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Visiting Sri Lanka: tourist etiquette

Respect Sri Lanka's cultural boundaries with the help of our handy guide

Written by
Time Out editors
  • Travel

Sri Lankans are known for their hospitality and patience with visitors. However, to ensure a smooth and harmonious experience in Sri Lanka, you should respect the country’s cultural norms and etiquette. Here are a few things to remember…

1. Remove your hat and shoes when visiting a religious place; shoulders should be covered and long, below-knee trousers or skirts worn rather than shorts.

2. Listen politely to people's views and advice.

3. Be aware that Sri Lankans consider pointing to be a rude gesture.

4. Religious statues are worshipped, so avoid climbing on or sitting by one, and don’t pose with it.

5. Smoking in public places is prohibited; however most hotels, bars, and eateries will have a designated smoking area (usually outside).

6. Keep calm. If you lose your temper and start shouting or demonstrating absolutely nothing will happen, except your own stress level will rise.

7. When eating with a local family you may be expected to eat in the traditional manner – with your hands. Use your right hand only, not your left. Ask your hosts if you need them to show you how.

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