SLNOTES Sri Lankan Travel Blog Tue, 07 Jan 2020 18:15:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sri Lanka’s Tranquilizing Beaches Tue, 07 Jan 2020 12:41:15 +0000 The emerald isle Sri Lanka was named as the best country to visit by Lonely planet magazine a few months back. One major reason to name the island as one of the best tourist destinations in the world is because of the presence of several very attractive beaches all around the island. The green vegetation […]

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The emerald isle Sri Lanka was named as the best country to visit by Lonely planet magazine a few months back. One major reason to name the island as one of the best tourist destinations in the world is because of the presence of several very attractive beaches all around the island. The green vegetation followed by wide white beaches, the feel of smooth sand, the warmth of the sun, ocean breeze and the sound of the crystal waters spreading over the shore gives a uniquely authentic experience of relaxation and satisfaction. Over 250000 tourists come in every month to Sri Lanka craving for this amazing experience of happiness and relaxation.

There are quite a lot of activities for tourists arranged in the beach areas in Sri Lanka. Surfing, snorkeling, coral watching, boat rides, whale watching, scuba diving, sunbathing, swimming and even traveling to remote islands nearby the coast. Sri Lanka is a paradise for tourists who like to get away from their daily routines of work and experience the nature being with it. Who doesn’t like to experience the beauty of a lovely sunset being in a perfectly relaxed state of mind? Its heaven on earth. It is Sri Lanka.

East Coast of Sri Lanka

East coastal line of Sri Lanka is filled with some scintillating set of beaches. The beaches are most scenic in the early morning when the sun is rising. Watching the sun color, the sky with various types of shades and hues bit by bit is like meditation. At the same time, there are a lot of activities that are arranged for tourists to engage in. Here is a list of beaches you should definitely consider if you are a beach lover traveling on the east coast of Sri Lanka.

Arugam Bay

arugam bay sri lanka
arugam bay sri lanka

Arugam bay is named the best surf spot in the country by Lonely Planet. It is not a highly populated place giving it extra value for tourists to enjoy the most. Even if you are not interested in surfing, there are beachside resorts and restaurants which has got a special tranquilizing vibe to them.

Marble Beach – Trincomalee

marble beach sri lanka
marble beach sri lanka

Marble beach is one of the cleanest beaches in the country. It is situated in a bay close to the longest bridge in Sri Lanka (Kinniya bridge). It is run by the air-force, therefore, security is out of the question in this place. There are a number of lifeguards at service but surprisingly, the water here is the calmest compared with many other beaches in the country.

Nilaweli – Trincomalee

nilwaeli beach sri lanka
nilwaeli beach sri lanka

Nilaweli is situated around 16km north of Trincomalee. There is a lot of seaside resort you can find in this area. The whole beach is separated from the country by a huge coconut palm grove. Other activities like snorkeling and boat rides are also available at Nilaweli beach.


pasikuddah beach sri lanka
pasikuddah beach sri lanka

Pasikuddah is situated close to Batticaloa. It is a remote area where the population is at its minimum. It’s a very attractive shallow beach. You can go at least 100m to 200m into the sea without a problem. It’s an area rich in scenic beauty and nature. There are a lot of hotels situated close to Pasikuddah beach.

Down South – Sri Lanka

There are some amazing beaches located on the southern side of Sri Lanka. Here is a list of attractive beaches in the southern province of Sri Lanka.


unawatuna beach sri lanka
unawatuna beach sri lanka

Unawatuna is very popular among tourists in the world. Situated 6km away to Galle Fort. Unawatuna is filled with people most of the time in the year due to its popularity. There are a lot of activities at Unawatuna like coral watching, snorkeling, diving, etc.


mirissa beach sri lanka
mirissa beach sri lanka

Mirissa is another scenic beach. This place is a popular whale-watching place as well. Most of the resorts near Mirissa arrange trips for tourists to watch whales in the deep sea. 


tangalle beach sri lanka
tangalle beach sri lanka

Turquoise waters, coconut trees, and white smooth sand makes Tangalle beach one of the most attractive beaches on the island. The sandy beach stretches many kilometers and the sunsets over there are breathtaking. Swimming is permitted only in a few safe areas so beware.


bentota beach sri lanka
bentota beach sri lanka

Bentota is a populated area therefore you can find almost all the services as you are in Colombo. The broad brown sandy beach stretches for kilometers. There are a lot of hotels and resorts close by the seaside.


hikkaduwa beach sri lanka
hikkaduwa beach sri lanka

Hikkaduwa is named as a surfing site. Although the waves might not be as good as in Arugam Bay. Hikkaduwa is also popular for its presence of corals a few meters away from the shore. Locals call it a Coral sanctuary.

West Coast of Sri Lanka

West coast is popular for its amazing sunsets. The way sun colors the sky with red, green, blue, yellow and violet is just amazing. The hotels and resorts rendering all kinds of services to tourists from around the world make it a very attractive place to be in.


negombo beach sri lanka
negombo beach sri lanka

Honestly talking, the Negombo beach was polluted before but now they are taking steps to clean the beach. It’s a good thing to hear. Negombo is very close to Katunayeka international airport. There are many churches in Negombo and there is even an area named “Little Rome”. A lot of Catholics live in this region. The availability of decent hotels makes it a good place to stay.


kalpitiya beach sri lanka
kalpitiya beach sri lanka

Kalipitiya is a broad beach with white sand. Actually, it’s a tip of a large lagoon on the western side of Sri Lanka. Not a very populated area making it a good opportunity for tourists to enjoy a lot.  

Dangerous Sites

Although most of the beaches in Sri Lanka are safe to dip in and enjoy, there are several places that tourists are not advised to go. In most of those places, there are red flags indicating that it is dangerous to bathe in the sea. Please do avoid those areas on the beach since the sea might not be as fun full as it seems to be everywhere. Always check for lifeguards nearby. It is always good to enjoy but remember to be on the safe side at the same time. Sea can be rough sometimes. 🙂

Click on the following links to read more about:

Spice Garden Scam in Sri Lanka | How to Select Sri Lankan Tour Guides | Sri Lanka Tuk Tuks

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Guides in Sri Lanka Sun, 15 Dec 2019 17:40:04 +0000 A “ guide” is a person who is assisting tourists to explore Sri Lanka. A guide by profession is someone who has a good knowledge of places, their archeological importance and of the history related to those places. When tourists come to Sri Lanka, guides are there to help the tourists visit places in Sri […]

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A “ guide” is a person who is assisting tourists to explore Sri Lanka. A guide by profession is someone who has a good knowledge of places, their archeological importance and of the history related to those places. When tourists come to Sri Lanka, guides are there to help the tourists visit places in Sri Lanka and gather knowledge about those places.

Why do you need tour guides to tour Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is a country with a 2500-year-old history. Sometimes even more. There are quite a lot of historically important places to visit all around Sri Lanka. For instance, Sigiriya is considered the world’s 8th wonder. It is situated in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is also a country rich in scenic beauty. By being in Colombo (capital) tourists won’t be able to experience nature. There are many places to visit all around Sri Lanka. From the warm sand beaches through thick rain forests to the cold mountain tips, there are hundreds of places to visit in this small emerald isle. Therefore arguably, tour guiding plays a key role to satisfy tourists’ needs and wants which in turn can have a huge impact on the whole tourism industry.  

Most of the tourists come from India, Germany, USA, China, France, etc. Languages people use are different. It sometimes acts as a barrier for tourists to experience most out of their stay in Sri Lanka. Although some of the Sri Lankans use English as a common language, most of the native people in Sri Lanka use their native language, Sinhala. Therefore, it might be difficult sometimes for tourists, even to buy something from a shop in Sri Lanka. In this case, tour guides become very useful to connect with native Sri Lankan people and share knowledge and ideas. It might come in handy for whoever wants to have an authentic Sri Lankan experience.

How much do the tourist guides charge?

The service charge for guides can vary from USD 10 per day to USD 60 per day. This amount depends on the size of the group of tourists, the demand, experience, knowledge and many other factors. Along with the service charge, there is something called the “driver bata” that sometimes tourists have to provide. Driver bata is basically a small provision for the driver to cover his expenses for his meals, tea or a drink and some snacks. Usually, the driver’s bata is around USD 4-5. That is around Rs.700 to Rs.900 per day in LKR. For long-distance travel, sometimes the driver might have to stay overnight. In this case, you can agree on paying an extra $10 for the transfer. But if you are registered to an all-inclusive tourist package, then you might not want to consider all these expenses for guides.

How to book an official tourist guide?

You can book a tourist guide through the government website for tourists who are touring Sri Lanka.

On the website, you will find close to 2000 tourist guides registered under the Sri Lankan tourism board. The website provides all the information including name, email, address, telephone number, and the registration number as well.

Licensed site-guides

There is another way that you can get a guide if you want information regarding a specific place. For instance, say you are visiting Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. You want a guide to assist you on the trip to Sigirya. Tourists can find quite a lot of guides near Sigiriya who are waiting to offer their services. At the entrance, you can talk with one of such guides, ask for the price and then book one of the guides to guide you along. Likewise, there are guides near most of the places where you can simply book one there. You can find such tourist guides near the following tourist attractions.

  • Sigiriya
  • Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa ruins
  • Dambulla temple
  • Safaris
  • Peradeniya botanical gardens
  • Horton plains
  • Knuckles mountains
  • National parks etc.

These types of guides are called licensed site guides.

Licensed tour-guide

There is another type of guide called a licensed tour guide. There are two categories under licensed tour guides.


  • Handle small tourist groups (1 – 7 people)
  • Has his own vehicle
  • Driven by himself

National Guide Lecturer

  • They are allowed to take any number of people to any place in the country
  • Has large coach buses
  • Usually has a dedicated driver and a helper
  • Usually, handle larger groups

SCAMS!! and FRAUDS!! Beware of unofficial guides and tour touts!

Although I have told you loads of details and facts on Sri Lankan guides, the real reason I am writing this blog post is to communicate some key facts that every tourist needs to know before booking guides in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, tourism is an exponentially developing industry. Even though there are many laws to protect the tourists who travel to Sri Lanka, there are one or two culprits who might try to scam the tourists and loot their money. All the tourists who are traveling in Sri Lanka need to know how to get rid of these frauds and scams. Hence, I have listed below, some of the ways that tourists might experience fraud when they search for a guide to lead their way.

The Liar Guide

As I have explained before, guides help tourists understand the historical significance of historic sites all over Sri Lanka. And also guides give facts and details about different places in Sri Lanka and explain why a particular place or a thing is significant. There are trained professional guides for this purpose registered under the tourism board of Sri Lanka.

But sometimes you might note that there are many people near historic sites claiming that they are guides. Some of them are frauds. They will demand you a price and take you through several ancient ruins and spill out lies as much as they can to make you believe what they say. Sometimes they might not even speak proper English. This is a common trap that a lot of tourists fall into.

The Over Charger

I have given you the standard rates that all the guides go for. But there is a fraudulent set of guides who demand a really high amount compared to the standard rates. This is another trap tourists fall into. Tourists fall into this trap because of not having the knowledge about the rates for guides in Sri Lanka.

Guide’s Network

Some of the guides have their own network of acquaintances where he gets the tourists into contact with.

For instance, spice gardens in Sri Lanka are one such node in the network where most of the guides have good contacts. Therefore, the guide will give a flamboyant picture of the spice garden pitching it sky-high and suggests the tourists experience the products. Say tourists buy some products from the spice garden. A Percentage of those sales are given back to the guide from the spice garden as commission.

There might not be an issue in this if the products are of high quality and of a fair price. But in “some” of the spice gardens in Sri Lanka, the products are labeled with skyrocketing prices for a moderate quality product. In that case, it is basically looting the tourists trying to sell something to them. There is a separate blog post about spice gardens in Sri Lanka and how to find out genuine places where the tourists can gain quite a lot of knowledge regarding spices in Sri Lanka and their uses.

Not only spice gardens, but it can also be restaurants, shopping malls, historic places, etc.

The RR (Review Requester)

Having reviews help guides to gain more attention from the tourists coming to Sri Lanka. In that way, they can market themselves since they are endorsed by tourists who have visited early. This method is good if it is done genuinely.

But, in some cases, the guide demands good reviews from tourists. In this manner, they try to show themselves as better guides which are a false reality. Some of the tourists face this issue.

Tourists should always consider whether they were really satisfied with the guidance of the person before giving him a review.

How to get rid of these scams?

Registered guides

Book only registered tour guides under the Sri Lanka Tourism Board. You can click the link below to get a list of registered tour guides.

If you go to the website, you will find out details about the guides. Know their language skills and check their experience before you check-in.


There are many apps and websites regarding the information about the guides and places they have traveled to. Tourists who traveled to Sri Lanka has reviewed many guides whom they traveled with. You can consider them as true reviews to a certain extent. I have given several links to websites you can search for reviews.

Trip advisor reviews

Finalize guide fees

Before booking a guide, clearly finalize all the payments that you might have to incur.

As explained before, check the license of the guide and see to which category he falls in. Chauffeur or national guide?

Is there a helper?

What is the cost of a guide per day?

Drivers bata (allowance)?

Finalize the route of the tour before the tour

There are many areas in Sri Lanka that tourists could visit. Tourists can go down south, Jaffna, central hills, knuckles, etc. Get a list of places where the guide is taking you. Then google each and every destination and check the reviews for those places. There are some exquisite places that are rich in natural and scenic beauty. Search for those places and request the guide to take you to those places.

Read a little about Sri Lankan history

There are ancient relics and ruins in all areas of Sri Lanka. When you go to an ancient ruin, in most of the places, information is available regarding the ruins in English. If you search Google using the same name, you will get loads of information about the place and its history. Knowing the history of the ruins might blow your mind in a place like Sigiriya. There are many other places like Sigiriya all over Sri Lanka.

 If you follow the steps given above one by one, you will be able to explore Sri Lanka as much as you can within your period of stay. In this way, you can make the most out of what you pay for. What I believe is that you should not travel having tight schedules. I think you should loosen up the schedules a little bit, give yourself time to feel the authentic Sri Lankan culture, the people, nature, and its great history. Take a deep breath, relax and let nature take control of you in your stay, 2 weeks is enough to heal you totally, that is Sri Lanka. 🙂

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Spice Gardens in Sri Lanka, Scam? Sat, 14 Dec 2019 18:21:57 +0000 Spice gardens in Sri Lanka are places where people grow almost all the spices in one place. If you are a traveler in Sri Lanka, you might have heard of the close link between spices and Sri Lankan food. You can find several spices included in every Sri Lankan dish making it really delicious and […]

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Spice gardens in Sri Lanka are places where people grow almost all the spices in one place. If you are a traveler in Sri Lanka, you might have heard of the close link between spices and Sri Lankan food. You can find several spices included in every Sri Lankan dish making it really delicious and healthy.

Would you believe if I say that Sri Lanka was renowned for a place of best spices in the world even in 2000BC?

Well, archeologists have found Sri Lankan Cinnamon in Egypt aging back to 2000BC. That is when Pharaohs were ruling Egypt. They have been using Sri Lankan cinnamon for mummification. Even at that time, Sri Lanka has been exporting spices to the world. Even now, Sri Lanka supplies over 90% of the world’s Cinnamon demand because Sri Lanka has got the best Cinnamon in the world. It is endemic to Sri Lanka.

It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Similarly, Sri Lanka has many other spices such as pepper, cardamom, cloves, etc. Sri Lankan farmers grow spices for local and international consumption. Therefore, food-loving tourists all over the world come to Sri Lanka to taste the kick of Sri Lankan spices and also to explore the secrets behind Sri Lankan recipes, their spices, and food. There are more than 40 spice gardens all over Sri Lanka. The main focus of such garden keepers is to promote Sri Lankan spices to tourists and sell their value-added products.

With the development of tourism in Sri Lanka, the number of spice gardens in the country grew in leaps and bounds.

Now there are around 40 spice gardens all over the country.

Although the number of spice gardens grew, it seems that they have declined in terms of customer satisfaction. Most of the tourists are complaining that there is no value for the money they spend on buying different types of products made out of spices from the spice gardens in Sri Lanka. Some of them complain that they even got scammed in the spice gardens.

To get rid of these scams, I am going to give you a basic idea of what to look for in the spice gardens in Sri Lanka. I am going to give you some simple tips to identify a scam and to get rid of such scams. If you think you want to know more about spice gardens, what they do, how do they scam, how to be on the safe side without getting caught, continue reading till the end…

In order to get rid of scams and frauds, you need to have a sound knowledge of Sri Lankan Spices. Therefore, I am going to tell you a few facts about Sri Lankan spices.

Sri Lankan Spices?

In order to get rid of scams and frauds, you need to have a good knowledge of Sri Lankan Spices. Therefore, I am going to tell you a few facts about Sri Lankan spices. I already told you that the Sri Lankan market is famous for its spices for a very long time. Sri Lanka is home to more than 15 different types of spices. They are currently in the international market as well. You can find “true cinnamon” only in Sri Lanka. There is a product called “Cassia” in countries like Java. It is somewhat like cinnamon but not true cinnamon.

Spices are useful in many different ways. Sri Lankans use spices in food to enhance the color, fragrance and add an extra kick to the flavor of the food. But you should use it in the right combinations (right mix). Using the right mix, any simple food can be converted into a really delicious one. However, if you do not use the right mix, it can make the food taste terrible. At the same time, Sri Lanka is using spices to prepare several value-added products in the market as well. For instance, preparing cinnamon oil, food preservation agents, scent, cinnamon tea, etc. Likewise, there are other products. All these spices found in Sri Lanka have their own health benefits. I will post below some of the health benefits of commonly used spices in Sri Lanka for your knowledge.

Historical facts about Sri Lankan Spices

  • Sri Lanka was known as Tabrobane, Serendib, and Ceylon in ancient times by other countries.
  • In very ancient times (2000BC) Sri Lanka has maintained trade relationships with Greeks, Nile civilizations, Romans and Arabs
  • In ancient times, Sri Lanka exported a lot of spices and ivory. Carbon dating tests from different archeological sources confirm it.
  • Spices and ivory were two major reasons why Portuguese, Dutch, and British conquered Sri Lanka.
  • Tropical Sri Lankan climate and its microclimates specific to different regions in Sri Lanka make it ideal for spice growth. Most of the spices are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Why are Sri Lankan spices so popular all over the world?

Sri Lankan spices are popular for two reasons.

  1. One reason is the taste that it adds to Sri Lankan food making them unique and delicious.
  2. The second thing is the unique medicinal value that the spices have. Most of the food items nowadays do not carry much medicinal value.

Here are some common spices along with the health benefits from them

  • Curry Leaves (Karapincha – local name)

    • Curry leaves are an ingredient which significantly used in Sri Lanka. Although the taste of curry leaves is not very significant, its subtle flavor and the smell doesn’t go undetected. Curry leaves are used quite often in most of the curries in Sri Lankan cuisine.
    • Curry leaves help to fight diabetes, improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, prevent grey hair and prevent anemia.
  • Turmeric – (Kaha)

    • Turmeric is a yellow color powder. Tumeric gives medicinal value rather than mere taste. Tumeric is also very important in preparing Sri Lankan dishes.
    • Turmeric reduces pain. It contains a lot of anti-inflammatory properties and it cures inflammation and stiffness due to arthritis and Osteoarthritis. Also used as a cleansing agent for the digestive system. It also relieves pain and improves liver function as well.
  • Cloves (Karabunati)

    • Cloves are flowers of the evergreen clove tree. It gives the aromatic taste to ginger and pumpkin pies. Once crushed, it gives a very strong odor and minty sweet taste.
    • Cloves also contain anti-inflammatory properties. Cloves contain anti-oxidants helping to age less. This is good medicine that can be used to prevent cancer occurring. It kills off unwanted bacteria, improves liver health and helps to regulate the blood sugar preventing diabetes. Further, it cures stomach ulcers and promotes bone health.
  • Cinnamon (kurundu) – “True Cinnamon”

    • You know a little bit about cinnamon now already. I shared with you information about our ancestors using cinnamon for different purposes. In addition to that, cinnamon has been a reason even for the world’s most significant voyages like Christopher Colombus, Vasco de Gama, and Ibn Batuta.
    • Cinnamon is a plant having a unique identity due to its quality, color, aroma, and flavor. It is the most valuable spice produced in Sri Lanka. Cinnamon is used as a food preservation agent along with pepper. The very unique aroma and flavor help to make very distinctive Sri Lankan food and beverages. Now there are quite a lot of value-added products like cinnamon oil, cinnamon powder, and tablets, etc.
    • There are a large number of health benefits of cinnamon. For starters, cinnamon contains a lot of antioxidants and it has anti-inflammatory properties. Reduces the risk of heart disease, improves the sensitivity to the hormone called insulin, lowers blood sugar level, positively effect on neurodegenerative diseases, protects against cancer, helps fight bacterial and fungal infections an also it has the power to fight even against deadly diseases such as HIV virus.
  • Pepper (Gam miris)

    • Pepper is the “king” of spices. Sometimes, you might have tasted it today for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is very popular due to its signature flavor.
    • But people don’t know about the health benefits of using pepper in their day to day meal. I am going to show you some benefits that you get even though you add pepper merely as an agent that makes the food taste better. Like the other spices, pepper also has a lot of anti-oxidants in it and at the same time, it also contains anti-inflammatory properties which is very beneficial. It also helps make the brain function better. It lowers the blood sugar levels and also fights against cancer cells in a body.

Likewise, there are many other spices in Sri Lanka like;

  • Cardamom (enasal)
  • Lemongrass (sera)
  • Nutmeg and Mace (Sadikka and wasawasi)
  • Vanilla
  • Ginger (Inguru)

Therefore, if you had any doubts about it, you can clear your doubts right now. Spices are a major part of Sri Lankan food culture and Sri Lankan spices have their own unmatched medicinal value. Sri Lanka is a country renowned for its spices, use of spices in food and food culture that is bound by the usage of spices. It is true.

Then why do people complain about “Spice Gardens” in Sri Lanka? Is it a scam?

There are around 40 spice gardens registered and licensed with the Ceylon Tourist Board. These are located in different places on the island. Here is a list of some of the spice gardens in Sri Lanka.

  1. Susantha Spice Garden, Hingula.
  2. Sirilak Spice Garden, Matale
  3. Lucky land Spice Garden, Matale.
  4. Diamond, Matale.
  5. Luckgrove Spice Garden, Matale.
  6. Villa Herbarium, Hingula.
  7. Cinnamon Tree Spice Garden, Mawanella.
  8. Nilwala Spice Garden, Randeniya.
  9. Country Side Spice Garden, Nalanda.
  10. All Spice Garden, Rambukkana.

And YES! it is a scam.

But not in all the Spice gardens in the country. Only in a selected few. I’ll show you how tourists get scammed in a few of those places.

Tourists complain about the spice gardens in Sri Lanka not just for one or two reasons. There are a series of offenses these people do when tourists visit those places but they are not acted upon by the regulatory bodies making it worse. I will give you where and when the tourists get scammed clearly. But I think you shouldn’t miss visiting the spice garden since it is a university for spice lovers all over the world. The only thing is you need to know how to get rid of the scams. I will show you 5 such scams and how to get rid of such scams one by one.

  1. Card Payments

Making payments using cards is one of the risks that the tourists take when they travel to spice gardens in Sri Lanka. There were few reported incidents where tourists have bought the worth of a good of a few euros and they have charged a large amount of money (a few hundred euros) instead of the correct price of the goods. There has not been any reversal of the charge as well. At these times, the tourists become helpless.

Therefore, it is best to avoid any card payments. Do not give your credit or debit card information to anyone in the spice gardens in Sri Lanka.

  1. Check reviews before you visit spice gardens in Sri Lanka

Another complaint that most of the tourists make is that they are taken to these places called spice gardens without any prior notice. The trip managers suddenly ask from the people who are touring with them whether they want to go to spice gardens. They give a fascinating introduction about these spice gardens and somehow get the tourists’ approval to visit this place.

To avoid this, clearly get to know about the trip plan. Sometimes you might now be that much of spice lover. In that case, if you are not willing to go to spice gardens in Sri Lanka, be straight forward and tell them that you do not want to.

If you want to go to spice gardens, get to know the place that you are going to visit and check the reviews from “trip advisor”. Check the comments and reviews of different people who have visited the place before you.

  1. Do not let them massage you

After visiting the spice gardens in Sri Lanka, they will take you through a tour around the garden explaining about the spices. Actually, that is very useful if you are interested about the spices that are grown in Sri Lanka. But at the end of the tour, they will introduce you to some of their products and ointments. That is when the tour converts into a sales pitch. To test some of the ointments then and there, they will ask you whether you need a massage. And if you say yes, they will first massage your shoulders and the head. Then they will tell you to lay down on the bench and start massaging your whole body in front of all the others. They will even try to massage your private areas without asking you. It becomes a show to rest of the people who are starring at you.

  1. Avoid high-cost ointments

After the garden tour, in their sales pitch about the products that are made using spices, they will try to sell you some of their products which costs an arm or a leg. Avoid such high-cost products. If you want to buy, one tactic you can follow is that you can check the prices online. Maybe in amazon or eBay and see the prices at which it is sold in the international market. Then bargain as much as you can try to reduce the price to the least amount, they are willing to give you.

  1. Avoid people with Sob stories

Some of the tourists have complained that after the tour in the spice garden, some people working there come with sob stories about their family and children and ask for money from the tourists. This is another scam you should get rid of. If you think you want to give, please do but it’s all your decision.

SLNOTES also has an article about Sri Lankan Tuk Tuks as well. You can read it here…

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Sri Lankan Tuk Tuks – Scams Wed, 11 Dec 2019 15:51:58 +0000 Tuk-tuks are very popular in Sri Lanka. If you are a traveler, using a Tuk Tuk to ride a short distance can be very handy with the traffic you will find in town areas in Sri Lanka. Not only tourists but even locals use Tuk-Tuks a lot. Locals call them “Three-wheelers”. One of the unique […]

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Tuk-tuks are very popular in Sri Lanka. If you are a traveler, using a Tuk Tuk to ride a short distance can be very handy with the traffic you will find in town areas in Sri Lanka. Not only tourists but even locals also use Tuk-Tuks a lot. Locals call them “Three-wheelers”. One of the unique advantages of Tuk Tuks is that they can take you through traffic much faster than a car or a bus thanks to its easy maneuverability. Yes, there are a lot of perks and benefits. But there are things to be cautious about in choosing Tuk Tuks as your ride. One of the common problems that you find in Tuk Tuks is that it is being very poorly regulated as a public transportation medium. Therefore, tourists get scammed sometimes.

In this article, you will find how to avoid such scams. I will give you some powerful tactics to identify fraudulent tuk-tuk drivers and how to confidently bargain the rates. I will also give you other trustworthy convenient options that you could go for instead of wasting time trying to find Tuk Tuks on the road. If you are a traveler in Sri Lanka, reading this article might save you hundreds of dollars.

How to find a Tuk Tuk in Sri Lanka?

I told you before that Tuk Tuks are a very popular medium of travel for both locals and tourists in Sri Lanka. Therefore, finding a Tuk Tuk for a quick ride is not very hard. In every town or village, there is a place for three-wheelers or Tuk Tuks to park. Mostly you will find this parking area close to a junction. If you ask any local in the area about the location of the Tuk Tuk parking area, they will tell you exactly how to find it. Locals call it “the Three-wheeler park”.

In case, If you cannot find a three-wheeler park, just stand by the road for a few minutes, you will find one for a ride. How can I be so sure? There are over 1 million Tuk Tuks waiting to serve tourists and locals every day all over the island. Therefore, the chances of finding one in any corner of the island are quite high. However, the number of Tuk Tuk populations gets lesser when you go to less industrialized areas like the Northern province and the Eastern province.

[Infographic on the distribution of three-wheelers in Sri lanka]

If you are a backpacker or a budget traveler in Sri Lanka, you will find this info very useful

How tourists are getting scammed by Tuk Tuk drivers?

If you search on google for “Tuk Tuk scams”, you will get a suggestion on top saying “Tuk Tuk scams Sri Lanka”. It is that common and well known among the tourists who travel to Sri Lanka. A lot of tourists have blogged about it or have written about it. But they do not know how to get rid of it.

Most of Tuk Tuks have meters installed in them showing you the per kilometer rate, the distance you’ve traveled and the total fare. But some of the Tuk Tuks do not have it. Scammers are mostly the ones who do not have the meter with them.

  • One way that the Tuk Tuks without meter can scam you is, firstly they will take you to the location that you requested and then they will demand an unfairly large amount of money from you. If you resist giving the amount they demanded, the driver will try to intimidate you.
  • The second way is sometimes drivers will take unnecessary lengthy routes to reach the destination and demand you a large amount of money for the trip. This is another common scam you could get caught into.
  • The third way that you could get scammed is that they will take you somewhere else but not where you requested and then they will demand money for the ride and ditch you.

Well, Sri Lanka is “the” island for tourists, there is no doubt about it. But there are some scams like these you need to be cautious about. To get rid of scammers, travelers need to have some prior knowledge of fare prices for Tuk Tuk rides. Even locals get caught to these people sometimes.

The first step to avoiding such scams is knowing the per kilometer rate for Tuk Tuk rides.

Surprisingly, there is no fixed rate for Tuk Tuks. The fare prices can differ from one area to the other. Generally, the fare is in the range of LKR 45.00 per kilometer to LKR 70.00 per kilometer. But for the first kilometer, they will charge something in between LKR 60.00 and LKR 120.00. As I have mentioned before this value can change from region to region. At least now you can have some idea of what the locals pay for Tuk Tuk rides.

Confused about how to calculate the fare? Here is an example…

For instance, say you ride 4km in a Tuk Tuk in Sri Lanka. Assume the per kilometer rate is LKR 50.00 per kilometer. Assume for the first kilometer they charge LKR 100.00. Here is how you calculate your fare.



Fare per km (LKR)

No. of km (km)

Sub Total (LKR)

First kilometer




Rest of the distance








 This is the fare the locals pay for Tuk Tuk rides. But this rate will be minimum if you use a mobile app to book your ride. Oh yeah, there are many apps for Tuk Tuks in Sri Lanka. I will give you the most trustworthy mobile Tuk Tuk apps you could use to book your ride. Keep reading…

5 Steps to Avoid Scammers

Now since you know the rates, I will give you 5 simple steps you need to follow to get rid of the Tuk Tuk scammers. These tactics are used by the locals to save their money from scammers.

Imagine you are touring in Sri Lanka and you need to go from Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel to Majestic City in Bambalapitiya.

Step 1: Google Maps

Google map is an amazing tool you can use to measure the travel distance. Now here we are traveling from Cinnamon Lakeside to Majestic City.

[Google maps image of the route]

You have to travel 10 km to your destination.

Step 2: Calculate the fare in your mind

I am going to repeat that calculation for 10 km. Assuming the per kilometer rate is LKR 50.00 and for the first kilometer they charge LKR 100.00, then


Fare per km (LKR)

No. of km (km)

Sub Total (LKR)

First kilometer




Rest of the distance












Maximum amount





Well, this is quite a simple calculation. I used a table to explain to you how to calculate since you are not familiar. If you feel difficult to calculate this in your mind, use the calculator on your phone. Add extra LKR 50.00 and that is the maximum amount that you are going to pay for the ride.

Now you know the distance and a reasonable fare for your ride.

Step 3:  Negotiate

Stop a Tuk Tuk and request a ride like this “Drop me at Majestic City. I can pay you 550 for the ride.”

Then the driver will have three options and that is to accept, bargain or reject. If he accepts stick to 550. If he starts bargaining or if he rejects, start bargaining, always remember the upper limit for your fare is LKR 600. If he still rejects, you will need to find a new Tuk Tuk and request a ride again. You can find a lot of Tuk Tuks in Sri Lankan roads, so it is not a problem for you to let one go and wait for the next.

Step 4: Google maps again while traveling

Once you get into the Tuk Tuk and you are traveling, turn on google maps on your phone and check the route and where you are going. Be mindful. If it seems the driver is taking you somewhere else, quickly stop the Tuk Tuk and show him the path to follow.

If it seems like he doesn’t want to go where you requested, get down from the Tuk Tuk, check the distance traveled and pay only for the distance you have traveled. Then go back to step 3 to find a Tuk Tuk.

Step 5: Pay the fare

Remember, once you complete the journey, you should never ask “How much?” again. You have already negotiated the prices and what you need to do is just give the amount you settled for and get down. Do not give anything extra.

Those are the five steps to remember… Logical and simple isn’t it?

Also remember, if, by any chance, the driver tries to intimidate you, call any of the two numbers given below and make a complaint. Get a photo of the Tuk Tuk with the number plate as well.

  1. Tourist Police: 1912
  2. Emergency hotline: 119

It is good to add any of these numbers to your speed dial list. You can dial any of the two numbers above and complain along with the vehicle number of the Tuk Tuk. It will scare him off for sure.

I hope you have a good idea by now how to negotiate your fare when you find a Tuk Tuk on the road. As I have told you before, there are some other amazing options that you could go for instead of wasting your time on the road trying to find Tuk Tuks.

Almost everyone has got a smartphone nowadays. Go to Apple Appstore or Google Playstore and download one of the following mobile apps listed below. Don’t worry, these apps are trustworthy. Using any of these apps, you can conveniently book a Tuk Tuk ride online, track your driver, know the fare before you get in and pay only for the distance you traveled.

Here are some of the apps used in Sri Lanka to book Tuk Tuk rides online

  • PickMe
    • There are tour packages in this app specially designed for tourists to book for long-distance travel.
    • User-friendly
    • Can track the driver location after booking
    • Can book any vehicle from bikes to luxury sedans
    • Bikes can occupy only 1 passenger
    • Cashless rides
    • Can be found in Colombo, Kandy, Galle (Major cities)


  • YouCab
    • Backed by two iconic cricket players in the world
    • User-friendly
    • Can track the driver location after booking
    • Can book any vehicle from bikes to luxury sedans
    • Bikes can occupy only 1 passenger
    • Cashless rides
    • Can be found in Colombo, Kandy, Galle (Major cities)


  • Uber
    • A lot of promotions and offers
    • User-friendly
    • Can track the driver location after booking
    • Can book any vehicle from bikes to luxury sedans
    • Cashless rides
    • Uber eats deliver food to your doorstep
    • In rush hours rates are very high


  • Caboo
    • Recently launched
    • Limited to Colombo, Galle, and Ampara areas
    • Cheap fares
    • User-friendly
    • Can track the driver location after booking
    • Can book any vehicle from bikes to luxury sedans
    • Cashless rides


  • Yogo
    • Metered taxi
    • Most accurate distance calculation
    • Islandwide
    • Only Tuk Tuks
    • Can track the driver location after booking


 On a personal note, I recommend you to install one of these apps and use them. These apps are owned by companies and it can be assured that these are no scams. They are 100% safe. But the only issue with these mobile apps is that they are only limited to major cities in the country.

Well, I told you tactics and methods to get rid of the Tuk Tuk scammers in Sri Lanka. Therefore nothing to be afraid of. There is one more thing   :). I saved the best for the last. What if I told you that you can rent a Tuk Tuk online and you could drive on your own… Yes, you can rent a Tuk Tuk for the time of stay in Sri Lanka and travel throughout the country. Anywhere you want.

Go to

Personally, the option that I take will be this. For nothing else but the authentic travel experience that you can get by traveling on your own.

Rates are as low as $14.00 per day for a regular TukTuk, there is another slightly bigger Tuk Tuk called the “Camper TukTuk”. Charges for Camper TukTuk is just $25.00 per day.

Along with that, you get loads of other benefits such as surfboard racks, seatbelts, baby seat, big Bluetooth speakers, travel assistance, etc…

Before driving a Tuk Tuk in Sri Lanka, you need to be qualified first,

  • Travel insurance
  • TukTuk driving license

The travel insurance and the driver’s license will be arranged by You just have to send your details such as a national country license. They will also give you a one-hour driving lesson as well as a driving kit including;

  1. Tools
  2. Spare tire
  3. Phone holder
  4. Reserved fuel tank
  5. Storage box (lockable)
  6. USB charging

What more can you ask for? This is the best way to explore Sri Lanka on your own. No scams no fares, you can go anywhere you want.

The post Sri Lankan Tuk Tuks – Scams appeared first on SLNOTES.

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