Okay so I knew that tuk tuk drivers got commissions when you purchased products after they took you to a shop. I just didn't realise the extent of the commissions or how far reaching the scam (and it is highway robbery) was. So I was taken to this Oakray place in Kandy, Sri Lanka and the prices for things were VERY high as in 12,800 rupees for a carved plate. I refused to buy anything then they started discounting. I managed to haggle a 60% discount, which usually in Asia means you are getting an okay deal. Only I didn't realise that even with a 60% discount the product was still DOUBLE the price I could pay in an outside store. So here is the scam:
They hike the price INCREDIBLY ie. 500%.
They then discount hugely so you think you are getting an okay deal.
The tuk tuk driver gets probably 50% commission so even if you haggle hard you will still pay double what you pay at another store.
Hoards of tourists are taken into these stores and end up paying hugely. I was lucky as I had haggled hard but I imagine many tourists simply get a small discount and pay the hiked price without realising it. It's incredibly unethical and so I wanted to publicise this shonky company and how it is fleecing tourists every day to make a huge profit. Unfortunately they haven't listed on tripadvisor so I can't warn more people.
Unique Suggestions: Just don't go.
Fun Alternatives: Go to a local store yourself and haggle hard. You might not get local prices but at least you won't pay double, tripe, quadruple like you will at this store. Do NOT take the advice of a tuk tuk driver.
I visited the Regent Spice Garden because I'm interested in herbal medicine and Ayurveda. I was given a quick tour of the garden by someone relentlessly pushy who claimed to be a doctor at a hospital. He gave me one promise after another - one of which was that an oil they were selling would remove all scarring (including a 40 yr old burn I have on my arm) in 35 days. Then I was encouraged to have a massage, given by a "trainee doctor". This started off as a head massage, which was fine, but then I was asked to lie down and it turned in to a leg and back massage (with bra strap being undone) - with the other doctor sitting opposite, watching the whole time. I felt very very uncomfortable with the whole thing and would never have agreed to it had I known what it entailed. I was then sat down and given a massively hard sell on a range of products, where I was asked to tick a product list (there were no prices on it). Then I was taken into the shop, where I nearly fell over with shock at the prices. Eg. over 50 US dollars for a bottle of coconut oil (in a country heaving with coconut trees!). Some of the products were over 100 US dollars. They are clearly out to rip off gullible tourists. Stupidly, I bought a few products, including an ointment and oil for my mum's arthritis. It was only when I got back home that I realised I had absolutely no idea what any of the ingredients are as not a single ingredient is listed on anything. I subsequently had problems using the products so emailed Regent Spice Garden for more information. I've received no response 1 week on. This place is a blot on an otherwise lovely country. It's appalling that it's approved by the Ceylon Tourist Board (who also didn't bother replying to my email when I alerted them to this).
Unique Suggestions: Just say you're not interested in buying any products.
Unless you have money and time to spare, you can do without this. This ancient performance has now turned up to be a money making tourist attraction.
Fun Alternatives: Take more time to spend at the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.
When I was in Kandy I had the idea to complete my trip to Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage with a visit at a spice garden. I didn’t have any recommendations so I choose one conveniently located on my way. The minute I stepped at the garden’s front a guide grabbed me and hastily showed me around. After showed me three or four plants and told me few words about each, I was dragged to the garden’s shop where I was pressed to buy the really expensive products they offer. The pressure was so hard that I was very close to lose my temper for the first time during my travel to Sri Lanka.
Unique Suggestions: I don’t know if this helps, but before visiting a spice garden ask around first whether there is one worth visiting.
Unless you manage to book the famous number 11,12,23 and 24 seats (and even then pray that people in charge will have clean the saloon’s window), it’s not worth to pay the expensive ticket to the observation saloon. From any other seat the view is as good as from a second-class coach.
Unique Suggestions: My advice is to skip the observation saloon at all. A second-class ticket will cost you 1/3 of the price, the travel will be much more interesting because you’ll have the opportunity to meat locals and talk with them plus you can open the window!
in the name of explanation they would explain about few plants and then force the customers to buy their products. we faced a critical situation and had difficulties in coming out without purchase.
Fun Alternatives: avoid going in or buying
Walk around the lake at around 5 pm - look out for where over 15 tour buses are parked - and you'll have found the location for the very "unique" kandyan dances. You'll be one of the chose few (hundreds) to see them...
Unique Suggestions: Go if it's part of the package - this is my suggestion. If you have to pay extra for it, ask yourself if those dances are really worth your time and money
Fun Alternatives: it's possible to see "real" kandyan dances - so if you have the opportunity, go for it. In my case, on one of the nights we were staying at the hotel suisse, a traditional wedding reception took place in the ballroom. Everyone was welcome to watchit from the above balcony. Real Kandyan dancers were invited to dance at the wedding. It was authentic - it was cool!
Well the one thing that you should be careful about is that whenever you book yourself a hotel room look at everything especially the accomodation charges and all because they might charge you surprisingly high.
Fun Alternatives: Make a proper deal before hand, these kind of things usually happens in the tourist season.
When visiting private-run Kandyan dance show, be sure to check the ticket price at the counter. There are few hawks out there who will charge you double the price of actual ticket.
Unique Suggestions: Try purchasing the ticket on your own from the appropriate counter.
Fun Alternatives: There is a government run Kandyan show near temple. There you won't get caught by the hawk.