Sri Lankan Travel Tips

Before you travel
No inoculations are compulsory unless you are coming from a yellow fever or cholera area. (Cholera is very occasionally reported in Sri Lanka, so is not considered a serious risk.)

Local health care
Minor health problems can always be treated by doctors with practices in the resorts and elsewhere in the country. If you have a more serious problem, Colombo now boasts a selection of modern, well-equipped private hospitals offering the latest in conventional medical and surgical therapies. A growing number of foreigners are taking advantage of affordable, high quality private healthcare in Sri Lanka, and combining it with the chance to take a holiday. Though the medical tourism industry in Sri Lanka is still in its early days, a number of private hospitals in Colombo are geared to provide advanced surgery and other treatment to international clients

Religious Worship
Sri Lanka is undoubtedly one of the more tolerant religious societies. With a multi ethnic and multi religious community you will see temples and religious monuments all in close proximity to each other. Being a Buddhist country temples are found all over the island and most of them would have shrines dedicate to Hindu Gods and kovils are dotted all over the country too.

Followers of the Islam faith would not have any problem is visiting is mosque for prayers. Mosques are found in almost all cities of the country and you could mingle with the locals during their Friday prayers. Some of the mosques are hundreds of years old as most Moors in Sri Lanka can trace their roots to the Arab traders who plied the Silk Route and decided to take up residence in Sri Lanka.

Churches of almost all major denominations are found all over the country. Some of the churches are over 200 years old as they were built during the time the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonized Sri Lanka.

Travelers with special needs
Travelers with special needs, especially if they visit Sri Lanka without a companion, should note that the country has relatively few facilities for disabled people, although greater awareness and improvements are evolving. There’s no need to worry at Colombo’s airport as wheelchairs and assistance in boarding and disembarking are available. Buildings, offices, and banks are becoming better-equipped with wheelchair ramps and suchlike. If you aren’t travelling with a companion, you’ll find that Sri Lankans will be only too eager to assist.

Currency
The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, divided into 100 cents (you rarely come across scents today). Currency notes are Rs. 5,000, Rs2,000, Rs1,000, Rs500, Rs100, Rs50, Rs20 and Rs10. Beware of mistaking the Rs500 note for the somewhat similar Rs100 one. Make sure you have plenty of lower denomination notes (Rs50, Rs100, Rs500), especially when travelling and you need to buy small items, fruit, and eat cheap meals, because change is often hard to come by apart from at hotels and big shops.

Banks
Banks are open from 0900 hrs to 1300 hours Monday to Friday. Some city banks close at 1500 hrs, while some are open on Saturday mornings. It’s easy to withdraw money across the island at ATMs using international credit cards or debit cards.

Credit cards
Most hotels, restaurants and shopping centres accept credit cards.

Time difference
Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. (Allowance should be made for summer-time changes in Europe.)

Electricity
230 . 240 volts, 50 cycles AC. If you travel with a laptop computer bring a stabilizer.

Language
Sri Lanka has two official languages; Sinhala and Tamil – with English as a link language. Most people have some knowledge of English, and signboards are often in English.

When to visit
Sri Lanka is a round-the-year destination for the visitors who seek for sun and sea the best time to visit the island is from November to April. The Southwestern coastal area, where the most of the beach resorts are located.Kalpitiya, located in the western (North Western) coast has been declared a new tourist attraction. Many development projects have also been planned such as hotels and other infrastructure to make the East a new tourist destination in Sri Lanka.

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 Easter with a mini peak season in July and August when festivals and pageants are held through the country.

What to wear
Cotton clothes are useful at any time of the year but you will need light woolens for the hills and waterproof clothing or an umbrella. Modest dress for women is advisable especially off the beach and when visiting religious sites. Don’t forget comfortable shoes, sandals or trainers and cotton socks. If you are planning to trek and climb go prepared with suitable gear. Water sports enthusiasts would do well to take their snorkels and diving equipment along.

Safety
In general the threats to personal security for travellers in Sri Lanka are remarkably small. It is more pleasant to travel with a companion as it is advised not to travel alone especially after dark. If you have anything stolen, report it to the tourist Police + 94 11 2382209

Halal Food
All meats served at all major hotels and restaurants are halal as are all meats sold through supermarkets etc. Most restaurants would display the certificate obtained from the relevant authorities. If in doubt you could always inquire from the service staff of the smaller restaurants and/ or you could indulge in seafood if you want to be very safe. As an island nation seafood is abundant in Sri Lanka and needless to say very tasty!

Water
Tap water is not safe to drink, and boiling and filtering is sometimes done too hastily in some hotels and restaurants, so the best solution is to drink bottled water. There are now many brands available, mostly using spring water from the highlands of the island. Make sure that the bottle carries an SLS certification and that the seal is broken only in your presence.

Drink
Sri Lankan ‘Ceylon’ tea is prepared as in the West and coffee too. There are a huge variety of bottled soft drinks, including well-known international brands. Thambili (king coconut water is a safe and refreshing option. Local beer and spirits are widely available. Bottled mineralwater is available in 5 star hotels. Please note: Alcohol is not sold on Poya (full-moon day of the month) days.

Custom Imports
Visitors are allowed to bring into the country duty free 1.5 liters of spirits, two bottles of wine, a quarter-litre of toilet water, and a small quantity of perfume and souvenirs with a value not exceeding US $250. The import of personal equipment such as cameras and laptop computers is allowed but must be declared on arrival. However, personal equipment must be taken out of the country upon the visitor’s departure. The import of non-prescription drugs and pornography of any form is an offence. Sri Lanka Customs: www.customs.gov.lk

Custom Exports
On leaving the country you are allowed to export up to 10kg of tea duty free.
No antiques, antiques defined as anything more than 50-years-old – rare books, palm-leaf manuscripts and anthropological material can be exported without permission as well as Purchase and export without license of any wild animal, bird or reptile, dead or alive.

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