Sri Lanka is a land known for its warm and friendly nature. Throughout the years this little island has grown into a top tourist destination welcoming counts of travellers on a daily basis. As you too get set to explore the wonders of this beautiful little island, you might want to brush up on your skills on how to mingle with the locals while on holiday.
This is important because sometimes sticking to activities and itineraries specially designed for tourists, well (to be honest), kind of gets too ‘touristy’. This is where the art of mingling with locals comes in handy. To help you enjoy the true sense and feel of what it is like to be Sri Lankan, we recommend you try the following tips that will help you meet locals while traveling and enjoy better ways to experience local culture during travel.
- Pick up a bit of Sinhala or Tamil
When you travel to any part of the world, one of the most helpful things you could do is to learn to speak the native language. Just a few basic phrases you can slot in as part of your conversation would be quite helpful during a conversation with locals.
Depending on where you choose to travel to in Sri Lanka, you will find the locals conversing in either Sinhala or Tamil. So here are a few basic Sinhala terms you could use during a conversation.
- Ayubowan – a warm greeting wishing long life to the person you greet. Often expressed while joining your hands together in a prayer-like manner.
- Bohomo Sthoothi – thank you (very much)
- Sama venna – Apologies / Excuse me
- Karuna karala – Please
- Mage nama <name> – My name is <add name>
- Oyage nama mokakda? – What is your name?
- Ow – Yes
- Naha – No
Also, don’t worry too much about pronouncing words with an accent. It’s quite clear that you are a foreigner; it is your effort that will be valued.
- Stay with locals
This is one of the best ways to guarantee you get to spend time with locals. Take a look at some of the high quality accommodation options we feature in popular tourist hotspots like Bentota, Colombo, Kandy and many more where you can pick from a number of cozy home stays to affordable hotels that will give you all the more opportunities to mingle with locals.
- Hangout where locals do
You probably would look to invest in a pre planned tour with the hope of exploring the wonders of Sri Lanka. But to get a true sense of daily living you might want to venture out and discover some of the popular hideouts where locals go to spend time. These include local market places, cafes and parks. Here you would be able to put your local language skills to use and gather some new information too. Visiting local marketplaces offer many other attractive benefits as well. You will be able to grab some great deals, shop for authentic items and chat with local vendors in the process to learn more about the industries they are involved in.
- Use public transportation
In one way, using public transportation is quite cheap. On the other hand you get a chance to mingle with quite a number of locals along the way. As you go on your sightseeing tours, hop on board a bus or train and experience the true sense of everyday living in Sri Lanka. But we strongly advise you to avoid rush hours as public transport gets crowded and you might have to endure violent shoves rather than getting the opportunity to mingle with locals (who would also not quite be interested in doing so!)
These are just a few tips to help you get started. Sri Lankans are very friendly by nature and always willing to help. So all you need to do is be confident in yourself and be open to new experiences. This way you could get to know more about what it is like to live in Sri Lanka and embrace its unique culture.
Subha Gaman! (Safe journey!)