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I had assumed that our “one-time fee of per tuk tuk” (which the lady in the guesthouse had advised would cover our entry) would be paid directly by the tuk tuk driver to the organisation. It dawned on me that no money had been paid to the site.The tuk tuk driver hadn’t paid the fee for us to visit the ruins. There had been an office at the entrance and the tuk tuk driver had spoken to the guards behind the counter. A tip here and there meant the security guards were all too happy to let two dishonest visitors into the sights. Instead, we had paid a random tuk tuk driver 6000 rupees to show us sights that we didn’t need a ticket to see, and to a few sights he’d bribed the security guards to get us into. I won’t recommend the place we stayed at because I don’t support what they are doing in encouraging tourists not to pay the admission fee to the site.Comparing the two, we could see the second option was easily the more affordable choice. “No ma’am, you pay per tuk tuk, not for two people,” she said. I was also unsure which of the ruins were the ‘must visit’ sites, and was quite happy for the decision of which ones to see to be made for me. He knew an awful lot about the sights – I shook the cynical suggestion from my head that he could have been making it up.But how could it cost so much less than our combined admission fee (7600Rs)? Returning home at 2pm, we felt obliged to tip our driver.I believe this is because Anuradhapura dates back further than Polonnaruwa, therefore the ruins are in much worse condition in Anuradhapura and many are simply the low foundations of ruined buildings.If I were to choose one of them, I would pick Polonnaruwa.
Reading through others’ experiences, I realised we had only visited one or two of the ‘bigger’ sites; the ones with more security.
Although the admission fee of USD per person to visit Anuradhapura is steep, these funds go towards the maintenance and conservation of the ruins.
Responsible travel is about ensuring that your money is going to the right place.
I would rather have spent more money and ensured I was giving my funds to the organisation itself.
Lesson learnt: the next attraction I visit, I’ll make sure to pay the correct fee to the correct party. If you click on them and purchase something from the linked site, I’ll earn a tiny (and I mean tiny!
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Whilst I’m looking back on the way we experienced Anuradhapura with regret, it’s so clear that this ‘tour’ was a scam in some way – perhaps not only scamming tourists, but also scamming the organisation itself.