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Doing Business in Sri Lanka (with description)

Flag of Sri Lanka
Advice on Local Conventions: Keep an eye on the ground while walking. There are open sewers to watch out for, as well as gooey red splotches (the end product of well-masticated betel nut).

Itís best to wear closed-toe shoes.

Do take in a Singhalese or Tamil musical performance at night. Many hotels offer dinner and performance packages, which sometimes include fire-walking

Do handle all security delays as the Sri Lankans doówith a smile.

Do try arrack, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented coconut milk.

Do send postcards from post offices, and ask the attendant to cancel the stamp, or itís unlikely the postcard will reach its destination.

Do be aware that not all "gem museums" in Ratnapura are true museumsósome are nothing more than showrooms.

Do take along toiletries, cosmetics, medicine and film.

Do declare all currency and travelerís checks upon arrival. Change money only with authorized dealers (not on the black market), and keep all currency-exchange receipts to show upon departure.

Do watch your stepóSri Lanka leads the world in death by snake bite per capita..

Donít approach men who are crouching alone. At first glance they may appear to be entranced in prayer, but they are probably relieving themselves.

Donít buy the Sri Lankan version of fast foodóthe curried lamb, fish or vegetables wrapped in newspaper. Their cleanliness is marginal.

Donít drink tropical fruit juices except in clean restaurants.

Donít wear skimpy clothing at holy sites or on city streets.

Donít expect to find a line at a bank, post office or anywhere else. Sri Lankans donít form lines, so donít be shy about pushing forward.

Donít wander into the countryside without first checking locally to see if itís safe.

Donít forget to take off your shoes if you enter a temple or mosque.

Donít take pictures of people unless you ask their permission.

Donít take photos of people if there are religious buildings or shrines in the background (posing next to a Buddha is especially frowned upon).

Donít take photos of military installations, bridges, airports or other strategic areas. Even some religious buildings have camouflaged gun emplacements and military bunkers.