Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Visa Policy

Most tourists visiting Sri Lanka for sightseeing purpose have to obtain the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) in advance, and then they can get a visa upon arrival which allows them to stay for not more than 30 days. However, nationals from Maldives, Seychelles and Singapore don't need to get the ETA. They can get the visa on arrival directly which is free of charge. Nationals from some countries such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Myanmar need to apply for a visa prior to their trip.


Dress Code

Usually, tourists can wear casually, but they need to dress properly when stepping into temples. It is advised to wear the over-knee dresses or pants. Visitors need to take off hats and shoes at temples, but please wear socks. Ripped jeans are even forbidden in some temples. As Sri Lanka is a tropical island, it is hot all year round. Tourists should pay attention to sunburn protection by wearing sunglasses, hats and sun screen creams.


Electricity

The voltage of electricity in Sri Lanka is up to 230 volts. Three kinds of sockets are available in the country, including three-pin round-hole sockets, three-pin square-hole sockets and three-pin big square sockets. The first and second ones are usually used in hotels and inns. The third is used for air-conditioners and high-power electrical appliances. It is said that Sri Lanka may only use the three-pin square-hole sockets in the near future. Some hotels may provide socket adapters, or tourists can bring one on their own or buy one when arriving there.


Currency

The local currency is Sri Lanka Rupee, or LKR in short. US dollars and other currencies are rarely used there. Visitors can use US dollars in some hotels and attractions where the price is marked in US dollars. Tourists can exchange foreign currency to rupee in airports where the exchange rate is relatively lower. It is not advised to withdraw money from the ATMs because of the rather high interest. Besides, try not to pay by card as there were many card frauds in the country. Tourists can withdraw rupees from Sri Lanka Commercial Bank.


Medicare

Usually, tourists are advised to bring some frequently-used medicines for unexpected situation. Try to choose private hospitals for foreigners like Nawaloka Hospital if visitors need to see a doctor. Although it may cost more, the medical condition here is much better compared with local public hospitals. However, good hospitals are rarely seen in small cities. Tourists can buy the simple medicines in pharmacies and the pharmacists may provide useful advice.


Shopping

Sri Lanka abounds in black tea and jewel. When going there, tourists should not miss these two items. Usually, the black tea produced in the mountainous areas at an altitude of over 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) is much better. The famous jewels mainly include ruby, sapphire, opal, amethyst and moonstone. There are some famous shopping malls such as Odel, Dutch Hospital Complex, Barefoot, Laksala, Majestic City, Pettah Market and House of Fashion, where visitors can purchase all kinds of products.


Accommodation

Usually, 5-star hotels are recommended for visitors due to the sound facilities, good environment and services. Most importantly, 5-star hotels are neat and tidy. It usually costs USD125 - 200 per night. A lot of 5-star resort hotels are available at the southwest part of Sri Lanka for tourists to enjoy the beautiful seascape. Each hotel provides private garden and pool. Here are some recommended hotels: Heritance Kandalama Hotel, Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, Galle Face Hotel, Jetwing Vil Uyana and Amangalla.


Tip

Usually, visitors need to tip the waiters, bellboys, and drivers when in Sri Lanka. Part of the waiters' income depends on the tips. The bills of restaurants and hotels usually include 10% tip, so there is no need to tip any more in principle. However, if the hotel staff carry luggage for you, you need to tip 10 - 50 rupees.


Communication and Internet

Most hot tourist cities and restaurants provide WIFI, but small-sized family inns may not have WIFI. Visitors can purchase the data plan from the communication service providers if they need to access the internet. Usually, the data plan (including 1G flow) from Hutch company costs 198 rupees.


Food

The locals usually grab food by hands directly. Compared with other countries, Sri Lankan curry is relatively spicy and salty. Besides, the locals like sweet food. They usually drink juice, coffee and eat cakes. If visitors are not into sweet food, remember to remind the waiters "No Sugar, please".


Holidays and Festivals

There are many holidays and festivals in Sri Lanka, such as Kala Pola Art Market, Independence Day, Navam Perahera and Deepavali. One of the most important festivals should be Kandy Esala Perahera which is held during the last ten days of July or the first ten days of August to worship the Buddha tooth relic. This is the most distinctive Buddhism celebration in the country. Tourists should not miss that when visiting there in July or August. Duruthu Perahera is held on the full moon day in January to celebrate the first and third times when the Buddha came to Sri Lanka.


Security Situation

Sri Lankans are kind and warm-hearted, so the security situation is pretty good in most cases. However, single female still need to be careful in crowded places and don't go out alone at night. Hotels don't provide safe box services, so tourists should take good care of personal belongings on their own.


Useful Numbers

Calling code: +0094
Police: 118/ 119
Fire: 110
Ambulance: 011-2422222


Further Reading: 
Things to Do in Sri Lanka   Sri Lanka Weather   Sri Lanka Transportation