SRI LANKA – General Information
- Be especially vigilant in busy locations and special occasions.
- Please note the worldwide safety information.
Time and again there are local disputes between supporters of the Buddhist majority and other religious communities. Most recently there were riots against Muslim institutions in the north-west province and in the Gampaha district in mid-May 2019, which could only be brought under control through the use of special forces and curfews.
- Find out about the local media.
- Avoid demonstrations or political rallies.
- Follow instructions from security guards.
The Sri Lankan police record sexual assault complaints on the 24/7 telephone number 1938. Sri Lanka has special tourist police stations in the main tourist areas along the southwest coast, where advertisements can be placed.
- Keep money, ID, driver’s license, flight tickets and other important documents safe (for example in the hotel safe).
- Take only the cash you need for the day and no unnecessary valuables.
- Be particularly vigilant in large crowds such as at train stations or on the bus and watch out for your valuables
- .Do not accept drinks or food from strangers or leave them unattended in a restaurant or bar.
- Be skeptical of unfamiliar e-mails, profit notifications, offers and requests for help from alleged acquaintances.
- Do not disclose any data about yourself; if necessary, make sure yourself personally or contact the police.
Monsoon-like rains can cause brief but violent flooding in Sri Lanka.
The rainy season extends from December to March in the northeast and from June to October in the southwest.
In addition, cyclones can occur, especially in the period from April to December.
Track news and weather reports.
Always observe prohibitions, signs and warnings as well as the instructions of local authorities.
Familiarize yourself with tsunami behavior.
In the event of a storm warning, please note the information on hurricanes abroad.
Infrastructure / traffic
Travel to all holiday areas in Sri Lanka is possible.
When traveling overland, the train is preferable to public buses, which are often involved in serious accidents due to reckless driving.
Traveling to the hinterland in the east can be difficult. An increased mine risk cannot be ruled out here.
There is left-hand traffic. Night driving is not advisable for reasons of road safety outside of the cities; Pay special attention to the often unlit traffic control points, even in urban areas.
There is a comparatively increased military presence in the northern province. There are still a few demining operations taking place there. In the vicinity of military camps and in mined areas, access restrictions sometimes apply. General caution is advised. Tourist infrastructure is mainly present in Jaffna and is developing in neighboring regions.
When traveling to the districts of Trincomalee (also Upuveli and Nilaveli), Batticaloa and Ampara (Arugam Bay), you can expect military presence and occasional checkpoints along the roads and in public transport (bus, train). A tourist infrastructure is developing again along the coastal strip in the east.
In the Yala National Park you can only travel in the so-called “Block 1”.
The international driving license is required and is only valid in conjunction with the national German driving license. For the international driving license, the holder must submit an application to the Automobile Association of Ceylon for a so-called “Recognition Permit” as recognition of the German driving license. Car rental companies often support the application process for a surcharge.
Special behavioral advice
Behavior that could be interpreted as religious disregard is punished by the police, including through imprisonment lasting several days.
It is forbidden to be photographed with your back to a Buddha statue. Disrespectful photos of religious subjects can lead to severe punishments and even imprisonment. It is forbidden to take photos of the so-called “Cloud Girl Frescoes” on Sigiriya Rock. Overriding this ban can result in severe penalties and the camera may be confiscated by the Sri Lankan police. Photography of military facilities is also prohibited.
Temples may only be entered with covered shoulders and pants or skirts reaching over the knees.
- Treat religious sites, objects, and symbols with restraint and respect, and dress appropriately when visiting Buddhist temples.
- Do not show clothing or tattoos with Buddhist motifs as they can be perceived as a denigration of Buddhism.
- Make sure you are allowed to take photos or ask for permission.
- Be sure to follow the instructions and regulations at Sri Lankan cultural sites.
Both male and female homosexuality is a criminal offense in Sri Lanka. In practice, however, cases of adult homosexuality hardly ever lead to criminal proceedings.
See the general travel advice for LGBTIQ.
The Sri Lankan law, especially the criminal law, must also be fully observed by foreign tourists. Attention is drawn to the provisions on importing and exporting foreign currency, illegal possession of drugs and weapons, and sexual offenses. Violations, as well as behavior that can be interpreted as religious disregard, can result in draconian penalties.
Sexual abuse of children (Section 176 StGB) can also be punished in Germany, even if the act was committed abroad.
Money / credit cards
The local currency is the Sri Lanka Rupee (LKR). Withdrawing cash from ATMs and paying with credit cards are widespread, but for more remote regions and smaller businesses, it is advisable to take cash with you in euros and US dollars, which can only be exchanged at authorized offices, banks and hotels that offer Confirm the change on a specific form. Declared money that has been exchanged can be exchanged back on departure.
Cases of credit card fraud do occur occasionally in Sri Lanka. This is one of the reasons why it is advisable to cover most of the expenses with cash.
A credit card is often required to prepay possible hospital or medical costs, even if you have valid international health insurance. The credit card should therefore always be carried with you. Bank cards cannot be used in Sri Lanka.
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