Sri Lanka Travel Tips: Stay Safe and Secure

When planning a trip to Sri Lanka, it’s important to be aware of the safety and security situation in the country. Demonstrations and civil unrest can occur, and even peaceful protests can turn violent at any moment. In this article, we will provide you with important travel advice to ensure your safety and security during your visit to Sri Lanka.

Demonstrations and Civil Unrest

Demonstrations are a frequent occurrence in Colombo and other parts of the country. It is advisable to avoid areas where demonstrations or large gatherings are taking place. Stay updated by monitoring local media for information on ongoing demonstrations. Always follow the instructions of local authorities to ensure your safety.

Demonstrations in Sri Lanka

Security Forces and Checkpoints

The Sri Lankan military maintains a strong presence in the North and East, including the Jaffna Peninsula. Military and police checkpoints can be established, and road closures can happen suddenly. Security forces have wide-ranging powers, including the authority to impose curfews, detain individuals without charge for extended periods, and conduct searches.

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To stay safe, always carry formal photographic identification with you and keep an eye out for signage warning of military or demining zones. Stick to well-traveled roads and avoid venturing into forested areas or abandoned properties. Stay informed by monitoring local news for the latest updates and follow the instructions of local authorities. In the event that you are detained, ask the authorities to contact the High Commission of Canada.

Terrorism Threats

There is a threat of terrorism in Sri Lanka, and past attacks have resulted in fatalities. While it’s impossible to rule out future attacks, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Targets could include government buildings, places of worship, airports, transportation hubs, tourist attractions, restaurants, and hotels frequented by foreigners.

Crime and Personal Safety

Violent crime, including harassment and assault aimed at Western foreigners, can occur in Sri Lanka. Petty crimes like purse snatching and pickpocketing are common, especially on public transportation. Theft has also been reported in hotels and guesthouses. Credit card fraud is prevalent, so pay close attention when your card is being handled and opt to pay in cash whenever possible. Ensure that your personal belongings, including passports and travel documents, are secure at all times.

Inter-communal Tensions

Inter-communal and religious tensions exist throughout the country, which have sometimes led to violence. Be mindful of this and avoid getting involved in any disputes.

Food and Drink Safety

Foreigners have been targeted in incidents of drink spiking, often combined with sexual assault or theft. Never leave your food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be cautious about accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk.

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Women’s Safety

Women may sometimes face unwanted attention while traveling alone in Sri Lanka. It is advisable to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Swimming and Water Safety

Swimming conditions in Sri Lanka may be unsafe at times. Always follow the advice and warnings of local authorities regarding water safety.

Tourist Facilities and Road Safety

Tourist facilities are widely available in Sri Lanka, but the quality may vary, especially in remote areas. It is recommended to arrange travel to remote areas through a reputable travel agency.

Road conditions are generally poor outside major cities, and road accidents are common due to poorly maintained vehicles, erratic driving practices, and pedestrians and animals on the road. Be cautious when driving and adhere to local traffic rules.

Public Transportation and Air Travel

Travel by bus in Sri Lanka is generally considered unsafe due to aggressive driving and the risk of theft. It is advisable to take precautions and consider alternative modes of transportation.

As for air travel, it is important to note that we do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards. Please refer to relevant authorities and sources for information on foreign domestic airlines.


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In conclusion, while visiting the beautiful country of Sri Lanka, it is essential to prioritize your safety and security. Stay informed about the current situation, avoid areas with demonstrations, and follow the instructions of local authorities. By taking necessary precautions and being vigilant, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip to Sri Lanka.

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