Little tips about travelling in Sri Lanka beyond the obvious and formal travel guide stuff. Our official informative guide to travel, tourism, food and more will be published shortly.
Culture & Society
- All full moon "poya" days are excise holidays on the island. This means everyone's on holiday, but alcohol is not available at either bars or supermarkets. Businesses and sometimes restaurants are closed too.
- If you're a white foreigner, people might assume you're rich and may try and charge you more. If you're a white woman, you may find yourself subject to unwanted advances that initially just seem friendly.
- While cosmopolitan parts of Colombo (restaurants/hotels) are fine, you may find yourself subject to stares/harassment in other parts of the city and island if you're travelling alone and not dressed conservatively.
- Almost all religious sites (temples etc) have dress codes, so both men and women have to make sure knees and shoulders are covered. Bring a long shawl along, it can act as a wrap or a covering.
- Timing is a fairly arbitrary concept. Unless you affix a time, date, and place, a plan is seen as a castle in the sky. Even if you do lock it down, you can assume somebody will be late. Just bring a book along and don't be annoyed. This applies for people, public transport, and even meetings sometimes.
- It's hot and humid. Loose cotton clothing, sunscreen, and deodorant are your friends.
- Sri Lanka, like any tropical country, has plenty of bugs and mosquitoes. Us locals don't quite notice them anymore, but mosquitos can give you dengue (which is horrible or even fatal), so use plenty of citronella or bug spray.
- Outside Colombo, credit or debit cards aren't always accepted. Make sure you're carrying plenty of cash.
- ATMs are all over Colombo, and even in towns and cities around the country. You may get charged a small international transaction fee
- Tuk tuks are safe and reliable – but only get into ones with a functioning fare metre, or else confirm your final price before you enter the vehicle.
- PickMe is a local taxi hailing app which is the market leader
- Uber works in Colombo
- Electric Voltage is 230V as opposed to 110 in many other countries
- Sri Lanka now uses 3 point square pin plugs, but we still have many 3 pin round plug points in older establishments. Hotels will generally give you an adapter
- Certain essentials like tampons or specific medication may not be readily available here, so make sure you bring them with you