Exploring Sri Lanka Safely as a Female Independent Traveller


When you’re on the lookout for fun in the sun, the picturesque destination of Sri Lanka is certainly up there as one of Asia’s best holiday spots. You can expect utopian beaches, stunning rain forests and unique world heritage – to name just a few highlights.

For independent female travellers however, it’s always advisable to be prepared for the riskier aspects of this beautiful south Indian island. Follow these top safety tips to help ensure your Sri Lankan holiday is a problem-free one:

Don’t walk alone after dark – Unfortunately incidents of lone female travellers being threatened on the island of Sri Lanka is quite high. For this reason, it is always best to avoid walking out by yourself of an evening. Where possible take a taxi or use a tuk-tuk driver. If it is unavoidable to walk after dark, be prepared with pepper spray on your person.

Organise activities with locals – Just because you are travelling independently it does not mean it isn’t safe for you to immerse yourself in the local culture. To eliminate any risk, organise activities with local people via a local-led tour company. There are all sorts of excursions and days out you can try with the help of a local guide to keep you safe and sound. Plus, planning activities with the people who live in the region will mean you can be sure you are experiencing the best parts of the country as opposed to purely the tourist hot spots.

Avoid smoking and drinking in public – Both smoking and drinking are highly frowned upon, particularly by single women. If you are travelling alone try to avoid doing so outside of Colombo city and other tourist areas. If possible try to avoid doing so in public at all, this will minimise the likelihood of harassment.

Dress respectably – To avoid unwelcome attention, make sure you dress according to Sri Lankas respected standards. This means keeping shoulders and knees covered on public transport, not revealing your cleavage, and keeping bikinis and other swimwear to the beaches and hotel complexes.

Have an emergency contact ­­– If you’re new to the country you may not have an emergency contact nearby but, always have somewhere further afield that you can contact in the event of an emergency. It is also advisable to ring or text this contact each time you use a taxi, giving their registration details and your expected time of arrival at your destination.

Keep it friendly – A friendly and polite manner will be appreciated pretty much anywhere you travel and Sri Lanka is no different. It is worth noting however that Sri Lankan men and women do not have quite the same tactile and relaxed approach as many westerners. Be careful to keep it friendly, but not ‘over friendly’ which may give male acquaintances the wrong impression.  

Be cautious – Sri Lankan men are perhaps the greatest threat to a female independent traveller. If you are experiencing an overly-familiar or pushy male, don’t be afraid to lie and say that you are married and have your husband waiting for you nearby. Or be firm! Make it known that you’re not interested and you’re not afraid to make a little noise.

Hopefully these tips will not fill you with fear as there is much to enjoy in Sri Lanka with little concern. Just keep these pointers in mind when venturing away from the security of your hotel resort and you are more than likely to have a fantastic time!

* Photo by Ronald Saunders via Flickr Creative Commons


About Author

Kelly Lewis is the founder of Go! Girl Guides, Go! Girl Adventures and creator of the Women's Travel Festival. She loves traveling and aims to inspire and empower women of all ages to get out there!

1 Comment

  1. Thank you. My husband has just died and i will be travelling alone to sri lanka in the holiday we planned together (it was not possible to get any refund). Your post has helped me enormously to prepare for this. Thank you again.

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