Sri Lanka Travel Tips

We warmly welcome you to Sri Lanka.

You have quite a lot to explore in this petite island, before you do take few minutes read these travel tips which will be very useful to you!

Time Difference

Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT.

Airport

There is only one international airport in Sri Lanka and that is the Bandaranaika International Airport, 35 km north of Colombo, and 6 km off Negombo.

Visa

All Holiday or Business travelers to Sri Lanka must have Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for entering into Sri Lanka. Please visit www.eta.gov.lk for more information. When applying ETA by third parties payments are to be made through the arran

Business Visit Visa

A Business Visa is issued to foreign nationals who visit Sri Lanka for business purposes for short periods of time. This visa may be issued for single, double or multiple journeys.

Visit Visa

A Visit Visa is an entry permit to Sri Lanka for visiting purposes. The Visa contains details of the period of time and the conditions of the stay. There are two sub-categories which come under visit visas.

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Business Visit Visa

A Business Visa is issued to foreign nationals who visit Sri Lanka for business purposes for short periods of time. This visa may be issued for single, double or multiple journeys.

Regarding visa information, you can contact the official source for visas and immigration in Sri Lanka.
Department of Immigration and Emigration
Ananda Rajakaruna Mawatha,
Maradana,
Colombo 10.
Tel: +94-11-5329000 / +94-11-5329316/20/21/25
www.immigration.gov.lk

Culture

Many Sri Lankans greet each other with the phrase “Ayubowan”. It is a simple way of greeting which means “may you live long”, a unique way of praying for your health. Why not learn few basic phrases while you are here, add some new words for your vocabulary. More of simple phrases you can easily learn;

“Isthuthi” – Thank you.

“Kohomada” – How are you?

“Koheda”- Where?

“Puluwan” – Can do.

“Keeyada” – How much?

“Hondai” – Good.

“Lassanai” – Beautiful.

 

  • Sri Lankans are known to be extremely friendly with everyone. We will definitely treat you with our smiles that comes from the bottom of our hearts, being forever grateful for visiting our tiny yet beautiful island. Don’t hold back yourself, connect more with us, we will help you create unforgettable memories.

 

Authentic Food/ Rice And Curry

  • When you’re visiting Sri Lanka give it a try to local, authentic foods and street food. Sri Lankan Food culture is a mix of different cultures. Rice and Curry is the most basic meal for most of Sri Lankans which they have as a main course. You can have steamed or boiled rice with fish or meat curry with vegetable curries and fruit curries (Mango Curry / Ambarella Curry is divine!) However, you should keep in mind usually Sri Lankan curries are rich in spices, hot and tangy. If you think you can’t tolerate spicy food always go for mild curries and you can basically have a decent rice and curry anywhere in the country. If you can eat Rice and Curry by your right hand rather than using cutlery you’ll delight your local hosts as well as bonding with them.

 

  • Some other culinary options that are available for you to try are, Seasonal fruits, Curd and Treacle, Local Beverages, Kottu, Roti, Pittu, String Hoppers, Hoppers, Naan, Helapa, Coconut and Honey Pancakes mostly originated from rice, whole-wheat flour coconut, wheat and lentils.

Water

Tap water is not safe in Sri Lanka. Make sure to drink bottled water or filtered water. Avoid using ice made form tap water, as well.

Clothing

We have a very unique cultural differences than other countries. Our national Dress is something outstanding. Back in the days Sri Lankan men used long sleeves white shirts along with sarongs or white shirts with long trouser whereas for ladies Saree or Osari.

  • Since Sri Lanka is a tropical country packing up some cotton clothes along with swimwear (if you’re planning to pay a visit to our mesmerizing sandy beaches) is recommended. Other than that mosquito repellents, sun cream with a sun protection factor of minimum 15, hats and sunglasses will keep you safe from the sun.
  • When your exploring the cities casual clothing is fine but not in a provocative way where you’ll get into uncomfortable situations. Likewise, if you are visit any religious places wearing white clothes (long sleeve or mid sleeve blouses/ long skirts or loose pants or trousers) recommended for both ladies and gentlemen. 

 Ethnic Groups

  • In 1505 Sri Lanka was invaded by Portuguese and afterwards Dutch and British invaders. Thereafter Sri Lanka became diversified with ethnic groups. Currently there are 74.9% Sinhalese, 11.2% Sri Lankan Tamils, 4.6% Indian Tamils, 7.2% Moors and 1.8% of other ethnic groups.
  • Even though there were a lot of rumors spread around the world about a war it was nearly a conflict between ethnic groups. But as a country we have risen together strong as ever and you’ll also be mesmerized by the harmony and unity we have among us during hard times.

Adaptors

  • When travelling to Sri Lanka it would be much comfortable for you if you can bring a universal travel adapter with you to avoid the hassle. But in most of the hotel you will find two kind of sockets –type D/M (round sockets) and other type is G sockets (rectangular prongs) which will easily fit UK plugs.

 

Communication

  • If you are planning on exploring our island for a few days or weeks, you will surely want to make some calls and share your experiences on social media despite of your current location, although every hotel provide WI-FI, most of the WI-FI provided in the public places aren’t that strong, so we recommend the tourists to purchase a SIM card from the airport itself. There are attractive packages starting from $10 where you get around 9 GB and calls worthy of Rs. 350, which will allow you to access any website, social media as your heart desires.

Recommended service providers, Dialog, Mobitel …

 Transportation

  • Tuk Tuk

Tuk tuks are very common in Sri Lanka, you can literally find tuks anywhere at any time, especially in the tourists destinations. Even if you are tempted to take the bus, it can get tricky at times, and if you get lost it would take you some time to get back on track, so we recommend using tuk tuks, that also tuks with a meter fixed on, we don’t want you getting overcharged. Uber and Pick me is very popular in Sri Lanka at the moment and you can order a tuk from these apps too. That way there is no way you will be getting overcharged.

 

  • Trains

If you are intending on visiting Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella, and Jaffna or down south, taking a train would give you an amazing experience. Passing all the beautiful mountains and long dark tunnels if you are going to Nuwara Eliya, Ella or the sea breeze along with breathtaking views of beaches if you are going to down south. The main railway station Colombo Fort has train time tables which are pretty easy to understand and there is a train schedule online as well, in any case you can always seek help of the locals around, we will gladly assist you, if you are lucky enough you will find a friendly companion to accompany you along the way.

 

  • Domestic Flights.

It’s true we are a petite island, but we do have domestic flights facility for anyone who is willing to pay a little extra. It’s a bit expensive here as there are a very limited companies that provide this service. You can use a domestic flight to go to destinations like Arugam Bay as it will take more than half a day to go there if you are starting your journey from Colombo. Also you can fly to Nuwara Eliya which will give you an amazing bird view of our beautiful country.  Few operating domestic flights;

Cinnamon air for scheduled flights | Charter flights | Senok aviation for helicopter services.

  • Good tips

Giving a good tip solely depend on you. If you are satisfied with the service given, why not give a tip as a token of appreciation, it is not a must but sometimes people do expect it. If you are travelling alone without a guide and like a bit of adventure you will definitely engage in few hiking activities. For an example if you are planning on visiting Diyaluma waterfall and climbing on to the top of it, you will need a helping hand from a local by the village next to it, they will surely assist you but they will be expecting a small fee for taking you up there, but do not worry, the view is definitely worth it!!

Sri Lankan Currency And Atm Facilities

  • Currency

You can always exchange your cash from the Bandaranayke International Airport, as it is more trustworthy than outside shops, and they have the updated selling rate and you will not get fraud in any way. We always recommend our clients to use this service.

  • ATM

Not all ATMS accept foreign cards and neither do small local shops. It would be easier if you can keep some cash with you at times like this. There are many street food you can enjoy along the way inside trains and buses and they will not accept credit/ debit cards. Most of the banks in Sri Lanka close at 1500 hrs. which is quite early compared to international standards, but there are few super branches which are open 24/7 but those are mostly in Colombo. Our ATMS accept,

Visa cards

Master cards.

Wild And Stray Animals

  • Surely you cannot resist when you see a cute dog, cat or even a monkey wandering around and coming to you when you have some food, as much as your heart melt down, please be very careful because most of these stray animals have rabies and they are not being given any vaccinations, if they bite you it could cause trouble and you will need to get some vaccinations as well. Same goes with wild animals when you are on safaris. Some are not used to humans at all. I am sure you are familiar with term “wild animals cannot be tamed” so better to be safe.

If you come across any injured stray animal while you are on tour, do not hesitate to contact Embark, a foundation which rescues stray animals and find them forever homes.

 

Health/ Mediacal Information

  • In case you get sick or get exposed to viruses in Sri Lanka here’s some of the major public and private hospitals you can get medical attention. If you want to avoid queues and hassle we recommend private hospitals. And most of the hotels in Colombo has emergency medical services just for you!

Emergency Ambulance Contact Number    1990

 

  • Public Hospitals

National Hospital in Sri Lanka – Colombo

Karapitiya Teaching Hospital – Galle

Peradeniya General Hospital – Peradeniya

 

  • Private Hospitals

Asiri Central Hospital – Colombo 10

Asiri Hospital – Colombo 05

Lanka Hospitals – Colombo 05

Durdans Hospital – Colombo 03

Nawaloka Hospital – Colombo 02

Asiri Hospital – Matara

Asiri Hospital – Galle

Ruhuna Hospital – Galle

Corporative Hospital – Galle

 

Here’s some of the commonly recommended vaccinations for you for a short-term visit.

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • Typhoid

 

Another important medical factor is carrying mosquito repellents. It is known that after a heavy rainfall Malaria and Dengue spreads within the Country. Cause prevention is better than cure!

 

Nightlife

  • If you want to have a walk at the night Colombo is the most recommended city for it. Sea breeze from Galle Face Green surrounded by pubs, restaurants, night clubs and casinos are there to accompany you for an unforgettable night. Here’s some of amazing places you can have fun;
  • Bally’s Casino
  • Casino Marino Colombo
  • Stardust Casino
  • Bellagio Colombo
  • Rhythm and Blue
  • Jims Poker Room
  • Cleopatra Night Club
  • Tap House

 

Alcohol

  • You will see that there are so many wine stores in every major city/ town Sri Lanka, even though it says “wine” store, it mostly sells spirits, arrack and beers that also mostly Sri Lankan ones. If you want good branded wine and spirits you can always go to a super markets with a bar which is quite cheaper than the ones they sell at hotels and restaurants.
  • All the Sri Lankan bars and wine stores are closed on Poya days as a tradition but that doesn’t mean you cannot have a small drink and have a good time, just make sure you buy it day before the Poya day.

 

Tattoos

  • There are so many tattoo parlors in Sri Lanka situated in major tourist destinations such as Colombo, Galle, Hikkaduwa and Unwatuna. If you want to take a memory back to your homeland inked on your skin, make sure you go to a good place, check on social media, check the reviews and decide for yourself whether they use hygienic needles and etc. we don’t want you catching any diseases when you came to have a nice experience
  • Sri Lanka is country where many devoted Buddhists live. So if you have a tattoo of Lord Buddha, please be kind enough to cover it up when you visit Sri Lanka as people find it offensive and you might get into uncomfortable situations. And there have been cases where some got arrested and sent back because of these, so please consider this request for your safety.

 

Photography

  • Our island offers so many beautiful scenic views that are perfect for photography purposes. But there are some restrictions in some places due to security reasons and due to copy right issues. There are warnings posted in these places so make sure you look for them or you can simply ask someone around whether you are allowed to take pictures.
  • Like mentioned above, Sri Lanka is a country with a lot of Buddhists, there are certain restrictions in some religious places and make sure you don’t pose next to Buddha statues and selfies aren’t allowed with Buddha statues which are considered disrespectful.

 

Climate

  • Being a tropical country Sri Lanka offers sunshine and warmth throughout the year. Basic temperature in Colombo is 28 – 32 C.
  • Though you have to understand rainfall is unpredictable. Sri Lanka faces two monsoons throughout the year.

The South-west Monsoon: May/June

TheNorth-east Monsoon:  December to February

So, we advise you to check the whether thoroughly before planning your itinerary.

Sustainability

  • In Sri Lanka sustainability is a long-term goal. If you want to stay at an eco-friendly hotel there are several options in Sri Lanka you can try. From supermarkets to five-star luxury properties sustainability is in practice.