Travel Sri Lanka

Measures you should take and things to keep in mind.


Sri Lanka is in the grip of severe economic catastrophe. Basic essentials such as gasoline, cooking gas, and medications are in short supply. There may be a disturbance in fuel supplies and scheduled power outages.

Throughout Sri Lanka, public demonstrations are possible. Several violent events have occurred during huge protests. Avoid large-group gatherings and protests. Demonstrations can cause traffic and public transportation delays. Followthe instructions of local authorities and keep an eye on the news for developments.

A state of emergency can be proclaimed, and curfews can be enforced with little warning. Always have appropriate travel and identity papers with you.

Credit card fraud, overcharging, and counterfeit items are all popular scams and frauds. Be wary of counterfeit products, particularly jewelry and gemstones. Check your bank statements on a regular basis.

During the monsoon season, flooding and landslides occur. This occurs from December to March in the north-east and from May to October in the south-west. Prepare to alter your trip arrangements.

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COVID-19 remains a risk in Sri Lanka.

Dengue fever is a risk in Sri Lanka, with increased cases during the monsoon season. Use mosquito repellent. If you have a fever, get medical help.

Other insect-borne diseases include chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and filariasis. Use mosquito and insect repellent. Get vaccinated for Japanese encephalitis before you travel.

Foodborne, waterborne and other infectious diseases include typhoid, hepatitis, leptospirosis. Drink only boiled or bottled water. Rabies is present in dogs, monkeys and bats.

Medical services in Colombo are below Australian standards. Outside Colombo, they’re limited. If you’re seriously ill or injured, you’ll need medical evacuation. Ensure your travel insurance covers this. Access to some medicines may be impacted by import delays.

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Local laws.

A Public Emergency can be declared and curfews may be imposed at short notice.

Carry relevant travel and identification documents with you at all times. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor the media for updates.

Public demonstrations can occur throughout Sri Lanka.

Always carry photo identification. If you don't, officials may detain you. It’s illegal to cover your face in a way that prevents identification.

The legal drinking age is 21. It is illegal to drink alcohol or smoke in public.

Be careful when taking photos. You must not photograph or video inside High-Security Zones (HSZs). These include military sites, some government buildings and official residences. HSZs aren't always marked.

Respect the local culture. It’s illegal to mistreat Buddhist images. This includes posing for photos with Buddha statues, or wearing tattoos, clothing or jewellery associated with Buddhism. Get local advice before photographing places of worship.

Sri Lanka has conservative dress and behaviour standards. Take care not to offend.

Penalties for carrying or using illegal drugs are severe and include the death penalty.

In certain cases, Sri Lankan law permits:
arrest without warrant
extended detention without charge or trial
reversal of the onus of proof

In Sri Lanka it's illegal to:
cover your face in a way that prevents your identification
smoke in most public places
drink alcohol in most public places
engage in same-sex sexual acts

You must not take photos or record video in High-Security Zones (HSZ), including:
military establishments
some government buildings
official residences

You must have legal authorisation to export certain items, such as antiquities. Contact the Sri Lankan Department of Archaeology for details.

Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative in Sri Lanka. Respect religious traditions and objects. Take care not to offend.

Respect local restrictions and observances around religious holidays.

Full moon (Poya) days are celebrated once a month. Authorities ban the sale and purchase of alcohol and fresh meat on these days.

Seek local advice before you take photos of places of worship and nearby areas. You may cause offence.