I usually receive a large number of emails from my readers with question-related tour itineraries, vehicles and private driver guide in Sri Lanka. A large number of readers are inquiring about private driver guides in Sri Lanka. I thought of crafting this blog post owing to the ever-increasing inquiries of Sri Lanka tours with a private driver guide.
Hiring a Private Driver Guide in Sri Lanka
First of all, I must say it is a good practice to hire a local driver guide on your trip to Sri Lanka, it helps you to get protected from the craziness of the Sri Lanka traffic. It is not an easy task to drive on Sri Lankan roads mainly due to the lack of respect for the traffic rules and etiquette.
Travelling on the island can be exhilarating and exhausting, and therefore it is necessary for you to have space where you can relax. Hiring a Local driver guide is the best way of accomplishing it. As far as my knowledge 99% of foreign travellers hire a local driver-guide whenever they travel within the island, thereby you can explore this fascinating island with any unnecessary problems.
Here is the complete guide to hiring a private driver guide in Sri Lanka
Hiring a driver guide in Sri Lanka is a very common practice among travelers. Even though it is more expensive compared to travel by bus or train it is reasonably priced when you compare with the comfort it offers. It also saves a lot of time for you.
1 – Why should not I Drive Myself and Hire A Driver Guide in Sri Lanka
Gooooood question! You will understand why you should not drive in Sri Lanka as soon as you hit the roads. The luck is not on the side of foreign drivers when they drive in Sri Lanka. However, there is foreigner, who drive their own, there is no legal barrier to it. You need to have an international license and you can rent a vehicle from a company for your tour.
Most multi-national car rental companies have set up their branches in Sri Lanka. However, it is highly recommended to hire a local driver/guide in Sri Lanka. The chaotic traffic on the island can be hazardous for foreign drivers because they are not familiar with Chaotic traffic in Sri Lanka. The driver is even not following the traffic rules sometimes. Driving on the zig-zag pattern, cut in front of you giving no clue, swerve into the next lane without any signal, even drive to the opposite direction on the lane some of the things you can see on the Sri Lanka roads. The local drivers are well aware of the behaviours of local traffic and well adapted to it. Unless you seriously like road rage and high stress, please avoid self-navigation.
2 – Why should I hire a driver Guide in Sri Lanka and not take Public Transport
Public transport is the cheapest form of transport on the island and it cost only a fraction of money what you pay for taxis. However, there are many drawbacks with regards to trains and buses, they are overcrowded most of the time and they are also behind the schedule. These delays on transport can jeopardize your entire holiday plans. It is very inconvenient to travel on overcrowded, odiferous, uncomfortable too, most importantly it sucks your time. If you are seriously considering to curtail your holiday expenses, have no constraints for the time available for the trip and not necessary to have personal space, using public transport will be fine with you.
3 – Why is it recommended to have a private driver guide in Sri Lanka
The most important benefit of having a private driver guide on your trip is the flexibility that you get. Having a private driver guide allows you to plan the way you wish and go wherever and whenever you like. Having a private driver guide means the vehicle is at your disposable at any time of the trip within a short notice because the vehicle and driver are dedicated to your trip. Having a local driver guide means that you have an expert, who is good at driving in Sri Lankan roads and he has good k knowledge how to go to places.
Usually, the tourist drivers of Sri Lanka (employed by travel companies) have to follow a program at the Sri Lankan tourist board before start their job, the course is special program that improves the knowledge of driver guides on the island (history, nature, culture etc.) and educates them how to provide good service to their customers. Most importantly licensed driver guides do have experience how to deal with the populace with dismal road etiquette
As I have already mentioned above they are well knowledgeable and acquainted with the road network and conditions of the roads on various travel routes. Sri Lanka is a thrilling holiday destination and it can also be exhausting for some. So, plan your trips with a safe space to relax and enjoy, it helps you to recover from the electrifying atmosphere that is Sri Lanka. Don’t leave any room to ruin your holiday due to anxiety caused by unnecessary road accidents.
4 – How much does it cost to hire a driver guide in Sri Lanka
This is the most difficult and most important question on this subject I think. In order to make the exact figure for your trip, you need to be very specific with your requirement. The price of the driver guide in Sri Lanka is calculated based on several criteria, you need to find the best match for your requirement.
- Firstly, there are the professional licensed guides who certified by the Sri Lanka tourist board, they can accompany you into historical monuments and other sights, and provide assistance, and cultural/historical interpretation etc.
- Secondly, there are people who are “guides” who might take you on a walking tour E.g Colombo sightseeing tour, Sigiriya. These people are not usually “licensed guides” per se, however, are expert at what they do, and entirely fit for purpose.
- Thirdly, of course, there are people who will pounce on the outside of major sights, and offer a guide service, and who may or may not be licensed.
What are the factors that decide on the rate of the driver guides in Sri Lanka?
- The language that driver guide speaks
- Availability of SLTB driver guide license
- If the hotels on the trip are booked with the local agent or yourself
The language that the driver speak
You can book just a tourist driver for your Sri Lanka trip, usually, drivers are able to communicate with you in English and they do also have some knowledge about the country as well. But they are not licensed driver guides means you can’t expect the exact service provided by licensed driver guides.
The biggest disadvantage of hiring a tourist driver is that tourist drivers are not able to accompany you into the important cultural and historical sites such as Sigiriya rock fortress, Tooth relic temple. Therefore, you need to hire a site guide (the guides trained to share knowledge on one particular site) whenever you come across a tourist attraction. Usually, the rates of site guides are expensive and you also need to pay the driver, thereby you will be ended up paying a lot more than, what you pay for a licensed driver guide.
The rate of the private driver guide in Sri Lanka varied depending on the language they speak. If you hire a driver guide that speaks English they have the minimum charge and driver guide that speak languages such as French, German and Italy will charge more than what English driver/guide charge.
It will be a daunting task to find private driver guide in Sri Lanka with the proficiency of some languages such as Spanish and Dutch. It is advisable to book your Sri Lanka driver guide in advance, especially if you need service of the guide that speaks any other language other than English.
- Charge for a tourist driver USD 15 per day
- Rates for an English-speaking driver-guide USD 20 per day
- Rates for other language speaking driver-guide USD 30 per day
Above mentioned rates can be slightly varied depending on the company that you hire the guide from.
Availability of SLTB guide license
The driver guides, who are certified by the Sri Lanka tourist board charges a higher rate than the tourist drivers.
If the hotels on the trip are booked through the local agent or yourself
This is directly connected to the accommodation of the tourist driver guide. According to the contract between local tour companies and hotels, the hoteliers are obliged to provide accommodation to the driver guide. Every hotel has a sperate quarter for the driver guides, where they arrange accommodation at an affordable rate. Usually, local tour operators do not charge the guests for the driver guide accommodation. Thereby the guests can save a lot of money.
If the travellers book the accommodation directly with the hotels or through the booking portal such as Booking.com, the driver guide is not entitled to have accommodation in the driver’s quarters, means your driver guide should have to sleep outside the hotel. Therefore, the tourist, who travel with the driver guide have to bear the extra cost incurring for the guide, which adds about another USD 25 for the daily budget of the traveller.
5 – Tips for the driver guide in Sri Lanka
The job as a tourist driver guide is not a very comfortable job and their salaries are also at the lowest ebb pertaining to the salary structures on the island. Perhaps they do not earn enough for what they do to take a passenger from one end to the other safely. They do spend long hours on the road and safely manure on the hectic street. The driver guides are heavily depending on the tips. It is recommended to pay USD 5-10 per day depending on the service of the driver.
As for meals, usually, the driver guides get free food at the restaurants in a private dining room designated just for them. If you invite them to dine with, most drivers reluctant to accept it, because it cost you money, on the other hand, they like to have a bit of privacy. The dining table and the hotel driver’s quarters are the places where they meet their colleagues and which is an opportunity to have interesting chat and share their interest experiences, which they don’t like to miss.
6 – Contact Information for Drivers
Perhaps you have the contact details of the company where you book the taxi but It is highly advisable to have the mobile phone number of your driver-guide. Because on a multi-day tour you drive to faraway destinations from Colombo and it is only your guide is in the immediate vicinity.
7- How do I get a private driver guide in Sri Lanka
The best way of finding a driver guide in Sri Lanka is through a local tour operator. Usually, the local companies employ licensed driver guides and thereby you are able to get professional service of a well-trained guide. When you book a guide through a company it is their responsibility of providing a good tour guide. Companies do not want to tarnish their image and therefore strictly maintain the quality of the service.
It is not recommended to use anyone you find on your own, even though it is very affordable. Those drivers might not be well experienced and they might not be having guide license. Some drivers drive crazy even with their gusts, they turn out to be a sadistic maniac aimed at terrorizing other motorists as well as the passengers with their antics. They drive carelessly and pass other cars at high speeds, cutting off other drivers, even risking lives of the passengers and those of other motorists. If you wish to avoid such nasty experiences it is best to resort to a local company to find driver guide in Sri Lanka. Over and above that, hiring a driver guide in Sri Lanka is a very common practice among travelers. Even though it is more expensive compared to travel by bus or train it is reasonably priced when you compare with the comfort it offers. It also saves a lot of time for you.