GuidanceTravel Info

Tuk Tuks – The Complete Guide

Travelers say tuk tuk is the best method to drive in traffic in Sri Lanka… What do you think?

thinking about tuk tuks

Well, you know the answer to that right? That is why lot of tourists rent tuk tuks to travel in Sri Lanka. This is a comprehensive guide showing you how and why you should rent tuk tuks when traveling in Sri Lanka

If you are thinking of traveling Sri Lanka, you must read this article… 

tuk tuk sri lanka

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?

tuk tuk?

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 amount of Tuk Tuk population gets lesser when you go to less industrialized areas like the Northern province and the Eastern province.

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“.

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.

  • 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.

tuk tuk sri lanka

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…

tuk tuk maths
  • 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 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.

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

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.

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?

tuk tuk sri lanka

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.

  • Tourist Police: 1912
  • 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 App store or Google Play store 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

  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.

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,

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;

  • Tools
  • Spare Tyre
  • Phone Holder
  • Reserved Fuel Tank
  • Storage Box
  • 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.

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