One of the things that was high on our bucket list, was getting our own tuktuk and driving around ourselves. This would be the ultimate feeling of freedom and we figured Sri Lanka had to be the place to do it. We did some research online, but finding info about getting one, was difficult to find. We asked at our hotel and it was probably the first time any of their guests had a request like that because they had no idea where we could get one. They’ve been asking around but could not find anyone that wanted to rent his tuktuk for 2 weeks. We were starting to feel a bit disappointed but luckily we got in contact with Dayan and he was our savior and helped us out.
When we posted a photo of ‘our’ tuktuk on Instagram, we got a lot of replies how awesome the idea of driving around Sri Lanka in a tuktuk was and a lot of people wanted to know how and where we got one. And since traveling and blogging is all about sharing information, we had to share this. Because lets face it, isn’t this something we all want to do?!
We found a company online that does tours and rents tuktuks. We sent them an e-mail and got in contact with Dayan. His company, Ceylon Tusker, is based in Negombo but as we were staying in Colombo, we had thought we had to go there to get the tuktuk, but Dayan was the best. After some correspondence through e-mail, we set a date and time and he brought the tuktuk to our hotel in Colombo with his friend.
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If you want to drive a tuktuk in Sri Lanka, you need a Sri Lankan drivers license. Some people say an International drivers license will do, but we want to do it right and got one at the Department of Motor Traffic. It is pretty easy actually, but it does take some time. They love bureaucracy here in Sri Lanka.
Before going to the Department of Motor Traffic make sure you have:
You can make copies at the other side of the street.
It’s actually really fun to go to the Department of Motor Traffic, because the parking lot is filled with Sri Lankans trying to get their license. You see a lot of tuktuks with a big L in front which means that are the learning tuktuks and you see people learning to drive and parking backwards. Luckily we didn’t have to take lessons there and could ‘just’ get our license.
When entering the property, you need to walk to the end and go left after the canteen. There are plenty of people asking you where you are going and they will guide you the way. And then the bureaucracy starts. At the first counter, you hand over all the above mentioned things and tell them you want a Sri Lankan drivers license to drive a car. They will check your documents, give you a note and tell you which counter to go to next. In total, we got sent to 7 counters and sometimes we had no idea what the person behind the counter was doing, but it all worked out. They took our photo, fingerprints, made copies, asked our blood type, made some more copies, we had to pay, got stamped and at the end we got a simple piece of paper which is our temporary Sri Lankan drivers license. It took us about 1 hour and the costs for a drivers license that is valid for 1 month is 1.000 Rupee (for 2 months would be 2.000 Rupee).
We underestimated the driving a bit. Since it kind of looks like a motorbike, we thought the driving would be likewise. Well the driving itself isn’t really difficult, the changing of gear is something you have to learn. Dayan and his friend took us to a field where Michiel could practice the driving and after half an hour he had the feeling and knew what to do. We can explain how to do it, but that doesn’t make sense. You have to do it yourself to learn.
Depending on the amount of days you want to rent a tuktuk, you can probably lower the price a little bit. The normal price Dayan asks per day is 20 USD. Since we got it for a longer time, he gave us a discount. It's still not cheap, but certainly not expensive. Traveling by train and bus is much cheaper, but you will be missing out on a lot of fun. A lot of tuktuk drivers and locals asked us what we pay for the tuktuk and after telling them the price they all say we got a fair price. The good thing about renting from Dayan is the service. He takes the time to learn you how to drive and if something happens during the trip with the tuktuk, he will come and either help you fiks the tuktuk, or bring you a new one. The tuktuk we got was new, had a radio and speakers, was serviced and insured and had all the papers you need.
NOTE: We just started our tuktuk trip when writing this blog so during the next 2 weeks, we will update the blog with extra information about police stops, etc.