SRI LANKA : A BASIC TRAVEL INFO Print

 

Sri Lanka also known as the emerald Isle boasts of a culture and heritage dating back over 2500 years. This small island in the Indian Ocean offers 66,000sq km of beaches, rainforest, villages, ruined cities, wildlife and is home to numerous UN World Heritage Sites and exotic cuisine. 

The Island of Sri Lanka or Ceylon, as it was known till 1972, is situated off the south eastern tip of the Indian subcontinent between the longitudes 80 and 82 degrees east and the latitudes 6 and 10 degrees north. Its maximum length is 432 kilometers from north to south and its maximum width is 224 kilometers from east to west; it has an area of 65,525 square kilometers. Its exclusive maritime economic zone extends over an area of 517,400 square kilometers of Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka posses some of the wonderful beaches, beautiful mountains, lush green forests, exciting wildlife, ancient history and friendly people. 

Passport & Visa Formalities

A valid passport and visa before arrival are required to visit Sri Lanka. You can get a visa online. Visit www.eta.gov.lk for the entry visa fees and more details. You have to submit an individual visa application.The Visa rules ane regulation are subject to change.

Please contact the Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 483-4025, web site www.slembassyusa.org for the most current visa information.

Weather & Clothing

The typically tropical climate with an average temperature of 80 F fluctuates between 60 F in the highlands to 95 F in certain areas of the lowlands.

The Monsoon remains very effective in Sri Lanka, the south west monsoon from May to September and the north east monsoon from December to February. Most of the days in Sri Lanka are hot and humid and evenings are pleasant. Sri Lanka is one of the very few countries in the world, where all 365 days are summer.

The best & driest seasons are from December to March on the West & South Coasts and in the hill country, and from May to September in the East Coast.

Since it is warm or hot most of the times, we recommend light garments and clothes made of cotton. Light cotton garments would be the best choice when it comes to the selection of clothes. Light footwear in the nature of sandals is also recommended. It is necessary for all the tourists to wear decent swimwear to avoid offending the sensibilities of the fellow holidaymakers.

For the coast, casual cotton clothing, sunglasses and hat; long sleeved lightweight cotton shirts and trousers for evenings to protect against mosquitoes. For the hill country a sweater is essential (you can be 6,500 ft. above sea level) as well as waterproof clothing.

You should be decently dressed with suitable attire when visiting religious sites. All visitors to Buddhist temples are required to take their shoes off and are expected to have their heads uncovered - no hats, caps or head scarves. Shorts and bare shoulders are also inappropriate.

Health & Immunization

Since malaria has been a risk in most rural areas, it is advisable to take a course of anti-malaria drugs and take all possible measures to avoid being bitten. However it is not a risk nowadays in Sri Lanka as it was before. 

Immunization against polio, tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A is also recommended. In general, standards of hygiene in Sri Lanka are reasonable and visitors who follow a few basic rules should have a completely healthy stay. Don’t drink tap water or ice made from it - bottled water is available at most hotels. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Pork, salad and mayonnaise may carry increased risk. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.Travelers need yellow fever and cholera immunizations if they are arriving from an infected area.

The Centers for Disease Control provides an International Traveler’s Hotline offering recorded messages or faxes on current health risks. Call 877 394 8747 or visit www.cdc.gov/Sri Lank  for suggested immunizations and food/ water precautions

Customs & Declarations

Declare all your valuable equipment, jewellary and gems. If you have nothing to declare, go through the “Green Channel”. Baggage should not contain goods for others, goods in commercial quantities, and prohibited or restricted goods.

You are required to take back all your personal effects when departing the country. You are entitled to bring in 1.5 liters of spirits (2 bottles of wine), a small quantity of perfume and travel souvenirs

Money, Credit Cards & ATM

The Sri Lankan currency is Rupees and Cents, a Rupee is equal to 100 cents. The Rupee comes in the denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 2000 & 5000. US Dollar is the most common foreign currency in Sri Lanka. Currency: Sri Lankan rupee. Exchange rate: roughly US$1= 130 rupees / National banking hours are from 0900 to 1500 hrs on weekdays.

Cash can be exchanged at most banks. There are several ATMs in Colombo and a couple in Kandy which take Mastercard and Visa and some banks give cash advances on them.

Most international credit cards are widely accepted by shops and major hotels in Sri Lanka (Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted).

Culture & Etiquette

Sri Lankan ethnically falls into four main categories. They are viz Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burger. The population of the Sri Lanka was estimated to be 20.48 million in year 2014. The largest ethnic group is Sinhala being 74% of the Population. The Sinhala People, whose language belongs to the Indo-Aryan family, is the oldest living Indo-Aryan language.

If you take photographs of Buddha statues, never pose alongside them. This would be considered a sign of disrespect. And if you encounter a Buddhist monk distinguished by his yellow robe, do not expect him to pose for pictures or attempt to shake hands with him. 

Miscellaneous

When you arrive at the airport

When you arrive in Colombo, someone from our local supplier will meet you at the airport, who will be displaying your name. You will be then transferred to your to hotel.  In case,  because of earlier or delayed flight, if you do not  see anybody to pick you up, then give a call to the local tour operator listed on the “Local Operator’s Contact Detail” which is in the information package you have received from us before you left U.S.

Shopping

If you are thinking of purchasing any products, which you cannot carry with you, then think twice before you purchase it. The salesman or guide may tell you that they would pay the shipping charges to your address.  However, besides the shipping charge, you must understand that there are other charges involved at your end, which they may not be aware of, such as destination charges, custom clearance fees, warehouse fees and other fees. By the time, the product reaches your home; the chance is high that you will also receive a bill for all the other charges, which might be higher than the cost of product itself. So, unless you are very sure about these charges, shipping anything home is not suggested. 

Telephone, Email and WIFI

You can call from major places in Sri Lanka to most places though the telephone lines. Wi-Fi is available in most of the hotels these days. The speed may not be that great. Some hotels may charge you for WIFI.Country Code 94There are several internet cafes in Colombo and Kandy.

Electricity

230-240 volts AC, 50Hz

Tipping

The same rules apply about tipping as most of other places.  Roughly 10% of bills at restaurants. Your driver and guide also expect a tip at the end of the tour.  Below is a general idea on tipping in the group size between 1-6 people and more. The mentioned tipping is to be divided by the number of people in the group.  The tips can be more or less depending on the services you get from them.

Driver cum guide: US$ 15 per day in the group between 2-5 people

In the group between 6-10 people Guide : US$ 15.00 per day  Driver : US$ 10.00 per day

In the group above 10+ people, Guide: US$ 20.00 per day Driver: US$ 15.00 per day.