Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with very diverse fauna and flora and many wild creatures. Once you get there you will understand very quickly why Sri Lanka is called The Pearl of the Indian Ocean.
When you travel to a foreign country you should respect their traditions, culture and religion. You should do the same when you travel to Sri Lanka.
Good Sri Lanka travel guides will help you understand the local traditions and culture and gives you advice about what you should or should not do when you visit the country.
I will tell you some worlds about 7 of the most important things to know before your visit to Sri Lanka, things which will help you stay safe and not get sick.
1. Don’t drink tap water
For locals might be OK but for your body is not. You might get sick and ruin all your holiday. Buy water from stores or bring with you a water bottle with a purifier. In Sri Lanka is very hot so you need to stay hydrated.
It is very important to drink water during the day. The bottle of waters are not very expensive, they cost around 0.5 USD and you will need at least 4 of them to stay hydrated. Make some water supplies for a few days when you find a store just to be sure!
2. Hire a tuk-tuk
Tuk-tuk is a traditional vehicle with 3 wheels used by locals to move around. It is the most authentic and interesting way to travel around Sri Lanka. For about 20 USD per day, you can hire a tuk-tuk driver and explore the nearby area.
Generally, the prices asked by tuk-tuk drivers are pretty fare, so you should not negotiate a lot. There is an exception here: the tuk-tuk drivers from Colombo. They will ask you large amounts of money for a trip and don’t pay them what they ask because the trip is overpriced.
3. Respect locals and their culture, a thumb rule from all Sri Lanka travel GUIDES
When you travel to Sri Lanka show respect to locals, to their religion, traditions and culture. Don’t shout, don’t dress indecently and try to avoid showing your affection to your partner in public.
Don’t get drunk and party all night. These are not common things in Sri Lanka.
If you are looking for endless parties then Sri Lanka is not the right place.
Except for tourism destinations, where you might find parties and dancing clubs, in the rest of the country is peace and quiet, especially during night time.
Locals don’t like to party till morning and don’t like party people.
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4. Wake up early for Sigiriya
The most important attraction of Sri Lanka, the Lions Rock or Sigiriya is a cultural monument located in the Central Province. It is one of the most visited places from Sri Lanka. The only downside is that everybody wants to climb up the rock and the number of tourists is overwhelming.
To avoid the crowds and the heat you have to wake up really early and start climbing. Take a bottle of water with you, a hat and sun cream. You have to climb 1200 stairs to reach the top and it is not very easy especially if the outside temperatures are more than 30 degrees Celsius.
Do you’re best to arrive at the location before 10 a.m. Otherwise, you will meet the crowds and climbing up the rock might take you more than 1 hour; the queue is huge!
5. Take with you flip flops to temples
According to local tradition and a fact written in all Sri Lanka travel guides, when you enter a temple you have to take off your shoes. No matter if it is an indoor or an outdoor area, you have to walk barefoot.
To protect your socks you can take with a pair of flip flops to be used just in temples. Or a pair of yoga gripper socks. These socks are not very helpful if the outside is wet, but are a very good option for the dry season.
6. Travel by train
The train is the most used public transport from Sri Lanka. The train is cheap, not very reliable but gets you wherever you want.
The most epic train ride from Sri Lanka and very famous worldwide is the train ride from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy.
The railway goes up to the mountain winding between tea plantations and the hills. The landscape is just incredible!
Being such a beautiful train ride, book your tickets in advance! It is almost as crowded as Sigiriya.
7. Try their local food
I know you are used to European food but when travelling in a foreign country you have to try their local food. Sri Lanka cuisine is very tasty and colourful. It has influences from Indian cuisine and their traditional food is rice and curry. All Sri Lanka travel guides recommend you to try the Sri Lanka local food.
Across the country, you will find many restaurants with traditional food. It is tasty and inexpensive. Restaurants with European food are very hard to find, especially outside the main cities, and the prices of the food are really high.
More than that, the quality of the food is really low and because locals don’t eat there it might not be made from fresh ingredients.
Unless you are not sure the restaurant is very popular, don’t eat there! Better safe than sorry!