The most popular means of getting around Sri Lanka are hiring a car with a driver, getting a taxi or a tuk-tuk, or using public transportation like buses and trains. Let’s look into those in more detail.
Pros: flexibility, negotiating on the price with the driver, possibly splitting the cost of the ride with other people heading the same way.
Cons: higher price, usually a bit of a hassle to find a driver.
Pros: ability to choose a class for the train, lower price than hiring a car.
Cons: slow, often delayed.
Taxi/tuk-tuk (tuk-tuk is a three-wheel vehicle, commonly found in Sri Lanka).
Pros: drivers know the roads very well, you can negotiate on the price (before getting in!), a lot to choose from.
Cons: pricy, it takes time to find a driver who is willing to take you for a good price.
Bus – the most common way of transportation for the locals; there are SLTB buses (usually painted red, often the oldest and slowest vehicles on the road, but can be slightly more comfortable than private buses), private buses (painted white, usually more crowded than the SLTB buses) and private minibuses (fast, have air-conditioning, but no luggage space and tiny seats).
Pros: cheap, cover even small villages.
Cons: overcrowded, often have no air-conditioning.
By air is a less popular, however also possible way of getting around in Sri Lanka.
Pros: superfast alternative to long journeys by road or rail, frequently beautiful views of the island from above.
Cons: prices aren’t cheap.
Overall, it is recommended to combine the aforementioned means of transportation for a better result. Use trains where you can and hire a car with a driver if you’re short on time!