Scammed In Sri Lanka-Information You Need To Know Before You Go
The Lonely Planet says that Sri Lanka is the best place to visit in 2013. Since many people may follow these words of advice and be planning to visit soon, I must let you know about the scams that are going on in the city of Colombo. Right now, I feel anguish and like I’m on the worst vacation I’ve ever been on. I am hoping this will change, but my first impression of the people here or at least the tuk tuk drivers is that they aren’t to be trusted. I think that one of the worst things that can happen is to be lied to. Today on the six hours I spent outside my hotel rooms, I was lied to, cheated, and preyed upon, traveling as a single woman on her own.
This morning as I ventured out, a tuk tuk driver asked if I needed a ride. I had read to take the ones with the meters, but I didn’t see that he had one. So I negotiated what I thought was a fair price, $4, but found out later, that it should have only cost $1 to get to where I was going. But the thing, is the tuk tuk driver didn’t take me to where I had asked. I was trying to show him on the map that he wasn’t going where I wanted, but he just acted like he was lost and didn’t know the way. C’mon, it’s my first day in your city, and I know the way, and you don’t, and you are a driver that has been here for years? He finally got me to the right place, and tried to tell me that I now owed him $7 because it took so long. I argued, and finally just gave him $5 to be done with it.
The next thing that happened was far worse. This was a scheme so well planned out that I had no idea that I was being taken, quite literally, for a ride, and a scary one at that. It also took my trust away in the people here and made me feel violated and attacked. I was walking in the Fort area of Colombo to the lighthouse and had several tuk tuk drivers trying to get me to ride with them and trying to take me on tours. I persistently said no, as I wasn’t walking very far. I then had a man come up and introduce himself and ask where I was going. When I told him the lighthouse, he told me that today was a very important holiday in Sri Lanka, and that it was being celebrated at the Buddhist temple. I told him that I had absolutely no interest in going. He then told me that there were going to be a lot of elephants. I then told him I definitely had no interest in going, as I didn’t want to support anything that supported elephants being held in captivity. He then told me he worked at the fancy hotel we were walking in front of, and that he thought of me as his daughter, and wanted to look after me while I was traveling. He said he was just taking a break from his work. As I rounded the corner to make my way to the lighthouse, he said, “You know, the lighthouse will always be there, but this celebration is very special, and you are lucky because you are here today. It’s starting in just five minutes. If you hurry, you can take a tuk tuk there, and see it, and come back to the lighthouse.”
He said, “Since I think of you as my daughter, I will make sure you get a government tuk tuk that has a meter, and not one that will cheat you.” Oh, and look, just at that second one pulled up. He talked to the guy who promised to use his meter. Well, I thought, being the adventurer that I am, “It’s not far. I can go, and then come back to the lighthouse. ” As I started to get in the tuk tuk, I saw no meter, though. “Where’s the meter?”, I asked. “Up there.” the man pointed in front of the driver. Well, I just thought I couldn’t see it, so I said OK. Well, the man who had been talking to me all along now said he was going somewhere on the way, and asked if he could ride. I said, “No problem.”, and let him in.
We rode along, not very far, and then I found myself on an abandoned street. The man said, this was his stop, and could I pay for him. I said, “No problem.” and waved goodbye. He said, “No, you have to pay for me now. And, oh, can you give me money for a Coke.” I said, “No, I won’t give you money, but I will pay your way. He then said it’s 2,000 rupee for me,the equivalent of almost $20 US dollars.” He thought he had my trust and that I would just pay it. “I don’t think so.”, I shouted. I went twice this distance earlier for 400 rupee. I will pay 200. The two men started ganging up on me, and shouting at me, and saying that I would pay the 2,000. I said “Show me the meter.” Of course, there was no meter. I then started feeling very unsafe. They were getting very close to me. I threw the driver the 200 rupee and said that is all you will get from me. Then I used the only weapon I had, my voice. I screamed in a very deep and loud voice. “YOU WILL NOT CHEAT ME.” I then sucked in the biggest breath of air all the way to the bottom of my stomach, and proceeded to scream in a very loud and low voice. Not a shrill scared voice, but I felt like I sounded like a lion roaring at the time. It may sound silly, now, but in the moment, I felt like my weapon was to show them my anger, not my fear, and to maybe make them think I was a bit crazy. It worked, they both allowed enough distance for me to jump out of the tuk tuk. The driver yelled out “F*** You” and drove off.
I consulted my map and wasn’t far from the temple. I went and found out today, of course, there was no Holiday. And it broke my heart to see a lone elephant, chained up and clearly not happy.
Things only proceeded to get worse, as when I left, I had another tuk tuk driver who kept pulling over to yell lewd comments at me. I told him he was creepy, and to get lost, only to have him pull up his shirt to show his unzipped pants, and yeah, you know. I was horrified. This had been after avoiding over thirty beggars all day, mostly children, asking for money. Many of these children were well-dressed and playing in the street in front of their homes. They had just been trained to ask any foreign looking person for money. This was not turning out to be my type of place or day at all. I finally decided to do what I do anytime I am not feeling safe in an area. I did the touristy thing and went to the fanciest hotel in town (no, I didn’t take a tuk tuk, I walked) and drowned my sorrows in a beautiful king coconut, which was even sweeter than green coconut juice, and was the one bright spot in my day. The waves calmed my fears. I am hoping things will get better in the new places that I visit, but if Sri Lanka wants more people to visit, they are going to have to do something about the dishonesty and harassment from its people. I can’t imagine that I am the only one to have three bad experiences with tuk tuk drivers all in a matter of just a few hours. Be warned, or maybe just avoid Colombo altogether on your visit to Sri Lanka.
If you want to find out more about travel scams in other countries, you may like my other website www.travelscamming.com
That’s awful. I’m so glad you are ok. Do you have mace or anything?
Oh Valerie.. this is horrible news.
I hope things get better when you leave Colombo.
A big hug from bali, Alej
So sorry!!!! Hopefully once you get out of the Colombo, it will be wonderful!!! Be safe and have fun 🙂
Ugh!!! Terrible!!! Sending you hugs across the oceans!
How sad and disturbing that you had to go through all that! I hope things get better! Stay safe !
Thanks everyone! I don’t have mace as its illegal to carry on planes. I did pick a close by spot for dinner. I felt it was a sign as it was on Paradise Road. Well, on the way, I saw an ad that said …”and I have a source of strength that will never let me down.” I feel like that was the message for today for sure!! I have hope that it will get better. An entire country can’t be this bad, can it?!
Thanks everyone! I am sure it will get better. It has to, right?!
I think people living there will never change… last week I was there and I also found that people are dishonest
Hi Val, I’m so sorry about the experiences that you had today! I can assure you these are really not representative of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans! In my time living here I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and helpfulness of Sri Lankans – and I hope you get to experience that too! See you soon at Udekki!
Thanks, Carolyn McKay! I am so glad to hear that. I look forward to seeing you soon…
So thankful nothing worse happened…continue to pray for you and that God will place a hedge around you and put kind wonderful people in your path.
Me, too! Thank you!
Oh so sorry to hear about this awful day you’ve had in Colombo, I’ve never been to sri Lanka and will surely keep this in mind. Sake travels Val!
I have three weeks here, and going to be staying in local families homes, so I think it will get better once I do!! Braving the train tomorrow….
Please don’t judge the rest of Sri Lanka by your tuk tuk experience in Colombo. I never had these issues, but then I have only once been taken for a ride in Sri Lanka by two British doctors who did not want to pay their way in a shared taxi from Kandy to Unawatuna.
My mistake. I will now always insist on money up front to the driver. It has left me very bitter that the least expected scammer is your fellow foreign traveller.
Your experience is typical in most countries when you arrive (even in the Western hemisphere). You are fresh meat for scammers of all sorts. It takes a while to build trust with locals. Always seek advice from your accommodation regarding good/trustworthy transport.
Okay…the hotel/guest house may get commission of some sort but you are in safe hands.
These experiences are actually healthy; in that they teach us to be wary of fraudsters and educates travelers to county specific scams.
I am glad that you walked away in good health! Enjoy your trip unscathed.
There is definitely room here, in travel blogging, for a blog or website about scamming issues. That would be a very useful resource.
Take care and happy travels.
That’s a great idea, Mark. I have traveled all over the world, and never had so many incidents like this occur in one day. I did wake up though, and decide to clean the window, so to speak. I don’t want to see the world through mistrust and suspicion. I have let that story go and am going to look for the beauty here. I do think it’s sad that so much fraud and harassment is going on in a visitor’s first introduction to Sri Lanka. I met another tourist who was encountering the same problems. I also was the target of many catcalls from many tuk tuk drivers all day long. They were very crude catcalls about different body parts, too. Not harmless whistles or calls of “linda” like you receive in Mexico. I am going to stay with a local family today in Sri Lanka, and I am excited about experiencing my stay with them. It can only get better from here!
Many tourists don’t report these incidents to police ,Just note down the number of the vehicle and report to police with the help of hotel you stay .
I had the same experience like you, I think I met the same man…My memories from trip to Sri Lanka are horrible, the worst holiday, I also met very unhelpful, cheating people all the time during my stay in SL. It was first time I was glad I am finally at home. Very sad experience in my life
So sorry to hear that. Yeah, I changed my ticket and left early. I hope you get to travel to a better place soon!
Oh no! How frightening (andI feel so sad how that elephant too). Hopefully by the time you read these comments, things will already have turned around for you.
Yeah, I don’t think Buddha would have much approved of this particular temple. I expect today will be better. Leaving Colombo today!
That’s terrible! As I said in my India post, if I–a small, brown woman–still get harassed, what more with white women like you? I would have felt scared if that happened to me. I don’t know if I could have screamed. Good thing you got to the hotel safe!
Yes, it was a little crazy! One of the few places I’ve traveled where I wish I wasn’t alone. I think it will get better out of the city! We shall see.
This is a sad experience and great you did muster the courage to shout at the tuktuk driver, at least the scared him off away
Take care on the road and May God bless you wherever you go.
Yes, it also made me appreciate the ease which I have of taking a taxi back home. Some things you just take for granted!
Hey! Sorry to hear you’re having such a rubbish time — both the tuk-tuk Buddha scam and the overcharging issue happens in most places.
A few suggestions that might help.
Establish what you should pay for a tuk-tuk to somewhere before you leave your hotel. Then use that as your starting point in negotiations and aim to pay no more than 1.5x that amount — tourists almost always pay more than locals, because we’re almost always wealthier and we’re not locals. Don’t be afraid to walk away from negotiations. Carry small notes in a separate place from big notes, so you always have the right change, and you’re not showing the tuk-tuk driver hisweekly wage in your wallet as you argue with him over a couple of dollars.
Don’t trust anyone who approaches you at a tourist attraction any more than you would in your home town. Remember, this is a poor country, and because you have money to travel internationally you are thereby wealthier than 95-98% of the population, so people will seek to exploit you.
Also… Shoulders are an erogenous zone in much of Asia, and there seems to be quite a lot of flesh on display in your lovely self-portrait. Wear a loose-fitting top that covers shoulders, upper arms and cleavage, as well as loose pants or a loose skirt (knee-length is fine), and that will probably reduce the harassment you experience: in many parts of Asia, only prostitutes wear spaghetti straps. Look at what local women wear (in terms of what they keep covered and what they expose) and go from there.
Also — get out of Colombo and into the countryside. It’s much nicer!
Thanks so much for the helpful advice! In Mirissa now, and things are already better.
Hi from UK,
In transit from our Spanish home to Mirissa in Sri Lanka and notice that you have just arrived there (on your site). If you have any specific tips for Mirissa and surrounding areas would be really happy to receive. We are in Mirissa for 3 weeks at Leethena Resort and then on to our Australian home for a year and then Vietnam. Did you go there as well??
Finding all your details and the replies absolutely fascinating.
Our 3 months in Morocco was severely influenced NEGATIVELY by such touts but nil in Thailand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dr. Bob & Sandra
This was awhile back, so not there now. In Vietnam next month!
Thanks for the helpful advice!
Sorry to hear about your experience Valerie. And thank you for sharing the lesson.
The strategy I mostly use for touts is pretend I didn’t hear them, avoid eye contact and ignore them. Eye contact or even a “No” can be a buying signal that once sent, the game is on.
If this ‘ignore’ approach raises inner issues – e.g. guilt, feeling of rudeness – look at whether any disempowering ways of being exist like having to be a people pleaser, and examine the first time this feeling came up for you, most likely in childhood. A decision to be ‘nice’ made by a kid as a way to succeed/survive in this world just doesn’t always work so well with less scrupulous people.
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” –Martin Buber
Yes, here I don’t look at them, and they will come over and tap you until you do. So annoying!! I’ve never had touts so in your face about it. That’s what upset me so much. Things are better now, though away from Colombo!
Glad that you are safe. Unfortunately I had a similar experience in Bangkok. Stay strong and safe.
Wow, Val-what an awful experience! I’ve followed your blog for a while now, and I know you’re not a travelling “newbie”, so this must have really been a well-crafted scam. It’s nice that you were able to take refuge in a resort hotel, but as you well know that is not the “real” version of a place. To bad the locals wouldn’t allow you to enjoy their otherwise beautiful country. 🙁
Yes, very well-crafted! I think I was most hurt that the man said he considered me his daughter and would take care of me, and then preyed upon me. I am just proud of myself for not paying them the money. The underestimated me BIG time. Yes, I know it wasn’t the real version which made me sad. Today is much better, met some kind people, and am no longer in Colombo!
Thanks, Mitch Una! Have come across very gracious people today, so glad!
Oh you poor thing! We had nothing but lovely tuk tuk drivers in Colombo. Not one harrassed us even when I was on my own. I did notice that lots of men were looking at my chest when they talked to me though – that was interesting. But everyone else was lovely to us. In fairness we had spent the previous month in Egypt and been harrassed every minute of the day so maybe we didn’t notice Sri Lanka as it was nothing compared to Egypt. Don’t let this colour your opinion. Get out there and be more firm from now on. Expect them to scam you and you’ll be ready and won’t believe their lies anymore. Good Luck!
I’m sorry to hear about your awful experiences. We were not fans of Colombo ourselves. But there is so much to explore and we found so many magical places and felt that it was the Sri Lankan people that made our experience so wonderful. Stay in Negombo if you have to go back and stay in that area before you fly out.
There are scammers everywhere and I think being a woman alone you do run into more of it. I haven’t read all the comments but just saw that you are in Mirissa, the Spice House is a wonderfully safe guesthouse and there is an amazing roti shop down a back road run by a really kind family (Dewmini roti shop). I hope it gets better!
Yes, I am meeting wonderful people now. Glad to be out of Colombo!! I am staying at a great guesthouse here, and I will try to find that roti shop for sure!
Hi from UK,
On our way to Mirissa and will be there for 3 weeks. Mainly the Whale Eatching etc. Loved the recommendations and if you have any more (as well as warnings) would be really grateful. Gratefully we are experienced travellers but our Moroccan Trip was negatively influenced by just this type of scamming. There for 3 months in a motorhome and harassed the entire time. Based at Latheena Resort.
Bob & Sandra
Have a great time! Yes, the scamming is unfortunate…
UGH. how SCARY – and tiresome. hope you can move on to a better place soon. thanks for the important warning!!
Our family of 4 spent 1 month backpacking through Sri Lanka in June 2011. While we didn’t experience the tuk tuk situation in Colombo that you described above (we mostly rode the public buses), friends of ours actually did–almost exactly (“there’s a festival today that you must see!”). We did experienced another ‘scam’ that you should be aware of. It happened it Kandy and we didn’t come across it anywhere else in Sri Lanka nor in the world! Also interestingly, we later met a couple who were also backpacking and they had been scammed by the same guy we did while in Kandy! The details are here in our post: http://with2kidsintow.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/hill-country-sri-lanka.html Sadly, many Sri Lankans, while clearly still recovering from their terrible civil war, are keen to take the seemingly ‘easy’ route to economic recovery, especially in the larger cities like Colombo and Kandy. But when we were away from these areas, we had no problems and encountered nothing but genuinely nice people. Hope you experience this too.
Yes, things are getting better now that I’m in Mirissa! However, I read your article, and didn’t find anything in that post about the scam. Please tell me what happened! Thanks!!
I agree with Jessie – once you get over the shock of it all, it’s mostly just a huge pain in the butt. I’ve learned to stick up for myself when traveling (I even have people try and scam me in Spain, and I’ve lived here for ages!), especially when it comes to transportation. Hope you’re feeling better and have found something positive about Sri Lanka!
So sorry you had this experience!
I so admire women traveling on their own – good for you! But it’s sad to hear this sort of thing. I loved being in India and Sri Lanka, but it is a shame that a few locals spoil things for the many by creating so much distrust. Sometimes, I SO wanted to believe someone but couldn’t because I was worried that they were trying it on.
We also had a very bad experience in Sri Lanka at a hotel in the middle of nowhere – quite scary levels of aggression. Of course, it’s the kind of thing that can happen anywhere. I reported the incident to the tourist board in the hope that something would be done about it, or at least that awareness would be raised.
Yes, I should report my story as well. Yes, I can’t get over the aggression here or the way I’m stared at. Don’t think I’ll be coming back.
God! so happy to see this post, as I had a very similar experience in Srr Lanka!! I was there a few years ago and I have to say its NOT a safe place for women to travel alone. People are very strange there, men will follow you every where you go and then when they do ake their approach they want money or money for sex or some crazy thing, if you get in trouble people are totally unlikely to help but instead stand and stare and then tell you to make peace, even the police are hopeless!! I live in India and was in Sri Lanka on a 2 month stand down but when I explained to the Indian embassy about my experiences there, they allowed me back into India on the basis that Sri Lanka is unsafe for female travelers!! And people say that India is unsafe!! ha! Sri Lanka is downright dangerous
So glad to hear this Dianne. I thought I was just being paranoid. Also, glad to hear that India is safer. I was beginning to think I shouldn’t visit India either. Yes, I’m doing lots of praying right now, and looking for mace!
Ugh, that is SO horrible Val. I hope you’re feeling better after your day from hell and have moved on to a more agreeable location. Hey, at least you’re still smiling in your photo!
[…] hectic city. I still managed to find tranquil spots, interesting people, and more than my share of interesting stories to tell! I hope that you enjoy my pictures of Colombo, Sri […]
I just get the same experience as the way you did get today. This time, the guy who did approach me is a young guy. I got scammed for LKR 4000.00 and was left at abandoned street like you. Read my experience I posted on trip advisor. If I read your review earlier, I wouldn’t fall into this kind of scam syndicate. Anyway, those people who are going to Colombo, bewatre of this. http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g293962-i9270-k6569559-New_Scam_in_Colombo_You_Don_t_Know_How_Dangerous_It_Can_Be-Colombo.html#50147472
Very sorry to hear. I refused to pay when it happened. I am building a site right now called http://www.travelscamming.com to address situations like these.
Thank you. You did a great move by not paying them the money and using your “weapon” to address other people. In case of mine, I don’t have the “weapon” like you (I am a guy though) and it was unlikely I could fight two guys with my own fist if they started to attack me. I did not also know if they have knife or something that could hurt me if I kept refusing to pay them. Anyway, it’s great that you are building a website on this. 🙂
Thanks so much for this valuable information. What an experience and such a freighting way to be treated especially alone and in an unfamiliar location. You sure did handle yourself well with your angry scream, not sure I would have been able to do that. I’m glad you made it to safety and the king coconut sounds perfect! It was nice to see your pretty smile at the end of your story!
[…] scam in Sri Lanka, especially in the Colombo area. You can read more about my personal story at Scammed in Sri Lanka on the This Way To Paradise website. A similar story happened to someone else as well which you […]
[…] of information to add, but I wanted to let everyone know about it. Many of you probably remember the scammers who tried to take me for a ride in Sri Lanka. Well, one of the comments, I got on that article was that there should be somewhere for people to […]
Hi! My partner and I didn’t like Colombo either! I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody! Sorry you had such a bad experience.
Yes, I really wish I had spent my time in somewhere else besides Sri Lanka. My least favorite place that I’ve ever gone.
Just back from Sri Lanka – it’s a lovely country and worth visiting but my experience was that as a western tourist you are very obvious and a target for scams – the most frequent one I encountered was the ‘helpful person’ at the railway station Galle and Kandy trying to get you to use ‘metered’ tuk tuks for tours – often with very elaborate back stories about how their scheme was ‘government approved’ etc – I have to say that this was the one downside of the holiday and eventually got to be so predictable that I just waved such people away (which is what the locals do). I am really pleased you posted this up – as of October 2013 scammers are still very active in Sri Lanka and their presence does a disservice to a lovely country.
It’s so sad to hear that this is still happening. There have had to have been complaints about it Hopefully, they do something to stop this!
I’ve only had 1 somewhat bad experience in Colombo a tuktuk driver tried to overcharge me by 1 or 2 dollars, that said I was only in Colombo for shopping and didn’t do the touristy things. By the way, there are also scams like these in Kandy and Galle, men try to approach you and try to start a conversation but it’s just too obvious they’re trying to pull a fast one on you.
Oh, they also have the gem scams in Colombo, another weird one was this dude was trying to tell me – “sorry mam you cannot cross this street” while a crowd of Sri Lankans were already crossing the street, so I gave him my best *FUCK OFf* look.
Other than that, I had a blast in Sri Lanka
Yes, it’s too bad the drivers are giving Sri Lanka a bad reputation. There are some lovely things about it.
Sri Lanka is a very poor country, and currently a popular place for foreigners to visit. The opportunists exist in S/L as they do wherever there are “haves and have nots”. I have experienced all manner of attempted scams in S/L, and yes i got fooled once, but since then, i am more wary. If someone starts walking along beside me and starts to strike up a conversation, i simply ignore them, and i have also suggested we go talk to one of the numerous police and SLAF officers standing around everywhere. I can swear a few choice words in S/L, which helps! S/L men are rather open in their leering at foreign women as a rule. Women travelling alone should learn a few “defensive” terms which can be shouted out loud. Ask the hotel concierge what the going rate for travel is. Better still, take a hotel taxi, they aren’t that much more, they are clean and air conditioned too! If you really feel you are being ripped off by a 3 wheeler driver, take his number plate down and report him. Best not to even make eye contact with those drivers lined up outside hotels etc, just walk on.
Thanks for the good advice, Keith!
My girlfriend and I just cancelled our Sri Lanka trip mid-trip.
Sri Lankans constantly try to shake the maximum money out of any tourist looking person. After a while it just simply wears you out. We were ripped off on everything from a bottle of beer, food, tuk tuk rides, car rental. You can sweetly negotiate almost all the time… but it will wear you out.
Compared with Indonesia, guesthouses were more expensive in Sri Lanka, and the offering far worse. After 5 months in Indonesia we never had experienced a bed like the one in our guesthouse in Sri Lanka. The mattress so super thin. and the support just a bunch of boards with gaps. Looked at other guesthouses & saw much of the same.
The other annoying thing about Sri Lanka is that most of the guesthouses are not on Tripadvisor. So… take your best guess where they are & what the problems might be.
Yes you can pay $10 a night.. but you will not be comfortable. No way. I didn’t figure out the minimum spend for a comfortable place. Lots of places around charge $100 plus. I
The food of Sri Lanka is dull and always the same. Rice & curry… every meal. Not basmati rice, but cattle feed rice.
Every town has open sewers. Not in Indonesia.
And their nature is being held hostage by these same tourist money makers. Elephants held in chains. Turtle eggs collected from the beaches to be “hatched” in a tourist trap.
If you are coming for the surf, I can say a few things. There are no good intermediate waves here. It is either an overcrowded, polluted beach break. Or.. a very fast, also mostly close out reef break wave. Sea urchin hazard is real.
Trust me… go somewhere else other than Sri Lanka.
I couldn’t agree with you more. I, too, left Sri Lanka earlier than planned. It was the worst place that I’ve ever been.
Having lived with my partner in (mostly South-East) Asia for the past 3 years, I can safey say that I would never recommend Sri Lanka to anyone. Everything from masturbating taxi drivers(the ‘reputable’ company) to men following my partner into the toilets to snap pictures of her. not to mention being spat at by pedestrians as we drive around in our hired car. We have of course met some decent people but as a poster above has said, its impossible to let your guard down and trust given the way we are treated. Cant wait to leave, and will never return.
Yes, I saw all of that. It’s sad really. They are ruining a beautiful country with their behavior.
I’m in Colombo now, and I thought I was the only to have the “friendly local who’s having a good day and just wants to show me around” trick pulled on me! I was actually warned about the guy by the staff of the souvenir shop he took me to, that’s how notorious my guy is! Upon the next leg of the journey I asked him about which sports he played, this was my own cleverly disguised 😉 segue to the “fact” that I did karate…. yeah right! After the half-assed tour of the man’s Buddhist temple, I requested to be taken to my hotel. Upon arrival was informed of the price of 6800R=, and my ‘friend’s’ attempts to lower the price. I just asked a local passerby what he would expect to pay (around 500R=). This is when being a 6’4″ male comes in handy, and I proceeded to tear these 2 morons in half with a series of threats about calling the police, as well as getting right in their faces with a look of some serious anger. Haha, I don’t think that I have a threatening demeanour at all, but it goes to show that with a few harsh words and some genuine anger, most of these scammers will run for the hills if threatened!
I had a similar experience back in 2005. Left my hotel and was approached by a guy who took me by tuk tuk to a temple. He promised me the most wonderful view in the world, which turned out to be a piece of bone belonging to Gautama Buddha. Then he wanted to take me to the city of Kandy to look at another piece of Gautama’s tooth… I think i lost around US20…
Yes, it’s crazy how many tuk tuk drivers there are getting away with scamming the tourists!!
I’m a Sri Lankan who lives in Colombo and I’m really sorry on what happened to you. Yes.. What you are saying is absolutely right. There are some tuk tuk drivers in colombo city area who targets tourists and try to do this overcharging thing. I think this happened to you in 2013 mid. Now colombo has more meter taxis and the best way is to get a metered one. And now there are new budget taxis (cars) which provide safe rides to people.
These types of scams are common in major cities all over the world or at least in the Asian region. So, avoiding strangers is a common safety tip that is valid to Colombo as well. I have experienced same type of things in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Any how, I hope you believe that Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Sorry for your loss. But don’t loose faith over Sri Lanka. We are trying make the country more tourist friendly and comfortable.
Actually, if you had read the article at all you would read that they told me they DID have a meter that was the scam. Sri Lanka was also the only place I had a tuk tuk driver pull down his pants and expose himself to me and a hotel owner touch me inappropriately. I’ll never go back. And the scams are still going on as I have people email me everyday that the same thing happens to them. I have spent months in Thailand and never once had anyone even try to scam me.
Same thing happen to me. I won’t travel alone again to that country
Sorry to hear the same thing happened to you. Hope your next travels are better.
I am so pleased to have found this post because everything I have read about Sri Lanka and its people on the net is just how friendly and wonderful everything is. I found the people to be wary and standoffish at best and downright rude and aggressive at worst, but yes my problems lie mostly with the tuk tuk drivers.
We were travelling as a couple (male and female) but I’m glad that I wasn’t alone. We had read extensively so we avoided getting scammed but boy was I sick of people trying to scam us. It was NON STOP. Colombo wasn’t the worst place for us but Galle. Outside Galle train station it was shocking. And we had a tuktuk driver who took us around and then changed the price at the end. We refused to pay the extra and he followed us. He even followed us onto a bus back to Colombo but thankfully was asked to leave eventually. Even the ticket booth man at the train station backed him up. I threatened to involve the police and they gave me the impression that the police would back them up also. I believed them. They were all crooked.
A man at one of the Anuradhapura temples tried to charge us money so we could have our own shoes back. Needless to say I told him where he could get off. Extorting money out of the Buddhist temples like that… I’m not religious but it makes me sick. They want to take a good long look at themselves if they are Buddhists themselves because if there’s some kind of heaven, they aren’t getting into it.
You would point to a place on the map and the tuktuk driver would agree to take you. Then it’s ‘Do you want a tour of temples? Very cheap – NO’, ‘Do you like gem? You want to go to gem shop? – NO’, ‘You do not want to go to this restaurant. You want to go to Ministry of Crab – I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO MINISTRY OF EFFING CRAB.’ You constantly had to check your map to make sure they were not taking you anywhere else. I even had a metered taxi drive down the wrong street so he could rack up the meter. I told him he was driving down the wrong road and he immediately stopped and told me I was wrong. I said it again in a very loud and stern voice and he turned back around.
People need to know the truth and not be fooled by propaganda. The Sri Lankan people are quite often downright horrible and not all rainbows, puppies and unicorns as it says in all the guide books. What happened to you was unforgivably despicable and may all those involved by struck down by bubonic plague and die a miserable death.
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Bravo!!! It’s been my experience as well! January 2016…. Can’t wait to leave this hell hole… I detest Sri Lanka…
And its expensive!
Yes, surprisingly expensive!
Wellits 2017 and it has not changed one little bit.
Everybody should know that when a local asks even the simplest most trivial question of you,,,,its loaded,trust me. Its part of the common ploy to extract as much info from you as possible, even if you give a non committal reply or negative reply,they are still sizing you up for whichever scam they can pull on you.
Its endemic here. There is no trust,compassion or genuine care for anybody here, ive twenty years experience here and the sesult o being aware of EVRY scam andleting them know so,,,,you are slated as a no good,cheap untrusting Suda.
Hi! I just left Sri Lanka with a great happiness and googled if l was the only one that hated Sri Lanka because everyone says so good things about it and the people. Not only the scamming and strangling of tuktuk drivers, but also beginning from the first day until the last day, the sexual harassment didn’t seem to end. I have been traveling for over 2 years as a solo female and been to many countries that are said to be dangerous, l always say things might happen anywhere but l never had this much and aggressive harassment and never felt such bad vibes in a country. Would never return!
I’m so sorry you had the same thing happen to you. I wish more women would read about this BEFORE they go!!