3) I made a point of taking the time to get a Dialog Sim put in my phone. Wifi is pretty good in SL but when you are in the middle of nowhere and a bit lost it was really handy to have 3G to use Google Maps. Just pop into a Dialog store with your passport and they will set it up for you for a couple of dollars.

4) Don't bother pre-booking accomodation. Firstly, if the weather changes you may struggle to get to that location. Secondly, you have more freedom to stay a little longer or leave earlier. Lastly, I found that riding in off the street and negotiating the price was easier and cheaper than booking on line.

I did have a shortlist of 2 or 3 possible options and rode around till I found the right one in the right location for the right price.

Thank you to the TA forum and community for assisting in making my trip unforgettable.

Regards,

Mark

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
4,944 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

Interesting report. Was bad weather even a factor when you were riding ? Also did you do Arugam Bay, Ella, Haputalle and Nuwera Eliya in that particular order ?

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
19 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

Sounds great, but I have got to say you are a brave man Mark. I was there in April and plan to revisit next year as we only scratched the surface. I have ridden myself in Vietnam and Thailand, but there is no way I would ride, or even drive in SL. We had a driver for our 10 days and it was far more relaxing and safer. Each to their own and I am sure it provided a lot of freedom for you, but I personally would never recommend anyone ride in SL. Glad you enjoyed your time though. Would highly recommend SL as a destination.

Sydney
Level Contributor
4,046 posts
199 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

Hey SeekingPlaces

The weather was fantastic and I only had afternoon storms in Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. Lucky I guess. Yes that was the route I took but I had not planned to pop into Haputale. The morning that I left Ella was beautiful so I decided to head down to Haputale to see the amazing misty views before taking the rough road through the Tea Estates and back to Nuwara Eliya. Beautiful ride but rough at times.

peking303

Yes, it was a bit of a daring trip but one I needed to do before I get too old :-) As I mentioned, it is not something for the faint hearted or ill prepared. The day after returning to Sydney I was thrown into the bushfires in the mountains and yesterday had a roof collapse on me while extinguishing a burning house so I am used to a bit of adrenalin :-)

And yes I agree, SL is an awesome destination!!!

Mark

Level Contributor
52 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

That sounds like an amazing journey! Driving through the highlands must have been tough though, I imagine. Tip # 3 is very helpful, thanks! I think Tip # 4 would be seasonally applicable - not booking accommodation in advance during peak tourist season might set you back a few dollars, more often that not.

Sydney
Level Contributor
4,046 posts
199 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

Yes, I agree Amiya S,

My suggestion was def seasonal but I still think bargains can be obtained on arrival. The highlands provide some of the best riding in Sri lanka and some of my favourite memories.

Mark

Roosendaal, The...
2 posts
1 review
Save Reply
6. Re: Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

Hi Mark,

first of all; amazing story, must have been an adventure.

I leave for Sri Lanka in a couple of days and would like to rent a Honda Baja 250CC and hit the tracks for a day, maybe two. Can you tell me which tracks are most quietly with good roads? I don't have a driver's license, but know how to ride it (took a tour in Cambodia for 2 weeks), can this be a problem?

Thanks,

Ferdinand

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
4,944 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

I'm assuming that it's going to be a problem because how are you going to get a driving permit that is endorsed by the local AA ?

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
52,089 posts
176 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

And beware, local police do more checking on foreigners than on locals, and hope to find any 'scratch' so that they can fine heavily :-( Tourists generally don't know the official fines anyhow hence can be made to pay far more, with the remainder often going into private pockets. Hence if you want to earn the title of dumb&^^ss tourist of the month here, go ahead with your plan ....

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Sydney
Level Contributor
4,046 posts
199 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

I agree with Erik and SeekingPlaces. I made sure that all the boxes were ticked otherwise I would not have done the trip. Apart from the police checks you also need to understand that insurance will be voided if you have an accident.

Good luck

Mark

Roosendaal, The...
2 posts
1 review
Save Reply
10. Re: Motorcycling through Sri Lanka. Tips and trips.

Hi all,

of course I understand the risks (permit, Insurance etc.), but isn't that a part of life? (Is that naive?). But OK, you have to take it seriously if you're warned. By the way, I would only rent a bike for a day, not for a whole trip. I did that in Cambodia and, got off fine.... I will discuss it over there and then make a plan. Thanks again!!!