After the protracted and bloody civil wars in Sri Lanka ended in 2009, the country has been a lot safer for visitors. There are, however, still some issues surrounding safety in Sri Lanka that it pays to be wise about. Sri Lanka offers many great things for visitors to do and see, including a colourful history and vibrant culture, spirituality by the bucket load, terrific scenery and wonderful beaches, and more.
Bear in mind this useful information about safety in Sri Lanka and enjoy a terrific and diverse trip:
Beware of Landmines
Some areas, particularly in the northern and eastern areas, may have some remaining landmines under the ground’s surface. Do not stray of marked paths, and try not to venture into quiet areas alone. If you believe that you may have stepped on a mine, do not move – rather, call for help and remain as still as possible.
Do Not Walk Alone After Dark
Sri Lanka is generally a pretty safe place for visitors, although the usual standards of caution should be applied. Whilst rare, violence against tourists is increasing slightly. It is wise not to walk alone outside of busy areas and well visited sites. This is especially important at night. Female tourists, especially those travelling alone, should pay particular attention; unfortunately, sexually motivated attacks and rapes against female foreigners are on the increase. Solo travellers should consider carrying a personal alarm.
Watch Out for Scams
There are several scams, as with anywhere, that aim to trick visitors out of cash. Be wary of strangers who appear to be particularly friendly. A common scam that affects solo travellers, especially female, is honest sounding and nice talking Sri Lankan men who wish to be friendly. Hanging out around tourist areas and hotels, a typical introduction is to tell you that they only wish to talk with you, nothing more, and invite you to attend a special ceremony with them. They will often pay for everything, and seem like a genuine new friend.
After a few days, however, they will begin to gradually extract money, often without the person even realising that they are being taken for a ride until it is too late. Another common scam is taxi drivers saying attractions are closed and offering to take you somewhere else – go to the attraction and see for yourself, as usually it is a ploy to increase the fare, and gain commission by stopping off at a shop of some description.
Prices offered by touts for anything ranging from accommodation to transport, and entrance tickets to tours and services, will almost always be more expensive than other places.
Do Not Say it is Your First Visit
Admitting that it is your first time visiting Sri Lanka will make you more of a target for dishonest people, so invent some previous trip if necessary if asked.
Don’t Talk About Politics
With feelings still running high about the previous civil war in the country, and with the many horrors and losses of life still weighing heavily on many people’s minds, it is best not to talk about the political situation in Sri Lanka. Discussions can cause offence and open up old wounds, and they can turn nasty.
Overall, Sri Lanka is no more dangerous than most popular tourist destinations; it always pays to have a little understanding about common safety issues though before visiting anywhere. Be aware of your personal safety in Sri Lanka, and enjoy your travels!