Types of Operators

There are 3 main types of operators:

Tour Providers

These are the largest operators and the safest option for many travellers. However, this level of security comes at a premium price. Expect highly experienced drivers, clean and well maintained cars, excellent customer service and a generally trouble free experience. See Recommendations for a list of such companies.

Local Travel Agencies

If you are on a budget this is where you will probably find the best value for money. However, very few companies have trusted online reputations and often their prices will reflect this. Also realise that when a company does have a solid online reputation they will most likely be stretching themselves in all areas in a bid to deal with increased demand. This is known as the “Tripadvisor Effect”; better reputation = more demand = worse customer service. If you are not afraid to take a little risk you might find a much better deal with one of the lesser known companies.

The Sri Lankan Tourist Board have an approved list of Registered Travel Agents (opens in a new window).

Freelance Drivers

A driver or guide with a personal website or Facebook page who deals directly with tourists. This is the riskiest of all options but probably the cheapest as the driver will be able to charge you a price free of the commissions normally taken by the tour operators and travel agencies. We now manage a Facebook group (opens in a new window) where you can find reviews of drivers and contact them directly with any questions.

Next Page: Trip Cost Calculator

8 Comments

  1. Where can we find real, honest and trusted reviews of drivers and operators? I’m waking up to the large amount of spam and fake reviews online by Sri Lanka drivers/tour operators, and i’m having difficulty finding a legitimate/honest person. So far i’ve been misled by two distinct agencies, on two different forums – both very clever. They may still be good, but they’ve lost my confidence and I don’t want to put our family trip in their hands. In one case I contacted 5 different persons who had posted rave reviews of them on Facebook – not a single one replied back. In the other case the scheme was far more clever and the agency appeared legit – I had my guard down since the reference was a French-speaking person and all the reviews were posted on a French-based forum (I wrongly assumed they were not spamming beyond English!). After doing some digging I discovered once again a large number of fake reviews on travel sites, all from members with no other posts or activity beside their positive reviews.

    I keep hearing how nice people Sri Lankans are, so i’m sure there are good, honest drivers out there – just want to know where to find them. Help!

    1. Admin

      Hi Gabriel,

      Unfortunately, all review sites can have their credibility compromised by fake reviews. Even Tripadvisor, who claim to be able to detect them, have failed to completely deal with the problem, though I do believe the majority of reviews there are genuine.

      My only advice would be to probably go ahead and spend the extra money on one of the bigger companies, that is if you can afford it. You are most likely to get a good service with minimum problems.

      On the other hand I think that any business on Tripadvisor that has a good reputation would not want to risk that by causing people problems. So even if some of the reviews are fake it does not necessarily mean that it is a scam nor that you will receive poor service. Some people are just doing everything they can to get noticed in a rapidly growing industry. However, I do understand that it would be hard to trust a company in this regard especially when it came to paying a deposit!

      I do believe that the vast majority of operators have genuine intentions and it is only a few bad ones that are causing fear and mistrust among future travellers. Think positive and I’m sure it will work out fine. Best of luck and do let us know how it goes!

  2. Monica

    I want a service from Induruwa to Mirissa on oct 12th, how do I know if this is possible? And how much is the cost?

    1. Admin

      Hi Monica, this is a non commercial website. I’m afraid I can’t help you with booking transport. You can use the trip cost calculator to work out the cost. From Google Maps the distance is about 90km so between 6500 and 7000LKR based on normal prices.

  3. Rob

    I’ve been working here in the tourism field for 6 years. We manage Villas, which are booked by foreign tourists. Unfortunately most of the tourists book their own transport I think to save money, and sadly in my experience many of these arrangements end up as a problem with the Drivers/Tour Guides, which we have to sort out. Our worst one was only last week where the transport and staff were booked through one of the country’s major tour operators……. The problem began because the Guests didn’t want to use the Drivers/Tour Guide’s recommendation and inflated prices- thus the Drivers/Tour Guide’s losing their commission. Sri Lanka has a very long way to go…….

  4. Ruth

    Where would drivers booked through hotels fit into this list? And how do their prices typically compare?

    1. Admin

      Hi Ruth, first it would depend on the type of hotel. The more expensive and higher quality the hotel, the more expensive and more experienced the driver should be. They are also going to take a commission so expect to pay 10-20% more than finding the driver yourself. The hotel is in effect becoming the tour operator/travel agency.

  5. Admin

    All comments are now closed. Please use our Forums for further questions.