Travel Tips in Sri Lanka
Bandaranaike International Airport will be the first stop for most arrivals. The Airport is connected by a rail link to Colombo. A regular bus service is also available to Colombo and Negombo.
Visa regulations are simple. Tourists visiting Sri Lanka can enter the country with minimum formalities. Citizens of most western countries can enter Sri Lanka without a prior visa and will be allowed an entry visa for between 30 - 90 days (pending nationality) at the point of entry without any payment.
Nationals of countries not covered are required to possess a valid visa, obtained from the respective Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions abroad. Tourists should have a return air ticket, sufficient foreign exchange reckoned at US$ 15/- per day, and a valid travel document to establish their bona-fide as tourists.
Customs - Duty Free allowances
At the arrival you have to fill in the official entry form. Tourists who do not have anything to declare may choose the green channel for clearance.
You'll need to show a certificate to show that you have been vaccinated for yellow fever, if you are coming from an area infected with yellow fever. You need up-to-date Hepatitis A, Polio and Tetanus shots.
Sri Lanka Climate
In the lowlands the climate is typically tropical with an average temperature of 27C in Colombo. In the higher elevations it can be quite cool with temperatures going down to 16C at an altitude of nearly 2,000 meters. Bright, sunny warm days are the rule and are common even during the height of the monsoon - climatically Sri Lanka has no off season. The south west monsoon brings rain mainly from May to July to the western, southern and central regions of the island, while the north-east monsoon rains occur in the northern and eastern regions in December and January.
Sri Lanka Currency
One Sri Lankan rupee is made up of 100 cents. Currency notes are in the denominations of Rs.10, Rs.20, Rs.50, Rs.100, Rs.200, Rs.500 and Rs. 1000. Coins are in the following denominations: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, one rupee, two rupees, five rupees and ten rupees.
Reputed credit and charge cards are widely accepted by shops in Sri Lanka. In some cases the shops may try to add a surcharge to the price of the merchandise purchased. This is not an acceptable practice and in such cases the card company should be contacted so that corrective action can be taken.
Sri Lanka Time
GMT + 6 hours
Post Offices, Agency Post Offices, and pay phone booths provide local as well as I.D.D. facilities. Phone cards of denominations up to Rs.500/- are available at Post Offices and Shops.
The electric system is 230-240 Volts -AC.
Sri Lanka Language
English is generally understood by most people and is easy to get by. Road signs are written both in Sinhalese and English throughout the country, with few exceptions.
Since Sri Lanka also endows a diversity of ethnic groups, language spoken in the country is various. The two major ones widely used are, however, Sinhala language spoken by the Sinhalese majority and Tamil language used by the Tamils. Although, Sinhala and Tamil are languages from different source, both share some common characteristics and obviously have influence on each other's linguistic evolution as well.
Sri Lanka Dress Code
Best are light cotton dresses and light weight suits, a wide-brimmed beach hat and sun glasses and comfortable shoes/sandals. In the hill country pullovers will be necessary. Visitors should be decently dressed when visiting any place of worship. Beach wear is not suitable for temples and shrines. All visitors to Buddhist and Hindu temples are expected to be unshod and have their heads uncovered. Topless sunbathing is prohibited by law.
Sri Lanka Transport
The major domestic airport in Sri Lanka is Ratamalana at Colombo. There are daily flights to other smaller airports at Batticaloa, Gal Oya, Palali, and Trincomalee. However, flights to Jaffna are not available.
A pleasant way to see Sri Lanka is to explore by train. You can reach all major tourist towns, but only a few first-class carriages, air-conditioning and dining cars are available. New fast services are launched by the government to operate on the principal routes, including an inter-city express service linking Colombo with Kandy.
Sri Lanka possesses an extensive network of bus service to all parts of the Island, offering a reasonable quality. There are two main types of bus in Sri Lanka: Central Transport Board buses and private buses; cost of both kinds of bus is very cheap, and services are often crowded.
Taxis are available in most towns. It is recommended to discuss the price before getting in. Metered-taxis are mostly confined to the big towns, agreement on fare before setting off is still needed though.
Three-wheeler are called bajajs or auto-rickshaws and are found everywhere in Sri Lanka. It is common to agree on the fare before you get in though.
There are several car rental shops to choose from. But often, you will rent a car with a driver for a day trip or a few days tour. This way is convenient because you do not have to compete with the local people in public transport, and you can plan your trip on your own while having a driver taking you to there and there.
Sri Lanka Health Facilities
Almost every town has a pharmacy selling common medicines. We recommend you use the private sector hospitals, which are likely to offer better care. However we advice you take an adequate health insurance cover. We also recommend to take anti-malaria medication if you plan to travel off the beaten track. However an adequate health insurance cover is highly recommended.