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?
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?
Therefore, the chances of finding one in any corner of the island are quite high. However, the amount of Tuk Tuk population gets lesser when you go to less industrialized areas like the Northern province and the Eastern province.
How tourists are getting scammed by Tuk Tuk drivers?
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.
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…
Fare per km (LKR)
No. of km (km)
Sub Total (LKR)
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 Simple 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.
You have to travel 10 km to your destination.
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)
Rest of the distance
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- There are tour packages in this app specially designed for tourists to book for long-distance travel.
- 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)
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.
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.
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,