Immerse yourself in the Sri Lankan way of life with our guide to the etiquette, culture and customs of beautiful Sri Lanka;
Sri Lanka Essential Facts
Location: Southern Asia, Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean and is south of India
Climate: Tropical monsoon; northeast monsoon (December to March); southwest monsoon (June to October)
Population: 20 million
Language: Sinhala, also called Sinhalese or Singhalese, Tamil
Religion: Buddhism and Hinduism
Read the full Sri Lanka Travel Guide and then search for a Sri Lanka holiday to suit you, whether you’re looking for culture, history or wildlife.
Sri Lanka Etiquette and Customs
Greetings: Older Sri Lankans will use the “namaste” greeting, where palms are clasped together as if in prayer at chin level with a slight nod of the head and younger Sri Lankans normally shake hands.
Gifts: Gifts are given in Sri Lanka on birthdays and religions holidays and are often low-key and inexpensive and are symbolic. Don’t give flowers as a gift as they are used in mourning, don’t give alcohol if you’re not certain if your host drinks and don’t give leather gifts to Hindus. Do give and receive gifts with two hands.
Dining: Meal times in Sri Lankan are family and friend orientated and dining tips include not putting elbows on the table, use your right hand to eat and leave a small amount of food on your plate to indicate that you have had sufficient.
Business Meetings: Sri Lankan business etiquette is quite formal with handshakes being the norm and usually firm. Use people’s titles and be aware that women may not want to shake hands with a man.
Business Cards: Exchange business cards with two hands and ensure your title and qualifications are on your card as these are important to Sri Lankans.
Communications: Ensure you maintain face whilst in Sri Lanka; avoid rudeness, confrontations and never criticise.
Business Etiquette: Sri Lankans are very fond of building relationships and getting to know you better as a person.