16 Tips About Sri Lanka for First-time Visitors

Sri Lanka is an amazing country to go on holiday. Here are 16 important tips about Sri Lanka you need to know before you land on the paradise island.

1.) Mosquito repellent is a must throughout the day and night.

Tip 1: Bring Mosquito Repellant

2.) Money Exchange

You can easily change money in Colombo. At airport exchange rate is the worst like anywhere else.

Tip 2: Money Exchange

3.) Best to order a taxi over the phone than taking from the street.

You can use the PickMe app or Uber which is widely used for slightly longer journeys. (1+ KM). Using a credit card is advisable because most drivers don’t have enough change.

Tip 3: Order a taxi over the phone

4.) Tuk-Tuk Widely Used

In Colombo, is easy to use tuk-tuk for short journeys and can be a flag down from the street but beware of unmetered taxis and always ask if they have a meter. Outside Colombo is best to order a taxi over the phone or using one of the apps mentioned above. 

Tip 4: Tuk-Tuk Widely Used

5.) It is rude to use your left hand for interacting with people

To receive money and pay for things always use your right hand. Don’t use your left hand as in Asian customs even with good intentions seem rude, foolish, and disrespectful.

Tip 5: Using your left hand

6.) Street Food

Cooked food is generally safe to eat off the street but best is to eat them hot or just have been cooked.

Tip 6: Street Food

7.) Drinks

Tea and Coffees by default served with milk and added sugar, make sure specify if you don’t want milk or sugar in your drink. Fresh Juices – In most places served with added sugar.

Tip 7: Tea and Coffee

8.) Some basic English phrases are understood throughout the country.

9.) People

People are friendly and helpful, most people will be able to speak English but find difficult to speak outside Colombo.

Tip 9: Friendly and Helpful People

You can say Sorry and Thank you. Some things that won’t be understood would be things like say “please” to indicate “yes please”. You can use English as long as it’s simple.

If you see “W” in any Sri Lankan word, it would be pronounced as a “V”.

Eppa – no thanks, definite no. Although “NO” would be understood by many.

Enna – Come

Yanna – Go

Wama – Left

Dakuna – Right

Ow – Yes (agreeing to something), “Yes” will be understood by many.

Hari – Ok (also means ‘correct’)

Kaama – food

Watura – Water, only an elderly person wouldn’t understand “Water”

10.) Monkeys

Some areas of Sri Lanka have monkeys which you have to be aware off as they can be dangerous because they can carry rabies. 

Tip 10: Monkeys

11.) Public Toilets

Public toilets are generally terrible and you must have hand sanitiser at all times and always carry tissues with you.

12.) Stray Dogs

Lots of street dogs but they are harmless although bear in mind that the street dogs carry diseases such as rabies.

Tip 12: Stray Dogs

13.) Outside Gets Dark Early

Outside gets dark by 6.30 p.m. if you just arrived from Europe it would be quite a bit different from what you expect.

14.) Once A Month Public Holiday

Once a month, on a full moon, Sri Lanka has a public holiday. Some shops and restaurants will be closed. All alcohol shops will be closed on full moon days. You can only find alcohol at places that cater mostly to tourists.

15.) Weather

The weather in Sri Lanka is always hot and humid the best to keep yourself hydrated at all times. Safest to drink bottled water or King coconut which can be found everywhere. A handy tip is to always take your own non-disposable straw with you.

Tip 15: Weather

16.) Coffee Shops and Restaurants

Most Coffee Shops and Restaurants open late until 10 p.m. to midnight.

Hopefully, you found these tips helpful especially for the first time visitors. If I forgot some of the tips, please share with me and it would be useful for me to know before I go to Sri Lanka next time.

If you want to know the amazing fruit you must try in Sri Lanka, click here.



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by | Jun 25, 2019



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