Placing the palms together and bowing slightly is a traditional greeting in Sri Lanka. // © 2016 iStock
Feature image (above): Sri Lanka has many elephant nature preserves. // © 2016 iStock
The island nation of Sri Lanka has all the makings of a great vacation and is a wonderful way to experience South Asia for the first time — as long as you’re ready to live like a true Sri Lankan.
Know How to Respectfully Great Someone
Although locals are generally familiar with Western-style handshakes and greetings, there is a proper way to say hello in Sinhalese. The verbal greeting ayubowan is accompanied by a slight bow and placing the palms together in true namaste fashion. And if shaking hands, it is a sign of respect for visitors to place their left hand on their right forearm.
Practice Religious Etiquette in Sacred Places
Approximately 70 percent of Sri Lankans are practicing Buddhists. When visiting a temple, both men and women must remove footwear and wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees. Photography inside the temple is generally allowed, but it is considered rude for the subject of the photo to stand with his or her back to Buddha.
Hands Come in Handy
Although utensils are available at most restaurants, you’ll see locals eating dahl (lentil) curry, rice and other delicacies with the first four fingers of the right hand (left hands are used for dirtier forms of business).