Sri Lankan culture is unique thanks to a blend of ancient traditions, influences from South India, and their colonial past. The island boasts a history going as far back as 2,000 year ago, meaning the traditions developed across this span of time are closely intertwined with everyday life for Sri Lankans. The country was first colonized by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, and eventually the British. You can see the many remnants of these colonial times when walking down Portuguese-named streets, passing by beautiful houses carefully preserved with colonial architecture, tasting delicious dishes such as lamprais (rice, meat curries, and other delights wrapped in a banana leaf) and and ismoru (beef curry), daily teatime traditions, and more.
To speak of Sri Lankan culture is to also speak of their religion, which is predominantly Buddhist. Holidays are governed by the lunar calendar, and every full moon (poya) day is a public holiday. On these days it is forbidden to serve or drink alcohol, so be prepared and research the month’s poya day before visiting. Sri Lanka is also a more conservative country as a result of religion’s large presence on the population, so make sure you remember to dress appropriately. Covered knees and shoulders are the general trend around the island, which is especially true when entering a religious temple. Also, when walking back to your hotel from the beach, covering yourself back up is appreciated by locals.
Sri Lanka bursts at the seams with rich traditions and culture, and we hope you love experiencing them during your time here as much as we love sharing them with you.