Sri Lanka Travel Tips: Dos and Don’ts

Sri Lanka has become an increasingly popular travel destination with its breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. As you plan your journey to this tropical paradise, it’s essential to understand the dos and don’ts that will help you make the most of your visit while respecting local customs and etiquette.

Dos and Don’ts for Traveling in Sri Lanka


  1. Respecting Local Customs and Traditions

    • Embrace the warm and welcoming culture by greeting locals with a smile and a nod.
    • Remove your shoes when entering someone’s home or a temple, a sign of respect.
    • Participate in traditional rituals if invited, showing an interest in the local way of life.
  2. Dress Code and Appropriate Attire

    • Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees.
    • For the beach, swimsuits are acceptable but cover up when leaving the beach area.
  3. Interacting with Locals in a Polite and Friendly Manner

    • Learn a few basic phrases in Sinhala or Tamil to greet and thank locals.
    • Bargaining is common in local markets, but do it respectfully without being too aggressive.
  4. Understanding Sri Lankan Cuisine and Dining Etiquette

    • Sample the local cuisine, including rice and curry, hoppers, and street food, to experience the authentic flavors of Sri Lanka.
    • When dining, it’s customary to wash your hands before and after the meal at local restaurants.
  5. Adhering to Environmental and Wildlife Conservation Practices

    • Dispose of your trash responsibly and avoid littering, helping preserve the pristine natural beauty.
    • When observing wildlife, maintain a safe distance and never disturb animals in their natural habitat.


  1. Disrespecting Religious and Cultural Sites

    • Do not turn your back or point your feet towards religious statues or shrines.
    • Dress appropriately when visiting temples and religious sites; revealing clothing is unacceptable.
  2. Inappropriate Behavior Towards Wildlife

    • Do not feed or approach wild animals, as this can disrupt their natural behaviors and habitats.
    • Avoid purchasing products made from endangered species, such as ivory or tortoiseshell.
  3. Ignoring Local Laws and Regulations

    • Obey traffic rules and laws, including wearing seatbelts and helmets when required.
    • Do not engage in illegal activities, including the use of illegal drugs.
  4. Overlooking Responsible Tourism Practices

    • Choose eco-friendly accommodations and tour operators that prioritize sustainability.
    • Reduce plastic waste by carrying a reusable water bottle and shopping bag.
  5. Offending Locals with Improper Gestures or Language

    • Avoid public displays of affection, as these are considered inappropriate in Sri Lankan culture.
    • Refrain from raising your voice or arguing in public, as it is seen as disrespectful.

Understanding Sri Lankan Culture and Customs for Tourists

  1. Overview of Sri Lankan Culture, Traditions, and Values

    • Sri Lanka’s culture blends various influences, including Indian, European, and Buddhist traditions.
    • The importance of family, respect for elders, and hospitality are central to Sri Lankan values.
  2. Highlighting Major Festivals and Events

    • Sri Lanka hosts a variety of colorful festivals, such as Sinhala and Tamil New Year, Vesak, and Esala Perahera.
    • Participating in or observing these festivals can provide valuable cultural insights.
  3. Cultural Etiquette and Common Customs for Travelers to Follow

    • Be mindful of public displays of affection, which are generally discouraged.
    • Avoid discussing sensitive topics like politics or religion, as these conversations can sometimes be divisive.

Dress Code and Attire Guidelines for Tourists in Sri Lanka

  1. Appropriate Clothing for Various Locations and Activities
    • When visiting temples and religious sites, wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
    • Light and breathable fabrics are ideal for Sri Lanka’s tropical climate.
  2. Understanding Modesty and Cultural Sensitivities
    • Modesty is highly valued, especially in rural areas, so avoid wearing revealing clothing outside of beach areas.

Sri Lanka Dining Etiquette and Food Tips

  1. Introduction to Sri Lankan Cuisine and Popular Dishes
    • Sri Lankan cuisine is diverse, with an array of flavors and spices. Don’t miss trying the local specialties.
    • Eating with your fingers is common and acceptable, but always wash your hands before and after.
  2. Proper Dining Manners and Traditions
    • Wait to be seated and wait for the host or elders to start the meal before you begin.
    • It’s polite to accept food and drinks when offered as a sign of hospitality.

Responsible Travel Practices in Sri Lanka

  1. Environmental Conservation and Reducing Ecological Impact

    • Choose accommodations and tour operators with eco-friendly initiatives.
    • Reduce plastic waste by carrying a reusable water bottle and shopping bag.
  2. Responsible Wildlife Tourism and Animal Welfare

    • Support ethical wildlife sanctuaries and conservation efforts.
    • Do not participate in activities that involve riding or exploiting animals.
  3. Supporting Local Communities and Sustainable Tourism Initiatives

    • Purchase souvenirs and handicrafts directly from local artisans and markets to support the local economy.
    • Respect the privacy and traditions of indigenous communities you may encounter.

Navigating Local Laws and Regulations in Sri Lanka

  1. Understanding Laws Related to Travel, Safety, and Security

    • Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs, especially related to drug use and public behavior.
    • Follow safety guidelines, including wearing helmets and seatbelts when required.
  2. Traveler Responsibilities and Legal Obligations

    • As a responsible traveler, you must protect the environment, respect local culture, and follow the law.
    • In case of an emergency, contact the local authorities or your embassy for assistance.

Language and Communication Tips for those Who planning to Travel to Sri Lanka

  1. Common Phrases and Greetings in Sinhala

    • Learning a few basic phrases like “Ayubowan” (hello) can go a long way in connecting with locals.
  2. Language Tips for Effective Communication with Locals

    • Sri Lankans appreciate when travelers make an effort to speak their language, even if it’s just a few words.
    • English is widely understood in urban areas, but learning some local phrases can enhance your experience.


In conclusion, Sri Lanka offers a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural richness, and warm hospitality. By following these dos and don’ts, you can ensure a respectful and enriching experience while exploring this stunning island nation. Embrace the local customs, try the delicious cuisine, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture to create unforgettable memories of your journey through Sri Lanka.

FAQ(Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: Is it safe to drink tap water in Sri Lanka?

A1: It’s advisable to drink bottled or purified water to avoid stomach issues. Most hotels and restaurants provide safe drinking water.

Q2: Can I wear shorts in Sri Lanka?

A2: Yes, you can wear shorts, especially at beach locations. However, when visiting religious sites, it’s respectful to wear clothing that covers your knees. 

Q3: What is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?

A3: The best time to visit Sri Lanka is during the dry season, typically from December to April when the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities and sightseeing.


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Memorable and enjoyable 15 days in Sri Lanka with Green Holidays The green holidays organised our whole trip to Sri Lanka according to our suggestions and requirements. We had a perfect, peaceful and enjoyable 15 days holiday. Pradeep and Rashmi booked the accommodation, vehicle for travel and the the driver/guide within a very short time. They were very prompt in responding to our messages and accommodating our last minute changes. The hotels they booked were comfortable, check in was so smooth and the service was good. We were able to do much more than we anticipated because of their coordination. Our guide/driver Romesh was very polite, trustworthy and punctual. We travelled with Romesh from Colombo to Batticaloa, Jaffna, Kandy and Galle in his car without any incidents and reached safely at the airport on time for our return flight. We thank Pradeep, Jay, Rashmi and Romesh for making our trip a pleasant and an enjoyable one.
Emmanuel P
Emmanuel P
Travel in peace and with Personal contact of Green Holidays We used the services of Green Holiday for our stay in Sri Lanka. They arranged the complete tour picking us up at the Bandaranayaka Airport and taking us to Jaffna, Batticaloa, Bentota, Colombo and Kandy including Ella. Green Holiday provided us with a Chauffeur/ tour guide ( Upul) who knew so much about SriLanka and its History and personally took care of our safety and was with us to ensure our check in at the hotels was flawless. Upul is a honest trustworthy person to rely on and was very caring. Thanks to Green Holidays for providing a knowledgeable person to be with us throughout the trip. We had the pleasure of dealing with Pradeep who planned out our trip to our liking with several changes requested by us and was available on the phone anytime 24/7 to discuss and review options. Rashmi from Green Holidays was our local contact in case of any emergency or for information once we were in in Sri Lanka. We were glad to have the assurance of a personal contact while on vacation. Green Holidays has earned our trust to make our vacation relaxing and trouble free. We recommend Green Holidays as a reliable trustworthy company to book your vacation packages. Their team worked vigorously to ensure our vacation is pleasant, memorable and safe.
Koushik S
Koushik S
We had such an amazing trip and we are back with lots of lovely memories. Thanks to Green Holiday for arranging a wonde We had been to Srilanka for 5 days and we did have such a fantastic trip. The whole place was very clean and the natural look was just fantastic
Sam B
Sam B
Great driver, great Organisation My boyfriend and i took a two week holiday on sri lanka. One week on road, one week beach holiday. Apart from a little mishap at the start when our arrival time was wrongly put at 09.30 instead of 05.30. However all it took was a quick phone to Dilan our driver who rushed to pick us up immediately. Due to delays on the way here and a little visa issue (always double check your passport numbers twice people) we arrived in the arrival hall at 07.30…once we had called the adventure began at 08.15. Dilan was an absolute godsend. Kept us entertained with facts about the areas we were visiting, made good conversation during our long journeys and got us there safe and sound every time. Dilan would also help us plan out our day and was honest enough when something was either gonna be a rushjob or whenever he felt we weren’t gonna get the best bang for our buck at a certain attraction. which we really appreciated, since we had completely missjudged the traffic and the distances on this journey. He also helped us handle check-ins and check-out and as we later found out when we made excursions of our own, he also kept pesky scammers away whenever we went to visit a place on foot. As for the rest of the trip everything went incredibly smoothly. Hotel staff were super friendly with us and safaris and other tour providers were informed well in advance so that we would literaly rock up, get into another car or jeep or were handed over to a local guide and be on our way right away. So long story short, we would like to thank Green Holiday and Dilan for making our trip the adventure of a lifetime and wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone traveling in sri lanka.
Robert P
Robert P
Skvělá zkušenost Naše zkušenost s touto společnosti byla skvělá. Náš pruvodce Upul byl velmi ochotný,trpělivý a vzdělaný. O historii Srí Lanky jsme se od nej dozvěděli snad úplně vše . Ten člověk znal odpověď úplně na vše opravdu úžasný průvodce a skvělý řidič. Mohu jen doporučit
Hana K
Hana K
Absolutely reliable company with best guides. First of all, this company we used for arranging our whole vacation in Sri Lanka worked just perfect. We had no issue whatsoever. For travelling around the island for several days we had a guide Upul. He just was the best! Not only he was driving us around safe, he also knew about history, gave us all the explanations in a very interesting way. He took us in many great, beautiful and even fun places, always stood by our side, guiding us through crowds to the most interesting points and telling us all the information - about history, religions, politics, traditions, nature, you name it. Upul was truly able to answer any question we had. On top of that, he was always smiling, in a good mood, treated us with dignity and patiency. We truly appreciated it and thanks to him and a perfect organization we had the best time in Sri Lanka. I also want to say, that the company manager got in touch with us on the second day, asking how satisfied we were with Upul, checking if everything was ok. It was a nice thing to do. Overall, I truly recommend this company if you want to spend your vacatin with no hassle and great guiding.
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