Is Sri Lanka safe right now?

Is It Safe to Travel to Sri Lanka? For more than 20 years, we have answered that question as we have provided memorable holidays for countless travellers from all over the world, and safety has always been our no 1 priority.

With Red Dot, you can be sure that your health and safety is being taken seriously. You have a right to expect proper safety standards and precautions wherever you go. We have always told people what they want to know about their personal safety.

  • We remain proud of how we responded to the horrors of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 and how we supported the country’s recovery.
  • We drew up safety procedures during the civil war in the north and east and celebrated with everyone as it ended in 2009 and since become a distant memory.
  • We adapted responsibly to the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis, gaining sough-after Safe and Secure certification, and reacted again to the economic problems that followed.

Throughout this time, Sri Lanka has become one of the hottest travel destinations in the world and once again it is receiving rave reviews as its difficulties problems recede once more.

There should be no doubt that Sri Lanka is once again a generally safe, welcoming and easy-going country for visitors. Economic problems still remain but they do not affect day-to-day tourism. There are no travel warnings for any part of the country. It is a wonderful time to see the country.

Take a look at the reviews of Red Dot on Feefo or Tripadvisor to see feedback from our guests and judge from their feedback whether it is safe to travel to Sri Lanka.


What is official Government advice about Sri Lanka?

Government travel advice is often notoriously cautious. Call us biased if you wish but there have been times, chilling out in Sri Lanka, that we can barely recognise the country as is occasionally described!

The world can be a dangerous place, but like many travel companies, we regard the thrust of the UK’s travel advice on Sri Lanka, to take just one example, as unduly negative. Travel advice was relaxed, however, in April 2024 and we hope to see further adjustments.

Sri Lanka’s economic problems in 2022/3 did bring some mass protests, especially in the capital Colombo. There was some violence at the time as police and security forces dispersed crowds. But it bears repeating that there was no hostility towards holidaymakers whose presence has always been widely appreciated.

If you happen to come across a protest or demonstration, especially during an election period, it is always sensible to keep your distance. Carrying your passport at all times is also worth considering, although many prefer to keep them safely locked away in their accommodation.


Are tourists at risk of crime in Sri Lanka?

Statistics continue to prove that violent crimes against foreigners are infrequent. Most violent crime in Sri Lanka arises because of tensions within local communities, often between rival gangs. Nevertheless, you should maintain a high degree of personal safety awareness and, in particular, avoid dark places at night. Be on your guard for petty crimes such as fraud, deliberate overcharging, stealing of money or credit cards, or confidence tricksters.


Can a young woman travel alone safely in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka culture can sometimes be challenging for a young woman travelling alone. The services of a travel company such as Red Dot add an extra layer of experience and security. Take sensible precautions. Young women occasionally suffer verbal or physical harassment, especially by groups of men in tourist areas, in crowds, or on public transport. Follow rules you would follow anywhere in the world: beware accepting drinks from strangers at bars and restaurants, and don’t leave drinks unattended. We recommend a great blog on the subject from an English woman who came to Sri Lanka to work for us.


Are LGBT+ people safe in Sri Lanka?

Same-sex relations are illegal – a Law dating back to colonial times – but discriminating against someone based off their sexual orientation has also been outlawed in Sri Lanka since 2017. Some discretion is therefore advisable, and you may encounter pockets of prejudice, but many LGBT+ travellers enjoy holidays in Sri Lanka. Many accommodation and travel providers are entirely supportive. There has been recent talk of decriminalisation and Pride marches now take place annually in Colombo.


Is it safe to sunbathe nude or topless in Sri Lanka?

Nude or topless sunbathing is forbidden in Sri Lanka and the culture should be respected. Bikinis can cause offence in public areas beyond the immediate tourist beach haunts. If you enter a Buddhist temple, take off shoes and hats and cover your shoulders.


Is wildlife dangerous in Sri Lanka?

Some Sri Lankan wildlife carries an element of sanger so be aware that you are travelling in a natural, tropical country. Always listen to local guides. Wild elephants and crocodiles have been known to attack humans on occasion. Though not common in populated areas, venomous insects and snakes do exist. Stray dogs are common, despite the best efforts of some excellent charities, and some may carry rabies so if you are bitten see a doctor.


Has Sri Lanka’s civil war left any dangers for tourists?

The 26-year-old terrorist war between the Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended in 2009. Rebuilding of the north and east continues. There is free movement everywhere apart from high security zones. Checkpoints have drastically reduced. There is some military presence. Clearance of mined areas in the far north and east is a long process so if you are travelling in these areas and see a sign warning of mined areas take it seriously.


Is the sea safe in Sri Lanka?

The latest estimates by the World Health Organisation estimates that as many as 235,000 died worldwide by drowning in 2019. Bear that statistic in mind every time you take to the water wherever you are. There are some fantastic beaches to enjoy, but many beaches in Sri Lanka have dangerous currents, especially outside high season (December to April on the west and south coast). Always take local advice and, in tourist areas, watch out for red flags. A number of foreign nationals, as well as locals, drown every year.


Is it safe to drive a car, take a tuk-tuk or hire a scooter in Sri Lanka?

Travel has its dangers in Sri Lanka and that is why we recommend our own fleet of experienced chauffeur-guides, who follow a Drivers’ Safety Code. Sri Lanka's roads will seem chaotic to all but the most experienced traveller in Asia. Know your limits and exercise extra caution at all times.

Particularly in the main tourist destinations, scooters are popular and available for hire. Most often, scooter/motorbike rentals are offered by locals running an independent business. We strongly advise that this should only be considered by those with experience riding in Asia.

Tuk-tuks are the simplest and cheapest way to travel. If you are unhappy with your driver’s road safety, SAY SO. Buses are also cheap and plentiful but driving standards vary enormously. They can be a hair-raising drive and carry additional risk. Cycling is not to be recommended on anything but the quietest roads, as accident rates on busy roads are high.

Also see:
Transport in Sri Lanka


Is Sri Lanka a safe country for health and hygiene?

Sri Lanka has a long-established tourist industry which has encouraged good hygiene standards, especially in tourist areas.

You can find our advice here on health and vaccinations in Sri Lanka.