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!
In most of the hotels in Sri Lanka, you will usually find two kinds of plug sockets – one with round holes (type D/M)and the other with rectangular prongs, which can easily fit UK plugs (type G socket). If you are still unsure, it’s always advisable to carry around a universal travel adapter.
There is only one international airport in Sri Lanka and that is the Bandaranayke International Airport, 35 km north of Colombo, and 6 km off Negombo.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Cotton clothes are useful at any time of the year but you will need light woollens for the hills and waterproof clothing or an umbrella. Modest dress for women is advisable especially off the beach and when visiting religious sites. Don’t forget comfortable shoes, sandals or trainers and cotton socks. If you are planning to trek and climb go prepared with suitable gear. Water sports enthusiasts would do well to take their snorkels and diving equipment along.
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.
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?
“Puluwan” – Can do.
“Keeyada” – How much?
“Hondai” – Good.
“Lassanai” – Beautiful.
“Samawenna” – Sorry.
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.
Customs Duty – Free Allowances
Import on arrival: visitors to Sri Lanka are officially required to declare all currencies, valuable equipment, jewellery and gems etc. so they can be taken back on departure. Visitors are not allowed to bring in goods in commercial quantities or prohibited / restricted goods in commercial quantities
- 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.
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!!
Health/ Medical 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
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!
All the top hotels offer a one-day laundry service, although prices vary widely. Cheaper launderettes are available in most towns, although quality is inconsistent.
Mobile Phone Data
- 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 …
The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, divided into 100 cents (you rarely come across scents today). Currency notes are Rs.5,000, Rs2,000, Rs1,000, Rs500, Rs100, Rs50, Rs20 and Rs10. Beware of mistaking the Rs500 note for the somewhat similar Rs100 one. To check whether notes are genuine when not given at a bank, look for a lion watermark. Coins, should you have receive them, will be in denominations up to Rs10. Make sure you have plenty of lower denomination notes (Rs50, Rs100, Rs500), especially when travelling and you need to buy small items, fruit, and eat cheap meals, because change is often hard to come by apart from at hotels and big shops.
Visitors bringing into Sri Lanka an excess of $,10,000 in any foreign currency should declare the amount to customs on arrival, to allow that much to be taken out again. Keep exchange receipts so you can easily exchange excess rupees back into foreign currency on departure.
Banking Hours : All banks in the country open for the public from 0900hrs to 1300hrs from Monday to Friday, but some banks have extended their opening hours until 1500hrs and are also open on Saturday. There are ATMs for obtaining cash with credit or debit cards in every town: look for the sign equivalent to the one on your card. Some ATMs do not return the card. Some ATMs do not return the card until after the transaction is completed, so don’t pocket the cash and leave without collecting your card.
- 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
- 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.
In general the threats to personal security for travelers in Sri Lanka are remarkably small. It is more pleasant to travel with a companion as it is advised not to travel alone especially after dark. The island including the North and East is safe to visit. If you have anything stolen, report it to the tourist Police, ( a special tourist police set up to look after the needs of the tourists. Contact Tel Number + 94 11 2382209
Smoking in public areas in Sri Lanka is not allowed, but there are designated smoking areas for restaurants/pubs/cafes etc. Some establishments have a designated smoking area inside.
When you flop onto the beach or poolside lounger for a spot of sunbathing, always remember to apply a sunscreen product with a sun protection factor of at least 15. Remember you are just 600km from the equator. Even with sunscreen, your sunbathing should be limited in time. If you don’t apply sunscreen you are liable to become so sunburnt that it will be painful to move, your skin will peel, you will have to start afresh to get that tan, and most importantly you put yourself at risk of serious dermatological disease.
- 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.
- 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.
Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT.
- 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.
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.
Travelers with Special Needs
Travelers with special needs, especially if they visit Sri Lanka without a companion, should note that the country has relatively few facilities for disabled people, although greater awareness and improvements are evolving. No need to worry at Colombo’s Airport as wheelchairs and assistance in boarding and disembarking are available. Buildings, offices, and banks are becoming better-equipped with wheelchair ramps and suchlike. If you aren’t travelling with a companion, you’ll find that Sri Lankans will be only too eager to assist.
A Sri Lankan visa is an endorsement on a passport or a similar document to facilitate the legal entry of non Sri Lankans into the country and to regulate the period of their stay and the conditions governing such stay.
A Visit Visa is an entry permit signifying the consent of the Sri Lankan Government for the admission of a foreign national to the country. The Visa contains details of the period of time and the condition/s of the stay. There are two sub-categories which come under visit visas.
Tourist Visit Visa
A Tourist Visa is issued to bona-fide tourists who want to enter Sri Lanka for sightseeing, excursions, relaxation, visit relatives or yoga training for a short period of time.
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,
Tap water is not safe in Sri Lanka. Make sure to drink bottled water or filtered water. Make sure that the bottle carries an SLS certification and that the seal is broken only in your presence. Avoid using ice made form tap water, as well.
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.