Sri Lanka: A kinder, gentler and more peaceful version of India
Sri Lanka shares the same depth in history, culture, and tradition that India does but Sri Lanka isn’t intimidating for visitors. The food in Sri Lanka was exceptional, I don’t know how to explain the food – it’s like Indian food but better.
As with Taiwan, I found religion plays a major role in how society behaves. With a predominantly Buddhist population, the Buddhist teachings are woven into daily life and actually practiced.
Traffic, pollution and chaos are present in Sri Lanka in similar force as its neighbor to the north but there’s an underlying calmness and peace. People respect each other and daily life is lived with a sense of mindfulness. I approached the tuk-tuk drivers with resentment but found out they did not rip me off like their Indian counterparts because I was a foreigner. On average, I paid about 5% more for tuk-tuks than the locals in Sri Lanka, majority of the time I paid the same as locals. In India I paid at least 75 – 100% more than locals. I was often approached by Sri Lankans just because they were curious and wanted to ask me questions, not to try to sell me something or con me out of money. Shop owners will not harass you or try to intimidate you into buying something. If you say you are just browsing, they will leave you alone. Locals bought me tea so they can sit down and learn more about where I’m from. The accommodations I stayed in always had my safety in mind since I was a solo traveler, they also went out of their way to ensure I was paying the best price. One guest house talked me out of paying 9,000 rupees for a private car and drove me to the bus station so I could get the A/C bus from Anuradhapura to Kandy for 330 rupees. The driver showed up at the guest house to pick me up but was completely understanding when I said I was going to take the bus.
I recommend doing homestays in Sri Lanka, you’ll get delicious home cooked meals and a glimpse into daily life. The Sri Lankans will take you in as family and ensure your trip goes smoothly as possible. People have gone out of their way to arrange tours, tuk-tuks, and assist with travel plans – plus they will ensure you save money! The two exceptional ones I stayed at were the Grand Traverse 10 in Negombo and Sherene’s Homestay in Kandy. Both can be found on Airbnb.
I experienced no harassment of any kind in Sri Lanka, which is a stark difference when traveling in Northern India when traveling as a solo female. Go to Sri Lanka for beautiful beaches, great food and hassle free travel!