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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?

Thanks!

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.

DONT's

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 you.lol

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.

It is not really that hard. You need an international drivers licence and you take it to the AA where they basically validate it and you get an extra white card to go with your international licence. It takes 10 minutes, it is no big deal. The AA office is close to Galle Face Green the Galle Face hotel end.

Most car rental places won't rent you a car without this. We have lived here two years and have had everyone send us their international licences and I have done it for them. We have tested it and when friends have been stopped they have handed over just the international licence and have always been asked for the validated one. Most police are surprised they have one.

One cheapskate friend didn't want to spend the 1500 rupees to get the licences validated. To be fair he paid a 500 "on the spot fine" each time he was stopped (twice) and I guess in his mind he saved 500 rupees (3 dollars) doing it this way as the AA charge 1500 rupees. That said he was only able to rent a car as my husband rented it in his name and my husband has appropriate documentation.

Final thing to keep in mind- most fines for traffic violations have raised by approximately 500% this year. Yes 500. I don't know if on the spot fines will go up to.

But bottom line, it is the law- yes it is a bit of a con- but it isn't a big deal to do.

It is more about being effective than right....

It is not really that hard. You need an international drivers licence and you take it to the AA where they basically validate it and you get an extra white card to go with your international licence. It takes 10 minutes, it is no big deal. The AA office is close to Galle Face Green the Galle Face hotel end.

Most car rental places won't rent you a car without this. We have lived here two years and have had everyone send us their international licences and I have done it for them. We have tested it and when friends have been stopped they have handed over just the international licence and have always been asked for the validated one. Most police are surprised they have one.

One cheapskate friend didn't want to spend the 1500 rupees to get the licences validated. To be fair he paid a 500 "on the spot fine" each time he was stopped (twice) and I guess in his mind he saved 500 rupees (3 dollars) doing it this way as the AA charge 1500 rupees. That said he was only able to rent a car as my husband rented it in his name and my husband has appropriate documentation.

Final thing to keep in mind- most fines for traffic violations have raised by approximately 500% this year. Yes 500. I don't know if on the spot fines will go up to.

But bottom line, it is the law- yes it is a bit of a con- but it isn't a big deal to do.

It is more about being effective than right....

Funny story about driving licence:

I was driving a tuk-tuk and got stopped by a police officer.
He demanded my passport.
So I answer: sorry don't carry my passport.
He asked again, maby that was the only thing he could ask in English.
Gave him the same answer, sorry sir, but don't carry my passport.
Then a higher qualified officer came to me and almost stamp feet,   PASSPORT !!!!!
So again I answered:  sorry I do not carry my passport with me.
Then I asked: why do you need my passport?
he answered: you are driving a tuk-tuk.
So I answered: nobody needs a passport to drive a tuk-tuk, is it?
Maby you want to see my driving licence ????
and my tax papers and insurance documents????

Before he could answer, I showed him my Sri Lanka driving licence and all other papers to the shocked officers.
They were nailed to the groud and demand me directly to move on.

That was fun.

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