Tips for a Smart Deal on a Tuk-Tuk Ride
5 little hints to make you a savvy tuk tuk rider in Sri Lanka
If you are headed to Sri Lanka, chances are high you are going to hail a tuk tuk at some point. These quirky three wheeled vehicles can be a fun way to experience a Sri Lankan city. But if you’re not paying attention you can also pay way more than you have to. Here are some ways to make sure you are paying the fair price for maximum enjoyment.
TIP #1: Use PickMe, the local car-hailing app, or Uber, which just recently introduced the tuk tuk feature. Note: PickMe doesn’t have dynamic pricing so during peak times all drivers disappear from the platform. These apps are available in the big cities such as Colombo, Kandy and Galle.
TIP #2: Even if you can’t get a PickMe or Uber due to restrictions (some areas might be patrolled by the old taxi guard, and may not allow car hailing app drivers to enter their territory) or high demand, you can always use the app to get a sense of what the fair price should be. If it’s peak hours, you may need to pay a little more, but you will avoid being grossly overcharged.
TIP #3: Most rides within Colombo city centre shouldn’t cost you more than LKR150-300. Even coming all the way from the far south of the city (Colombo 06) to the city centre the fare shouldn’t be much more than LKR300-450. If you are asked for a lot more than that, you should negotiate.
TIP #4: If you hire a tuk tuk for a few hours to see the city, don’t use the meter (which otherwise is a good idea). Agree on a flat rate before you go. Starting at around LKR 500 per hour is a pretty standard rate.
TIP #5: For longer distances you can try to set the price for the ride on a per kilometre rate. On average the rate is about LKR 40-50. However, if you are in a remote area, be prepared to pay 3-4x more. For instance if you are trying to reach Kalpitiya (for the kitesurfing but of course!) from Palaviya (the closest train stop to Kalpitiya) this will cost you about LKR 8000 for about 50km.
Afterword: These tips were compiled by Lina, Co-founder of Seek Sophie, who took plenty of tuk tuk rides in Sri Lanka and highly recommends this mode of transportation.