9 Good-to-Know Tips When Traveling to Sri Lanka

by Deepanjalie Abeywardana

Making headlines in 2004 due to the devastating tsunami, Sri Lanka continues to recover while gaining international recognition for its natural beauty of white sand beaches and exotic wildlife. Where traditions run deep and thrills run wild, consider this island off the coast of India for your next volunteer-cation.

A Typical Landscape of Sri Lanka
A Typical Landscape of Sri Lanka. Photo by Mckay Savage on Wikimedia

1. Pack cotton clothes

Sri Lanka is hot and humid. It is best to have cotton clothes with you, which are ideally paired with sandals or walking shoes.

2. Be careful of what you wear when going to temples

Many temples prohibit entrance to individuals wearing shorts, short skirts, and sleeveless clothes. It is always good to cover your body well when going to a temple. When in doubt, conservative attire is best.

3. Photographs

Photographing sitting on or near a Buddha statue should be avoided as it is considered disrespectful.

4. Avoid talking to strangers

There are those who talk to tourists to ask for money and those who do so just for fun. It is best to avoid such strangers as their motives may be unclear.

5. Transportation

There is a decent train system which can be booked in advance.  Taking the bus, a trishaw, or a tuk tuk are budget-friendly options as well. When taking a tuk tuk, be sure to take one with a meter inside which calculates the fare per kilometer. Such trishaws have a label which reads "meter taxi." As always, don't be shy to ask for help from hotels and hostels for guided tours.

6. Tips

Tipping is often not expected like in many Western countries. That being said, leaving a tip is up to your leisure. Take into consideration the quality of service and the overall bill.

7. Use the right hand

People in Sri Lanka eat with their fingers. If you want to try it, use the right hand. Only. The left hand is used for cleaning oneself in the bathroom. Learn more about the use of the left hand here.

8. Carry mosquito repellent and sunscreen

It is best to take your shades with you. You can easily buy mosquito repellents from supermarkets or pharmacies, although sunscreen may be hard to come by.

9. Food & Drinks

Coconuts are ideal to quench your thirst. Roadside food can be risky to eat. Yet again there are places by the side of the road which have tasty, hygienic food. Follow your instincts.