Why Sri Lanka is Safe for Solo Women Travellers

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If you have never been to Sri Lanka, one reason that holds you back from exploring this beautiful country might be your safety. “Is Sri Lanka safe for solo female travellers?”. You would have asked yourself this question many times. People from the west think of this country to be an orthodox one. While that is true, it doesn’t mean that it is unsafe. It is often labelled as risky and inappropriate for women, especially solo women travellers.

However, I beg to differ. I have seen some of the most welcoming people on my solo trip to Sri Lanka. Trust me, it’s nothing like what you have heard because it is simply amazing! On the flip side, it is not sunshine and rainbows all the time either. I have heard a few other solo female travellers who have had some bad experiences here. I know you would be confused now and want to clear all your doubts regarding the safety of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Read this blog to understand why Sri Lanka is safe for solo women travellers.

Exploring the country

Sri Lanka is a lovely place to explore. There is no doubt about it! With the tea plantations, stunning beaches, exotic wildlife, and many other hidden treasures, the country doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. But honestly, it is easily one of the most beautiful countries that I have travelled to! The good thing is that the tourism industry is experiencing a boom. More and more people are travelling to Sri Lanka in recent times. The locals are friendly and always willing to help those who need it. 

Will you be catcalled in the streets?

Catcalling and eve-teasing are pretty common in South Asian countries. Even though Sri Lanka is a part of this group, it always keeps crimes against tourists in check. I travelled all around the country and didn’t face a single moment of discomfort. Yes, I have heard stories of other women who had to deal with unfortunate things. Still, I was one of the lucky ones. I made sure not to step outside my hotel late at night. In fact, I did a lot of research before travelling to the country. It is always about the little things you do that come in handy. So, be more responsible and organised when you’re travelling alone. 

Life on the beach

As Sri Lanka is an island country, there are a lot of stunning beaches all throughout. You can enjoy water sports, spot turtles, marine animals, or simply relax at the beach. The best part is that you can wear whatever you want to, unlike in the rest of the country. So if you aren’t sure about what to wear at a beach or around the country, don’t worry, I have got you covered!

Even though the overall vibe is chill, you can find some young men trying to hit on you. I did experience it on my solo trip too. To combat this, you should consider visiting more popular beaches, or something as simple as telling them to STOP should be enough. You will attract a lot of unwanted attention on beaches, so read my blog, which talks about this in detail. You might also feel a little uncomfortable at a less famous beach when people stare at you. Due to this, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy it to the fullest. This is another reason to refrain from going to secluded places. Don’t be fooled. Such sites aren’t hidden treasures! Make sure that you visit the ones that locals suggest as those are the safest of all.

Can you party at the beaches?

Talking about parties at beaches, Sri Lankan parties aren’t the best that I have seen. There are decent weekend parties on famous beaches. However, there isn’t much to look forward to other than this. You can indeed find some excellent places to party if you research enough about it. Once again, you might meet some creepy people here, so it’s best to avoid or at least limit partying and stick to exploring the beautiful places in the country because that’s the best part about Sri Lanka!

Shacks around the beaches are really good, and restaurants nearby serve fantastic food. Do try out some local delicacies, and trust me, you will fall in love with them. You can even spend some time here and have a conservation with fellow travellers and locals. It is a great way to make a few friends and explore places with them if you wish to do so. 

During my solo trip, I explored places suggested by travellers I met at Shacks. And honestly, it was the best thing ever!

Moving around the country

Getting from one place to another is simple, thanks to the well-connected transportation system in Sri Lanka. There are many options to choose from, but you will find yourself opting for tuk-tuks most of the time. While they are cheap and quick, do not fall for the ‘broken meter’ scam, which is one amongst many other such scams! Other than tuk-tuks, you can choose to travel by train. On the one hand, the views are scenic and a great way to pass some time. On the other, it will take more time for transportation. So, make your own decision depending on the situation. 

Next up, we have public buses. I would suggest that you do not use these for getting around unless there is no other option available. I know that these are very inexpensive, but they are dead slow and a total waste of time. Also, they are usually very crowded. The concept of different compartments for men and women is non-existent due to the crowd! You might even see some men come into the female compartment due to the crowd and misbehave. To avoid all this, refrain from travelling in buses.

What is the best mode of transport?

The best way to travel around the country is to hire a private taxi as it is the safest of all options and helps a lot if you are on a tight budget. You can go around at any time of the day without having to worry about finding a tuk-tuk or a bus. Your driver might also tell you about some of the lesser-known places that you can explore. While you will find many businesses that offer taxi services, it is best only to hire one from a reputed company. This will ensure that you find a trusted driver with the lowest price, and most importantly, your safety is not compromised either!

One strange thing that I noticed on my solo trip is the annoyingly slow speeds of vehicles. For example, while travelling from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, Google Maps showed an estimated travel time of two and a half hours. However, the trip took four hours, and there wasn’t much traffic on the road either. So if you find yourself in the same situation, do not panic. It happens a lot in Sri Lanka, and it isn’t the driver’s fault or his evil intentions.

To know more about transportation and getting around in Sri Lanka, click here.

Some general tips

While the tips mentioned above were on specific topics, here are some general things that you should keep in mind throughout your journey in Sri Lanka.

1. Cover yourself up

I know I have said this already. I know it sucks, but you must cover yourself up and show as little skin as possible. The more skin you show, the more attention you grab, and the more uncomfortable stares you can expect.

2. Don’t use ATMs in shady areas

It is best to avoid using the ATMs in shady places and sloppy-looking machines around the country. The chances of you losing your money are pretty high here. Instead, stick to using the machines of good condition only in cities, and always carry extra cash with yourself.

3. Don’t flash your wealth

Trying to look rich on the streets of Sri Lanka isn’t the best option. You will only attract unwanted attention, and this is foolish! Stick to basic outfits and refrain from wearing a lot of jewellery. Do not carry a lot of cash whenever you step outside. Even if you do, stash them in a safer place in your backpack.

4. Keep the unnecessary things at your hotel

Whenever you step outside, only carry the absolutely necessary things. This will keep your bag lighter, and you will have fewer things to worry about. Thefts can also happen in hotels, but the chances of that are minimal. So try to keep all your stuff locked in the hotel.

5. Cover your tattoos

If you have any Buddhist tattoos on your body, it is best not to show them off. While visiting temples, do not turn your back to the Buddha statues, especially while clicking pictures. Also, do not wear clothes related to Buddhism. All of this can land you in trouble as people are very sensitive when it comes to religion.

6. Learn the language

While it is not possible to get fluent in the local language in a short span of time, you can make an effort to learn some words and phrases. Trust me, it will help you more than you think. People will feel that you know a thing or two about Sri Lanka, which will not allow them to scam or take advantage of you.

7. Don’t travel alone at night

Avoid using public transportation at night. You can explore everything you want during the daytime and relax at your hotel in the evenings. If possible, do not step outside your hotel late at night. Also, avoid walking alone on quiet roads all by yourself after the sun has set.

8. Don’t leave your drinks unattended

Don’t lose sight of your drinks because the chances of someone mixing sedatives in your drinks are very high. This is a rule of thumb that you must follow whenever you travel solo across the globe. It can happen anywhere in the world, so why take a chance?

9. Don’t be afraid to say no

If you do not like something, or you feel unsafe, or someone makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t be scared to say NO. Don’t be uncertain. If this isn’t enough, just start screaming for help if you are in a public space! 

10. Know the local police numbers

I really hope that you don’t end up in such situations, but to be on the safe side, here are some of the police numbers. Police emergency hotline – 118/119, Tourist Police – 011-2421052, and Police Emergency – 011-2433333. If you think something is wrong and you need help, do not hesitate to call these numbers.

Is Sri Lanka safe for solo women travellers?

is Sri Lanka safe for solo women travellers

To answer this question in one word, I would say YES. Sri Lanka is very safe for solo women travellers. Of course, no place is perfect, and Sri Lanka isn’t even trying to be perfect. All of us know that there were some safety and security issues in the last few decades. But now, the country is very safe for everyone to travel, let alone solo female travellers. I travelled alone to Sri Lanka and didn’t face any safety issues at all. So let go of this fear and get ready to explore this beautiful country.

If you look at the bigger picture, Sri Lanka is a great country that should definitely be on your bucket list. However, it has problems that every developing country faces. And these problems have nothing to do with the safety of tourists. 

Sri Lanka provides some of the unique experiences that you cannot have elsewhere. Little things like having a cup of tea for a couple of cents, tasting the local delicacies, and meeting warm people are memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life. These are the things that we travel for! So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready to explore the beautiful country of Sri Lanka without the slightest bit of fear in your mind.

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Swagachi

An introverted solo female traveller on an adventure around the world.

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