Travel Sri Lanka
Sujeevan, Sri Lanka Travel Expert
Sri Lanka Highlights
Sri Lanka FAQs
Q : When is the best time to travel?
Sri Lanka can be visited all year long with an average of 27°C, but there are favorable seasons for certain parts of the island. December to April is the best time to visit the West and South Coasts and May to September for the East Coast.
Q : What are the process and visa fees?
To visit Sri Lanka, you must apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (E.T.A). Applications for stays for less than 30 days long may be made online if application is completed at least two weeks before your arrival.
This authorization is valid for 30 days and for a double entry (necessary for a Sri Lanka-Maldives combo trip). Your passport must be valid at least 6 months beyond your date of arrival in the country.
From August 1, 2019 until January 2020, the ETA is being granted for free, online or on arrival, for more than 40 countries, including most of the European Union, UK, USA, Australia and India. The ETA remains mandatory.
When you go through customs, you will have to fill out and provide an “Arrival card” with your passport. This card is often provided on board the aircraft, however, it is also available in the arrival hall.
Q : What to pack?
Despite the high temperatures, you'll want to pack something warm for mountain excursions and something modest that covers your shoulders and legs for religious sites. Here are some other things to consider bringing:
- A raincoat
- Cool weather clothes for cool evenings and for touring the Hill Country
- Appropriate footwear for climbing Sigiriya and Dambulla
- A pair of socks to protect your feet from the hot ground when you remove your shoes to visit temples
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Mosquito repellent (for skin and clothes)
- Hat or cap
- Binoculars for jeep safaris
- A reusable water bottle (to limit the usage of plastic bottles)
- A flashlight is always useful
- An old phone to use with a local SIM card
- A small first aid kit and prescription medication (there are many pharmacies in Sri Lanka if you need something)
If you’re hiking:
- Good walking shoes
- Long thick pants and high socks to cover the pant bottoms and protect you from leeches (necessary in Sinharaja and Knuckles Range regions)
Q : Any required vaccinations?
While there are no mandatory vaccines, we recommend you be up to date on universal DTP (diphtheria-tetanus-polio) vaccines. Consult with your doctor regarding vaccination against tropical diseases at least 3 months before your arrival. Yellow fever vaccination certificates are required for those travelling from countries at risk for this disease.
Q : Is it a safe country?
Sri Lanka is a relatively safe country. However, as in any country, you have to be careful and trust your intuition. Pickpockets are often present in crowded tourist sites. Keep an eye on your belongings and keep your valuables close to your body.
Sri Lanka is not a dangerous country for women traveling alone, but some precautions are probably worth mentioning here. Be careful who you befriend as single women are sometimes targeted. Don't walk alone at night and dress modestly to match the culture of the country when you are out and about. But feel free to wear your swimsuit at your hotel and on the beaches in the East and the South where locals are accustomed to foreign tourists.
Q : What is the currency?
The Sri Lankan Rupee is the only official currency of the country. However, Euros and US Dollars will be accepted on main cultural sites or in large hotels. You can exchange currency at exchange offices, banks and hotels (euros and dollars). On the other hand, in order to avoid the risks of fraud and limit bank fees, we advise you to use cash and make withdrawals via ATMs (local distributors) as this is the most common and, simple means of payment.
September 2019, 1 USD = 180 LKR and the largest ticket in Sri Lanka is 5,000 LKR = 27.72 USD.
Q : How can we travel through the country?
It is very easy to travel in Sri Lanka thanks to the multiple types of transport, whether with a city itself or from one city to another. Tuk-tuk, trains and bus transport, cost just a few hundred rupees.
If you take a tuk-tuk in Colombo, make sure it has a meter! Count 40 LKR per kilometer (60 LKR the first). You can download Pick Me and/or Uber to order a tuk-tuk.
In other cities, it will be necessary to appeal to your negotiation skills. Make sure you have settled the fare amount with your driver before leaving.
If you want to take the local bus, good luck! Local buses are often crowded and noisy with music at the highest possible volume, however, it's fun to experience.
Train journeys in Sri Lanka are a unique experience, and they cross breathtaking landscapes. If your tickets are purchased by your travel agent, you will have a guaranteed seat. It is also possible to buy tickets on the spot, without a guaranteed seat. There are special, new train cars just for women if you like. Be prepared to be flexible as delays are common. Excuse any train delay!
Q : What are the spoken languages?
Sinhalese and Tamil are the official languages of Sri Lanka. Sinhalese is predominant in most of the country, about 73.8% of speakers are Sinhalese and 20% are Tamils.
English is recognized as a “link” language in the constitution. Today, the three languages are taught at the primary level.
Q : What are the major Religions and ethnic groups of the country?
With an area of about 65,000 km2, the island has more than 22,576,000 inhabitants, made up of several ethnic groups. Seventy five percent of the total population is Sinhalese, mainly Buddhist, sixteen percent is Tamil and mainly Hindu, and the rest of the population is made up of Muslims and Christians. Also, in terms of community, there are Burghers who are the descendants of the first Dutch and Portuguese settlers, and ethnic minorities such as Sri Lanka's indigenous people, the Veddas. Despite a civil war from 1983 to 2009, which pitted the Sinhalese and Tamils against each other in a conflict for independence, they live together in peace today. Sinhalese and Tamil are both taught at school and everyone is accepted.
Q : Practical Tips?
Religion is an integral part of life for the people of Sri Lanka and it is important to know a few things so as not to accidentally disrespect them when visiting religious sites. Choose outfits that cover your shoulders and knees; take your shoes off at the entrance (hint- wear flip-flops to make it easy) don't turn your back on Buddha; don't take selfies in the temple.
If you want to eat with your hands as the locals do, use only your right hand because the left hand is considered impure (especially for Muslims and Hindus).
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