In Sri Lanka, culture and customs are held in high regard as a tourist entering the country, the least we can do is respect their culture. Buddhism is actually the main religion covering 70% of the population.
Showing respect starts from the moment you start packing your suitcase, make sure you pack appropriate clothing especially females, pack t shirts that cover your shoulders and knees.
The reason why we say this is because throughout your Sri Lanka Experience you will be visiting a number of temples; the Temple of the tooth, which is one of the most important temples in Sri Lanka as it is said to hold one tooth from Buddha himself, you will also be visiting one of the most important temples in the country that dates back 1900 years, you will also be teaching English at a monastery school so it is important to take note.
If you don't have many items of clothing that will cover your knees a cheeky tip would be to carry a Sarong in your bag with you at all times. I am so grateful that on our trip we were provided with one to have in our bags as you never know when you would cross a temple. You could be in the middle of a hike and just happen to pass a temple, even if it’s for a few seconds it shows huge respect to cover your knees and shoulders also removing your hats and shoes. On our trip a monk even came out of the temple to thank us all for showing respect.
I suggest researching your plans for the day to find out if you will be passing any temples, If in doubt ask a local guide.
Not only could your clothing show disrespect but your actions too.
Make sure never to turn your back to a statue of Buddha. On our trip we observed a lot of people taking photos with their back to the Buddha which is very disrespectful. I am sure travellers do not do it intentionally its just down to lack of knowledge which is why we need to use the power of social media to spread awareness to promote positive tourism in this beautiful country.
As travellers we are all very guilty with being snap happy, trying to get the perfect picture for ‘the gram’ but take into account your surroundings. Many temples are forbidden to take photos inside so please refrain from doing so. Look out for signs or if in doubt ask a locaI.
If you want to come to Sri Lanka but lack the confidence to travel without showing respect, travelling with a organised group will help you and that is what they are there to do to guide you through the country in a respectful way to allow you to enjoy your travels.