Sri Lanka has stunning natural landscapes, great wildlife, and a rich cultural heritage. Most of the locals are Buddhist and very friendly, which is one of the reasons travelers love Sri Lanka. The country is relatively safe for travelers — most of the violent crime occurs within the local community, with rare occasions of violent crime directed at foreigners. However, travelers should still take certain precautions when visiting Sri Lanka.
The main safety issues you should be aware of are tourist scams and pickpockets, which is true of every country in Asia. As an island nation, Sri Lanka can also be affected by severe weather, such as hurricanes and monsoon rains.
- Public displays of affection are not socially acceptable.
- Avoid drinking water from the tap and use bottled water to brush your teeth.
- Con artists and touts are a serious problem throughout all of the tourist areas so plan your activities in advance.
- Sri Lankan road conditions are complex with different rules — don't try driving and hire a driver if possible.
- Be certain to pack plenty of DEET-based mosquito repellent. Although the island is malaria-free, there are frequent outbreaks of dengue fever.
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Sharon the advisor that helped me was so thorough & informative and explained the details of the tour including questions about visas and what is included vs what is not included in the tour packages. I would recommend them to explain tour packages that would fit the schedule of your pending travels.More
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Family Trip to Thailand-Cambodia
All of our guides were very nice and knowledgeable, but we have a special mention to our guide in Cambodia, Chan, he was very kind with us and it was very amusing. He went the extra mile for us. We really enjoyed our holidays!More
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Asia Highlights, specifically Sharon, has been wonderfully helpful as we get ready for a 2024 excursion to Thailand. We are beyond excited, and much of that has to do with the personalized attention that we have experienced with Sharon. She has been extremely responsive, obliging, and focused as she helped us design a tailor made itinerary. All of our questions have been addressed, our needs have been met, and the path has now been set for a very exciting trip.... thanks to Sharon.More
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I was planning a trip to Thailand to…
I was planning a trip to Thailand to especially see the Lantern Festival this year for our birthdays!! It’s been on our bucket list, but we were completely lost on how to go about planning for our trip. We’ve never really booked tours before but Alisa was extremely helpful, knowledgeable, flexible and efficient in providing all the information we needed to make our decision on the best tours and tickets to purchase. Thank you so much!!More
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I would definitely recommend Asia…
All of our guides were wonderful (Mr. Bank - Bangkok and Ms. Kai in Phuket & Khao Sok plus antoher guide who assisted in Koh Samui). Sharon took care of tours, private drivers, flights and hotels within Thailand and our trip went off without a hitch. The hotels were great and the transportation always arrived on time and with a clean,More
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Stephen Hollis, Aug 2023
Alisa has has been great to work with
Alisa with Asia Highlights has has been great to work with. Very friendly and responsive.More
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Using Sharon right now to book our…
Using Sharon right now to book our upcoming trip to Thailand. She has booked everything that we asked for. Has answered all of my inquiries, which has been many! Looking forward to having a great girls trip in ThailandMore
Tracy, Aug 2023
Thailand, Singapore, Bali
In Thailand, Tanny and Nori(Suparp), were both incredible! They were both fun, funny, and full of knowledge and made sure we got the full experience. They went the extra mile and always made sure we had cold bottled water and towels to cleanse our hands. In Singapore, Nicole was an absolute gem. She was so kind and knowledgeable and guided us in the right direction to make our day as enjoyable as possible. She helped us choose a top notch local lunch and coffee spot in China Town and taught us so much about the country! In Bali, Emon was an absolute joy. He was very knowledgeable and kind and absolutely made sure we were feeling comfortable and was willing to be flexible with us. He was fun to converse with and made our time traveling between destinations so enjoyable! I cannot recommend Asia Highlights enough! Accommodations, travel arrangements and guided tours were all a breeze.More
Cassi Thunker, Jul 2023
Very supportive ! I have received eticket for Sky Lattern Festival very fastMore
Chi?n Nguy?n Ng?c, Jul 2023
My experience in Chang Mai with Asia Highlights
I greatly enjoyed my experience with Asia Highlights for a trip I booked to Thailand.All of my interests were catered too. My guide in Chang Mai Gemma was excellent.I truly felt the soul of Thailand culture and Buddhism.More
Richard, Jul 2023
A pleasure to plan with
Well, this has been a painless and pleasurable process to find such a wonderful company. I had specific dates and places to be and Sharon worked with me diligently to refine the schedule and costs to suit my travel needs and budget. She informed me of a special tour on the dates I am to be in Thailand and I added that to my previous plans.More
Chris Williams, Jul 2023
Large multi-generational holiday in Thailand
The holiday was wonderful. Our guides, Mr Monchai (Bangkok), and Ms Tipagorn (Tippy) (Chiang Mai) were exceptional. Travelling in a large multigenerational group with many children requires patience and our guides truly understood that. Mr Monchai and Ms Tippy shared their extensive knowledge of the many wonderful places we visited, and were flexible to take us to additional places along the way based on discussions. While everyday was busy, having them greet us with patience and a smile truly made this a memorable holiday. The hotels we stayed at were equally wonderful and went above and beyond to celebrate not only my parents 50th anniversary but also celebrate 2 milestone birthdays that occurred. We will cherish this holiday for many years to come. We hope to use Asia Highlights again.More
CL, Jul 2023
I never used a travel agent in my life
I never used a travel agent in my life, but Sharon for Asia Highlights did a phenomenal job helping planning and coordination a family vacation. The best part of working with Sharon was that she maintained an open line of communication and provided answers to my question well within 12-24 hours. Additionally, Sharon was flexible and customized our vacation to my families needs. Overall great experience.More
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Great company to plan a trip to Southeast Asia!
Sharon Haung has been wonderful to work with! Very patient and accommodating. Responds immediately given time change and is prepared, prompt, and professional.More
Debi Hinerfeld, Jul 2023
We took a 15 days trip (10 days Vietnam and 5 days Thailand …
It was an amazing experience the guides and drivers were there awaiting for us at each airoport for a transfer to the hotels also on time for all the tours all the guides were so lovely , very experienced and spoke very good English , one of the days on tour in Thailand I lost my phone in a temple in Bangkok mr chai went out of his way in a middle of thousands of visitors and managed to find an bring it back to me I found that amazing , also while on a trip I contacted Jason li out tour organizer few time via whatup and he replied and helped on the spot I recommend asiahilights 150% The quality of the service hotels the guides the drivers outstanding From start to finish ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT ????More
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Sri Lanka is relatively safe to visit. Like most developing nations, routine petty crime, especially thefts of personal property and pickpocketing, is not uncommon. Here are some precautions that you might want to follow.
Always Protect Your Valuables and Important Documents
Petty theft is not as common as in other parts of Asia but you should still take care of your belongings properly. Also, make sure you keep a separate record of all your bank card details (along with the phone numbers needed in case of their loss) and passport information.
It is necessary to make a copy of the pages containing your personal information from your passport.
Use Cash Whenever Possible and Only Use ATMs Attached to Banks or Major Hotels
Don't lose sight of your credit card if you use it. Do not accept help from strangers who want to teach you how to use the ATM. Check the purchase amount before signing and credit cards should be used only at trusted locations. Always remember to keep tabs on your card statements.
Before You Take a Photo, Make Sure That You Have Permission
Photographs are not allowed in the core area of some temples, cultural sites, shopping malls, and tea factories. Don't turn your back on a Buddha statue as this action is considered to be disrespectful and may cause unnecessary trouble.
Protect Yourself from Drowning
In Sri Lanka, drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death among tourists after traffic accidents. The current can be strong and beaches may shelve off into deep waters with unexpected steepness. There are no lifeguards to pull you out if you're in trouble.
Always consult local information before venturing into anything that is not a recognized swimming location. Don't swim under the influence of alcohol.
Avoid Any Political Gathering or Rally and Be Wary of Spontaneous Large Gatherings
Political rallies and electoral periods in Sri Lanka have occasionally turned violent. Please carry your passport with you at all times as official photographic identification. Follow the local news closely in case a curfew or other restrictions are announced.
Be Mindful of the Open Doors on Trains
All cars on the trains have the doors open. People tend to sit on the steps or hang out of the doors for some fresh air. There have been several fatal accidents when visitors have hung out of the open doorways or windows of trains.
If you are traveling with little ones, don't let them wander off between the cars as they can easily topple over.
Be Aware of the Risk of Snakes and Dogs
Poisonous insects and snakes have been found in many parts of the country, although they are not common in densely populated areas. Feral dogs are common and sometimes carry rabies.
Sri Lanka is home to five species of venomous snakes so seek medical help immediately if you are bitten by a snake. Wear sturdy footwear, socks, and long pants if walking through heavy undergrowth.
There has been an increase in sexual attacks against females in tourist areas. There have been reports of drugs in drinks in bars and restaurants in the southern beach resorts. Be careful about taking drinks from strangers in bars and restaurants and don't leave drinks unattended.
Women should take particular care when traveling alone or in small groups and should carry a personal alarm. Here are some tips for female travelers:
Must-Have Items in Your Bag
Pack baby wipes and toilet paper, sarongs or dresses for visiting temples, reusable water bottles, an emergency supply of feminine products, and cash in small bills.
Although Sri Lanka sees a lot of tourists every year, people there are still not used to Western clothing. If you wear Western clothes, such as knee-length skirts, they may stare at you and make you feel uncomfortable. Therefore, make sure that you don't expose too much skin and adhere to their conservative dressing style.
Never Be Alone at Night
It's safe for female travelers to go anywhere during the day but going out alone after dark is not something a woman does in Sri Lanka, whether a traveler or a local. If you plan to go out on the town for a drink and a good time, it's best to find someone to go with.
Getting a tuk tuk on your own at night will definitely turn into an uncomfortable conversation with the driver, no matter what you are wearing.
The Sri Lankan Civil War ended in May 2009. In August 2011, the state of emergency was lifted. Some checkpoints are still in operation and de-mining operations in the former conflict zone in the north are continuing.
On April 21, 2019 (Easter Sunday), more than 250 people including tourists were killed in terrorist attacks that targeted churches and hotels. Security has been stepped up across the island following these attacks but the state of emergency has since been lifted.
To make your travel experience healthier and more pleasant, the following is some information that you may need while visiting Sri Lanka.
Medical Facilities and Hospitals
Sri Lanka is one of the best health performers in South Asia. It scores higher than the regional average in healthcare, having a higher life expectancy and a lower maternal and infant death rate than its neighbors. The country has an extensive network of public health clinics and hospitals, and most people live within 3 miles of a health facility.
There are three types of hospitals in Sri Lanka: public hospitals, private hospitals, and private clinics. Generally, public hospitals charge less than private hospitals and clinics but the conditions are ordinary and crowded so it is recommended to choose private hospitals. Usually, private hospitals can also provide the materials needed for insurance reimbursement.
You can easily buy some common medicines in a hospital pharmacy, a regular pharmacy, or over-the-counter medication in a supermarket. Prescription medicine must be bought with a doctor's prescription.
Heat and Humidity
Sri Lanka has a tropical climate divided into two regions: the dry zone and the wet zone. The dry zone includes the northern plains, north central plains, eastern plains, and the northern and eastern coastal belts. The wet zone is the humid region surrounding the southwest and the island's only mountain range, which is aptly called the Central Highlands.
Temperatures are fairly constant year-round, with coastal regions enjoying average temperatures of 25–30°C and the highlands an average of 15–18°C. Lowland areas of Sri Lanka can be hot and humid throughout the year. For most visitors, it can take some time to adjust to the conditions.
Stomach Upsets and Diarrhea
Sri Lankan tap water is unsafe to drink so you should make sure to only have bottled water or the country's reverse osmosis water — be sure to check the expiration date.
Also note that depending on how sensitive your stomach is, you may or may not want to settle for a salad since the salad greens could have been rinsed in tap water. Additionally, use bottled water to brush your teeth and be wary of food from suspicious food stands.
Please note: The CDC recommends getting the hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations before visiting Sri Lanka to protect against contaminated food and water.
Cuts and Bites
In Sri Lanka, most of the locals believe in the Buddhist concept of ahimsa, or nonviolence. You can find dogs, snakes, and other animals uncaged all around Sri Lanka.
Mosquitoes carrying dengue fever are endemic throughout most of Sri Lanka. There is a repellent available in all drug stores and some stores will have natural sprays and even stickers to put on kids' clothing.
If going to any place with a body of water, such as a lake or park, it's best to wear mosquito repellent to stay clear of dengue fever. If you have a fever, feel pain in your muscles or joints, or have other symptoms, please see a doctor in time.
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