Sri-Lanka Holiday Dos & Don’ts

Sri-Lanka is the perfect destination for tourists who want to be submerged into a whole new world of culture, relax on stunning beaches and venture through breathtakingly beautiful countryside. Because this country is so far from the westernised lives we lead at home, it is important to take note of a few things. Below is a list of practical dos and don’ts as well as a few things to make sure you fit into your Sri-Lanka holiday itinerary. Some are more obvious than others!

DO go and see the elephants in the wild

There are plenty of elephant orphanages in Sri-Lanka where these fascinating animals are supposedly nourished and looked after. Some of these places are not as sincere as they may first appear, with many of the elephants being beaten with sticks, used for photographs, and are constantly touched and even ridden by tourists. These elephants are visibly unhappy and malnourished, which can be a very sad thing to see. We would recommend going and seeing these beautiful creatures in the wild where they are happy and in their element. This is easier than it sounds, as national parks such as the Kaudulla National Park, the Minneriya National Park and the Udawalawe National Park all allow you to see elephants roam freely in their natural habitat.

DO travel light

There is limited space on public transport making it a pain to carry lots of luggage around. Because it is such a hot county, you shouldn’t need to pack lots of heavy clothing anyway.

DON’T go anywhere without a water supply

On average the temperature in Sri-Lanka remains between 21-31+ degrees Celsius all year round, so it’s pretty hot. It may seem obvious but if you are venturing into the countryside, going for a long walk or day trip, make sure you are stocked up with water. Bottled water is available in tourist areas, but they are hard to find when you are off the beaten track. We recommend buying a durable, lightweight water bottle with its own thermal jacket for freezing and perhaps with a shoulder strap.

DO look out for smoking signs

Smoking is prohibited in public areas in Sri-Lanka, but places to have a cigarette are provided and pointed out. Just make sure you abide by these!

DON’T assume because someone is shaking their head they mean ‘no’!

In Sri-Lanka, someone may be in complete agreement with you as they talk to you but they appear to be shaking their head, which be a little confusing. This is normal; shaking ones head over there can mean ‘yes’, ‘ok’ or ‘I understand’, except this is normally more of a “waggle”, which is between a nod and a shake. See what the Sri-Lanka head waggle looks like here.

DON’T forget those waterproofs

Sri-Lanka can be very wet at times, so make sure you do bring a lightweight mac in case it does start to rain.

DON’T take photos with Buddha statues!

This can be seen as very disrespectful! It is also seen as disrespectful to shake hands with a monk. Instead, you should put your hands together as if you were praying and raise them to your head.

DO spend some time on the beach!

The beaches in Sri-Lanka are very popular amongst tourists because of their breath-taking beauty and crystal-clear waters that are very popular amongst divers.

Luxury Holidays Sri Lanka - Bentota Beach Hotel - Beach

DO remember modesty is the best policy

Sri-Lanka is very conservative in terms of clothing, and in most cases it is better to cover up. Lots of light cotton and linen clothing can be bought out there that will not allow you to get too hot, and in religious places it is mandatory to take your shoes and hats off and have your shoulders and legs covered. Nudity in public is certainly not permitted. At least this will minimise your chances of sun-burn and being bitten by mosquitos!

DON’T throw away your receipts

You may be asked to present these when converting your rupees back into your normal currency before departing from Sri-Lanka. You can take these home to remember your Sri-Lanka holiday.

DON’T get annoyed by the ‘touts’

Many people live off tips-only in Sri-Lanka and you are bound to come across people trying to sell you something you may not be interested in. In some countries, such as India or Egypt, these people can be very persistent with trying to get your money and may continue to pester you even when you have said no several time. In Sri-Lanka this tends to be less of a problem, and a simple ‘no thank you’ or wave of a hand will mean they will leave you alone.

DON’T blow your nose in public!

This is seen as very rude!

DO wrap up warm if you are venturing to the Hill Country!

It is a lot cooler in this area so make sure you pack a fleece and a mac. There are also leeches of all sizes in the grass so tuck your trousers into your socks!

DO look out for the tea plantations!

These green fields of tea plants are a beautiful sight for anyone who beholds, especially on a bright day. Sri-Lanka is the fourth biggest tea producer in the world, which is astonishing considering how small it is. Kenya is the next biggest tea producer and it is ten size the times of Sri-Lanka!

sri-lanka holiday tea plantations

DON’T drink any ordinary water if it can be helped.

Tap water is not safe to drink and some places that filter/boil the water may not do so very effectively. The best way to avoid this problem is to always ask for bottled water. This way you know you are drinking healthy, purified water!

DO factor in how long it takes to get around

People assume because Sri-Lanka is not all that big, they will be able to get around quickly and easily. It is always worth assuming you will take a little longer to get somewhere when planning your days.  It may say on Google Maps that you can reach a destination in an hour but realistically in Sri-Lanka it may take longer. This is not the end of the world though, as watching the world go by as you are driven along is very interesting for someone who has never seen Sri-Lanka before!

If you are interested in booking a Sri-Lanka holiday, see our collection of stunning Sri-Lanka resorts here, give us a call on 0121 446 4932 today or fill out our online quote form so our travel specialists can get in touch

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