5 Typical Things To Do While Volunteering In Sri Lanka

Pick any travel blog and it would be suggesting you to try and travel like a local. Frankly, it is a volunteer travel that has helped me achieve this feat in the truest sense. During my recent visit for Sri Lanka volunteering , I managed to pick up a few Sri Lankan habits and learnt typical things a Sri Lankan does. This gave me a glimpse into the culture and traditions of this South Asian island country.

Every year, a number of gap year students travel to volunteer abroad in developing or underdeveloped countries; each with their own agenda. For me, volunteer traveling is the means to learn about a destination thoroughly and unearth the cultural secrets.

So, if you are planning a volunteer trip to Sri Lanka, here are a few things you must try and do to gel in with the natives.

Top 5 Things To Do In Your Sri Lanka Volunteering Trip

Kelaniya Temple, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka volunteering
Kelaniya Temple, Sri Lanka. Flickr: Dilan Damith Prasanga’s / CC BY-NC 2.0

Learn About Buddhism From The Monks

More than 70% of the population in Sri Lanka are Theravada Buddhist, making it the major religion in the country. One can find a plethora of Buddhist monasteries and temples within the region.

One should, certainly, utilize the free time from volunteer work and visit some of these monasteries.

These are inhibited by monks, who are not only the caretakers but also the teachers to young monks. You’d be astonished to find how cooperative these monks are to answer all your questions about Buddhism and its whereabouts.

This is a must in your Sri Lanka volunteering trip.

Young monks. Sri Lanka Volunteering
Young monks

Try Your Hands On Staple Sri Lankan Diet

Being a coastal country, seafood is a common entity in a typical Sri Lankan platter. What goes along with it is rice, cooked in coconut milk and salad.

Rice and curry is the staple meal in Sri Lanka, which is something you’d realize soon into your Sri Lanka volunteering days. Typically, the food in this country is consumed with hands, and the use of spoons and forks are very limited.

Sri Lankan curry and rice. Sri Lanka volunteering
Sri Lankan curry and rice. Flickr: Martin Sejba / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

So, while you are there, try your hands on learning how to cook this staple meal of Sri Lanka, and not just using your hands to eat it!

Hit The Beaches Often

Being an island nation, it is only as apparent to find a series of pristine beaches in Sri Lanka.

Fortunate coincidence for me that I was volunteering in Colombo, which is home to some of the best white sand beaches in Sri Lanka. The Galle Face Green is a half a kilometer long sea facing park, where people gather in huge numbers every evening; a great place to relax after a hard working day at volunteer placement in Sri Lanka.

Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Arugam Bay, and Tangalle are some of the other beaches located at a short driving distance from Colombo, and are great spot to satiate your beach craving.

Arugam Bay. Sri Lanka volunteering
Arugam Bay. Flickr: Dhammika Heenpella / CC BY-NC 2.0

Make Friends With Elephants

The Southeast Asian countries are known for their love and reverence for elephants; the same is the case in Sri Lanka.

Asian elephants make a significant part of a typical Sri Lankan lifestyle in some or the other way. If I remember correctly, the placement agency I volunteered through in Sri Lanka also offered elephant conservation volunteer program.

There were volunteers working for that program who shared their experience with the rest of us during evening free time. I understood that it was an opportunity to get close to these giants and be friends with them over the period of time.

One can learn how to handle and communicate with these elephants from their owners (mahouts).


Go Fishing The Sri Lankan Way

While taking a stroll at any of the beaches, there are high chances that you may witness a row of natives clung on a wooden pole with sticks in hand, glaring inside the waters.

These are stilt fishermen, trying to earn their bread for the day. Stilt fishing is a traditional form of fishing in Sri Lanka, being practiced from ages. One can try and experience this form of fishing as well.

Not only is it an adventurous activity, but also will let you learn about this age old way of fishing.

Sri Lanka stilt fishing. Sri Lanka volunteering
Sri Lanka stilt fishing. Flickr: Thomas Keller / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sri Lanka has always remained an underdog of travel destinations. But, a Sri Lanka volunteering trip will certainly take you through a joy ride of typical Sri Lankan lifestyle and make way for local living.

These were my list of 5 typical Sri Lankan things to try while on a voluntour in Sri Lanka. What’s yours?

About Dronacharya

After completing his engineering in electrical, Dave forayed into the world of communication leaving behind his 9-5 job in IT. This brought him closer to his passion of traveling and exploring places. Today, he lives life of a vagabond and loves to share his experiences with the world. When not writing or traveling, you can find him lazying on his couch watching the Breaking Bad

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2 Responses

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  2. Avatar for Dronacharya


    Those are really wonderful things to do in Sri Lanka. I highly recommend you spend your time on the Sri Lanka beaches. The country has the best beaches in the World. The Bentota beach on the south west coast, is a popular honeymoon destination and popular for water sports like surfing, diving etc. The Hikkaduwa Beach near Galle, is known for coral reefs, beach walk, water sports, boat rides in the lagoon etc. Unawatuna Beach and Tangalle beach are other beaches on the South coast of Sri Lanka to explore on a holiday. The Nilaveli beach, Arugam Bay beach, Casurina Beach and Passikuda beach in East and North coasts are also not to be missed out on a holiday to Sri Lanka.

    Other than the beaches, there are lots and lots that Sri Lanka has to offer and allow you to relax.



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