The Economic Situation in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s current economic situation has resulted in limited availability of certain products, including medical and food items. Fuel, such as diesel and petrol, is being rationed, which may affect transportation, businesses, and public services. It’s important to note that hospitals and medical services could also be impacted. There may be occasional power cuts as well. If you have any health concerns, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider before traveling to Sri Lanka. Make sure you have an ample supply of any medications you may need during your visit.
To manage the fuel shortage, a QR code system has been implemented for fuel purchases. It is crucial for travelers to plan their transport arrangements and have contingency plans in place before embarking on any journeys.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has announced a fuel assistance program specifically for tourist service providers. For more information, you can visit the SLTDA website. It is worth noting that many popular tourist venues have backup generators to mitigate the impact of occasional power outages.
The Political Situation in Sri Lanka
In 2022, Sri Lanka experienced large-scale protests that resulted in violence, injuries, and loss of life. Protests continue to occur sporadically, and security authorities have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters.
There is a possibility of protests, demonstrations, roadblocks, and violent unrest taking place across the entire island without prior notice. Authorities may impose restrictions, including curfews, at any moment. It is vital to remain vigilant and avoid participating in any demonstrations, political protests, or large gatherings. Follow the guidance provided by local authorities and stay updated with the latest developments through this travel advice and local media. Always keep your passport with you as official identification.
Crime in Sri Lanka
Due to the current economic situation, there has been an increase in low-level opportunistic crimes in Sri Lanka.
Theft incidents have been reported in hotels and guesthouses, and there have been instances of street crime targeting tourists. Criminals on mopeds or motorbikes snatch bags and jewelry. Take necessary precautions to safeguard your valuables, especially passports and money.
It is important to note that violent crimes against foreigners are rare. When traveling within Sri Lanka, it is advisable to make arrangements through reputable travel companies and exercise caution.
Instances of gun crime are not uncommon, typically associated with disputes between criminal groups.
Women have reported incidents of verbal and physical harassment by men. Harassment can range from sexually suggestive comments to physical advances and sexual assaults. Such incidents often occur in crowded areas like marketplaces, railway stations, buses, and sporting events, but they can happen anywhere. Reports of sexual assaults against women in tourist areas have also been recorded. It is advisable for women to exercise particular caution when traveling alone or in small groups. Carrying a personal alarm for added safety is recommended.
Reports indicate instances of drinks being spiked with drugs in bars and restaurants located in southern beach resorts. Be cautious about accepting drinks from strangers and avoid leaving drinks unattended.
Scams and Fraud
Credit card fraud is a risk for visitors in Sri Lanka. Whenever possible, opt for cash transactions and use ATMs attached to banks or major hotels. Keep an eye on your credit card at all times.
Air Travel Safety
While air accidents are rare, there have been instances in recent years. For passenger and cargo services, the Sri Lankan Civil Aviation Authority certifies a list of airlines for safety compliance.
Local Travel Recommendations
The northern regions of Sri Lanka have a visible military presence. It is important to heed local advice and instructions from the security forces. Take any warning signs about landmines seriously.
Outside the High Security Zones, free movement is permitted across the Jaffna Peninsula, with fewer checkpoints. Landmine clearance operations are ongoing in the heavily affected areas toward Elephant Pass.
Kilinochchi, Mullaittivu, Mannar, and Vavuniya
There is also a visible military presence in these areas. The severe war damage in the northern region has limited accommodation options and infrastructure. Pay attention to signs indicating mined areas and follow local advice accordingly.
Certain parts of the East are undergoing demining and weapons and ordnance clearance operations. Some areas, especially former military and police locations, are still marked as minefields. Always follow the instructions of the local security forces and be cautious of landmine warnings. Do not venture off the roads or cleared footpaths. In case of any doubts, seek advice from local security authorities.
Safety While Swimming
Certain beaches in Sri Lanka experience dangerous surf or rip tides during specific times of the year. It is advisable to obtain local advice before entering the sea.
Road Travel Precautions
To drive in Sri Lanka, you must have an International Driving Permit along with a Sri Lankan recognition permit. The recognition permit can be obtained from the AA in Colombo. A British driving license alone is not sufficient. Always remember to wear your seatbelt and ensure that you have appropriate insurance coverage.
Some roads, particularly in remote areas, may be in poor condition. Driving habits can be unpredictable, and road accidents are frequent—especially at night. Pedestrians and animals may suddenly appear on the road, and vehicles often do not yield at pedestrian crossings. Motorbike riding can be particularly hazardous. If involved in an accident, stay at the site with your vehicle if it is safe to do so. Alternatively, report the incident to the local police station if you feel threatened or if it is unsafe to remain.
Security checkpoints and roadblocks are present in certain regions. Exercise caution when passing through them and comply with instructions from the police or army personnel on duty. There have been instances where security forces have opened fire on vehicles that failed to stop when instructed. Roads near government and military sites in Colombo frequently close for security reasons, such as VIP convoys.
Public buses are known for their speed and reluctance to yield. They are often poorly maintained. Unfortunately, serious bus accidents have occurred in recent years. Tourist buses generally adhere to higher professional safety standards, but it is essential to be aware that standards may vary.
Taxis can be booked through local and international taxi apps, particularly in Colombo. However, availability may be limited outside of tourist areas. Motorized rickshaws, known as tuk-tuks, are available for hire in towns and villages. Before setting off, negotiate the fare in advance or look for a tuk-tuk with a working meter. Most travelers report minimal difficulties, but there have been reports of harassment, especially against female travelers during the evening or at night. If you have any concerns about the driver or driving standards, switch to a different tuk-tuk or taxi. It may be difficult to find a taxi or tuk-tuk during fuel shortages or curfews.
Rail Travel Precautions
Fatal accidents have occurred when visitors have hung out of open doorways or windows of trains. Remember, there is a real risk of death or serious injury if you do not remain within the train carriage while the train is in motion. Additionally, thefts of personal belongings have been reported during train journeys, including instances of briefly unattended belongings being stolen or pickpocketing. Keep a close eye on your possessions at all times.
Sea Travel Considerations
Prior permission is required for entry into Sri Lankan waters and security zones in coastal areas.
The threat of piracy and armed robbery remains significant in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. International Naval Counter Piracy Forces advise all sailing yachts under their own passage to stay clear of the designated High Risk Area to avoid the risk of hijacking and ransom. For more information and advice, visit our Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea page.
Some wildlife in Sri Lanka can be dangerous. Seek advice from authorized guides or local authorities when in doubt. Wild elephants and crocodiles have been known to occasionally attack humans. Although not common in populated areas, venomous insects and snakes can be found in various parts of the country. Feral dogs are common and may carry rabies.
For more information and to plan your trip to Sri Lanka, visit DHPL Travels, your go-to source for everything Sri Lanka travel.
Remember to stay informed, exercise caution, and enjoy your trip to the beautiful island of Sri Lanka!