Dos and Don'ts

Sri Lanka – Dos and Dont’s

Dos and Don’ts: How to get to know the surf and travel destination Sri Lanka better.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with its own culture and a very long and varied history. Therefore, there are special features here, which you as a foreigner can not necessarily recognize or know immediately.
We at drivethru would like to make your life a little easier and have put together some important tips for your next trip to Sri Lanka. This way you will avoid putting your foot in your mouth and unpleasant situations. At the same time, we want you to take home as many great impressions of this island as possible in your limited vacation time. We have some tips for that as well. And at the very end we will give you a little dictionary to get you through everyday life – or at least make some people on the island laugh…

7 valuable Dos in Sri Lanka

Know important average prices!

In Sri Lanka, people like to negotiate – so you should know what prices are common. Some average prices are for example:

  • Tuk Tuk: approx. 50 rupees per kilometer; in tourist hotspots a bit more
  • Rice and curry: 200 to 400 rupees in street restaurants, double that in tourist restaurants
  • Room in local guesthouse: 2,000 to 3,500 rupees (good negotiating here!)
  • King coconut to drink (tambili): about 80 rupees

Climb the Lion’s Rock!

Who makes vacation on Sri Lanka, should have seen him at least once live: Sigiriya, the Lion’s Rock. In the middle of the jungle in the island’s interior, the 200-meter-high stone rises. The former rock fortress on top has made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So: It’s best to plan a day trip, the 1.5-hour climb is rewarded with a breathtaking view!
(Tripadvisor Sigiriya Sri Lanka)

Take the train through the highlands!

What surprises many visitors at first: Sri Lanka has really high mountains! It goes up to more than 2,500 meters. You get the perfect view of the highlands on the train. Here you can look out of the window for hours as cloud forests, tea plantations and bizarre peaks slowly pass by.
(Tripadvisor Kandy to Ella Train Ride)

Try the local tea!

Coffee drinkers should also try Sri Lanka’s wide variety of teas. The beverage is one of the island’s most important exports and is in great demand. It is particularly exciting to visit a tea plantation. Here you can learn how the delicate leaves are processed and how quality is created.

Enjoy the curry!

Rice and curry is the national dish of Sri Lanka. A rather simple meal, but on closer inspection very diverse and above all incredibly tasty, healthy and spicy. In street restaurants there are already lush portions from 200 rupees (about 1 euro). Especially vegetarians will have fun with all the fresh vegetables. By the way, make sure that your consumption in Sri Lanka is as sustainable as possible – you can easily avoid plastic cutlery and straws by packing a stainless steel or glass straw and a set of cutlery in your suitcase before your trip.

Give appropriate tips!

Speaking of food: It is customary in Sri Lanka to tip food service workers sufficiently. A good rule of thumb here is: 10 percent of the total bill. If you book a guide or driver, the equivalent of 3 to 5 euros a day tip is appropriate. Service staff in hotels should receive at least 2 euros a day.

Surf in 28 degrees Celsius water!

Sri Lanka is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and best places on this planet to surf. The very pleasant water temperature, the variety of waves and the gorgeous beaches make sure of that. Even if you have never stood on a surfboard before – this is the perfect time and place for the „first time“.

Here you can find some of the most beautiful surf spots on the south coast!

7 important don’ts in Sri Lanka

Do not ride elephants!

There are many elephants in Sri Lanka, and thank God there are still many wild ones. And to keep it that way, you should refrain from riding elephants. Because if local providers notice that the demand decreases, they will also domesticate fewer elephants. The gentle giants are much more beautiful in nature and from a distance.

No Buddha selfie and no photos without permission!

It is considered quite offensive in Sri Lanka to turn your back on a Buddha statue in photos: Selfies with Buddha are undesirable! Also if you want to take photos of local people, you should always ask for permission – usually the willingness is then also there. You should definitely not take photos of dignitaries such as Buddhist monks or policemen!

Do not compare Sri Lanka with India!

When talking to locals, you should refrain from making comparisons between India and Sri Lanka. Both are independent nations with completely different cultures. You would be comparing apples and pears – not very clever and certainly not respectful!

Do not underestimate travel times!

Sri Lanka is manageably large in terms of area (about the size of Bavaria), but traveling on certain routes can sometimes take a very long time. This is due, for example, to the fact that roads lead through the highlands or are not so well developed. It can happen that you need 5 hours for a distance of 150 kilometers. Therefore, always plan enough time for your tours!

No tuk tuk ride without a clear price!

Tuk Tuk drivers are also business people. Before you start with a tuk tuk, you should therefore have fixed the fare. Otherwise, it happens that they want to renegotiate with you later. Some tuk tuks also have a counter, but they are rare.

Never ride a scooter without a helmet!

If you want to explore the island on your own by scooter, always wear a helmet! The driving behavior in Sri Lanka is sometimes quite adventurous, accidents are not uncommon. In addition, you have to expect a hefty fine if the police catches you without a helmet. So: Safety first!

Never disobey the dress code!

Sri Lanka is a conservative and deeply religious country. Out of respect, you should follow some dress rules in public and holy places. For example, when visiting temples, shoulders should be covered (a scarf will work) and long pants (or a wrap-around skirt) are often required. Do not be surprised: Mostly you have to take off your shoes in holy places. What is not allowed at all: Walking around with bare upper body (also men!) or bikini outside the beach.

To help you communicate in everyday life, we have compiled a small Sinhalese dictionary for you. This will certainly put a smile on the face of one or the other Sri Lankan:

Hello! / hello
good day! / subha davasak
bye!  / gihin ennam
yes / ou
No / nehe
thank you! / stutti
Please, with pleasure! / krunakara
Sorry / samawenna
help! / udauwa
My name is… / mageh namma
I would like to have / matta awashschayai
How much is… / ganana kieyadha?
one / ekka
Two / dekka
Three / thunna
Four / hathara
Where can I surf?  / Drivethru surfcamp cella eṅkē? 😉

With these Dos and Don’ts and the small encyclopedia in your luggage you can start your personal Sri Lanka vacation relaxed. We wish you a lot of fun!

Now you are prepared! Book your trip to Drivethru Sri Lanka now!

written by Thomas