Sri Lanka is another island where you definitely can not experience boredom and which will meet all your expectations from an exotic vacation in Asia. You will see endless beaches along the coast, clear turquoise sea, diverse and almost untouched nature including jungles and hills. This paradise offers much more, but the question is whether you will break away from surfing, which is very popular on the island.

Basic information

Tourist visa

Visa required

All year round

The weather is suitable for travel all year round

Sri Lankan Rupee

The rate is around USD 0.0054 for LKR 1

Tickets from USD 990

Price of a ticket from New York

Why Sri Lanka

For many reasons. Whether you are fan of active holidays or coming with your family including small children, you’ll enjoy your visit. You can surf on sunny beaches all day long, your children may have fun in the beautiful blue pool, or in the central area you can try several mountain treks, or visit several palaces with a rich history, mostly associated with a visit to Siddhartha.

The capital of Sri Lanka

The official capital of Sri Lanka is Sri Jayavardanapura Kotte, abbreviated Kotte. It is a suburb of the largest city of Colombo and the capital has been since 1977. Until then, it used to be Colombo. In addition to the new Parliament building, other government offices began to move here in 1982.

Flag of Sri Lanka

A yellow lion holding a sword as a symbol of power on a red background. Green and orange stripes symbolizes Hindu Tamils and Muslim Moors. Four yellow tickets are meant to commemorate Buddhist values - kindness, compassion, joy and peace.

Population of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has over 22 million inhabitants. The most numerous nationalities are Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims.

Holidays in Sri Lanka

Many holidays are celebrated in Sri Lanka. For some, it is not possible to determine the exact date easily - for example, for Muslims they are determined by the phase of the moon, for Hindus based on astrological calculations.

The days of Poja are full moon celebrations. These days, people do not go to work and are not allowed to sell or consume alcohol. However, this restriction does not apply to tourists and alcohol is served in restaurants.

The largest and most important festival is the Esala perahera in Kandy (July / August). 10-day celebrations full of dancers, artists and elephants. The celebrations are colorful and very photogenic for tourists.

The second most important holiday is the Duruthu perahera in Colombo (January), on a full moon day. Celebrating the first visit of the Buddha in Sri Lanka.

Vesak in May commemorates the birth of the Buddha and his entry into Nirvana. Buddhists bring flowers and candles to temples. The celebrations end with a pilgrimage to Adam’s Mountain.

Christmas is celebrated here on December 25th and the New Year falls on April 14th and is celebrated throughout the week.

Emblem of Sri Lanka

The base of the emblem is the same as on the flag, lion holding a sword. Furthermore, a wreath of golden lotus petals, a blue ring and a wreath of golden rice surround. At the top is a blue Buddhist wheel of life (dharmachakra). Below the emblem is a golden jug of abundance (punkalasa) and on its sides a golden sun and moon.

Currency of Sri Lanka

1 Sri Lankan Rupee=0.0054 USD (updated on July 10th, 2020), but we recommend that you always check the current exchange rate.

You can exchange money at the airport. After picking up your luggage, you will come across exchange offices. They all have the same rate, but they will entice you to exchange with them. It is ideal to bring US Dollars or Euros to exchange. From our own experience, we recommend exchanging most of your money to smaller banknotes. LKR 1000 is high value for Sri Lankans and they may have trouble to give you back change, for example (tuk tuk drivers).

We also recommend that you take as much cash as possible with you. Some ATMs may not help you. They either take Visa cards only or MasterCard only. Alternatively, if you have both types of cards, you should have enough money on both.

Prices in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, drinking and food are cheap by western standards. Conversely, alcohol and cigarettes will become more expensive. The prices for drinks are low, but note that they may also be low on volume.

The cheapest transportation option is a bus, but for your convenience we recommend tuk tuk + it is an interesting experience. The price per kilometer is about LKR 50 and if the driver asks you for more, be sure to negotiate the price.

HINT

Example prices:

  • Food in an ordinary restaurant about LKR 250
  • Local beer about LKR 300
  • Imported beer approx. LKR 500
  • Water approx. LKR 50
  • Cigarettes / Marlboro / approx. LKR 1500
  • Package of Ceylon loose teapot LKR 500
  • Spice bag approx. LKR 300
  • Fresh coconut approx. LKR 40
  • Rice and curry about LKR 200
  • Admission Sigiriya about LKR 4000
  • Yala National Park about LKR 3000 + 5000 jeep rental
  • Horton Plains National Park about LKR 3000
  • Dambulla about LKR 1500
  • Pinewalla about LKR 2500
  • Millenium about LKR 3000
  • Temple of the Buddha’s Tooth about LKR 1000

Vaccination in Sri Lanka

Pre-trip vaccination is not mandatory, only recommended:

  • Jaundice A
  • Jaundice B
  • Typhoid
  • Tetanus

In addition to vaccination, it is good to take quality repellent with you. In Sri Lanka, especially in tourist areas, there is no risk of malaria, but the risk of dengue fever has increased. Mosquito nets should be part of every accommodation, but if you take your own, you won’t spoil anything + sunscreen with high SPF is a good idea too!

When staying in Sri Lanka, it is in any case necessary to follow basic hygiene rules for staying in tropical countries, including appropriate vaccinations, or use of antimalarial, and caution when consuming food and beverages. In the case of health problems, it is necessary to take into account that commonly available health care is not at a level comparable to European or American countries. It is advisable to ask for a recommendation of a medical facility in higher category hotels.

Visa to Sri Lanka

On January 31st, 2020, the Sri Lankan government suspended the pilot project of issuing free electronic tourist visas upon arrival in Sri Lanka to 46 selected countries.

If you are traveling to Sri Lanka for tourism, visit http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ to obtain an electronic travel authorization.

Security in Sri Lanka

There is very low crime in Sri Lanka. However, use common precaution. Eventually some petty theft may happen, so we recommend guarding your personal assets and not putting them away unnecessarily.

The most dangerous probably is the traffic on the road. There are no rules on this island as we know them, traffic lights, transitions, you have to be really careful. The most common cause of death of tourists are traffic accidents, but if you are vigilant enough, you will be fine.

HINT

Women should not unnecessarily expose certain parts of body. Mainly outside the tourism areas. Choose longer skirt and have a light scarf to cover your shoulders ready.

Local people are very nice, mainly because they want your money. They will attract you in various ways and offer you their services. Be especially careful on busy beaches. Offering services is normal, but some are intrusive and annoying, and in a few minutes many will come to you. If you are not interested in buying everything, we recommend that you ignore the seller. Once you talk to them, it’s hard to get rid of them. But if you are interested in their services (massages, snorkeling) or products (souvenirs), you can bargain. As a general rule, when the price is not stated, you can bargain and it would not offend anyone. On the contrary, actually, you have to, because most sellers determine the price according to skin color.

Interesting facts about Sri Lanka

Pole fishermen - even though more efficient fishing methods are already being used, it is still possible to encounter pole fishermen somewhere. Mainly because you can take pictures of them for a fee. For some, it is the main source of income.

You can also support local animals. E.g. elephant orphanage, where you can finally pet an elephant or bathe with it, or a turtle farm. These institutions are mainly used to help and rescue animals.

Locals have their own habits that should be followed. Do not undress yourself unnecessarily, do not shake left hand and do not use it when eating (the left hand is unclean, it is used in restroom …), do not take pictures turning back to Buddha, do not smoke in public (in tourist areas it is tolerated).

Important contacts

Where to call in case of an emergency in Sri Lanka?

  • Rescue service: 110
  • National Security Line: 118
  • Police: 119
  • Government aid: 1919

The area code for Sri Lanka is +94.

Contacts at the U.S. Embassy Colombo:

Address:

210 Galle Road, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka

Phone: +94 (11) 249-8500 Emergency line: +94 (11) 249-8500

Email: support-srilanka@ustraveldocs.com

Further contacts can be found at https://lk.usembassy.gov/

Contacts at Australian High Commission Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka:

Address:

21 Srimath RG Senanayake Mawatha Colombo 7

Phone: +94 112463200 Emergency line: +94 112463200

Email: info.aulk@vfshelpline.com

Further contacts can be found at https://srilanka.embassy.gov.au/clmb/home.html

Contacts at British High Commission Colombo:

Address:

389 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Phone: +94 11 5390639. Emergency line: +94 11 5390639.

Email: colombo.general@fcdo.gov.uk

Further contacts can be found at https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-high-commission-colombo

What to know next about Sri Lanka

Do you know everything before you go to Sri Lanka? It's time to choose a ticket.

Choose a ticket