When traveling to a developing country, health and safety are always a concern. Sri Lanka is a completely different country from developed countries in Europe and North America, which is why Western tourists should prepare for the shock of encountering so many “strange” yet delightfully new things. A vacationer’s health in Sri Lanka may greatly be affected by the local food, climate and bugs. Meeting a new culture and experiencing a new way of life is after all one of the thrills when traveling.
Local dishes are definitely much, much hotter than typical Western cuisine. In most cases and depending on a tourist’s palate, the hotter and more savory a food gets, the more delicious. Even the simple rice and curry, staple food for Sri Lankans, is very spicy. Food is cheap and deliciously tempting, but tourists who are not used to eating really spicy foods may have a difficult time ingesting devilled prawns in fiery grated coconut, lime juice and red chili powder. This delicious meal and other equally delicious dishes could cause diarrhea and other stomach problems, which could inevitably ruin anyone’s vacation.
Foreign tourists must also avoid drinking from the tap. It is always best to carry bottled water, which does not only guarantee clean water but also helps one rehydrate from the extremely dehydrating hot weather. Hygiene is also a health concern when dining in local food joints. There are a number of interesting food places all over Colombo but to play it safe, Western tourists may dine at the more expensive restaurants or familiar Western brands such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and so on.
Meanwhile, pesky bugs, especially mosquitoes, are always a concern not only because they are annoyingly irritating and smelly, but also for the fact that they are serious health hazards. Getting the itch is the least of the problems and the most serious once are malaria, dengue and yellow fevers. These are dangerous health threats but they could be avoided by simply putting on mosquito repellants, avoiding dark and damp areas, and taking the applicable shots before flying to Sri Lanka. Each of these fevers could lead to death; fortunately, health care in Sri Lanka has addressed these problems quite efficiently that there have not been many cases of these fevers these days.
Nobody wants to travel across the globe, pack all kinds of vacation clothes and gadgets only to end up sick inside a hotel room and wanting to take the next flight back home. This may be avoided by simply refusing “unfriendly” foods, non-hygienic food joints, and tap water for drink, as well as rehydrating regularly with bottled water and observing healthy habits such as taking vitamins, not sleeping too late and not drinking too much. If one does get sick, there are several hospitals and clinics that competently look after one’s health in Sri Lanka. The leading government hospitals are the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Police Hospital and Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital; private hospitals, New Philip Hospital, Pearl Hospital, and Oasis Hospital; and military hospitals, Colombo Military Hospital, Colomb Naval Hospital and Air Force Hospital.