Introduction:

Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island nation south of India in the Indian Ocean. Its diverse landscapes range from the rainforest and arid plains to highlands and sandy beaches. It’s famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins, including the 5th-century citadel Sigiriya, with its palace and frescoes. The city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s ancient capital has many ruins dating back more than 2,000 years.

Capitals: ColomboSri Jayawardenepura Kotte

Population: 21.2 million (2016)

Currency: Sri Lankan rupee

Continent: Asia

Official languages: Sinhala, Tamil, English

Area total: 65,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi)

WEATHER & WHEN TO VISIT: SRI LANKA

INTRODUCTION:

Unlike many other Asian destinations Sri Lanka is a year-round destination with two monsoon seasons which bring rain to the west and south-west coasts from May to September; and the east coast and northern region between October and February. The rest of the year is sunny and dry. Temperatures are fairly constant year round, with coastal regions enjoying average temperatures of 25-30°C and the highlands 15-18°C on average.

BEST TIME:

January – April (Entire Country)
July – September (Entire Country)
February – September(North and East)

MONSOON SEASON:

May – July (South-West Monsoon)
October – January(North-East Monsoon)

BEACH SEASON:

January – April (South)
May – July(East)

WILDLIFE SEASON:

December – April (Bundala National Park – birds) (South coast – whales)
November – April (Kalpitya – dolphins)
July – September (Yala/Wilpattu – leopards)

The Cultural Triangle:

Dambulla, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Minneriya National Park
Many of Sri Lanka’s cultural highlights, including no less than five UNESCO sites, including Dambulla, Anuradhapura, and Sigiriya, are located within this ‘dry zone’. Aside from a high rainfall in November and December, conditions remain fairly arid throughout the year, although visitors during June and July may experience the hot, strong winds that help keep the south-western monsoon at bay.

EAST COAST:

Passekudah, Trincomalee, Arugam Bay, Batticaloa, Nilaveli, Kuchchaveli
Sri Lanka’s east coast comes into its own while the rest of the island is experiencing monsoonal rains. Influenced by the north-eastern monsoon, the best weather is from April to September, with the monsoon running from October until January.

Kandy & Tea Country:

Kandy, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, Haputale, Hatton, Adam’s Peak
Kandy sits at a far lower altitude than the ‘Tea Country’ and because of this can expect to enjoy higher temperatures and lower rainfall than in the hills to the south. Your journey from Kandy to the Cultural Triangle climbs an elevation of 700 meters, so you feel a drop in temperature as you climb. The weather in the Tea Country is influenced by both monsoons, the result of which is a climate somewhat reminiscent of a Scottish autumn for much of the year. Sitting at nearly 2,000 meters above sea level, the region is much cooler than elsewhere in Sri Lanka. December marks the beginning of the Adam’s Peak pilgrimage season, which runs throughout the dry season until May.

The South:

Galle, Weligama, Mirissa, Tangalle, Yala National Park
The beaches in the southwestern corner, close to Galle, experience similar weather patterns to the west coast, with the best weather expected between late November and April. Further east, beyond Yala national park, the weather can also be influenced by the north-eastern monsoon, with its higher rainfall from October to January, and dry weather from May to September. As with much of Sri Lanka, September & October can also see heavier rain, although by November blue skies are expected once again, with good weather expected through till May.

Colombo & West Coast:

Bentota, Colombo, Negombo, Kalpitiya
With the west coast’s weather governed by the south-western monsoon, the best weather is expected between late November and April. Average temperatures throughout rarely drop much below 30 °C, but at certain times high rainfall and stormy conditions mean that your idyllic beach plans are best made elsewhere. Rainfall is at its highest between June and September, although August is often an exception with much lower rainfall.

Passport and Visa requirement

Please note that the following information is just a guide.

RegionPassport requiredReturn ticket requiredVisa Required
USAYesYesYes
BritishYesYesYes
AustralianYesYesYes
Other EUYesYesYes
CanadianYesYesYes

 

Passports:

To enter Sri Lanka, passports should have one blank page and be valid for no less than six months from the date of arrival.

VISAS:

Visas to Sri Lanka are required by all nationals referred in the chart above. Tourists and business travelers should apply online through the Electronic Travel Authorization System (ETA) http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/visainfo/center.jsp  and pay the requisite application fee. It’s recommended that you apply before you travel.

VISA NOTE:

Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the nearest embassy or high commission to check visa requirements for Sri Lanka.

TYPES AND COST:

Transit visa: free; double-entry tourist visa (ETA): US$20 in advance; multiple-entry business visa (ETA): US$30 in advance. We suggest following ETA website link for accurate cost http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/visainfo/fees.jsp

VALIDITY:

Transit visas: two days; double-entry ETA tourist visa: 30 days; multiple-entry business visa (ETA): 30 days; tourist/business visa from embassy/high commission: 30 or 90 days.

APPLICATION:

In person at the nearest consulate (or consular section of high commission/embassy) or online www.eta.gov.lk

PROCESS TIME:

The ETA tourist visa generally takes two days to come through. If you apply through the embassy/high commission, allow four working days for visa processing.

EXTENSION OF STAY:

Visitors can request to extend their ETA by applying to the Department of Immigration and Emigration (www.immigration.gov.lk  http://www.immigration.gov.lk ). This is issued at the discretion of the authorities who must be satisfied that the applicant has sufficient funds and holds an onward or return ticket for travel.

Money, ATM, Credit Card & Banking

Currency in Sri Lanka:

The Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR or Rs) is a floating currency, which means the exchange rate is determined by market forces. However, the Sri Lankan authorities sometimes intervene in order to keep the exchange rate from fluctuating too much.

One Rupee (Rs1) is made up of 100 cents. There are a total of six coins and eight banknotes currently in circulation. The coins are: 25 cents, 50 cents, Rs1, Rs2, Rs5 and Rs10. The notes are: Rs10, Rs20, Rs50, Rs100, Rs500, Rs1000, Rs2000 and Rs5000.

Exchanging currency in Sri Lanka:

While all major credit cards are accepted throughout Sri Lanka, you will need cash for some of the smaller souvenir shops and grocery stores.

Airport currency exchange kiosks, exchange bureaus, banks and many hotels offer currency exchange services or you can make an ATM withdrawal (if you need to exchange Dream Lanka Tour operator can recommend you some currency exchange locations). While all major credit cards are accepted throughout Sri Lanka, you will need cash for some of the smaller souvenir shops and grocery stores.

Banks and exchange bureaus accept most major currencies, as long as the notes are crisp and clean. If your bills are torn or damaged, they may be refused.

Using travelers’ cheques (check) in Sri Lanka:

Travelers’ cheques (check) rarely has attractive rates, and cashing them in Sri Lanka can be a challenge. Many banks have rather short opening hours – usually Mondays to Fridays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm – and most don’t accept them.

For these reasons, travelers’ cheques are best avoided. You’re often much better off exchanging cash or using an ATM.

Using credit and debit cards in Sri Lanka:

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Sri Lanka, even in smaller towns. Visa, Amex and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted cards. it’s still a good idea to carry some cash with you just in case.

Remember to let your bank know the dates when you’ll be abroad. If you don’t, it might think your Sri Lankan transactions are fraudulent, which may result in your card being frozen for security reasons.

ATMs in Sri Lanka:

ATMs are common in Sri Lanka, and most of them work with Visa (Plus), MasterCard (Cirrus and Maestro) and even AmEx. You can find the closest ATM by using these handy online ATM locators:

While using ATMs is the easiest and most convenient way to get the best exchange rate possible, you do need to watch out for fees. ATM operators in Sri Lanka charge a fee for every transaction. This is usually between Rs200 and Rs300. Your home bank probably charges fees too. You can usually expect to be charged an ATM access fee and a foreign exchange transaction fee.

Sri Lankan ATMs also have per transaction limits. The limit is usually between Rs40,000 and Rs60,000, depending on the bank. However, do keep in mind that your bank back home may also have per transaction and daily withdrawal limits.

Banks in Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka’s banking system is modern and easily accessible. There are more than 25 banks operating in the country. These include well-known international banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered. It’s worth checking with your bank whether it has a partnership with a bank in Sri Lanka. If it does, you might be able to use the partner bank’s ATMs free of charge or at a reduced cost.

HEALTH & SAFETY

HEALTH:

While the potential dangers of Sri Lankan travel may seem worrisome, most travelers experience nothing more serious than an upset stomach. But some occasion you may feel queasy perhaps after overindulge in some of our hot and spicy culinary delicacies and king coconut water is renowned for settling an upset stomach.

Health Insurance:

Even if you’re fit and healthy, don’t travel without health insurance: accidents do happen. A travel or health insurance policy is essential. Your normal health insurance doesn’t cover you for medical expenses abroad, get extra insurance. If you’re uninsured, emergency evacuation could get expensive.

Infectious Diseases:

Dengue fever: This mosquito-borne disease is becomingly increasingly problematic across Asia. As there is no vaccine available, it can only be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites at all times. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache and body ache and sometimes a rash and diarrhea. Treatment is rest and Paracetamol, do not take aspirin or ibuprofen, make sure you see a doctor to be diagnosed and monitored.

Hepatitis A: This is food and water-borne virus infects the liver, causing jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), nausea and lethargy. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A, you just need to allow time for the liver to heal. All travelers to Sri Lanka should be vaccinated against hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B: This sexually transmitted disease is spread by body fluids and can be prevented by vaccination.

Hepatitis E: Transmitted through contaminated food and water, hepatitis E has similar symptoms to hepatitis A, but is far less common. There is no commercially available vaccine, and prevention is by following safe eating and drinking guidelines.

HIV: Spread via contaminated body fluids and present in Sri Lanka. Avoid unsafe sex, unsterilized needles (including in medical facilities) and procedures such as tattoos.

Influenza: Present year-round in the tropics, influenza (flu) symptoms include fever, muscle aches, a runny nose, cough and sore throat. It can be severe in people over the age of 65 or in those with medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes – vaccination is recommended for these individuals. There is no specific treatment, just rest and Paracetamol.

Malaria: Malaria was formerly a serious problem, but the World Health Organization declared Sri Lanka malaria-free in 2016. Doctors presently advise that anti-malarial drugs are not necessary.

Additional information can be found by visiting following website link https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/sri-lanka

SAFETY & ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS:

Is it Safe to TRAVEL?

Sri Lanka is quite a safe destination to travel and one of the most picturesque countries on earth. The country is at peace and we are experiencing a record number of visitors from all over the world,  Sri Lanka is considered one of the few ‘un-spoilt’ destinations in the world. Many of our customers have become friends and some have return back few times and some are planning to visit.

Safety precautions:

According to accepted norms of travel, you should deposit your valuables like money, passport, tickets, jewels etc in the hotel safe deposit locker. In accordance with international custom, the Hotels in Sri Lanka are not responsible for objects lost in the room. Also do not leave your valuables unattended on the beach, the balconies or terraces.

INSECT BITES & STINGS:

Bedbugs: Don’t carry disease, but their bites can be itchy. You can treat the itch with an antihistamine.

Lice: Most commonly appear on the head and public areas. You may need numerous applications of an anti-lice shampoo such as pyrethrin.

Ticks: Contracted while walking in rural areas. Ticks are commonly found behind the ears, on the belly and in armpits. If you have had a tick bite and have a rash at the site of the bite or elsewhere, fever or muscle aches, see a doctor. Doxycycline prevents tick-borne diseases.

Leeches: Found in humid rainforest areas. They do not transmit any disease, but their bites are often itchy for weeks and can easily become infected. Apply an iodine-based antiseptic to any leech bite to help prevent infection.

Bee and wasp stings: Anyone with a serious bee or wasp allergy should carry an injection of adrenalin (eg an Epipen)

TAP WATER:

Tap water is not safe to drink. Use bottled or filtered water when buying bottle water look for the small round ‘SLSI’ logo, which shows the water has been tested by the government’s Sri Lanka Standards Institution.

SUNBURN:

When you flop onto the beach or poolside lounger for a spot of sunbathing, always remember to apply a sunscreen product with a sun protection factor of at least 15. Remember you are just 600km from the equator. Even with sunscreen, your sunbathing should be limited in time.

CULTURE, PHOTOGRAPHY AND PERMITS

Photography, Restrictions & Permits:

Sri Lanka is a tremendously photogenic island, so it’s hardly surprising that most tourists bring a camera of some kind when they visit the country. The stunning landscapes, wildlife, the captivating fauna and lush flora, and the stupendous archaeological remains provide great opportunities. So it’s easy to capture the traditional rural lifestyle. You’ll find villagers, farmers, fishermen and tea pluckers on your viewfinder.

Restrictions:

There are some important restrictions that apply to photography regarding Buddhist imagery. When you visit a temple or other religious site, remember that photography should not be carried out in a manner causing disrespect. For instance, it is strictly forbidden to pose in front of or beside or in any way disrespect (It’s fine to take a photograph of a statue, but all persons should be facing it). Note that flash photography can damage old murals.

If you are entering a temple, cover your shoulders and legs. You will also need to remove any footwear and headwear before heading inside. Same appropriate attire rules apply to Hindu temples, Churches, Muslim mosque and any other religious places as well.

Wearing any attire which features Buddha or any other deity can be considered disrespectful and insensitive. It can also be illegal resulting an arrest by the local police.

Permits:

Tourists who wish to visit and or photograph the principal ancient monuments in Sri Lanka are required to purchase a ticket from the
Central Cultural Fund,
212/1, Bauddhaloka Mawatha,
Colombo-07
Tel: +94-11 2587912 /2500733 /2581944
[email protected]
Central Cultural Fund offices at Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Kandy.
A single round ticket for two months validity costs US$50 and will entitle you to visit and photograph historic monuments such as AnuradhapuraPolonnaruwaSigiriyaNalandaRitigala, Medirigiriya. There are separate charges at each site for those who do not obtain round tickets: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya US$25, Nalanda US$5, Ritigala US$8, Medirigiriya US$5.

SOCIAL ETIQUETTE:

Public displays of affection between lovers such as kissing and/or hugging may be frowned upon as it is considered to be private behavior but it is acceptable in functions and establishments for adults such as nightclubs, casinos and beach parties.

Public nudity is illegal in Sri Lanka, if like you nude/topless sunbathe or skinnydip stick to the private beach resorts which allow it.

Same-sex relations are illegal. This is similar to the majority of all African nations. If you are a gay traveler, just be wary of local laws.
You must carry a form of official photographic identification on you at all times.

The best advice for any trip to Sri Lanka is watching what others do. Learning from locals is the best idea to make sure you don’t trip up on a custom that may offend someone and get you into trouble.

BUDDHIST CULTURE:

Buddhism is the main faith in Sri Lanka with over 70{d40e68178ee09eb21dfdc19e02d2b2944eaf43b98201d4aeb96b28d27e22e1aa} of the population following it with the remaining population following Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

Never touch or pat the top of the head of Buddhist monks, including children at a temple. As religious leaders of the community, they are to be respected – just as you would any religion.

Do not turn your back to (or be alongside) a Buddha statue when within a reasonable distance.  It’s always a good idea to follow what the locals are doing. This includes posing for photos. Its fine to take a photograph of a statue, but all persons should be facing the statue.

Be respectful to monks. There’s no particular etiquette for Westerners, just be polite. If you are entering a temple, cover your shoulders and legs. You will also need to remove any footwear and headwear before heading inside. Same appropriate attire rules apply to Hindu temples Churches, Muslim mosque and any other religious places as well.

Wearing any attire which features Buddha or any other deity can be considered disrespectful and insensitive. It can also be illegal resulting an arrest by the local police.