Important advice for women travelling to Sri Lanka
It is unfortunate to state that if you are a female traveller, whether in a group or just on your own, meeting single Sri Lankan males is like having a date. You have to constantly be careful about your manners.
The best-known compilation of sensible advice to women travelling to Sri Lanka is to be found here: http://www.ladiestravelinlankaland.com/general-safety-tips.html
Some of the best excerpts are found below. Just remember, if you are a foreigner and a female, you will need to be careful in all your dealings with Sri Lankan males.
– Don’t walk by yourself late at night, always try to take a taxi (in Colombo) or use a regular tuk-tuk driver.
– If you are alone and you get into an unknown tuk-tuk or taxi, pull out your mobile phone and take down their registration and text it to somebody or make a call and say clearly that you will be there at a specific time. Do this in an obvious manner to the driver.
– Watch and learn! See how the middle and upper class Sri Lankan women travel and copy elements of it. Use porters and be firm and assertive with staff. Having strong boundaries with staff is important and feigning confidence (even if you are not) gives the impression that you are suitably connected and/or acclimatised.
– Try to avoid smoking or drinking alcohol outside of Colombo or touristic areas, especially if you are a female who is travelling without a male companion.
– When using public transport never wear clothes that show your cleavage and always cover your shoulders and knees.
– Sri Lankan women generally do not wear bikinis. Unless you are in Colombo or a touristic area do not go swimming or sunbathing in a bikini, wear long shorts and a t-shirt.
– Do not be afraid of publicly ‘telling somebody off’ or confront him or her if they act inappropriately towards you. In fact it is important that you do so that the person will think twice before doing the same things again. Most people in Sri Lanka are aware this type of behaviour exists and do not condone it.
– Always have a contact on your phone that you can call in case of an emergency.
– Be friendly and polite with people that you meet but remember Sri Lankan men and women do not interact with the same ‘freedom’ so be careful not to be too friendly / overly friendly until you really know and trust to person. Otherwise your friendship could be misunderstood by the male party.
– Never trust stories such as “my family disappeared in the tsunami” that is aimed to “melt” your heart.
– Always think about safety when choosing a place to stay – has it got a secure lock, is there security, do you have somebody to call in case of an emergency, etc.
– If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, lie unhesitantly, say you are married. Sometimes that helps if a man is becoming too persistent or does not understand what a ‘single’ female is doing in Sri Lanka. Say your husband is in Colombo or waiting at the guesthouse.
– Out of Colombo, Sri Lankan women do not frequent wine stores, make your trips there short and sweet.
– Be careful who you become romantically involved with. A lot of women go to Sri Lanka (especially volunteers) and unexpectedly get swept off their feet by lovely Sri Lankan men, but please be sensible. Some men are of course lovely but there are a lot of ulterior motives at play when it comes to ‘catching’ a tourist such as lifestyle, fun, sex, visa, status symbol, etc. These relationships cause huge problems for but also there are also darker sides to them such as control, possession and gender-based violence.
– When it comes to men all over Sri Lanka, Colombo included, make sure they aren’t married and they don’t already have a girlfriend before getting involved! – This happens quite often and the local community generally are quite loyal to each other. But if you ask around you will find out.
– Always use protection. STDs are very common.
– Especially in bars in coastal areas keep an eye on your drink to make sure it isn’t getting spiked with drugs.
– Most importantly try to be aware of traditional / cultural norms and respect them as much as possible to have a brilliant, happy and safe time in Sri Lanka.