There are hundreds of tour operators in Sri Lanka, from a local one person’s business with a van or car to big international enterprises with a collection of different vehicles from cars to VIP coaches. Their quality may vary considerably in service, knowledge about the country, safety, qualification and price. Sometimes people approach you in the street or on the beach for a tour, but they are mostly not tour operators, let alone tour guides. They hire a van with a driver and they think they will give you a nice tour, but without any knowledge about what to see and where to stay. Be careful with these kinds of touts.
Advantages of an organized tour
If you have a limited time to plan your tour through Sri Lanka; if you find it complicated to travel through this country with a different culture; or if you feel more relaxed to have everything well organized by an expert, you need the services of a tour operator.
There are two options for you. Either you book your entire tour through a tour operator in your country of departure, including the flight, or you organize your own flight and book your tour via a tour operator in Sri Lanka. As mentioned above, there are numerous tour operators in Sri Lanka, well established ones with an international reputation, smaller ones, of which some are specialized tour operators, and the real small ones which are mostly van drivers/guides (see also the header ‘transportation’). Rates may vary considerably, dependent on the vehicle, the tour and the accommodation. Almost all local tour operators work on a private hired basis, not on an open enrollment (sharing with other tourists). You will have your own driver/guide and vehicle for yourself and your family members or friends during the entire tour. A list of qualified chauffeur tourist guides can be found on the website of the Sri Lankan Tourist Board.
When you book your all inclusive tour outside Sri Lanka there are mostly two options: a tour which you share with other tourists (sometimes different nationalities) or a private tour. The tours which are being carried out by the international tour operators are generally of high quality, with excellent luxurious coaches and luxury vehicles.
Compose your own tour
Through this website, you will always be able to find the information you need. You can already do most of the preparations for your Sri Lanka holidays regarding the things to see, to do and where to stay and select a vehicle with driver according to your budget. We advice you not to pay the full amount ahead if you don’t take a qualified tour operator. However there are many pleasant and service minded van drivers, so don’t hesitate to select one from our list. Take a tour operator if you feel they can better organize your tour than you or if you have a lack of time. Having your tour planned from A to Z may give you a better and relax feeling.
You can also decide to have the first few days organized by a tour operator in case you have never been in Sri Lanka and are unsure what to expect. Take in mind that after a long journey, you are tired. Your first impression of a country mostly sets your mood for the rest of the days, so take this into consideration.
If you have special wishes for spending your holidays, be aware that there are specialized tour operators, which have a great knowledge and experience in the field you may be interested in, like cycle tours, bird watching, water sports, etc.
There are guides who can speak your native language, so if you find it difficult to travel around with a language barrier, search for a guide who speaks your language fluently (see the header ‘tour guides’ in this website).
It is strongly advisable to take a travel-insurance for the duration of your holidays to be covered for unexpected trouble with your health or loss of baggage.