Solo female in Sri Lanka?

Old Apr 12th, 2010, 07:38 AM
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Solo female in Sri Lanka?

I'm really surprised to be writing this, as usually I'm the first to tell worried woman that they'll be fine - just dress conservatively and take normal precautions. Maybe a couple of unpleasant incidents on my recent trip to the Middle East have made me more cautious, but I'm taking the warning in Lonely Planet's "Sri Lanka" more seriously than I otherwise might.

"On the whole women travellers are treated with respect, but we've also received reports of sleazebag behaviour on buses, inappropriate propositioning and sexually explicit name calling."

"Women travelling alone may be hassled while walking around at night, or while exploring isolated places. ... specific feedback about women being physically harassed on the Kandy lakeside at dusk."

And of especial concern to me: "We strongly suggest not travelling on trains alone as we've received warning from women who have been sexually assaulted on such trips."

I took trains round India with no problems. I've taken trains in a lot of places, with just a couple of potentially worrying incidents (Siberia and Ukraine) and had every intention of taking trains in Sri Lanka. Now I'm wondering whether I should take a group tour instead of going solo.

The alternative would be to do as Kathie and Craig did, and book a car and driver, but that always seems excessive for one person - and wouldn't it be expensive?
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 07:44 AM
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Did you write a report on your ME trip as I am thinking of a trip there alone also? I'll be interested to hear the replies to this thread too.
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 07:49 AM
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moremiles - TR here - http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...iddle-east.cfm
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 07:53 AM
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Those are concerning warnings, Thursdays. I'm also one that reassures those women traveling alone, as I've traveled alone all over the world. As you know, we didn't take any trains so I can't comment on that. I can tell you, however, that a car and driver was very cheap... as I remember we paid only about $300 for 10 days.
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 08:01 AM
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Thanks Kathie - I was hoping you or Craig would give me a number - although I suppose it will have gone up some with the price of gas that's certainly very reasonable. I'm not planing to be there until Jan or Feb next year, but I'm trying to get a handle on timing for a long trip, and if I take a tour I'll go to Sri Lanka for two weeks instead of three.

I wasn't worrying too much until I got to the one about the train. Looks and words I can handle, getting physical is another matter entirely.
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 08:16 AM
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The warnings are serious enough so that you won't be able to relax and enjoy. (The official UK warning is: Women should take particular care when travelling alone and carry personal alarms.) Go for a car or tour!
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 09:13 AM
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I'm coming to the same conclusion Marija - it's really unrealistic to hope that that kind of thing will have changed in a few months! If the car and driver is financially viable I'd rather go that route - although I won't be able to afford the places Kathie and Craig stayed at!
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 05:50 PM
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I'm also looking forward to a trip to Sri Lanka next year , most likely solo too. I would have concerns about using public transport anywhere buses/trains etc are overloaded and crowded (too many opportunities for groping not to mention pickpockets). Car and driver is typically my preferred method of touring, although you are correct in that it can be a budget buster.

My last trip to the Middle East was a couple of years ago, and I'm in no hurry to go back at this point. I was actually relieved to be able to change my Sri Lanka flights to go via India rather than the UAE. I was a little more comfortable travelling around India than I was in the Middle East/North Africa.
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Old Apr 13th, 2010, 06:02 AM
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When are you planning to be there, femi? I spent yesterday trying to firm up dates, so I can book award flights, and what I have now gets me into Sri Lanka the second week of January next year. Although I really like to travel solo, I feel a little differently about SL now.

I felt quite safe in India, and in Morocco, so it was a bit of a shock to have problems in Syria and Jordan.
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Old Apr 13th, 2010, 04:50 PM
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If all goes as planned, I hope to be there in February. I'm having a harder time than usual booking this trip through agencies. The lack of responsiveness reminds me of my trip to the Philippines that never got past the planning stage.
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Old Apr 17th, 2010, 02:00 AM
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Hmmm interesting post and very fair questions indeed.

The position and respect granted to women in Sri Lanka is definitley much much better than most ME countries and Pakistan etc. By and large you will experience good standards of courtesy and respect most places in Sri Lanka however as a father of two young daughters I would hasten to tell you that it is not good for a young girl to be out travelling alone on secluded trains/buses - especially a white skinned european/american etc as you will stand out like a fish out of water and attract too much attention from the wrong quarters. Sadly we do have a share of perverts and most of these are cowards who will run a mile with one strong stare and perhaps a few strong confident words. This is something that the government and authorities are very concerned about and there are several educational campaings ongoing at present to educate the public about not harrassing and pestering tourists etc.

That said, I think Sri Lanka is fine for a reasonably seasoned solo woman traveller, western style dressing is quite acceptable. You must definitely use a private car/driver/guide, stay in reputable establishmnets and ideally work with a reliable local travel agency who will overlook all your arrangements.
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Old Apr 17th, 2010, 02:05 AM
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"Women travelling alone may be hassled while walking around at night, or while exploring isolated places. ... "

Wouldn't this hold true for many big cities around the world!
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Old Apr 17th, 2010, 05:25 AM
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"You must definitely use a private car/driver/guide, stay in reputable establishmnets and ideally work with a reliable local travel agency who will overlook all your arrangements." - but if it's fine for a "reasonably seasoned solo woman traveller" why do I need a travel agency and driver? I've traveled in India without either.

""Women travelling alone may be hassled while walking around at night, or while exploring isolated places. ... "

Wouldn't this hold true for many big cities around the world!"

I wouldn't do it in the US, but I would in Europe, China, Japan... And aside from Colombo, would you say the cities in Sri Lanka are really big?

Thanks for the feedback. I'm 60+ (although I'm told I look younger) and dress conservatively. Would you still expect me to have trouble on, say, the train from Colombo to Galle, or the express from Kandy to Colombo?
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Old Apr 17th, 2010, 08:17 AM
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thursday, if it's any help - three trips to Sri Lanka; I've never heard of any instance of any of this. But then, I'm not meeting many ladies doing it alone by train.

As for: 'You must definitely use a private car/driver/guide, stay in reputable establishments and ideally work with a reliable local travel agency who will overlook all your arrangements...'

I don't think you need that, thursday. Sri Lanka is easy. Actually, I don't think this whole issue is a problem for you at all. I've been ploughing thru the Middle East on your site today... ptooey, you can deal with anything Sri Lanka throws up.

Very nice train ride, I hear; Colombo to Kandy, Kandy to Newara Eliya. I think you can go further one stop inland as well. You can get an overpriced local driver from wherever you end up down to the coast when you're ready and hop in self-contained legs around the coast from Yala to Colombo. Easy. I did some of them in a tuk-tuk, which I really loved.
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Old Apr 17th, 2010, 08:43 AM
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Thanks dogster! I think I may go check on Lonely Planet - train-riding women might be thicker on the ground there. Although Kathie's driver seems to have been fairly reasonable.

Cool that you're reading my stuff instead of the other way round! You were at the back of my mind when I walked out of the Aleppo flea bag at nine at night.
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Old May 5th, 2013, 05:34 AM
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Thanks for the info. Im traveling there on my own this month and now its clearer that i will use a prívate car. Ill be there until may 27th in case anyone is searching for a travel buddy!
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 04:46 AM
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Hello!!

Any female traveler who has been to the South of Sri Lanka lately?

It is my first solo trip and I am a bit concerned with all the warnings from friends and family. I thought the south was safer than other parts of the country?

Any advice much appreciated, thank you!!
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 06:12 AM
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How lately? I was there at the beginning of 2011 and I thought it was fine.
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 01:11 PM
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All of Sri Lanka is now safe for travel. Your friends must not have heard that the war has been over for several years now.
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Old Nov 18th, 2013, 01:26 PM
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Wars may end but that doesn't necessarily make it safe for solo females. Think India.
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