This is a list of things to consider when hiring a car and driver in Sri Lanka:
The general advice is to treat it the same as your own country. If you receive a good service and the driver has made an effort to clean the car inside and out then a tip should be considered. For a multiple day tour it is probably best to tip on the final day for the entire trip. Some drivers can be quite forceful with tourists when requesting a tip, especially when dropping off at the airport as they know you are likely to have excess currency.
Car or Minivan
A minivan generally costs around 10LKR more than a car per km. However, this can be money well spent if you can afford it even if you do not need the extra space. Here are a few reasons why:
- Journeys can be long and sometimes the chance to lie down and sleep can be a bonus.
- The opportunity to sit higher up and switch sides quickly means you will often see more as you travel and give you a better chance to take photos.
- The ability to sit away from the driver allows you some peace during the trip if required.
- A minivan is bigger, stronger and safer than a car which is definitely something to consider on the roads of Sri Lanka.
Most drivers receive commission by taking clients to well known tourist traps such as spice gardens, gem shops and overpriced restaurants. You should know immediately if your driver is giving you a cultural tour or trying to make as much money as possible. Make your wishes clear and simply refuse to get out of the car if it continues.
It is normally drivers that quote low that aim to make the extra money in commissions. We do not recommend paying less than 50 USD per day for a driver.
The Small Print
Clarify all costs prior to paying anything. Check that petrol, insurance and taxes are included; they should be but sometimes a lesser known company might try and surprise you. Ensure your driver is who you reserved if you specifically requested a known tour guide. It is not uncommon for drivers to use other drivers or even unapproved family members under their own reputation. Ask to see an ID and confirm the driver’s credentials.