A Brief Introduction To Sri Lanka

A Brief Introduction To Sri Lanka

I’m pretty darn excited for the big trip my fiancé and I are planning. So much so, that I have already put together a powerpoint presentation for each country we visit. I figured it would be fun and informative (and a great way for me to continue to stay jazzed up about it) to share its contents on a weekly basis.

Each week, the basic categories will be as follows

  • Our Main Reasons For Wanting to Visit
  • Pre-Cautions.
  • Cultural Don’ts.
  • Currency and Exchange (though the exchange might not be 100% accurate as I did grab these numbers a few months ago.)
  • Immunization (If required)
  • Activities/Places We plan to do/visit whilst visiting
  • Weather for the time of year we’re planning to visit.
  • A few terms in the native language (if not English)

This week, we’re talking Sri Lanka! 🙂

Sri Lanka

Our Main Reasons For Wanting to Visit

  • A beautiful country that is not as touristy as other locales
  • Animals!
  • Beaches and big cities
  • A good handful of workaway options
  • Amazing food


  • Most locals drink tap water, but the government’s travel website states that it is not safe.
  • As a foreigner avoid talking with strangers about religion, race, Sri Lankan politics or cricket as these are very sensitive topics.
  • If you are a first time visitor to Sri Lanka, don’t admit it, and ignore all unnecessary approaches and unsolicited advice from strangers strolling around and offering their help to tourists.
  • Tattoos or other images (t-shirt) of religious figures may be considered disrespectful or even illegal. Sri Lankan police will arrest and may deport people sporting tattoo of Buddha or any other tattoos which can be interpreted as having religious significance.
  • Travellers should either carry a roll of toilet paper or a towel depending on preference.

Cultural Don’ts

  • It is customary to remove shoes and wear conservative attire (i.e. no miniskirts, tank tops, short pants etc.) when visiting temples. It is also the custom to remove shoes before entering a home, though this is not as strictly followed as in places such as Japan.
  • Never touch or pat the top of the head of Buddhist monks, including children who practice at a temple.
  • Do not turn your back to (or be alongside) a Buddha statue when within a reasonable distance (observe what others are doing). This includes posing for photos. It’s OK to photograph a statue, but all persons should be facing it.
  • Public nudity is illegal in Sri Lanka – nude/topless sunbathing and skinny dipping should be avoided, except in the private beach resorts which allow it.
  • Although much latitude is given to tourists, it is more polite to use your right hand when shaking hands, handing money and small objects, etc. Of course you can use both hands for something big and/or heavy.
  • Be respectful to monks. There’s no particular etiquette for Westerners – just be polite. Always give them a seat on a crowded bus (unless you’re disabled or very elderly).
  • No photography of sensitive locations (inside and outside), and inside of shopping malls and tea factories (outside OK). Be especially careful in Fort, Colombo (except on the beach). If soldiers are guarding something, it probably shouldn’t be photographed. Don’t rely on signs alone, as sometimes they are old or missing. For example, one end of a bridge may have a “No Photography” sign, but not the other.
  • Seemingly innocuous public displays of affection between lovers such as kissing and/or hugging may be culturally frowned upon as it is considered to be private behaviour but it is acceptable in functions and establishments designated for adults such as nightclubs, casinos and beach parties. Much lenience is given to foreigners and holding hands and public affection between parents and their children is not frowned upon.

Currency and average exchange

  • 1 CAD = 102.79 Sri Lankan Rupees , 1000 Sri lankan rupees = 9.74 CADs


Activities/Places We plan to do/visit whilst visiting

  • Take the train
  • Udawalawe National Park 
  • Sigiriya, ancient city ruins

Weather in December

  • On average, the temperature is about 27 degrees Celcius.

Some common phrases

  • Hello. ආයුෙබ&ව(. (āyubōvan.)
  • My name is _______. mage namә _____ .)


Next week, we’ll discuss Goa, India!

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

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