Growing up and being a frequent flyer to Colombo, Sri Lanka for so many years has made Tuk-tuk my favorite and most convenient mode of transportation in Colombo. No other modes of transportation can match or challenge a tuk-tuk ride in the busy traffic while getting a good view with the wind (and smog) in your face. But, if you are new in Colombo, don’t let Google maps fool you. Single lanes, windy roads and stop-start traffic can triple your travel time. So here’s a list of things to consider if you’re planning to get around Colombo in a tuk-tuk.
1. ASK FOR THE PRICE (IF NOT A METERED TUK-TUK)
Not all the tuk-tuks in the Colombo province are meter based, so it is wise to ask the locals about the general market rate a tuk-tuk goes from one place to another before negotiating with the driver. Go around asking tuk-tuk drivers, they are generally everywhere unless it is late in the night.
2. BOOK TUK-TUKS FROM THE PICK ME APP
The service is currently available in Colombo city limits, even late at night. One of the most convenient facts about the PickMe app is that it lets you know if there are vehicles available or not, and once you book it, it shows a map of its location, movement and how much time it would take for the driver to reach you. The app is available for download for:
This app has definitely made traveling safer and smarter in Colombo and puts an end to several hasseles like failure to show up on time, tampered and damaged meters, brawls with the driver and lost belongings.
3. CHECK THE METER
If you find a metered tuk-tuk, check the meter before you start the trip. The standard rate in Colombo starts from 50 Rupees for the first kilometer, subsequently, it would go up by 1.50 rupees per minute waiting time and/or 30 Rupees for the next kilometer. If you notice the meter running unusually fast, you should get off that tuk-tuk and find another!
4. FLAG A TUK-TUK
There are usually a lot of tuk-tuks parked outside major shopping centers, popular hotels and tourist attractions, majority of them are dodgy drivers. I would recommend flagging down a random tuk-tuk to avoid the situation of being hoarded by a pack of tuk-tuk drivers wanting to rip off tourists. They are also very persuasive and good at it, they will promise you the best rate.
5. CHECK IF THEY KNOW THE WAY
I have run into many occasions where the tuk-tuk driver(s) tell me they know the way but actually don’t. It’s very inconvenient when they take you on a jolly ride, asking other drivers the way, and sometimes take you in circles while the meter keeps running. They even ask the locals for directions, while one would say “this way”, and the other would say “that way”. If you run into this situation, get off the tuk-tuk, pay the driver a small sum and find another. It’s also wise to have a map, even Google maps on your phone, so that you have a rough idea where the driver is taking you. Some of them opt for longer routes to bump up the meter to get more money, so beware!
6. TRY DECIDING ON ONE GOOD DRIVER
If you happen to run into a good and honest driver within the Colombo city limits, speak to him and get his cell phone number. Most of them will be more than happy to offer their services again. Some might ask you for a tip, and it is alright to pay a little more knowing you are in good hands.
I hope you found these tips important and useful, especially if you are new in Colombo. Hope you enjoy and have safe tuk-tuk rides during your stay in Colombo.