A foreign young couple riding a bike wearing helmets, as it is one of the things that you should NOT avoid to make your stay amazing and hassle-free in Sri Lanka
Wearing a Helmet while Travelling is one of the things that you should NOT avoid to make your stay amazing and hassle-free in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, the pearl of the orient is a land of amazing differentiation and breathtaking magnificence. The blessings of unique nature, sun-kissed golden beaches, bountiful wildlife, green mountains, sprinkling waterfalls, beautiful flowers and fruits, tea estates, astonishing landscapes, and flourishing heritage of over 2,500 years, indeed make anyone arrive at this splendid island. All necessities are prepared in the country and it is to be a standout amongst other tourist destinations with outright harmony. And yes, owing to these reasons, millions from all over the world visit Sri Lanka to spend their holidays. However, in order to enjoy the best on this island, it is better to know about the things to avoid in Sri Lanka. So, we thought of enlightening you with regard, through this read today. Continue reading, to get to know what they are.

1. Avoid Comparing Sri Lanka to India

Although Sri Lanka and India are isolated exclusively by a thin channel of water, the two nations are unique! In fact, Sri Lanka is an island that dominates India from numerous points of view, just as a pearl shines in the daylight. Yes, when contrasting Sri Lanka with India, they are black and white.

The main geographical divergence is, Sri Lanka is a beautiful island and India is not. Besides, Sri Lanka is its own individual country, with its own kind, with its own public language, and its own food varieties and culture. It is true that this country has less wealth and regular assets than India. Still, the roads, urban areas, and fields are much cleaner than in India. Also, you will be able to see a framework and construction in Sri Lanka that keeps this wonderful island so very much kept up.

Besides, Sri Lanka is additionally extraordinary in its rich colonial history where it is home to many religions. So, this small island is one of the most hospitable countries where their hospitality not only goes with tourists but among their own cultures as well. Further, this beautiful island offers people the remarkable chance to see so much of a country in just a slight amount of time. Owing to all these reasons, Sri Lanka is a hidden diamond that is ignored by others since it is a more modest country and less unmistakable on a universal scale. So, comparing Sri Lanka with India is indeed one of the things that you should avoid doing!

2. Don’t Turn your Back on a Religious Statue or a Sculpture

Tourists take ironic snaps of their random poses with statues and buildings. However, taking the incorrect ikon in Sri Lanka might land you in jail.

In fact, Sri Lanka is a country that holds a proud history associated with Buddhism. Hence, the Load Buddha is considered a respected marker in the Sri Lankan community. So, always remember to cover your legs and shoulders, wear appropriate clothes, remove caps and shoes when entering a Buddhist temple. Avoid taunting the Buddha, modeling for photos with your back confronting the religious statues in Sri Lanka. Also, avoid wearing any shirts or garments with pictures of divinities, like Buddha. Local people dislike outsiders wearing shirts that have Buddha pictures engraved on them.

However, these customs do not only apply to the Buddhist religion, but also to other religions as well. So, always try not to abuse pictures, sculptures, or different antiquities related to any of the religious places, as it is an incredibly genuine offense. According to Sri Lankan culture, even snapping a picture with your back confronting a religious statue is impolite and disrespectful. It is not just loathed. Still, you might be halted by staff or police and requested to delete any photographs you took around there. Thus, this is perhaps one of the main things to avoid in Sri Lanka, since such behavior could really get you expatriated on the next flight home.

However, you will see numerous signs helping sightseers to remember this, particularly in ancient cities like Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, or Dambulla.

3. Avoid Clicking Pictures without Permission in Sri Lanka

An astonishing approach to take memories home of your time in Sri Lanka is with photography and genuine mobile phone snapshots, and you ought to get it done! Still, prior to snapping a picture, ensure that you watch that it is alright to do as such. A few spots, such as historical centers, museums, and temples, occasionally expect you to purchase a grant for photography. Therefore, always ensure authorities approve of you taking photos of the sculptures and other significant strict antiquities. It is ideal to ask prior to taking photographs of police officers or soldiers. Also, Sri Lanka is a traditional shame/honor country where they always respect their own privacy. So, remember to get permission from the locals if you wish to take or shoot their photos. In general, it would be nice to get somebody’s consent prior to snapping their photo.

4. Avoid PDA in Sri Lanka

Public display of affection also known as PDA such as kissing and hugging is stringently disapproved in Sri Lanka, especially in small towns. Also, homosexuality is still illegal in Sri Lanka. Tolerance is typically shown to tourists and holding hands and fondness towards children is acceptable, but anything more apparent is likely to cause offense. You will see that Sri Lankan couples are more unobtrusive and will probably stow away under a parasol in a separated space on the off chance that they wish to be affectionate. PDA is deemed to be personal action but is generally agreeable at functions and organizations for adults (such as nightclubs, beach parties). 

So, always keep your hands to yourself, and revel in the very fact that you simply do not ought to witness anyone else’s PDAs, either. As a piece of free advice, what you can learn and adopt from locals is, if you cannot really handle your emotions and feelings in public, cover yourself from an umbrella which can be advantageous for you to cover from sunlight as well.

5. Avoid Public Nudity/Travelling around Half-Naked

Sri Lanka is different from some other Asian countries in the idea that it is still somewhat moderate. So, in Sri Lanka public nudity is illegal. Swimsuits and bikinis are accepted and fine on beaches. Still, avoid wearing them in other places. If you are coming up with your beach vacation on the northern coast around Jaffna, you will wish to imitate, or acquire a modest swimming costume to stay from offending the native sensibilities. Elsewhere on the island, you will wear a two-piece if you are happy with drawing attention. However, keep hiding handy for once you leave the beach. Always try to avoid wearing them in public since Sri Lanka is a traditional country. Further, try not to take nude/half-naked pictures when capturing your visits to religious or historical places.

6. Be Careful when Touching Stray Dogs, and Animals

Hydrophobia does still exist in Sri Lanka. Most street dogs in Sri Lanka are nothing but lovely and very friendly. Still, always try to avoid tapping or touching them unless you realize for specific and without any hesitation that they have been vaccinated against hydrophobia. There are some charity programs like WeCare that run vaccination around the country. It is a normal fact for vets to clip dogs’ ears to prove that they have been immunized, and most trained dogs will have likewise been inoculated. In the event that you are chomped by a dog or even a monkey, go straightforwardly to the hospital or nearest medical center.

7. Don’t Take a ‘Head-Wag’ as a ‘No’

Sri Lankans are extraordinarily generous naturally. Therefore, do not be shocked if a head waggle ends up in a call for participation in a dinner. Sri Lankans’ body language and communication can be challenging for a foreigner to decode. Head wagging is an action unique to Sri Lanka, which is a distinct style of confirmation and it will mean several things as well as yes, no, or maybe. So do not confuse their head wagging with a ‘no’, dismissal, or termination. Its meanings frequently are positive, except if local people are being amusing or mocking you. However, be respectful. Take time to understand what the locals are trying to say and the way they are saying it because they are extraordinarily generous. Here are some tips to understand the head waggle of locals.

  • The waggle for saying “no” is comparable to the western “no” but with the Sri Lankan style of that “8” shape.
  • The “yes” can be slight with just one waggle but the subject on the person can be longer but if it is in a more energetic way then it’s “I Understand”

Once a traveler has been in Sri Lanka long enough, it becomes a habit. The locals get a kick out of foreigners mastering the head waggle too. Therefore, it would be a good way to create new friends!

8. Avoid Drinking Tap Water as much as Possible in Sri Lanka

This is a known fact among most of the tourists visiting Sri Lanka; to avoid consuming tap water. The water is contaminated due to waste from the agricultural industry, rubber manufacturing, mining industries, etc. Similarly, wastes from hotels and homes frequently mix up with water even with the use of a water purification system.  Therefore, it is crucial to avoid drinking tap water. Instead, tourists should use bottled water from the purest streams in the hill country. But always make sure to check their expiration date. However, you can always use tap water to bathe, refresh your tiresome journey, or wash your clothes.

9. Don’t Get Fooled by Local Brokers

While there are numerous things to discover in Sri Lanka, it is always better to be vigilant and to have a sound knowledge of the etiquette of the country. Do not let scammers and fake local brokers ruin your trip to Sri Lanka.

In fact, the most famous tuk-tuk rides are one of the top transport mediums among tourists, as the fare is comparatively low with hiring a taxi. However, if you are unaware of the usual tuk-tuk rates, then there is a high chance that you will be fooled by a tuk-tuk driver charging you with exponentially higher rates than the usual rate. Thus, be sure to do a background study about the tuk-tuk fares. Rule of thumb to not get scammed by tuk-tuk drivers: ‘Always Ask the Rate before you get into the Tuk-Tuk’.

Besides, in all the areas of Sri Lanka, Con artists and hawkers are a massive problem. Most foreigners are the main victims of such scammers, and they use numerous tricks to fool you. Hence, it is always better to prepare and organize your excursions and activities whenever possible. If you are using the service of local brokers for travel, accommodations, and purchases, it is possible that you will end up paying an exorbitant price. So, pay attention to it, whenever you travel on this splendid island!

10. Avoid Using Foreign Currency in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is still a developing country, and it does not use either USDs, Sterling Pounds, or international credit cards for transactions in many continents on the island. Of course, you can use foreign currency or international credit cards at airports, some hotels, and certain supermarkets. Still, local currency, Sri Lankan Rupees(LKR) is the most common and only transaction medium in many areas. Similarly, Cash is the king of many tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is always advisable to exchange your currency for LKR from the banks at the airport. Similarly, you can withdraw cash from Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank, or People’s Bank, which are more likely to do currency exchanges via international credit or debit cards.

11. Avoid Travelling Recklessly on Roads in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, specially tuk-tuks, buses, and truck drivers drive like maniacs. Certain drivers show no discipline at all! Therefore, it is always important to be mindful when you are traveling on the roads. Whether it is a small town, village, or a big city you should never be reckless when you are traveling because there are already many reckless drivers all around Sri Lanka. Be safe, and be mindful!

12. Avoid Riding Scooters without Wearing Helmets in Sri Lanka

Scooters have become the new trend among tourists in Sri Lanka. They rent out scooters from local parties and travel around the entire country, as they can experience every nook and corner of the island with ease. Travelers ride scooters along beautiful roads of the hill country experiencing cold breezes with fresh air while having unspoiled picturesque scenery with a 360 view. It is simply indescribable, and you just have to experience it. But everything will go wrong if you ride your scooter without a helmet. Doing so will be a reason for a policeman to fine you. At the same time, why do you have to knock your head down when you have the protection of a helmet? So, wear a helmet and enjoy the mother nature of beautiful Sri Lanka!

13. Don’t get Confused between a Hotel and a Restaurant

The hotel will not be the hotel that you are looking for in Sri Lanka. That is one of the marketing tactics that many shop owners use to attract many customers and thereby revenues. Small-scale business owners run many of these restaurants. They name their restaurant as a hotel because in the past hotels have served mouthwatering foods to locals compared to restaurants.  Therefore, never go to a hotel and ask for a deluxe room. Of course, you will be most likely to be turned away. So, pre-plan your stay before visiting Sri Lanka. There are many resources for you to help with your planning. In fact, travel books, travel blogs, videos, Instagram pages would surely help you choose the best places to visit and stay in Sri Lanka. Indeed, prior research will always save you from many undesirable situations!

14. Avoid Staying too Long in Colombo

As you might already know, Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Of course, it is a vibrant city with many fascinations. In fact, to enjoy the nightlife, Colombo is the best place. Still, there is not much uniqueness in Colombo that you cannot experience in large cities in other countries. So, if you immensely love to spend your holiday by a beach, or by nature, Colombo is not the best. We surely know that the scenic stunning beaches, breathtaking waterfalls and mountains, thrilling safaris, and historical legendary sites are the true attractions that every traveler is searching for. And most of them are located away from the capital city of Colombo. Therefore, if you are visiting Sri Lanka to experience the real beauty of this hidden gem, travel out of Colombo. Prepare your itinerary in such a manner to have a memorable stay in Sri Lanka.   

15. Avoid Travelling alone in Lonely Places in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is indeed one of the safest places for travelers. There are millions of travelers visiting Sri Lanka each year, and hardly any harsh incidents happen to travelers. Even thousands of solo female travelers and backpackers roam around Sri Lanka today. But, still, a solo female traveler should avoid traveling around lonely, especially around shady areas at night. It would certainly be an extra safety measure. Always be with the general crowd, and you will never be harmed.

16. Avoid Swimming in Unknown Places

Sri Lanka is rich with beautiful beaches, lakes, waterfalls, natural ponds, and streams, and indeed they have the power of attracting any. Further, there are plenty of breathtaking locations where you can have a cold bath and a lovely evening swim to freshen you up from traveling. Still, be careful when you do so, as some of the areas in the sea are not for swimming due to heavy currents. Most of such places are occupied with either lifeguards or signs.

Similarly, some of the lakes and streams are full of crocodiles. Indeed, having a bath with crocodiles is not a good idea. So, pay attention to that! Besides, in some natural ponds and streams, the water level rises in no time. It would be extremely dangerous to have a bath or swim in those areas of the waters. Nowadays, most such places have notice boards. But it is always advisable to follow the locals. They have a sound knowledge of the lakes, beach, or streams, and they will guide you to a safer place.

17. Avoid Feeding Wild Animals and Getting out of Vehicles in National Parks

Sri Lanka is famous for wildlife tourism. Hence, every year thousands of tourists visit many of the twenty-six national parks in Sri Lanka. However, Yala, Kumana, Udawalawa, Wilpattu, and Kaudulla National Parks happen to be the favorites of many. That is simply because of the ample opportunities they create to watch leopards and elephants, in their natural habitats itself.

However, you should not get out of the vehicle in national parks. Why take the risk of becoming the prey of a deadly leopard? Therefore, avoid getting out of the truck in a national park, and similarly, never try to feed any wild animals. It would be a great experience and an adventurous memory to feed a wild animal. Still, never try to do it, as it is extremely dangerous. There were some incidents where wild elephants attacked people while trying to feed them. Being aggressive is the nature of wild animals, therefore avoid feeding them, especially in national parks. 

The Bottom Line

Although these things to avoid in Sri Lanka could appear quite terrifying, they are simply the potential of the worst-case situation. Going ahead, this tiny island could be a venue for infinite adventures, wonders, and unique beauty and culture. We ensure that you would meet some extraordinary kind, friendly, generous, and polite locals. Yes, they will even introduce you to their nation if due respect is given in return by you. So, keep calm! There are millions of things that you can do to cheer yourself up during your stay in Sri Lanka, and that is a guarantee. Besides, Sri Lanka is known for always smiling. Yes, this island is truly the pearl of the Indian Ocean. So, start planning your next vacation to Sri Lanka soon. Happy and Safe Travelling!