The cost of exploring Sri Lanka with Uber, PickMe, and Taxiyak

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A few days back, Uber announced that its Intercity service would now be available for all cities in Sri Lanka. So you can now take an Uber to Ella, Riverston, or the Great Western. However, Uber isn’t the first ride-hailing app to offer trips out of Colombo. So we decided to pit the new Uber Intercity against three other ride-hailing apps that we know of providing cabs for trips beyond Colombo: PickMe, and Taxiyak.

There's a lot to explore in Sri Lanka (Image credits: TravelDiaries.Asia)
There’s a lot to explore in Sri Lanka (Image credits: TravelDiaries.Asia)

For these tests, we compared the four ride-hailing apps to see how much it would cost to go from the ReadMe office in Colombo to Galle, Kandy, Trincomalee, and Jaffna. Here are the results we found.

Uber Intercity

Kicking things off, let’s take a look at the latest entrant into the market. Uber Intercity was originally launched back in March. At the time, it was only a service that offered one-way trips between Colombo and Galle. This includes tourist hotspots in between such as Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Bentota. Since then, it’s now expanded to offer one-way trips to any city in Sri Lanka.

How to use Uber Intercity
How to use Uber Intercity

Currently, there are two variants of Uber Intercity. These variants are Intercity GO and Intercity Premier. Uber describes the vehicles you’ll get with these services as, “spacious sedans like Toyota Prius, Premio, or compact options like Suzuki WarongR with carefully selected top rated driver partners.” So how much does it cost?

Uber Intercity GO (LKR)Uber Intercity Premier (LKR)
Galle7106.0210004.37
Kandy7131.6210084.41
Trincomalee14242.7519412.01
Jaffna21274.0628675.81

PickMe Trips

This isn’t something that’s spoken of on a regular basis. Most of PickMe’s offers are for Friday nights or weekends. But if you dig around their website, you’ll find that the company does offer package tours to visit a number of cities across Sri Lanka. These packages give you the choice of a mini, a car, or a van.

PickMe does offer tours for cities across Sri Lanka
PickMe does offer tours to cities across Sri Lanka

The duration of these tours ranges from 12 hours to 10 days. In other words, you’re paying for a vehicle that’s available for the entire duration of your trip. So how much would these trips cost?

PickMe Mini (LKR)PickMe Car (LKR)PickMe Van (LKR)
Galle 626588529989
Kandy 588283079395
Trincomalee154042184124208
Jaffna 192612733530206

For testing purposes, we had taken two different quotes. The first was for a 12-hour tour for Kandy & Galle. The second was for an 18 hour for Trincomalee & Jaffna. These were the minimum durations and were selected to ensure that our comparison would be fair with prices closer to those of the Uber, Taxiyak, and Kangaroo Cabs.

Taxiyak

Compared to the two veterans in the ride-hailing business, Taxiyak is a relatively young player. But they too offer rides to outstation cities as well. It too offers round tours for a maximum period of 7 days. During those 7 days, Taxiyak allows you to visit 7 different locations. The cost of the tour then depends on the duration of the tour, the location you’re traveling to, and the type of vehicle you select.

Nano (LKR)Mini (LKR)WagonR (LKR)Car (LKR)Van (LKR)
Galle1073611272.8120781476215298.8
Kandy1029610810115831415714671.8
Trincomalee2252823654.4253443097632102.4
Jaffna3432036036386104719048906

For these tests, we chose a simple 1-day tour from Colombo to these cities. Additionally, we had chosen the round tour option rather than the hourly package option for tours. This was because the round tour option is the only one that would give us an exact amount of how much Taxiyak would charge to visit these cities.

The final verdict

Having identified prices for these journeys from Colombo to these cities, we can begin comparing these ride-hailing apps. Surprisingly, we found Uber Intercity GO to be the cheapest option amongst all the other ride-hailing apps. As the graph below shows, it consistently offers the cheapest prices from Colombo to Galle, Kandy, Trincomalee, and Jaffna.

The cost of exploring Sri Lanka with Uber, PickMe, and Taxiyak 2
Exploring Sri Lanka with PickMe, Uber, and Taxiyak

However, it should be noted once more that Uber Intercity only offers one-way trips. Taking this into account, one can argue that it is actually the PickMe Mini that offers the best value. This is because the PickMe tours all offer rides back to Colombo from these destinations.

So while you can only pay Uber to drop you off at Galle, you can pay PickMe to stay for the entire duration of your trip. Of course, the same can be said for Taxiyak. But as the graph shows, PickMe is a lot cheaper.

Of course, a simple bus ticket or train ticket is still leagues cheaper than any of these services. So unless you’re a fancy tourist with money to burn, public transportation will give you the best value per kilometer when traveling beyond Colombo.

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