Important information for your personal safety and security while travelling in Sri Lanka
We recommend you read travel advice given by your government authorities. Just remember that the Government of Sri Lanka aims to earn $2.5 billion from tourism on a yearly basis and reach 2.5 million tourist arrivals by 2016. To reach this target, the authorities understand the importance of ensuring security to tourists.
No terrorist act has been recorded in Sri Lanka since the end of the war in 2009. However, there have been reports of ethnic and religious tensions. In any case, foreigners are generally not targeted by these acts but it is advisable to stay away from rallies and organised (or spontaneous) crowd movements, if you happen to come across any.
In the East and North provinces, although reconstruction and development of tourist sites is in progress, some areas have not yet been cleared of mines.
Sri Lankan authorities take tough action against perceived insults to Buddhism. Visitors with visible tattoos representing the Buddha or any other symbol of Buddhism are liable to arrest, imprisonment and possible deportation. In 2012, three French tourists were given suspended prison sentences for kissing a Buddha statue.
Avoid unsolicited service offered by drivers, touts around hotels, beach boys and people claiming to be guides.
All regions of Sri Lanka experience outbreaks of the mosquito-borne dengue fever. Almost 60 per cent of the 18,000 dengue cases reported nationwide in the six months to July 2014 occurred in Western Province, where Colombo is located. Read our section on vaccinations.
Credit card scams are common in Sri Lanka. So, do not allow anyone to take a copy of your credit card.
It is better to avoid walk alone after dusk in isolated places. Always enquire at your hotel about potential risks at night before setting out.
Cases of inappropriate behaviour by employees at body care and/or massage parlours have been reported. It is better to visit only reputed centres and ensure that the personnel are female if you are a female tourist.
Petty crime is frequent in places frequented by tourists. Do not leave valuables in your room or on the beach.
Similarly, while the beaches of the south coast attract many vacationers, they are also a boon for individuals motivated by dishonest intentions.
Beware of con artists. Tourist coming to Sri Lanka sometimes fall prey to strangers giving incredibly true stories of suffering, hospital bills, housing difficulties, school fees complete with bills, squalid homes, etc. Gullible tourists get carried away and part with decent amounts of money regularly. Most stories given to tourists are false when the end result is to get money directly or indirectly. If you feel you love the country and would like to do something meaningful, act responsibly by channelling your donation through an aid agency that is duly registered in your country. Donating a sum of money directly to any person only encourages that person to continue to ply his or her trade and con other tourists. At WioWiKi, we aim to help charities too. In a short while, we will try to come up with a list of reputed charities.
Drugs are sometimes sold in tourist places like Negombo, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Galle, Unawatuna, etc. The authorities have reported large seizures from drug-trafficking groups, who increasingly use the country as a transit point and also tap into the booming post-war tourism industry.
Each year, several foreigners drown on tourist beaches like Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, Tangalle, etc. This is unfortunately a regular happening during the monsoon when the sea is rough. As said in the section related to climate, during the monsoon, the waves are quite strong and the currents are dangerous, even a few meters from the beach. Even experienced swimmers should stay in groups and prefer beaches that have lifeguards around.