Sri Lanka is slowly becoming a popular travel destination, as it has lots of amazing places to discover. But, like most other destinations, there are many things that you should definitely know before visiting this conservative country. Here are some Sri Lanka travel tips to make sure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible
1. Always carry mosquito repellent
When you visit Sri Lanka, be sure to carry plenty of mosquito repellent. Mosquitos are everywhere, and though the island is malaria-free, there are sometimes outbreaks of dengue fever, so it’s best to stay safe and protected.
2. Keep some cash on you at all times
Though there are ATM machines in most major centres, most smaller shops as well as tuk-tuks and buses, will not have change for larger denominations. They will also be useful for tipping.
3. Be respectful of religious images
The majority of Sri Lanka is Buddhist, so it is important to remember to be respectful of their customs. Don’t get too close to the monks, never point your feet at the Buddha figures, and avoid taking disrespectful photographs at Buddhist temples. Additionally, having Buddha tattoos that show may also pose a problem.
4. When visiting temples, take off your shoes and cover up
If you’re visiting temples, it is important that you respect the local culture and dress modestly. Legs and shoulders must always be covered, and don’t forget to take your shoes off before you enter. There will be a place near the entrance where you can leave them while you visit the temple.
5. Ask before you take pictures of people and places
Also, remember to ask before you take photographs as many Buddhist temples and most government institutions don’t allow photographs taken of the premises. However, some places will let you purchase a permit to take photos.
6. Check which drugs are illegal to carry
Before you leave, be sure to check which drugs are illegal to carry into Sri Lanka. If you’re caught carrying illegal drugs, the result could be a life sentence. So, be sure to check carefully in advance. Most narcotics such as opioids, heroin and cocaine as well as marijuana are also illegal in the country.
7. Women aren’t allowed to buy alcohol
In Sri Lanka, women are not allowed to buy alcohol (nor can they work in bars). Though these laws aren’t strictly enforced in many major hubs, there is a chance that you might be sent away.
8. Never drink the tap water
Don’t drink the water in Sri Lanka – even when you’re just brushing your teeth. It is quite unsafe, as studies have found that it is often contaminated by industrial and agricultural waste and fertilisers.
9. Public displays of affection are frowned upon
In Sri Lanka, public displays of affection are frowned down upon by society. Additionally, homosexuality is all but illegal in the country. So LGBTQ travellers should be mindful of this to avoid being harassed or even arrested.
10. Eat with your right hand
Most locals use their hands rather than cutlery to eat their food. While most restaurants will provide cutlery if you need it, if you do want to try eating with your hands, always use your right as the left hand is considered ‘unclean’.
11. Remember to check that the meter is running on the tuk-tuk
If you’re planning to travel in the ubiquitous tuk-tuks, before you get in, check that the meter is on and running to avoid being charged extra for your trip. Also, know how much its costs. At the time of writing this article, in Colombo, the charge is LKR 50 per kilometre.
12. Only buy your tickets at the train station
Getting train tickets online isn’t always reliable in Sri Lanka, so it’s best if you get them at the station a day or two before you plan to travel, especially if you want to purchase first-class tickets. Second and third-class tickets can usually be bought on the day of your journey a few hours before the train departs.
13. Don’t miss visiting the capital city
Many visitors to Sri Lanka often skip the capital city in favour of heading directly to the beaches in the south, or to the cultural sites in the centre of the country. However, Colombo has lots to offer, such as museums, temples, parks, coffee shops, and more.
Are there any Iceland travel tips that we’ve missed? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below.