Dos and Don’ts for Business Travellers Visiting Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a shining jewel in the Indian Ocean. It is a fast developing nation and is increasingly attracting business travellers from all over the world. If you are planning to travel to the country for work here are a few Dos and Don’ts that will hold you in good stead. 

1. Plan Well in Advance – Sri Lanka thrives on tourism. If you are visiting the country on business look up the peak tourist season and book your hotels well in advance. Hotels in Dematagoda and other Colombo suburbs, in particular, tend to get booked-out during the tourist season.

2. Remain Patient and Courteous – Sri Lankans are a warm, courteous lot. They do not take kindly to rudeness, hurrying, and swearing. It pays to remain courteous and nice. If transactions or business operations do not go on schedule, a patient handling will help resolve things quickly.

3. English is Universally Spoken – If you speak English, chances are you’ll be fine. Most Sri Lankans including those from the rural regions speak English. That comes as part of the country’s colonial legacy and is also due to the country’s high dependence on tourism. 

4. Keep Away from Discussing Politics – The civil war ended a long time ago but the sentiments still remain quite polarised. Steer clear of all political discussions and references to the past. If you’re travelling to Jaffna and the northern parts of Sri Lanka, in particular, stick to neutral subjects such as business and cricket.

5. Take Lunchtime Seriously – Sri Lankans take their food culture seriously and so must you. If you plan to work through your lunch hour ask your colleagues what their preference is. If you’re going out for lunch with colleagues, let them pick the cuisine and the place. Offer to split the bill and check about local tipping norms. 

6. Dress Conservatively – Dress conservatively, be it in a Sri Lankan beach or in the boardroom. The Sri Lankan culture is one based on traditions and the locals tend to frown on flashy or short clothes. If you plan to visit the local temples (Hindu or Buddhist) it may be well worth checking the dress code with your colleagues.

7. Colombo is not All of Sri Lanka – Do not judge Sri Lanka by the standards of Colombo. Colombo is the commercial capital of the country and is an extremely modern, cosmopolitan city. Do not judge the rest of the country by these standards, though. The rest of Sri Lanka may not boast of the standard of living that Colombo enjoys and most hotels in Kotahena and other parts of Colombo are more luxurious than other parts of the country. Mosquitoes may not be much of a problem in Colombo but do carry repellant lotions when travelling to other parts.

8. Go Local – We highly recommend eating fresh fruits and local produce. Do ensure, however, that you abstain from taking the food that has been left out in the open. If you are in a hurry to get to work hiring a tuk-tuk may be a faster way to reach your destination than hiring a taxi. It is best to get all currency exchange done in Colombo before you travel to other parts of the country. Many establishments in other parts of the country may not accept credit cards.

9. Explore Sri Lanka with Yoho Bed – Whether it is for business or for pleasure, whatever the reason behind your coming to the island nation, you should book your holiday bed with Yoho Bed as it offers standardised accommodation with essential holiday amenities – including free WiFi, clean linen, and complimentary breakfast – at an attractive price. Immerse yourself in the island’s beauty and trip on its less-explored side with Yoho Bed. Happy travels!