A complete guide to a tuk tuk tour experience in Sri Lanka

by | Jan 3, 2023

One of the most prominent things you would notice as soon as you enter the city limits of Colombo, Sri Lanka are the tuk tuks driving people around to and from. These are three-wheeled vehicles in a range of bright colors that come zipping past every corner with drivers eager to take their passengers to their destination as fast as possible.

Although they may look slightly dangerous from the outside, most locals embrace this mode of transport as the best, and tourists follow this belief. If you wish to experience tuk tuks in Sri Lanka, Blue Lanka Tours has got that covered for you. We have a special tuk tuk tour in Sri Lanka that takes you to tuk-friendly destinations such as Negombo, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella and Colombo where you can explore the entire city via tuk tuks! Just get in touch with our friendly travel consultants to customize your tuk tuk tour in Sri Lanka now!

Here are a few things that you should know about travelling in tuk tuks.

  • How to hail a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka?
    • From the roadside: stand on a busy street for 2-3 mins and you’ll find an available tuk tuk. Be sure to agree on the pricing upfront in case the tuk does not work on a meter.
    • From an app such as PickMe, Uber, YoGo. These apps can be downloaded on your smart phone and provides tracking options for better safety and a reliable service.
    • Pre-book from your hotel: usually most popular establishments have their own fleet of tuk tuks. Although these may be more expensive, they will be trustworthy as they are always sure about where they are going.
  • How much does a tuk tuk cost?
    • Metered: the law requires all tuk tuks to have a meter so passengers can clearly track the distance and cost of a journey as it progresses.
    • Non-metered: prices will have to be determined in advance with the driver in order to avoid disputes at the end of the ride.
    • Apps: tracking and calculation occurs on the app when the route is determined and the passenger is aware of the cost before he/she confirms the ride.
      The starting price for most tuk tuks in Sri Lanka is at LKR 100/- for the first kilometer and each following kilometer is charged at about LKR 90 or LKR 80, depending on the driver or the app. For non-metered tuk tuks, negotiation is advisable as they usually start off with the higher end of the prices.
  • Are tuk tuks safe?
    Tuk tuk rides in Sri Lanka are safe for the most part. Booking via hotel security or via an app is a safer option in terms of being scammed for the hire. In terms of road safety, traffic is a menace in Sri Lanka but tuk drivers are well used to navigating through the roads confidently.
  • How to instruct drivers the route to be taken?
    Once again, the app is a better option to be assured that the driver will take the correct route. Another option is to download the route before you disconnect from Wi-Fi and then show it to the driver on your phone.
  • Is it possible to hire a tuk tuk for a full day?
    Absolutely! For about LKR 10,000, a tuk driver will show you around the sights in the city and you can have him tag along for an entire day.
  • What are the main tuk tuk scams to look out for?
    The most important thing to look out for is the pricing – meter should not be running too fast, and prices for non-metered hires should be fixed. Also, drivers may take longer routes to bump up the fare but this can be combated by following the route on your phone map and instructing the driver accordingly.
  • Additional tips for a tuk tuk tour in Sri Lanka?
    • Be sure to keep your belongings in the center or back trunk of the tuk to avoid being flicked by rude passersby.
    • Tip your driver if your journey has been good and safe. A small tip will go a long way in boosting the driver’s morale.
    • Fix a pickup time for your return hire if the driver has been good and trustworthy. They will appreciate guaranteed work contracts.

Benefits of a tuk tuk tour in Sri Lanka

  • Freedom to stop and begin your journey whenever you want!
  • Access to areas where public buses and trains cannot reach.
  • A once-in-a-lifetime experience!
  • Cost-effective method of transport as compared to hiring a vehicle for a day.
  • Locals appreciate the business given to tuk tuk owners/drivers.

Rent and drive a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka

The best option for renting a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka is from a reputed tour company because they have a clearly laid out contract. They also sell insurance policies that covers theft and mechanical breakdowns. Reputed companies have good reviews so you can be assured of their trustworthiness. They also offer a 24/7 hotline to assist if you have any issues along your journey.

If you are renting a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka, you will also have to be able to drive it. If you have an international driving license, you can apply for a local one at the Automobile Association of Ceylon (AA) in Colombo. If you have a driving license from your country of origin, you can apply at the same center along with your passport copy and visa page, and for a small fee, your license will be issued. A tour company can also arrange a driving license for you within a day or two.

The more experience you have in driving a motorcycle, the easier it will be to get the hang of driving a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka. Similar to a motorcycle, a tuk tuk also has the gear shifting clutch at the left handle, the right handle for gas and the right foot is used for breaks. The lever on your right is to shift the gear in reverse, but you have to use your clutch at the same time. Driving on Sri Lankan roads can be chaotic so do take care and don’t get too close to buses, be assertive and be prepared. And don’t forget – Sri Lankans drive on the right-hand side!