Sri Lanka

Is it Safe to Travel to Sri Lanka at the Moment?

Is it Safe to Travel to Sri Lanka at the Moment?

Last updated: March 2024 by Frances Mavor, our Conde Nast India Specialist

Sri Lanka, the small teardrop-shaped island nation in the Indian Ocean, is well known - and loved - for its breathtaking landscapes and rich culture. Its locals are warm, its beaches are beautiful, waters come crystal-clear and temples and palaces are shrouded in a timeless charm that’s hard beaten. But despite its irresistible allure, events in recent years mean it’s legitimate to ask ‘is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka?’ Of course, it’s always a good idea to check the latest travel advisories issued by your government before travelling, but our Sri Lanka specialists know their onions too. Apart from being in regular communication with our Concierges on the ground, they have years of experience in the country themselves, knowing the country’s safety precautions and local customs like the back of their hands.


What are the potential threats?

Sri Lanka’s history is no secret, nor are its most recent large-scale protests, demonstrations and political unrest, which saw then-prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, now president, declare the country bankrupt in 2022. But now, over two years on, the country has emerged from under its dark cloud and is decidedly moving on. Of course, we aren’t going to suggest getting involved in any large-crowd events or hanging around the capital, Colombo, late at night – especially as power cuts are still very prevalent – but generally, violent crime rates are now low.


Safety first

Think of this as your friendly reminder to always take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance. But when in the country, it’s best to leave all valuables at your hotel. Our Conde Nast Traveler expert, Frances, suggests carrying only small notes that you have easy access to and keeping your phone and purse on your front (as opposed to a bag on your back). When it comes to bank cards, make sure to only use ATMs attached to banks or major hotels and don’t let your card out of your sight during transactions.

We probably don’t need to remind you that contaminated food and water don’t make for a good time either. Make a conscious effort only to drink bottled or filtered water and practice good hand hygiene at all times. Our Asia experts recommend using antibacterial gel (even when just having a snack), always washing fruit and peeling off the skin if possible. On an Original Travel trip, too, you’ll always have access to bottled water on transfers, at hotels and at recommended restaurants and cafes.


Get clued up on cultural norms

The cultural norms in Sri Lanka reflect the legacy of the country and its rich cultural heritage. So, it’s very important to be aware of – and show respect for – them. Doing so may also help to keep you safe while travelling in the area. Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist country, so it’s key to dress appropriately (and modestly) when visiting temples and religious sites. Remember to always remove your shoes before entering these sacred spaces (Frances recommends slip-on trainers) and keep a scarf on you to cover your shoulders and knees. If you forget, don’t fear. Your guide and/or Concierge will be on hand to help you find one.

Overt physical displays of affection in public are frowned upon in Sri Lanka – couples hide behind enormous umbrellas in quiet park corners and botanical gardens. Same-sex relations are illegal but the FCDO is not aware of any prosecutions. For all couples, it’s best to avoid any public displays, especially in conservative areas.


Disclaimer: it's always important to check the travel advisories issued by your government before travelling to any foreign country. For the latest advice and a very helpful map, please visit:


Header Image by Carol Sachs