What NOT to do in Galle, Sri Lanka!

The next morning my husband and I walked from our hotel to the Colombo Fort train station at 7am to grab the 7:30am train to Galle. Go to ticket window 4 (All train station) and tell the man where you want to go. It costs $3.50 USD for two people second class seats for a 3 hour train ride to Galle. The process of buying a ticket, finding the right train, and everything else is very simple and straight forward. No need to buy in advance.

We were on the same train (no transfers) all the way to “Kataluwa Station” (about 500 meters away from our next hotel). We stayed at the Kabalana hotel by Ceiloa villas for two nights. A separate blog post is coming soon for more info and my review about this (awesome) spot!

For this blog post I just want to mention my experience in the Galle area.

TYPES OF TUK-TUK DRIVERS TO AVOID:

I had more than one bad experience with the tuk-tuk drivers in Galle. I had no problem with the metered ones in Colombo, but here—it made me change my mind on them entirely.

THE ONE WHO WAITS OUTSIDE HOTELS:

At first neither my husband nor I found it strange or had any second thoughts about choosing to get into a tuk-tuk that was waiting outside the hotel… I mean taxis do it in the US all the time. We woke up early to head down the street to where the stilt fisherman were rumored to be. We were approached by the driver (a VERY normal thing) being asked where we would like for him to drive us. We had already planned on hailing down a driver before we even left the hotel room–so we were happy that we didn’t have to walk far before getting a ride. The tuk-tuk drivers in Galle were not metered, so you have to agree on a price before heading anywhere.

LESSON #1

Don’t let the driver know where you are staying.

He gave us a reasonable price to take us to the stilt fisherman and once we arrived, we tried to pay him, but he would not take no for an answer. He offered to be our driver for the day–he was persistent in waiting for us after we got done taking photos of the fisherman. We thought–sure why not, we were going to get another ride to the next spot anyways.

LESSON #2

Be in control of where and when your go somewhere.

Once we were done taking photos of the fisherman, we asked him to take us to the Sea Turtle Conservation just down the road. Again, we agreed on a price and off we were. We had planned on taking our time at the conservation and walking down the beach, so when we arrived at the Turtle conservation–we were adamant about paying now and that we were done with his services. He put up a fight and suddenly his English wasn’t very good. Our agreement was 300 rupees total, we only had a 500 rupees bill to give… shockingly–he didn’t have change!

LESSON #3

Make sure they have change before getting in.

The day goes on and we parted ways with the driver—for now. Because the tuk-tuk driver had seen where we were staying… hours later in the afternoon, he was there. He approached us asking for more work, from previous conversations— he knew that the next morning we were checking out. He wanted to take us to Tangalle, even though we repeatedly said we were taking the train and bus. He practically followed us into the hotel asking what time to pick us up.. this conversation went on way to long.

 

THE ONE WHO CHANGES THE PRICE ON ARRIVAL:

LESSON #4

Have change—don’t rely on the driver to break it.

The second bad encounter with a tuk-tuk driver in Galle was when the driver decided to change the price on arrival. For reasons like this–ALWAYS take metered tuk-tuks. Like mentioned previously, there aren’t metered ones in Galle, so it’s going to be a gamble every time. *TIP* TAKE THE BUS IN GALLE!

This mistake happened like this:

Driver: Where to?

Us: Delawella Beach, How much?

Driver: 500 rupees

Us: (knowing that the price was double that it should be) no thank… and walked away

Driver: How much?

Us: 200 rupees

Driver: 400

Us: no thanks

Driver: Ok, 300

Us: ……. ok

We got in the tuk-tuk and off we were. The driver stopped about half way to the beach (probably assuming we didn’t know where we were going) We told him, “No, this isn’t Delawella Beach…keep going a little more”. So he did…and once we arrived at the correct location…he changes the price to 400…because “it was a little further than discussed”. Hence- SCAM #2 because are you really going to argue with a local who could potentially make the situation worse?

At this point we were done with the tuk-tuk drivers in Galle and opted for the bus. I highly recommend taking the bus instead, its simple, cheaper, and you won’t get taken advantage of..

SO LETS TALK ABOUT TOURIST TRAPS:

STILT FISHERMAN:

Despite seeing these photos everywhere when you mention “Sri Lanka”, the famous stilt fisherman is now a tourist trap! We took a tuk-tuk to this spot and a bunch a guys were sitting underneath some trees just waiting for tourist like me who was willing to pay to see them pose for pictures! At first I didn’t want to buy into the trap but after taking some photos of empty sticks, and having put the drone into the air…I caved! It was only about $5 USD which isn’t a lot for me, but I’m sure it meant a lot to them. Plus, I’m happy with the photos and video footage! Click here to see the youtube video of this day!

 

THE FAMOUS PALM TREE SWING:

After getting scammed by a few tuk-tuk drivers and having to pay the stilt fisherman…by the time I made it to the infamous palm tree swing…. I wasn’t in the mood to get ripped off again. The swinging tree is located right behind a hotel, in a not very magical, crowded and awkward setting with hotel guests watching… AND it costs $5USD to swing and take photos!!! I was livid! I was so sad and mad at the same time. Needless to say–I was sick of throwing money at scammers and just had to walk away based on principles! But I did get the photo of a completely different tree about a 15 minute drive south on a deserted beach.

 

THE AWKWARD STALKER:

Keep in mind that all this scamming took place within a few hours…before even getting into the city of Galle! After the disappointing swinging palm tree photo opt…we took a bus into Galle. We left the bus station and started walking towards the fort. We were approached by a random guy who started to chit chat. He didn’t want to sell us anything or offer us a ride..he just started following us! I had read in the Lonely Planet Travel Book that some locals will follow you around and give you random information about things and then claim that they gave you a private tour, ask for money, and then get the authorities involved if you refuse to pay. So having known this little fun fact—we instantly did zig zags, crossing the road a few times, and backtracking where we had already walked… the guy followed our every turn! We asked a few times where he was going, and every time he would point in the direction that we were walking and just say, “this way”. My sweet husband finally got a little more aggressive and told him to leave us alone…something I wouldn’t have been able to say!

LESSON #5

Stand your ground, don’t be timid, and don’t be afraid of not being nice. Sometimes being “too nice” is when things start to go downhill.

 

 

Despite all the negative moments– I still had a great time in Galle and I even wish I had more time to explore! Hope this blog post is helpful for you if you’re traveling to Sri Lanka. Thanks for reading! Here’s some more photos from Galle!