PickMe is the Sri Lankan version of Uber, Grab and other ride-hailing apps. Whether you are looking for a quick tuk-tuk ride or in need of a private chauffeur in a car, PickMe got you covered.
It’s generally not recommended for tourists to rent cars in Sri Lanka. Apparently, it’s not unusual for tourists to get the blame in case of an accident – no matter what the facts of the situation are.
Luckily there’s plenty of other ways to get around, and PickMe is probably the easiest way to make sure that you find a ride that suits your needs. It’s definitely a must-have app when visiting Sri Lanka – however, you need to know how to use it.
Read our guide on how to use PickMe below and get ready for hailing tuk-tuks on your phone.
#1 – Download PickMe from Google Play or Apple App Store
The first thing that you need to do is to download the PickMe-application to your smartphone. If you are using an Android phone you can go ahead and download it from Google Play. If you are using an iPhone then Apple App Store is the place to go.
Did you download the app? Great – now please open it and continue to the next step.
#2 – Create a free account
Before you can find your first ride through PickMe, you need to create an account. Don’t worry – it’s completely free and only takes a few minutes.
When opening the application, you’ll be asked to choose a language. At the moment the selection of languages is quite limited, but English is the default, so if you are reading this, you shouldn’t have any problems using the app.
You will be asked to enter your phone number (it doesn’t need to be Sri Lankan). It’s used for confirming that the number is yours, and you’ll receive a text with a code that you need to enter in the app. After you’ve done so, the account creation is pretty standard as you need to fill out your name, email address and the like.
As soon as you have created your account you are ready to use PickMe. Don’t worry if you didn’t add a credit card. You can just choose to pay the driver with cash.
#3 – Add a payment method (optional)
If you aren’t super keen on paying the driver with cash, you can add a digital payment method. That way the ride is paid through the app, and generally, it results in a more hassle-free experience.
You might already have added your credit card during the sign-up process. If not, then go to the menu and follow these steps:
- Click on Payment
- Click on Add card
- Fill out the relevant information (like when you are paying on a webshop)
- Click Add
That’s all you need to do to be able to pay for your tuk-tuk rides through the PickMe app. You just need to be sure that you have chosen the credit card as the payment method before booking your ride.
Remember that you do not need to give your driver extra cash if he asks for it. He is paid through the app, and you should stand your ground if he says otherwise. Be sure that the driver ends the trip on his phone when you arrive at the destination – otherwise you might be charged for a longer trip.
You should get a confirmation via text on your phone a few moments after you arrive at your destination. If the confirmation doesn’t show, you should contact PickMe to make sure that the trip has ended and that you are not being overcharged.
#4 – Book your ride
If you are looking to book a ride through PickMe then you need to go to the front page of the application. Tell the app where you want to be picked up and where you want to go.
Don’t worry if you don’t know the exact address of your pick-up or drop-off position. It’s possible to drop a pin on the map. However, in our experience, the search function works quite well.
When you have decided on the above, you’ll be shown what types of vehicles that are available to transport you. Generally, it’ll be tuk-tuks and smaller cars, however larger cars and other vehicles are also available from time to time.
Next to each vehicle-option, you’ll see an estimated wait time as well as an estimated price for the trip. Generally, the estimated price is accurate, however, PickMe pricing works as a taximeter. That means that a lot of traffic or a detour probably will result in a higher price. However, in most circumstances, it’ll still be way cheaper than hailing a passing-by tuk-tuk.
Go ahead and click on the vehicle type that you are looking for and then click on the book now button. When you have done so, the only thing left to do is wait for the booking to be accepted.
Depending on your location, the time of day, and other factors, you might experience that your booking is not accepted the first time around. If that happens, we recommend that you try again (possibly try out a few different vehicle types). Usually, the booking will go through after a few tries.
Good to know
Just like Uber, Grab, and other ride-hailing apps, PickMe isn’t exactly popular among all tuk-tuk and taxi drivers. Thus, you might find yourself in areas where you’ll have no luck using PickMe.
Varying availability throughout Sri Lanka
If you have read our travel guide for Sri Lanka, you’ll know that we visited quite a few different cities and areas in the southern part of Sri Lanka. We’ve listed our experiences with using PickMe in those cities in the table below.
|City||Success rate with hailing rides through PickMe|
|Colombo||All rides hailed through PickMe|
|Kandy||7 out of 10 rides hailed through PickMe|
|Nuwara Eliya||2 out of 10 rides hailed through PickMe|
|Ella||2 out of 10 rides hailed through PickMe|
|Udawalawe||No rides hailed through PickMe|
|Mirissa & Midigama||1 out of 10 rides hailed through PickMe|
|Galle||5 out of 10 rides hailed through PickMe|
|Negombo||All rides hailed through PickMe|
You might need to know the route yourself
Generally, it’s a good idea to make sure that the driver knows where you are going – even though you entered your destination in the app. A lot of the drivers do not want to or do not know how to use Google Maps or other navigation apps.
If you try to show them the destination on a map, they might have trouble reading it. Apparently, there are quite a few drivers that are not particularly trained in reading maps. More often than not we were asked by our driver to put on a GPS – even though he had 2 or 3 phones sitting in front of him.
We recommend that you take a look at the route before booking a ride. Having a rough idea of where you are going makes it easier to figure out if the driver is taking you the right place. The easiest solution is usually to turn on navigation through Google Maps, Apple Maps, Maps.me or another map app.
Shockingly, a lot of the drivers didn’t even know how to get to popular museums, restaurants and other places that you might want to go as a tourist. So prepare yourself with navigation and possibly a power bank for your phone.
Please remember, that if you are paying with your card through the PickMe app, then there’s no need to pay the driver any more money – no matter how much he insists. Please make sure that he ends the ride on his phone, so you don’t end up being overcharged for the ride.
If you are paying with cash, please make sure that you always leave the vehicle and get all your luggage before paying. That way you reduce the risk of dangerous situations where you or your belongings are locked in the car until you pay more money than originally agreed upon.