Do and don't in Sri Lanka

Are you living in Sri Lanka? We need you to share your experience of the local customs :)

Is it difficult to adjust to the local customs in Sri Lanka?

Could you please share with us a list of the do's and don't's in Sri Lanka?


Well there's not much of a big problem in Sri lanka.
People are kind and always willing to help. Maybe one thing that you can do is learn some words of their native language. Some people realy like that.

Generally the country has a multicultural environment. Since Buddist Tamils Muslims and Christians are all there. So you would see various festivals at different times of the year.

Don't worry if you're a foriegner they will help you

Being originally from Sri Lanka and now having moved backed here I'm not going to say anything derogatory. Like every destination it's got it's pros and cons. Here are some DO's followed by some DONTS :

The DO's

1) Show courtesy and respect to the clergy. From which ever religion. For example, if you're travelling in the front seat of a bus and at the next stop a Bhuddist monk gets onboard, your fellow passengers may relinquish their seats to him before you, but if they dont it's best you do adn set a good example. Goes a long way.

2) Take a walk through the old streets of the Pettah and Fort. Sensible walking shoes and a bottle of water in your backpack will be called for. It's great to see commerce at work and the aromas of the spices and whatnot really do give you a sense of the vibrancy around you.

3) Take a ride in a tuk tuk if you've never done it before. It's a blast. just ensure the driver doesnt get overzealous in showing you his skills.

4) Visit the museum in Colombo, the Dutch museum in Pettah and have a sundowner on the verandah of the Galle Face Hotel.

5) Walk around the Galle Fort.

6) If you have the patience for it, go watch a 50 over cricket match. Preferably from the bar of the SSC which overlooks the pitch.

7) When in doubt seek assistance from a police officer or soldier and they will help if it seems like no one else will.


1) Dont encourage beggars.

2) Dont encourage touts.

3) Dont walk about Pettah in the night.

4) Dont get into tuk tuks at night (unless you know them well). Instead use the cabs that are prevalent in the city and suburbs.They are relatively cheap, comfortable and safe.

5) Dont fall for cons or hard luck stories. Remember the old adage...'No good deed goes unpunished'. If it sounds too good then be wary.

6) Dont forget the mosquito repellant if you decide on shorts for a night out.

7) Dont wear clothing that can be deemed disrespectful when visiting places of worship. i.e shorts, tops that are revealing way too much cleavage etc.

8) Dont overtip. It sets unnecessary precedents for those hapless others who patronize the place after

9) Dont light up your cigarettes in certain open spaces as the laws concerning smokers and smoking are rather draconian and you could end up being fined.

10) Dont drink and drive. It's not only stupid but the authorities dont take it easy when folks get caught DUI.

11) Dont rent a car that hasnt got a comprehensive insurance plan that is current and make certain that the passengers are covered in the plan. Takes only a few minutes to do.

12) Dont use brokers when hunting for real estate. Deal directly with the owner. The papers advertise enough and plenty properties which the owners can be directly reached.

13) Dont overstay your visa. If you've decided to stay on for longer go directly to the Immigration office and they will assist you.

14) Dont pay any government officials any bribes. It is demeaning. To you and though they may not know it, to them as well.

Thanks for these tips journeyman. I have one question that no one (this includes) my employer cannot answer, maybe you can. Can I drive around using a valid US driver's license? Or must I visit the local DMV and get an international driver's permit like everyones been telling me? Thanks

Hello Sylvia

Guess someone has already answered that question verbally.  However, I had an incident a few months ago when I was visiting.

I had an International DL which clearly stated that I could drive in Sri Lanka but due to the fact that I had parked my vehicle on a main road in a suburban road (this after obtaining permission from a traffic policeman), I was confronted by another official who questioned me and asked for my DL.  Lo and behold - he tells me that I cannot drive with the International DL but need to visit the Automobile Association Office in Colombo (near the old Holiday Inn Hotel) and get the DL converted so that I could drive in Sri Lanka.

My argument is why get the IDL in the first place?  Maybe you could visit the AA of Sri Lanka and clarify this issue.

Cheers and safe driving in Sri Lanka!!

very helpful post! thank you all

thanks journey man now aleast i get some idea.

Very useful info. You had a good experience.

New topic

Expatriate health insurance in Sri Lanka

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in Sri Lanka

Moving to Sri Lanka

Find tips from professionals about moving to Sri Lanka

Travel insurance in Sri Lanka

Enjoy a stress-free travel across Sri Lanka

Flights to Sri Lanka

Find the best prices for your flight tickets to Sri Lanka