Sri Lanka Travel Information & Tips
Despite the information provided by many 'travel guides', Sri Lanka is a all year round holiday destination. October till April/May you'll find ideal swimming, surfing and diving conditions on the West and South Coast. May till October is perfect for Sri Lanka's East Coast. The East Coast is less developed, but most travelers consider this is a plus.
Reflecting Sri Lanka’s position close to the equator, average temperatures remain fairly constant year round. The main factors shaping local weather are altitude and the two monsoons.
Best is to get a 30-day tourist visa online at the Sri Lanka ETA Visa website
You can still obtain visas at Sri Lankan embassies abroad and there is a counter at Bandaranaike International Airport for people who arrive without a visa, although you’ll have to wait with the other visa-less masses and pay a small penalty.
Sri Lanka has the usual list of prohibited imports, including drugs, weapons, fresh fruit and anything remotely pornographic.
There are duty-free shops in the arrivals area before you reach baggage claim at the airport. Besides alcoholic beverages they include household appliances.
The Sri Lankan currency is the rupee (LKR), divided into 100 cents; pricing in cents is rare. Rupee coins come in denominations of one, two, five and 10 rupees. Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 rupees.
All our guided Sri Lanka tours are accompanied by private chauffeur / guides who are proud of their country’s remarkable history and who will be keen to help you get the most from your tour. As they also act as driver, you can learn a great deal about everyday life whilst on the road or take advantage of restaurant suggestions. All the vehicles are air-conditioned with saloon-style cars usually provided for couples and minivans for groups of friends or families.
The British-built train network is a wonderfully nostalgic and sedate way to travel, while the ‘tea plantation’ train between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya is highly recommended for its stunning hill scenery and ambience.
Most towns in Sri Lanka now have at least one or two places offering internet access, either in proper cybercafés, in communications bureaux or in guesthouses. Costs vary widely, from as little as Rs.1 per minute in Colombo and Kandy up to Rs.6 per minute or more in less well-connected areas. An increasing number of places also have wi-fi. If you have a laptop and need to be constantly connected, all Sri Lanka’s telecom providers (they have stalls at the airport arrival lounge) offer various mobile broadband packages.
A new project using high altitude balloons with the help of Google Loon will cover every inch of Sri Lanka with seamless access to the internet. Sri Lanka is now on its way to becoming the first country in the world to have universal internet coverage.
Ayubowan (May you have long life), said with the hands folded upwards in front of the chest, is the traditional welcome greeting among the Sinhalese. Use your right hand for giving, taking, eating or shaking hands as the left is considered unclean.
Modest dress is appreciated even in formal situations: jeans, trousers or skirts at least knee-length are appropriate on the streets, and cleanliness is highly valued. Tight or scanty clothing and displays of intimacy in public can offend local sensibilities and will probably draw unwanted attention. In rural areas women do not shake hands with men. Nudity and topless bathing are prohibited and heavy fines can be imposed.
As shoes must be removed before entering temples, it is a good idea in hot weather to carry a spare pair of socks to protect against the heat of the stone floors. You may need to cover your head in Hindu temples but uncover it in Buddhist temples. Some places, like the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, do not allow visitors to enter wearing shorts.
Always ask before taking photographs and videos of people and don't pose in front of religious images and paintings.