Best Time To Visit
Reaching Sri Lanka
Air Lanka is the national airlines of Sri Lanka. Air Lankas fleet
connect Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, to London, Frankfurt. Paris.
Stockholm, Zurich and Rome . Air Lanka also has connections to Delhi,
Mumbai, Madras, Maldives, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong,
Tokyo, and Sydney. Foreign airlines include British Airways, Aeroflot (via
Moscow), Bulgarian Airlines (via Sofia), Royal Jordanian (via Amman), and
Emirates (via Dubal).
Some cruise lines facilitate cruise and tour combinations with tours of the
ancient cities as part of a cruise itinerary. International ports include
Colombo, Talaimannar, Trincomalee and Galle. Passenger services to Sri Lanka
are operated by CIT, Cunard, Holland America, P&O and Royal Viking.
Visitors from the USA, most western European countries, Australia, New
Zealand, Canada, Israel, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong are exempted from
Tourists can carry upto one and a half litres (approx three pints/two
bottles) of spirits, two bottles of wine. 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars.
Banned goods include Sri Lankan currency in excess of Rs 250, firearms,
explosives or any other weapons, antiques, animals, birds or reptiles; tea,
rubber and coconut plants: dangerous drugs.
Declare on Arrival
Gems and jewellery and 'valuable goods' - such as video recorders and
personal computers - must be declared on arrival.
Immunization against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid is recommended. Malaria
and cholera are present. It is always better to have a malaria preventative
while travelling during the monsoons or else the mosquito might take you to
the bed! Take medical advice before traveling. Pack Imodium or a similar
preparation to alleviate symptoms of diarrhoea, as well as electrolyte mix
for rehydration. Sunburn and heat exhaustion are significant risks at all
times of year and children, in particular, should be kept out of the sun as
far as possible. Drink plenty of water to minimize dehydration. Do not drink
tap water anywhere in Sri Lanka unless you haveboiled or sterilized it
Most luxury and mid-range hotels have a doctor on call. Your travel
insurance should include emergency repatriation.
General Hospital Emergency Services: 10 Regent Street, Colombo 8. tel:
Light cotton or linen short-sleeved shirts, T-shirts, shorts and light
baggy pants for the coastal regions. Lightweight linen suit for business or
more formal occasions, light jacket or cotton sweatshirt for evenings in
Kandy and the hills where evenings can be cooler. Jacket and tie required at
some old and more formal hotel restaurants and clubs.
Skirts and tops made of linen or cotton; pants, shorts and T-shirts and
also beachwear. For business, tailored linen dress or suit. Large cotton or
silk shawl for the up-country where the evenings are cool.
For visits to sacred sites and ancient cities modest wear covering knees,
arms and shoulders is advisable.
Other items which may prove useful include Swiss Army knife or similar,
small torch and batteries, mosquito repellent, binoculars.
Tips on Currency
The Sri Lankan rupee is divided into 100 cents. Coins come in denominations
of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents and 1, 2, 5 and. 10 rupees. Notes are denominated
in values of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000. While changing money, tourists
are advised to ask for smaller denomination notes,for hawkers, taxi and
three-wheeler drivers are often unable to give change.
Colombo offers a wide range of accommodation from international brand
five-star hotels to basic guesthouses. Elsewhere, there arc highquality
resort hotels, numerous small family-run guesthouses and hotels which offer
basic but very affordable accommodation.
Sri Lanka has plenty of restaurants, ranging from smart Colombo nightspots,
catering to the elites, to the simplest beach bars. The major hotels usually
offer a wide choice of international and Sri Lankan cuisines. Around the
main hotel complexes at Negombo, Bentota, Beruwala and Hikkaduwa there are
numerous independent restaurants.
Restaurant prices are quite affordable by international standards, but
imported liquors may burn a hole in your pocket.
There is no internal air network.
Sri Lanka has an extensive rail network and the key places may be travelled
by rail. Some trains offer first, second and third class, some only second
and third, some only first and second. Besides, some trains offer air
conditioning in first class, while those on the overnightrun from Colombo to
Badulla offer sleeperettes.Some trains running on the highly scenic stretch
between Colombo and Kandy have observation car berths.
State-operated and privately-run buses link Colombo with all points and
operate between major towns, but they always remain stuffy.
It is better to travel by rail whenever it is possible.
Self-drive cars can be hired from tour operators but extreme caution is
required while driving , for the road surfaces are poor. Traffic drives on
left. Cars with drivers can be hired from travel agencies in Colombo and at
resorts, and taxis can be hired by negotiating a daily rate with the driver.
Bank timings: 09:00-13:00
Government and commercial office hours: 08:30 to 16:30.
Shopping hours: 08:00/ 09:00-19:00 from Monday- Friday. Closes early in
the afternoon on Saturdays.
GMT + 6 hrs
Tips on Communications
Post office timings: Monday-Friday 08:00-17:00.
Telephone calls: Direct dial almost all throughout the country
Dial 101 for trunk call connections where direct dial is not available.
International Direct Dial (IDD) is available.
International enquiries: Dial 134 within Colombo or (01)324144/329792
230-240V. 50 cycle AC. Three-round-pin sockets.
Weights and Measures
Metric system of measurement.
Emergence Tel No.
Police: (01) 433333.
Fire: (01) 422222.
Tourist Police: (01) 327711.
Modesty is highly valued by all sections of the society. Beachwear is
acceptable at beach resorts, less acceptable off the beach and wholly
unacceptable at temples, mosques and shrines. Remove footwear and head gear
before entering Buddhist or Hindu shrines. Posing beside or on religious
statues is prohibited. Topless and nude sunbathing are illegal in Sri Lanka.
Official Language: Sinhala
National Languages: Sinhala and Tamil
Neutral Link: English, which is widely spoken and used on signs, maps,
timetables and place names.
Tips for Shoppers
What to Buy:
Carved wooden masks, leather goods such as bags and
belts, silver and gold jewellery. Precious gemstones like rubies and
sapphires are widely sold, especially around Ratnapura.
is the order of the day.
Some street vendors and dealers offer irresistible bargain on gems - but on
returning home, the stone you have bought will turn out to be worth far less
than you paid for it, and may be completely worthless! Reputable gem centres
in Colombo are the only reliable place to buy stones. Avoid buying goods
made from ivory, turtle shell, or reptile skin of any kind, for these are
illegal and such purchases will be confiscated by customs on your return