Sri Lanka Travel Guide
Best time to visit
Best : December to March, July & August (Mild humid & temperature around 27°C)
Moderate : April, May, June, September, October (Rainy season but that has changed vastly)
Overall : Sri Lanka is a 12-month destination with sunshine somewhere in the country
The Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake (30km north of Colombo) and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (Deep south near Hambantota town)
Airport entry has been restricted except for embarking passengers. Those who wish to meet incoming passengers need to take a ticket.
Currently USD 60 (approximately Rs. 11,500.00)
Departure and Transit Lounge
There are several shops with a wide range of products at the Departure and Transit Lounge in the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport. Payment can be done only in foreign currency.
All your currency, jewellery, valuable equipment, and gems need to be declared. If you have nothing to declare, you can go through Green Channel.
Your baggage should not contain any goods in commercial quantities and the prohibited or restricted goods such as dangerous drugs, explosives, weapons, and gold.
The items you have declared and the items you have purchased locally from your own funds can be taken out.
Animals, birds, plants and their parts, tea, rubber, and coconut plants, antiques, statues, treasures, old books, etc. not permitted to take out.
It is better to retain your hotels and shopping bills, especially gem to make customs clearance easier.
10 Kilos of Sri Lanka Tea is permitted. However, you have to obtain a letter of permission from the Tea bureau if it exceeds 7 kg.
Advice you to purchase comprehensive Travel Insurance from your country before arriving in Sri Lanka
The Travel Authorization is a must requirement for all nationalities who enter Sri Lanka. Initially, Travel Authorization is granted for 30 days for tourist purposes and could be extended for further 2 months from the Department of Immigration and Emigration. You can apply for travel Authorization from the government website http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/. The Visa fee for SAARC nations will be USD 10 and for other countries USD 20.
The national Carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines has operated to most of the international airline hubs connecting global route network of 113 destinations in 51 countries.
Sri Lanka has a decimal currency system. Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) is the official currency. One Sri Lankan rupee has divided into 100 Sri Lankan cents. Currency notes are available in the denomination of Rs.20/-, Rs.50/-, Rs.100/-, Rs.500/-, Rs.1000/-, Rs. 5000/-. The unified exchange rate for foreign currencies has been enforced by the government. Rates are available at banks and hotels.
You can easily exchange any major currency from the banking counter at the arrival lounge of the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport or any bank throughout the country by producing your passport.
Credit and Debit Cards
Visa and Master Credit cards are accepted in almost all hotels, restaurants, and shops. Whilst American Express card has also widely accepted. China Union Pay and JCB cards are also accepted in limited hotels, restaurants, and shops. You have to inform your card issuing bank before arriving in Sri Lanka to enable you to use the card in Sri Lanka.
Almost all the main and small towns ATM machines are available that supports Visa, Mastercard, Sirrus, Maestro, and Plus networks to withdraw Sri Lankan currency.
Mobile Phones and SIM Cards
There are four mobile phone operators in Sri Lanka, naming Dialog, Mobitel, Airtel, and Hutch. You will be able to purchase a pre-paid SIM card with a data and voice facility at the arrival lounge of the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport
Getting around Sri Lanka
The best-recommended way of transportation for foreign tourists is a Privately hired vehicle with a chauffeur.
Buses are the main and the cheapest mode of transportation in Sri Lanka. It covers almost all the towns and villages in Sri Lanka.
The Railway network in Sri Lanka covers most of the main towns in Sri Lanka. Colombo Fort station is the main rail hub.
There are privately operated chartered domestic flights. They operate destinations such as Jaffna, Trincomalee, Pasikuda, Yala, Sigiriya, etc.
What to wear
Sri Lanka is a humid tropical country. Therefore, light-cotton dresses of the drip-dry wash-and wear variety and light-weight suit are most comfortable year-round. However, medium weight slacks and pullovers will be required at the hill country. Sun protection lotion, sunglasses, sneakers, hats, and slippers may suit the beach areas.
Entering Place of worship and Religious and Historical Sites
It is recommended to dress modestly. Specially cover Your legs up to ankle length and refrain from wearing skinnies or revealing clothes when entering Buddhist and Hindu Temples. Make sure to remove your shoes, hats, and headgears when entering a religious or a place of worship
You should not pose in front or by the side of a Buddha statue. You have to take prior assent to photograph Buddhist monks. Do not touch them because it is considered extremely disrespectful. Stupas and statues are not allowed to climb.
Permit for Photographing, Filming & recording at historical sites.
Most of the historical sites are governing and maintained by the Central Cultural Fund. Tourist wish to visit and/or photographing those site need to take a ticket. Ticket prices can be found from the government website http://www.ccf.gov.lk Aukana and Dambulla permits could be obtained at the temple premises. At Sri Dalada Maligawa separate charges for photographing. That can be obtained from the temple entrance.
No serious epidemics in Sri Lanka but it is better to consult your GP before arriving in Sri Lanka
It is a common menace in Sri Lanka. Please bring mosquito replants
Power and Electric sockets
Sri Lanka uses square 3 pin wall sockets on 230 – 240 V 50 Cycles A.C.
Most of the hotels and restaurants include a service charge of 10% on any bill. If you wish to give a tip by satisfying the service, generally 10% of the bill would be fair enough
Tourist Police Division
Contact Tourist Police at 011-2421052 and 24/7 Hotline 1912.