Tips for Expats Driving in Negombo

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Negombo.

1. Understanding the Traffic

Driving in Negombo can be a bit chaotic for newcomers. The traffic rules are not always strictly followed and the roads can be crowded with a mix of cars, tuk-tuks, bicycles, and pedestrians. It’s important to be patient and alert at all times.

2. Car Recommendation

Compact cars are recommended for driving in Negombo due to the narrow roads and heavy traffic. They are easier to maneuver and park. However, if you plan to travel outside the city, an SUV might be more suitable for rough terrains.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Negombo can be challenging, especially in the city center. However, most hotels and restaurants offer parking facilities. Parking is generally not expensive, but it’s always good to check the rates beforehand.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Sri Lanka with an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with their national driving license. This is valid for up to six months. After that, you will need to obtain a local driving license.

5. Obtaining a Sri Lankan Driving License

To get a Sri Lankan driving license, you need to apply to the Department of Motor Traffic. The process involves a written test and a practical driving test. It’s recommended to hire a local driving instructor to familiarize yourself with the driving rules and conditions in Sri Lanka.

6. Be Aware of the Weather

The weather in Sri Lanka can be unpredictable and can affect driving conditions. During the monsoon season, roads can be slippery and visibility can be poor. Always check the weather forecast before planning a long drive.

7. Be Prepared for Unexpected

It’s not uncommon to encounter animals on the road in Sri Lanka, especially in rural areas. Always drive at a safe speed and be prepared for unexpected obstacles.

8. Respect Local Customs

Respecting local customs is important when driving in Sri Lanka. For example, it’s customary to honk your horn when overtaking another vehicle. However, excessive honking is considered rude.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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