Tuk tuk hire Sri Lanka – Renting and driving a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka!

by Kelly

Heading to Sri Lanka? Heard about driving a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka but not sure if it’s for you? This post will tell you everything you need to know about tuk tuk hire in Sri Lanka.

Mike is often the instigator on where we will go for our next adventure so when he said “I want to drive a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka” I knew there was nothing that would stop him for doing it…and I am so glad!

Driving a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka has been one of the best things that we have ever done! The freedom and comfort of being able to go where you want when you want is awesome. Here is everything you need to know about hiring a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka and what we wished we had known before we left!

Driving a tuk tuk Sri Lanka

Why is driving a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka a good idea?

Tuk tuk hire Sri Lanka


Why would you drive a tuk tuk when you can take a stress free bus? Because the buses are not always stress free and they are CRAZY! I felt so much safer in our little tuk tuk than I have ever felt on any other type of transport. Knowing Mike was in control and that he would make good decisions put me at ease…I have never met most of the people that have driven us in buses, trains, planes, boats etc.

Buses in Sri Lanka do not slow down, they don’t stop and they go VERY fast. They are also old and spew out black fumes… I’ll take Tommy tuk tuk any day. Plus the speed limit for tuk tuks is 40km/hr so you are pretty safe to stop quickly if needed.

We followed these rules: Stick to the speed limit, don’t drive far at night, check the oil level as instructed, go slowly if needed, avoid driving in rain if possible and finally give way to others is the safest way especially if they are bigger than you!


No crowding here, I had the back seat all to myself, I could stretch out and relax, when I wasn’t looking out the windows obsessed with the views that is.

The serenity:

Driving a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka means we didn’t have a roaring engine in our ears all day, didn’t have other people chatting all around us. Just us and the road, and our music-we did blast music from our portable speaker the whole way but what’s a road trip without music?!


The BEST thing about driving a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka was the freedom it gave us. Being able to pick and choose when you want to take off to a new town or to stop off when you see something interesting is completely addictive. I want one in every country we visit from now on. We met people we wouldn’t have met and had hundreds of experiences that we would have missed out on if we were stuck on buses.

It is the best fun we have had in ages!

Seriously. The most fun travel experience we have had in a long time. The tuk tuk was so so much fun to jaunt around in. From the locals who though it was hilarious that Mike was driving a tuk tuk to getting stuck in some hectic situations. It all made our trip 100 times better than it would have been otherwise. I want one for every trip we take now…heck I want one here in Australia!

Mike with our tuk tuk

Where to hire a tuk tuk?

Tuk tuk hire Sri Lanka is pretty easy. There are several companies that hire out tuk tuks in Sri Lanka, there are reviews on most but they all really vary in price. We found an excellent deal from Rent Tuk Tuk Negombo.

They were really helpful in setting everything up before we arrived. We contacted them via Whatsapp and email to arrange everything, they were really fast to respond and honest in all our dealings.

They are located in the main street of Negombo and it is pretty easy to find them, there is a little sign out the front and they operate from a souvenir shop. Check out the photos below to know what to look out for.

(There is a really well known company called Tuk Tuk Rental.com which alot of people recommend but this is because the do affliate marketing through their website with them. They are more expensive and although from reports they also provide a good service, I wanted to clear up that this is not a sponsored post and that we are talking about a different company.)

sign for the tuk tuk rental
Tuk tuk rental in Negombo

What do you need to rent a tuk tuk?

Tuk tuk hire Sri Lanka

All you really need is a 3 wheeler licence. They can set it up for you before you arrive if you don’t want to waste time doing it yourself (it could take up to a couple of days if you do it when you are there). We paid them $25 Euro to organise it and all we had to do was send them a photo of the driver and our licence. They applied for it and had it ready for us when we arrived which saved a lot of time and fuss.

Is it easy to drive a tuk tuk?

Simply put, yes it is. But it does take some getting used to. Mike drove ours and he has driven scooters all over the world but this still took some time to get sorted. The tuk tuks are manual but they are like a mix of a manual car and motorbike. The gears are in the handle but you go up once for first gear, then down twice for second, down once more for third etc. Neutral can be hard to get back in to and he started leaving it in neutral when he turned the tuk tuk off as it never wanted to go back in once it was stopped. Brakes are in the pedals and reverse is a lever on the floor that is between your legs. There is a handbrake lever on the right hand side that you pull up from the floor.

We were given a little lesson by the guy that rents the tuk tuks. He was patient and helpful. Making Mike practise reversing, our reverse NEVER wanted to work straight away and we had to drop the lever over and over again until it went into reverse! He practised turning, changing gears and street signs for about 10 minutes. Now in that 10 minutes Mike stalled it every time he tried to do something. EVERY TIME! We didn’t get more than 50m from the shop. Neither of us were very confident…but we were told we were ready and given the thumbs up! The lesson here is you will learn on the road, and the roads are a little crazy. So if you haven’t driven a scooter in Asia before I would suggest taking it slow and getting used to the roads and the way that people drive there.

What is it really like driving in Sri Lanka?

Basically the way it works is that everyone drives forward. They rarely look back, it is up to you to know who is near you and what they are doing. You’ll hear endless honking. That’s the other drivers telling you that they are overtaking you, coming up the side of you or shoving in front of you. Mike is really good at this because of all of his previous experience. If I had been driving it would have been another story! It is fine in most places. Traffic is just especially crazy in bigger cities like Colombo, Negombo, Kandy and some of the mountainous towns. We got into some situations, I don’t even know how Mike managed to get us out of the crush of buses, tuk tuks, cars and trucks. I was completely stressed out trying to give directions and navigate. Mike kept his head and worked it out…which is why he drove and I didn’t!

If you are heading to the high country such as Ella, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya then the roads can also be a little windy and really really high up. It was daunting enough just being the passenger. I am afraid of heights so maybe it wasn’t so bad for Mike.

The unwritten rules of driving in Sri Lanka

There is an unwritten rule, give way to anything bigger than you on the road. The pecking order goes Train, truck, bus, car, tuk tuk, scooter, people walking. The bigger the vehicle the more they will take advantage of this rule. They will rarely slow down and they will take the space they need. It is just better and safer to be aware of it and slow down if it gets hairy. By the end of it Mike was as good as the professional tuk tuk drivers. So much so that locals started hailing us down. They definitely got a shock when they saw us pull up!

Honestly don’t let any of these points stop you from actually doing it. You can go slowly and by the time you get to a tricky spot you’ll be a natural already. Driving the tuk tuk was so great we want to go back and do it again…and are already planning to.

How much did it cost to hire the tuk tuk?

We were able to hire our tuk tuk for 10EURO a day…that is cheap! There are other companies that charge way more, for the same thing. We confirmed the price and how many days we wanted to book in before we left. When we arrived it was all exactly as arranged.

The only other cost is fuel, which is a set price country wide. This is so good! It just means that no matter where you are or which petrol station you stop at they will charge the same price per L. It was about $1 AUD/L when we were there in March 2020.

Do you need any mechanical knowledge?

Not really. They will show you a video on how to look after the tuk tuk. Basically it is how to check the oil and brake fluid. We never needed to full up either. There is a spare tyre in case you need it but we didn’t thankfully! They also have a map of all the places you can take the tuk tuk to get some help if something plays up. There are loads all around Sri Lanka so you aren’t far from help anywhere you go.

Will you get stopped by the police/military?

Possibly… I heard countless stories about people getting stopped and having to pay a bribe at times to police. We fully expected it to happen to us but incredibly it didn’t! Not once. Maybe we were lucky, maybe others exaggerated but either way it was smooth sailing. We always stayed on or under 40km/hr so there wasn’t really ever a cause to need to be pulled over.

You will come across military stations. They might want to check your bag, the tuk tuk or they might just wave you through. Either way be polite and friendly, most are happy to call out hello, wave and smile at you. Sri Lanka is a really friendly place and the military are the same! Although they look serious and ready for action they’re also just really nice people!

Final thoughts –

Just do it! Tuk tuk hire in Sri Lanka was incredible. I was really nervous about it before we went but as soon as we took off in Tommy tuk tuk I never looked back. I absolutely loved it and would recommend it to anyone. If you want to check out where we went you can find our itinerary and all our city guides.

Where to next:

Ultimate self drive Sri Lanka itinerary

Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Best way to spend one day in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka – The ultimate guide!

What to do in Sigiriya when you don’t climb Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka

Why Theva Residency is the best hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya – home of tea plantations Sri Lanka

Lime & Co Kaba – perfect beach hotel in Sri Lanka

Midigama & Kabalana – two perfect little beach towns you should visit

Gluten Free in Sri Lanka

Tuk tuk hire Sri Lanka – Renting and driving a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka!

Your go to Sri Lanka packing list

Dambulla and the Golden Buddah Temple

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