Sri lanka Travel FAQs
When to go?
Sri Lanka is a “365-days-a-year” destination. However the best time to visit the island is from around November to April. The Southwestern coastal areas (where majority of the beach resorts are located) get the monsoon rains from around the end of May to October. The central highlands are pleasantly cool and relatively dry from January to April. The peak season is mid December to mid January and March - April during the Easter break.
Health Concerns in Sri Lanka
Most travelers will return home having experienced no problems apart from an occasional travelers’ diarrhea. Health facilities are excellent in the main cities. Most hotels will arrange a local doctor in an emergency and you can also contact your Target Travels representative in case of emergency. We also strongly recommend mosquito repellents to be used throughout your stay in the island.
What to wear when traveling around Sri Lanka
Cotton clothes are useful at any time of the year but you will need light woolens for the hills and certainly waterproof clothing, especially during the monsoon periods. Take some long sleeve lightweight cotton shirts and trousers for the evenings, preferably in pale colors, as they protect against mosquitoes. Modest dress for women is very advisable especially off the beach and certainly when visiting religious sites. Don't forget comfortable shoes, sandals or trainers and cotton socks; also take a sun hat and sunglasses. If you planning to trek and climb go prepared with suitable gear. Water sports enthusiasts would do well to take their snorkels and diving equipment along. A protective lay of sun block is strongly recommended during the outdoor activities.
Documents and Visa requirements into Sri Lanka
Visitors from most countries with a valid passport are issued with free entry visa for 30 days, on arrival in Sri Lanka. You may apply for an extension by paying a fee; the maximum stay is 6 months. You will need to have an onward or return air ticket, and sufficient foreign exchange (approximately US$20 a day).
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Spending Money in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan currency is Rupee (Rs.) It is not possible to purchase these before you leave home so it is best to get some local currency from the airport bank when you arrive. Shops and hotel in town accept most major credit cards although it can some time be more expensive than paying cash. It is fairly easy to get cash using a visa or MasterCard at and authorized bank and to cash dollar and sterling travelers, cheques issued by a well-known company.
Getting to Sri Lanka
The only way to arrive into Sri Lanka currently is by air. Flights arrive at the Bandaranayake International Airport, 35 km north of Colombo, and 6 km of Negombo
Time in Sri Lanka
GMT +6 hrs (altered for power saving)
Heat and humidity – Weather in Sri Lanka
Even in December – January (which are the coolest months of the year) daytime temperatures can be high and after a long flight it can be very trying.
Public places in Sri Lanka
You may sometimes be overwhelmed by crowds of people in public places (railway stations, markets, bus stands, temples or simply busy streets). "Touts" and hawkers may jostle and push and clamour to show you a hotel and sell you things. Taxis and three - wheelers are often there when you don't want them, much less when you do. It is best to remain calm and accept this as a part of south Asian life.
Safety concerns in Sri Lanka
In general the threats to personal security for travelers in Sri Lanka are remarkably small. However, both men and women traveling alone have occasionally reported harassment so it is more pleasant to travel with a companion. The far North and most of the East of Sri Lanka that have been subject to political violence and civil war and were not accessible for decades are now freely open to all visitors and are generally safe. There is still a heavy presence of armed forces throughout the island that ensure this safety and protection to visitors. The rest of the island is still a very safe place to visit. Thefts do sometimes occur. It is essential to take good care of personal valuables when you are carrying them, and when you have to leave them anywhere. It is best to keep your passport, TCs and valuables with you at all times as many hotels don't accept liability for valuables left in safe deposit boxes. Keep a record of vital documents (e.g. passport details, TC number). If you have anything stolen, report it to the police as soon as possible.
Women Travelers in Sri Lanka
Compared with many other countries it is relatively easy and safe for women to travel around Sri Lanka, even on their own, though most people find it an advantage to travel with at least one companion. On the beaches and tourist centers, some women have experienced harassment form local men. By taking some simple precautions you can avoid both personal harassment and giving offence.
Where To Stay when Traveling in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has a wide range of accommodation in the popular beach resorts though the choice diminishes as you move to less popular beaches and inland towns. You will find luxurious 5-star resort hotels in superb beach locations or clean, comfortable and safe mid-price hotels and family guest houses which are excellent value, or very cheap simple rooms if you are traveling on a shoe string or aim to stay several weeks. In the peak season (mid-January and during Easter) bookings can be heavy so it is best to reserve accommodation well in advance. Drink and Food in Sri Lanka Most visitors are surprised - and often delighted - at the enormous variety of delicious food available in Colombo, the beach resorts and the hill stations. You can usually choose freshly prepared seafood delicacies along the cost and traditional Sri Lankan and Indian dishes as well as Continental, Chinese and sometimes even Thai and Japanese options. Rice and curry are the staple main course, while hoppers, String hoppers are Sri Lankan specialties. The desserts often made from rice and coconut can be excessively sweet, though local palm treacle ladled over fresh buffalo milk curd can be quite delicious. Please note: Vegetarian food is much less common in Sri Lanka than in India and can be difficult to get in places. A wide variety of delicious tropical fruit grows throughout the year, pineapple, mango, papaya and banana being particularly good. Drink Sri Lankan tea is prepared as in the West and coffee too. There are a huge variety of bottled soft drinks, including well-known international brands. These are perfectly safe but always check the seal and never add ice cubes. Tender coconut 'milk' is a safe and refreshing option. Local beer and spirits are widely available though imported wines are very expensive. Please note: Alcohol is not sold on Poya (full-moon day of the month) days but you can usually place your drinks order in a hotel on the previous day! Drinking water used to be regarded as one of Sri lanka's biggest hazards. Water from the taps or wells should never be regarded as safe to drink. Bottled 'mineral water' is now widely available although not all bottled water is mineral water, it may be simply purified water from an urban supply.
Getting Around Sri Lanka
1)Air Internal flights are now freely available to most regions of Sri Lanka (except to the North and East). As the demand for these flights increase we have witness a steady decline in the price of flights. (Price start from US$45/- per way) 2)Train Trains offer a unique experience, and are often an excellent and cheap way of traveling longer distances. The special Intercity Expresses are fast and comfortable. The hill country can be spectacular and the rout to Kandy is particularly scenic. Transport from the train station can be an issue in most out station areas. Contact your Target Travels representative for prices and guidance on this option of travel. 3)Road Roads offer the only way of reaching many sites of interest on the island. State and private buses reach most places you want to visit and are relatively inexpensive. Car hire with a driver can be an ideal option, and is reasonably affordable when shared by 3 or 4 people. 4) Hitchhiking This is fairly rare in Sri Lanka when compared to the west 5 )Local Transport Local Government buses are very cheap and equally uncomfortable. Three-wheelers are not metered so you need to fix a price in advance. Metered, air-conditioned radio-cabs are very efficient, comfortable and reliable, but only operate in Colombo, Kandy and the International airport.
Language in Sri Lanka
Sinhala, Tamil and English are the official languages. English is widely used, especially in places visited by tourists.
Card Pay phones are the best option for local calls. For international calls it is quicker to go to one of the agency post offices located through the island, instead of waiting at a post office. Some countries are accessible on IDD from a Card Pay-phone. You can use IDD facilities from most hotels too. You can also opt for a local pre-paid mobile SIM card that is relatively inexpensive and can be topped-up from any dealer located island wide. You can get a Mobile phone connection of a dealer in the airport.
Donations and Gift-Giving in Sri Lanka
Although there is poverty in certain areas of Sri Lanka, please read the following points about donations and gift-giving. Do not give to begging children as it reinforces for these children that begging is an acceptable way of making a living. However in many places, it is considered acceptable to give to the elderly or disabled as there is no social security or other way these people can earn a living. Checklist. Giving money and goods away to random individuals can result in the local communities acting like beggars. It accentuates an unequal relationship between locals and visitors, with tourists being seen as purely ‘money givers’. We do not want to encourage the development of a society that equates every human action as potential money making scheme – for example paying to take photographs. Do not give sweets to children in villages that you visit. Local people may not always visit dentist nor be used to brushing their teeth regularly and again there is the issue if turning children into beggars. Pens, toothbrushes, clothing or other ‘worthwhile’ items are best distributed via local charity, school teachers or community leaders. r Avoid feeling that you necessarily have to give ‘material’ things. The best giving can be sometimes be shared interactions: a smile, a joke, a sing-song, dance or playing a game. Giving something of your friendship, time and interest to interact with locals can be the best gift of all.
Power & Energy in Sri Lanka
What is the Voltage type in Sri Lanka? The voltage is Sri Lanka is 220/ 240 volts. What type of plug/s can I use in Sri Lanka? Sri Lankan hotels have two types of plug bases; either the UK (Type G) or India (Type D). Plug Type Pins Amps Plug Base Compatibility UK (Type G) 3 rectangular pins 13 Amps Accepts Type C (by tricking Earth socket). Need an adapter to accept Type D Euro plug (Type C) 2 round pins 5 Amps Compatible with Type G and Type D (by tricking Earth socket). India (Type D) 3 round pins* 5 Amps Accepts Type C (by tricking Earth socket). Need an adapter to accept Type G *Do not confuse with the larger 15 Amp plug which is used for ‘heavy duty’ appliances like air-conditioners, and microwave ovens. If you have a rectangular plug (UK – Type G) and the hotel base is round pin (India – Type D) or vice versa, just ask the reception to send you an adapter, which will solve the problem. Alternately, adapters are freely available in supermarkets/ hardware shops. If you have a Euro plug (Type C), you can stick a pen into the Earth socket (either UK Type G or India Type D) to open the shutters and insert the plug; Do not forget to switch off the power before you do this! The Type I plug (two slanted pins) used in countries such as South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and parts of China is not compatible with Sri Lankan plug base and need an adapter. Its better you bring a ‘Universal Adapter’ if you have this type of plug, as it will be difficult to find adapters for Type I plugs in the local hardware shops. A word of caution; do not insert a 110V – 120V appliance (E.g. hairdryer) into a Sri Lankan 240V plug base, you might find it catching fire in your hands!
Shopping & Entertainment
Advice on shopping in Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka has a wide variety of very attractive handicrafts on sale. Sri Lankan masks are a very popular collector's item. Other recommendations are batiks, wood carvings, gemstones, semi- precious stones, lacquer-ware, hand-made Silver- and Brass objects and don't forget the famous 'Ceylon Tea'. Please avoid ornaments made from tortoise shells & ivory. Never buy turtle shell, we even suggest you not to purchase any woodcarving made from ebony, in order to preserve this scarce hardwood. Sri Lanka is a major garment manufacturer and exporter of all kinds of clothing. There is an excellent selection of children's and casual clothing for men & women, beach wear and even warm padded jackets at extremely attractive prices. Colombo is fast becoming an attraction for garment hunters. Nightlife in Sri Lanka? The places with some active night life is in Colombo, Negombo and Hikkaduwa. Colombo has some excellent pubs, night clubs, karaoke lounges and bars. There is a growing pub-culture among the young crowd in the main cities and a few touristic areas. Friday and Saturday nights are the days for all active night life. The casinos offer a good combination of live entertainment, food and games of chance. Negombo and Hikkaduwa have some good beach restaurants and bars. Negombo doesn’t have much of a party scene, but you will find regular beach parties in Hikkaduwa. Is tipping accepted in Sri Lanka and how do I tip? Tipping is accepted and in many case expected. Although a 10% service charge is included in bills for food and accommodation, tipping is a customary way of showing your appreciation for services rendered. A rule of thumb is to tip 10% of the total amount due. Your housekeeping staff, doorman, bellboy all expect a little tip. A tip between 100 - 200 rupees for each service is considered sufficient. Your guide or driver on tour will expect something between US$ 5 to 15 a day (depending on your level of satisfaction with his service). A 1 US$ bill is roughly equal to Rs. 100, so giving this as a tip is also well received by the locals.
Sri Lankan Customs and Etiquette
What are the dos and don’ts when interacting with locals? The Right Hand rule - Always gives and receives and eats with your right hand. It is extremely bad mannered to use your left hand for eating Respect cultural differences - Things are done differently in Asia, and Sri Lanka is no exception. This is why we love it! Please make sure in your dealings with local people you accept these differences and not try to change them for your own benefit or comfort. The traveler who wishes to have a happy and successful trip in Sri Lanka should keep as calm, cheerful and friendly as humanly possible. Patience and courtesy are virtues that open many doors. Demanding tourists do not get smiles, service or respect. Environmental responsibility - Pollution and waste management is a huge problem throughout the world and Sri Lanka is no exception. Unfortunately in many parts of Asia, disposal systems are inadequate and recycling of plastics is limited. We suggest avoiding plastic packaging where possible and take along your own bag when shopping. Plastic bags will be offered for everything! Collect and dispose in the next town. The law protects certain endangered species of flora & fauna. Export & in even possession of these species as well as of wild animals, birds, reptiles etc., is illegal. The production and sale of items made from wild animals and reptiles, e.g.: Leopard skins, crocodile skins, elephant tusks etc., is also illegal Never break coral, or brush against it. Coral is basically a colony of living organisms and damaging them, might kill them. If you go out in a Glass-bottom Boat, encourage the pilot to steer well clear from the coral itself. Boats scraping over the top of the reef are doing damage especially at Hikkaduwa. Never buy coral if it's offered for sale. Similarly don't buy sea shells or turtle shells (or eggs). All of Sri Lanka's five species of Turtle are endangered. If you happen to spot a turtle, when being take out on a boat, discourage the driver from circling it; this sort of harassment is very stressful to the turtle.
Other Questions about Sri Lanka
Where can I find more information about the country in general? You can contact your Target Travels representative who will be more than happy to guide you on any additional questions you may have about your travels to Sri Lanka.