The great thing about telling people you’re going to drive a tuk-tuk around Sri Lanka is that they think you’re bonkers. Milk that respect for all its worth, and definitely don’t let it scare you off.
The truth is tuk-tuk driving is a lot safer than you might think. And just as cool as your mates think.
Here are our GOLDEN RULES to nail driving in Sri Lanka. Follow these and you’ll cruise it.
1) Size Matters
Sorry boys and girls, word on the street is true.
Size matters, BIG style.
Sri Lanka’s roads are a jungle made up of trucks, lorries and buses, motorbikes, bicycles and whatever other beasts people decide to drive.
As a tuk-tuk, you’re pretty much at the bottom of the food chain.
Survival is simple . All you’ve got to do is respect the alpha.
This means getting out of the way of big motors, even if you think it’s your right of way.
Remember this and all will be peachy for you and your passengers. Traffic is a happy ecosystem once you learn your place.
2) Be Confident
Yes, you’ve got to respect the alpha. But a bit of gall helps too.
Be assertive in your tuk-tuk driving. Give it some welly at junctions to ensure you get out of the way of busy traffic quickly.
FUN FACT: Nifty tuk-tuks can turn on a sixpence, meaning maneuvers will be SO much easier than that thing you can’t park back home.
3) This is NOT a race
The Lanka Challenge is far cooler than a standard race, it’s an experience with some of the wackiest offshoots you could imagine.
This means you don’t need to worry about speed. Take your time, and we promise you’ll have a better one overall. You’ll also be a lot safer.
Tuk-tuks are designed to go at around 40km/h and there are enforced speed limits in Sri Lanka. This isn’t for boy racers, it’s for explorers.
4) Remember It’s Safer Than You Think
It’s actually safer to drive a tuk-tuk than it is to be a pedestrian on Sri Lanka’s roads.
These three-wheelers are involved in less serious accidents than motorcycles, buses, vans, lorries and bicycles.
In fact, for the distance each tuk-tuk travels, they are they safest vehicles on Sri Lanka’s roads.
FUN FACT: Tuk-tuks are even becoming emblems of safety and female empowerment in Sri Lanka, with more local women being trained to drive them. Look out for the pink tuk-tuks of the Rosie May Foundation dotted around the island.
5) Practice Makes Perfect
As with any relationship, the best way to feel comfortable with your tuk-tuk is to spend some quality time hanging out.
On the Lanka Challenge we dedicate the whole first day to driving training. There’s even a test!
But first, you’ll have buckets of time to trundle around in a safe environment and grind those gears, before becoming the smooth tuk-tuk pilot you’re destined to be.
6) Listen To Your Engine
Tuk-tuks love a chat. The engines talk and you’ll soon know if you’re in the wrong gear on a mountain road. Listen out all the time to gauge what suits your motor.
7) Check your reserve
As long as there’s fuel in your tank, you can’t go far wrong on the Lanka Challenge. So just make sure there’s fuel in the tank.
Every one of our vehicles has a reserve you can keep an eye on. Check it first thing in the morning, top up if needs be and you’re set for your adventure.
8) Ask For Help
The beautiful thing in Sri Lanka is you’re never far from a tuk-tuk expert. If you get stuck, ask locals for help. This will often lead to some of your best interactions and experiences on the challenge, because the people are LOVELY.
And the whole point in road trips is making great pit stops, right?
If you’re still not convinced you’re up for the drive, hear from they people who have been there and done it. They weren’t sure to begin with either, and they rocked it.