Despite its modest size, Sri Lanka boasts a wealth of attractions – from its pristine beaches and awe-inspiring mountain panoramas to lush green jungles and undulating tea fields. The country’s rich and diverse history, spanning thousands of years, adds an extra layer of fascination to its allure.
Considered a gem among travel destinations, Sri Lanka has gained popularity among backpackers. During the planning stages of my solo trip, I delved into blogs authored by fellow female solo travelers, predominantly from the West. They consistently emphasized that, while the country is generally safe, they encountered occasional awkward stares and fell victim to scams.
Understanding that solo female travel in Sri Lanka can be both exhilarating and daunting, I took in their experiences as valuable insights. Like any journey, I knew there would be a mix of positive and challenging encounters, and I felt adequately prepared for the adventure that awaited me.
So, here’s my experience traveling solo as a female in Sri Lanka.
Related read: 8 Days in Sri Lanka
Is Sri Lanka Safe for a Solo Female Traveler?
Sri Lanka is generally safe for solo female travelers. I spent two weeks exploring the country on my own and had a fantastic experience. Meeting fellow travelers in hostels added to the adventure, and my Airbnb hosts were accommodating. The local Sinhalese people are generally friendly, contributing to the welcoming atmosphere.
However, as with any destination, personal safety relies on judgment and decisions. It’s crucial to trust your instincts if something feels off.
While I did encounter a few awkward situations, they were minor compared to the overall positive experience of the trip. If you’re a solo female traveler contemplating a journey to Sri Lanka, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Embrace the adventure, and you’re sure to return home with unforgettable memories!
Related read: Top Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
Travel Tips for Solo Female Travelers in Sri Lanka
Here are a few tips for solo female travel in Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lanka, where cultural conservatism is more pronounced than other tourist destinations, it’s advisable to dress modestly. Avoid wearing crop tops, shorts, bikinis, or overly revealing outfits, especially when exploring smaller towns and religious sites.
When visiting heritage sites and temples, ensure your clothing covers your shoulders and knees; otherwise, entry might be restricted. While it’s more relaxed at beaches in the South or the Southwest, it’s generally better to be well-covered to avoid unwanted attention.
Act Confident and Be Cautious with Information
While Sri Lanka is generally safe, it’s wise to maintain a confident demeanor and not always disclose that you’re traveling alone. In less crowded areas, you might encounter individuals with questionable intentions. Stay alert, and trust your instincts.
Share limited information about your solo travels with strangers, including details about where you’re staying. This precaution can help avoid uncomfortable situations and ensure a smoother and more secure solo travel experience.
Stay Vigilant and Seek Crowded Places if Stalked
In unsettling situations where you feel someone might be following you, act promptly. A seemingly harmless encounter became a potential issue during my walk around Kandy Lake. After turning down a ticket offer for a cultural show, I realized the person was following me.
I increased my pace, crossed the road, and sought refuge in a souvenir store among fellow tourists. If you ever feel stalked, stay brisk and head towards crowded areas or establishments. If necessary, inform the staff or security, as they can assist in diffusing the situation.
Avoid Solo Night Exploration
While exploring freely is tempting, avoiding wandering alone at night is advisable, especially in quieter areas like Sigiriya, Dambulla, Kandy, or Ella after 8 PM. While Colombo and beach towns are vibrant after dark, other locations may become quiet.
Plan any nighttime outings with a companion, whether it’s for dinner, drinks, or a late stroll. I experienced the importance of this in Sigiriya, where finding a tuk-tuk became challenging after dinner, and walking back alone felt uneasy. Partnering with a fellow traveler can add an extra layer of safety and reassurance.
Use Google Translator for Communication
English is not widely spoken in Sri Lanka, particularly among locals like tuk-tuk drivers and street food vendors who predominantly communicate in Sinhalese. During my travels, when I mentioned being Indian, many assumed I was from South India and began speaking in Tamil.
Google Translator was a lifesaver – a quick way to bridge the language gap. I would type my message, and the app helped convey my thoughts, making communication much smoother.
Opt for Hostels or Airbnb Accommodations
When solo traveling, consider staying at hostels or Airbnb accommodations instead of hotels. This not only allows for cost savings but also provides opportunities to connect with fellow travelers, discover hidden gems, and enjoy great company.
I was fortunate to meet incredible people during my journey. While hiking Pidurangala, I teamed up with a guy from India and a girl from Canada. In Kandy, my stay at Clock Inn Kandy (temporarily closed) led to a road trip to Nuwara Eliya with two fellow solo travelers I met there. Spending Christmas Eve together became a memorable experience.
Similarly, my host at Babylon Hostel in Mirissa shared insights about local beaches, popular eateries, and stories from his village. Wise accommodation choices and reading reviews beforehand can enhance the solo travel experience.
Ensure Phone Connectivity
Activating international roaming or obtaining a local SIM card is crucial when traveling solo. Having access to your phone not only allows you to stay connected to the internet but also enables you to make calls.
I made it a habit to save the contact details of my Airbnb hosts and hostel owners at each location. This way, if I ever faced any challenges, I could easily reach out to them. Keeping loved ones informed about your whereabouts is equally important while traveling alone.
With competitive pricing and global coverage in over 180 countries, the Travel Dudes eSIM card is the perfect solution for any traveler.
Exercise Caution with App-Based Services
While app-based services like ‘Pick-Me’ in Sri Lanka (similar to Uber) can offer cost-effective transportation, it’s important to be cautious. During my trip from Mirissa to Galle, I encountered a situation where the local tuk-tuk drivers were unhappy with the prevalence of app-based services.
Despite a lower fare on the app, I faced some confrontations and eventually had to opt for a local tuk-tuk due to the escalating tension. While using such apps can save you money, be prepared for potential local resistance, and consider the overall situation before making a choice. Despite these challenges, don’t let anything deter you from enjoying your journey and experiencing the best that the country has to offer.
While my journey to Sri Lanka was initially a solo adventure, it transformed into a series of shared experiences with newfound friends. From savoring delectable crabs in Colombo to unwinding on the beaches of Welligama, and from impromptu singing sessions on a train to Ella to the excitement of spotting leopards in Yala, the trip was enriched by the incredible people I encountered. It’s a testament to the fact that Sri Lanka is a place where you’ll inevitably meet remarkable individuals and share memorable moments.
Undoubtedly, solo female travelers should exercise caution and remain vigilant, but it shouldn’t hinder the enjoyment of new experiences. Sri Lanka, with its slightly conservative atmosphere, requires careful exploration, but by adhering to the provided tips and trusting your instincts, there’s nothing to fear. As your journey unfolds, you’ll accumulate wonderful stories to share with friends and family, capturing the essence of this beautiful island.