10-Day Tuk Tuk Challenge Sri Lanka

At first, we were not sure if this would be such a good idea. Yet, at second thought, we realized that this is probably the greatest way of exploring the country and we knew it would be a fantastic and memorable adventure. What exactly was the plan? Travel to Sri Lanka and discover the Island with a Tuk Tuk in just 10 days – not with a driver but actually driving it by ourselves!

Rocio, a good friend of ours (Mael) and myself arrived in Negombo and headed downtown to stay at our first stop of the trip. We found a nice little guest house and had a closer look at our plan. We had 10 days ahead of us and really wanted to see as much of this Island as possible. The following tour was the one we actually did travel and just differentiated a bit from our original plan as we had some short-term changes. Yet I believe it is a highly recommendable tuk-tuk tour to do and with a few more days you can even pop in a few more trips here and there.

The plan was to travel up north no further than Anuradhapura, as the very northern part of the country is just recovering from 30 war-torn years. Also, it would not allow us to have more time to see the rest of the Island. After that, we wanted to go down south towards the country center as there are many cultural highlights to be discovered here. Following that go down south all the way, experience the nature in the national parks, enjoy the fantastic beaches and eventually head of north again to our starting point in Negombo.

From a friend of ours, who did a similar trip, we had a recommendation as to where to rent our Tuk-Tuk. The place is called Pick & Go Travels – here you can not only rent Tuk-Tuks but also cars, bicycles, and motorcycles. We contacted them prior to our trip and reserved the Tuk Tuk in advance. The owner, named Rocky (he did look a bit like Rocky Balboa but somehow seemed more like a Sri Lankan version of John Rambo) was very friendly and helpful. We signed the papers, paid the deposit (see details on their website and through email) and started a round of test driving.

a tuk tuk in sri lanka with apenoni

We now were ready to go and headed up the road towards Anuradhapura. The Tuk Tuk is good to transport 3 people – two in the back and one driver. We, therefore, had the chance to switch drivers along the way which made it easier to rest in between. Driving a Tuk-Tuk is fairly simple, yet you need to get used to the braking, shifting gears and accelerating.

Day 1 & 2 – Negombo to Anuradhapura

Quite a long trip, roughly 175 km, and perhaps a bit more tiring than we expected. It took us a few hours to get there since we could not go much faster than 50 kph. The road was better than we thought but the long ride was definitely worth it. Anuradhapura was one of my personal favorites of Sri Lanka – have a look at post about

Day 3 – Anuradhapura to Sigiriya, then to Kandy

A shorter trip, roughly 80 kilometers to Sigiriya but a must-go on the journey. The road leads by some nice natural reserves and different lakes. Sigiriya is an impressive destination and we wanted to make full use of it. We started the journey quite early in the morning as we knew that we had no plans of actually staying in Sigiriya but continuing our ride all the way down to Kandy. It was yet another ambitious ride and, if the time allows, I would definitely stay overnight either close to Sigiriya or even drop by the city of Dambulla – which is famous for its cave temple and Buddha figures.

Nevertheless, we then continued down to Kandy as this would be our final destination of the day. The ride went through many smaller towns which slows down the pace a lot. The nature rides are very nice and calm but as soon as you reach a smaller town it begins with traffic and massive chaos. Just keep calm and drive focused and slowly!

Day 4 – Kandy to Ramboda

After a short stay in Kandy we moved on further down south. As we learned our lesson from our previous, ambitious trips, we now wanted to take it a bit easy and stop over Ramboda in between. Ramboda was recommended to us by a local tour guide in Kandy and we eventually stopped there and enjoyed a nice break in the middle of the country with waterfalls and tea plantations. A very nice area as well and definitely a nice stop-over place. Highly recommendable is to stay a night in the Ramboda Falls Hotel with a direct view on the waterfalls.

Day 5 & 6 – Ramboda to Worlds End to Tissamaharama

Wow!What a trip and what a day!Indeed another long ride but we experienced a very different side of Sri Lanka. We started very early in the morning, around 4 or so. It was recommended to see the World’s End not later than 9 as the clouds begin to fall in there and the view would be blocked. The road took us up the mountains and it got steeper and steeper and we proceeded. Also, the temperature dropped to around 10 degrees!This was quite a shock as we were used to much warmer temperatures where we were before and we now even had to wrap ourselves in towels and blankets to keep us warm.

The steep road got VERY steep as we headed up to see the edge at the Worlds End. It seemed at times that the Tuk Tuk would not manage but I was surprised how consistently it pushed us up that mountain. The nature was quite impressive as it resembled strongly to a European landscape. We made it all the way, did the Worlds End (roughly 3-hour march) tour and continued down to Tissamaharama.

Day 7 – Tissamaharama to Mirissa

We stayed in a very nice guest house called Elephant Guest House – a very friendly family-run guest house with lots of love and great food! After having visited the city, the temples of Kataragama and the Yala National Park we moved on down again to reach the beautiful beaches of South Sri Lanka. Specifically, we went down the see Mirissa, one of the nicest places in that area. A very nice place to relax by the sea and enjoy one of the many restaurants and bars along the beach.

Day 8 & 9 – Mirissa to Kalutara

We really enjoyed staying in Mirissa and, in retrospect, should have stayed there much longer. To avoid a very long-distance last-day Tuk Tuk ride we decided to head up north again and do a stop-over before we hit back to Negombo. We heard of a nice hotel close to the city of Kalutara, on a small peninsula of the coast. It was nice to relax for a view days before heading back home yet we realized that a nice upper-class hotel cannot give the satisfaction that a loving guest house does. Anyhow, we had a nice time and headed back to Negombo the next day.

Day 10 – Kalutara to Negombo

Last day on the road. A bit sad, since we could have continued traveling for much longer, but time was unfortunately up. We moved up the coast and somehow managed to pass by the city of Colombo. Definitely not the nicest ride of our trip but it has to be passed before we could get back to Negombo.

I hope I was able to motivate and encourage you as a reader to also take the opportunity and travel through this marvelous country with a Tuk Tuk. The route we took is a suggestion of how to see many parts of the country in a relatively short time. Obviously, I would have loved to stay longer and discover some more parts of the island. In general, I believe that it was nicely divided, though, allowing us to see the different facets of this beautiful country. It was one of the best adventures I had in a long time and I would highly recommend for any adventurous Sri Lanka traveler to do the same. Take a Sri Lanka Tuk Tuk ride that you will never forget!


15 thoughts on “10-Day Tuk Tuk Challenge Sri Lanka”

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  3. This is fantastic information – thank you!!! My girlfriend and I are in the middle of a 5 month trip through SE Asia, and Sri Lanka will be one of our last stops. I had never even considered renting a tuk-tuk, but ever since I came across this post yesterday, I can’t stop thinking about how great it would be.

    Thanks so much for the recommendation and keep up the travels!

    1. Thanks a lot Derek! It was a great adventure and lots of fun but also tiring at some points. But if you are up for the challenge, go for it! Enjoy your trip, very happy to have inspired you a bit 🙂

  4. Great post! I have a quick question – How tall are you? I’m 6’3″ (1.91 m), so I’m wondering if this would be comfortable or not. I would be driving the whole time, so that may provide a little more room, but I seem to remember some tuk tuks in India being pretty tight in the back seat. Do you think it would be comfortable enough for me?

    1. I am around 1.86 m and it was good for me, I guess it also depends on the tuk tuk. You can check directly with Rocky (check the link in the post). There was enough space for me plus 2 people in the back.

        1. Hello again! One more question for you – what did you do with your backpacks? I know we can put them in the backseat while driving, but when you go for hikes or stops along the way, did you have to bring your big backpacks with you every time? (I.e. it looks like there’s very little or no secure storage there)

          1. Hi Derek, we kept our backpacks in the back of the Tuk-Tuk, was enough space for 3 large bags actually. For longer stops we took them out with us but for shorter treks we kept them inside and tied them up with a flexible rope or something like this (http://prntscr.com/eh41x9) with a lock. We had no problems with that really, felt quite safe actually. Hope I could help, feel free to send me an email to contact@apenoni.com if you have more questions.

          2. Thanks again Julian! We were trying to get a direct answer from Rocky on that question, and after 3 days and many emails, he was still sort of avoiding the question. We ended up consolidating the stuff we truly needed into one backpack and left our other big travel backpack with Rocky in Negombo. We’re looking to pick up one of those cable locks on the way somewhere.

          3. Haha, ok, no worries – we tied up our bags tight in the back with a rope, without a lock, and had no issues, its going to be ok. Enjoy your trip. Do you have a route? Enjoy the ride!

          4. We’re doing a very similar route to yours, just doing it a little slower, since we have 18 days with the tuk-tuk. I didn’t realize it, but after planning it, I looked back at this site and found that we’re basically doing all the same major stops as you, and then we’re spending some extra time at some of the ancient cities, up in the hill country (we’re pretty close to Ramboda now) and then along the South coast and Yala National Park.

          5. Nice! We stayed at a nice hotel overlooking the falls in Ramboda. Once you move up into the highlands it will get a bit cold, be prepared! But it’s sooo beautiful. We stayed at the Elephant Guest House in Tissamaharama, nice place (best home made curry dishes!) and good to explore the Yala National Park. Enjoy your trip!

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