Female Travel in Sri Lanka: 6 Things to Know
Hi, I’m Kaija! I’m a social media intern with Greether, and, as you can imagine, a massive travel enthusiast. I’ve lived abroad in Spain, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Germany, and I’m always looking out for my next destination to explore as a digital nomad.
I’ve done my fair share of travel in Asia, but Sri Lanka didn’t really pop up on my radar until some friends back home were ranting about its incredible beauty and wildlife. I did my own research and concluded–this absolutely HAD to be my next destination.
Sri Lanka has an unbelievably rich culture and intriguing history, but unfortunate events over the past few years have taken a heavy toll on the tourism sector (its 3rd largest source of foreign income). There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about the country’s current state, so here are some helpful things to know before you plan your own trip to Sri Lanka:
#1 If your want to be truly immersed in nature, or seeing an absurd amount of wildlife, VISIT SRI LANKA!
On the very first morning I woke up in Mirissa, I found two peacocks and an entire troop of monkeys on the roof of my B&B. Besides all the wildlife that you will casually run into, many of the country’s tourist attractions are centered on wildlife tours; including whale watching tours, safaris, and jungle expeditions. I’ve done a couple of these tours myself and was never left disappointed. Just make sure to do your research and seek out ethical organizations, especially when visiting the elephant sanctuaries.
South Sri Lanka is quite famous for its relaxed surf vibes, and Weligama Bay is absolutely perfect for beginners with its calm waves and reasonably-priced surf lessons. Everyone and their grandma tries surfing there, but even if it’s not your thing, it’s fun to watch everyone else catch a good wave!
Compared to other places in Asia that I’ve visited, Sri Lanka definitely feels the most wild and untouched. Colombo has proper city vibes, but as soon as you leave you’re immediately swallowed into a sea of greenery.
#2 You must know how to bargain.
Love it or hate it, you will often need to bargain prices with the locals. Tuk-tuks (little 3-wheeled carriages) are the most common form of transportation for tourists and will require some skill in bargaining with the drivers. A negotiating tip that I received from a local is to try to be patient and friendly when bargaining. For locals, the act of bartering is a bit of a game, and they’ll be less likely to be receptive to your offer if you come off as aggressive. Honestly, many drivers will try to double, triple, or even quadruple the price that they would ask of another local. As a tourist you’re bound to pay more no matter what, but keep that price range in mind when they state their initial offers. Tourist shops and tour companies may require some haggling, too, but restaurants, pharmacies, and grocery stores follow the practice of having set prices.
#3 Bring cash, no credit cards here.
Sri Lanka is largely a cash-only economy, especially now due to rising inflation, an unstable currency, and a highly corrupt government. The best way to get good deals is also to pay in cash, preferably even in dollars or euros. Try to come with plenty of cash to exchange, or even better, while using a bank without international ATM withdrawal fees.
#4 Stay safe and be mindful of your surroundings
As a female traveler, I do find Sri Lanka to be fairly safe and the locals to be very welcoming and friendly. Any time that I’ve had a problem, like getting lost on my motorbike, someone nearby was always happy to help point me in the right direction. Like anywhere, I’d advise safety precautions when alone at night, but I generally feel safe and comfortable when going out alone in the daytime.
Note: The political crisis that occurred in Sri Lanka during this past spring has calmed down and can go unnoticed by people in many of the tourist areas. Still, it’s important to be mindful that there is a tension between many locals and their government.
#5 Be aware of the power cuts
5. Sri Lanka has routine power cuts, so bring your portable battery packs for emergencies. The power cuts can last anywhere from 1 to 9 hours. If you’re here on only a short trip, you won’t be bothered as much as you’ll likely spend your days doing outdoor activities anyways. If you’re a digital nomad, you’ll want to have a backup plan for where to work when these cuts occur.
Although a big part of conscious travel is learning and accepting other cultures for what they are, there are certain things you can do to support local female economies. One of these, obviously, is booking a local Greeter. -Kaija Acuff-Passi
#6 Support local female economies. Book a Greeter!
You’ll notice that local women aren’t as present in the local tourism industry as men are. The surf teachers, safari guides, tuk-tuk & car drivers, and even the majority of servers, hotel staff, and other hospitality workers are men. For cultural and some economic reasons, women are somewhat excluded from the workforce. As a conscious traveler, you begin to really notice these sorts of things. I’ve met so many lovely, brilliant women during my travels here, some of them who have even specifically studied hospitality and tourism, and who’d love the chance to show you around their home cities.
Like any country, Sri Lanka has its pros and cons in regard to travel, but I think your experience is exactly what you make it. If you remain open-minded and receptive to learning new things, you’ll have a total blast exploring this beautiful, wild island.