Sri Lanka is, on the whole, a safe country to visit. It hasn’t always been, thanks to a long civil war and sporadic terrorist attacks, but government travel advisories have relaxed their travel warnings and Sri Lanka is once again experiencing a huge growth in tourism.
The Sri Lankan Civil War lasted some 25 years from 1983 until 2009. It was fought between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers, who claimed to represent the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka (as opposed to the Sinhalese majority). The vast majority of the fighting took place in the east and north of the country, with more than 100,000 civilians and 50,000 soldiers killed from both sides.
Though the war has ended, the Australian Government warns that there are marked and unmarked minefields in the Northern and Eastern provinces. If travelling through these regions, it’s important to stay on main roads and follow any warning signs.
In April 2019, on Easter Sunday, Islamist militants bombed a series of targets focused in Colombo that killed over 250 people. The targets included churches and high-end hotels and tourism grinded to a halt as a result.
In response to the attacks the Sri Lankan government stepped up security across the country and authorities made several arrests. Operations focused on national security are ongoing.
While the threat of terrorism is ongoing, travel warnings to Sri Lanka have been relaxed. The Australian government recommends avoiding crowded areas, remaining alert, monitoring the media and following the advice of local authorities.
Safety for solo and female travellers
Exercise normal safety precautions if you are visiting as a solo or female traveller. Stay to well-lit areas at night, keep your valuables (especially your passport) safe and travel in groups if you can.
Sri Lanka experiences two monsoon seasons every year: December–March in the north-east, and May–October in the south-west. Flooding and landslides frequently occur, so be open to changing travel plans and monitor local news sources for information