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. The island including the North and East is safe to visit. If you have anything stolen, report it to the tourist Police, (a special tourist police set up to look after the needs of the tourists. Contact Number + 94 11 2382209).
The Sri Lankan currency is the rupee (SLR) and has an approximate exchange rate of $1 = 110 rupees (current as at September 2010). Colombo airport has many bank branches where you can change money to SLR. National banking hours are from 0900 to 1500 hrs on weekdays. Cash and traveler’s cheques can be exchanged at most banks. Dollars are the preferred currency. ATMs are fairly wide spread across the island especially in tourist areas and international credit cards are widely accepted by shops and major hotels. Visitors to Sri Lanka bringing in more than US$10,000 should declare the amount to the Customs on arrival.
Health Care and Vaccinations
Health risks in Sri Lanka are different to those encountered in Europe and North America. Watch out for bowel diseases such as diarrhoea and amoebic dysentery, vector borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, and a variety of fungal infections. Colombo now boasts a selection of modern, well-equipped private hospitals offering the latest in conventional medical and surgical therapies.
The following vaccinations are recommended, particularly if you plan a long trip or intend visiting remote areas: typhoid (monovalent), polio, tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies
Children should, in addition, be protected against:diphtheria, whooping cough, mumps, measles, rubella. Remember to plan well ahead with vaccinations. Allow up to six weeks to receive the full course, for some vaccinations require more than one dose, and some should not be given together.
Tap water is not safe in Sri Lanka and so the best solution is to drink bottled water. Sri Lanka is very close to the equator and so there are risk of having sunburns, heatstrokes and rashes. Take necessary precautions to avoid the same.
Entrance Charges and Photo Permits
Sri Lanka has entrance charges for entering certain sites that include entry tickets, photography charges, and video charges. The entrance charges (including photography) are around 25 to 50 $/site/person along the sites near Cultural Triangle. These entrance tickets can be bought at the specific sites or at the Central Cultural fund office 11, Independence Ave, Colombo 7, Tel 2679921 or at 212 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, Tel: 2587912.
Sri Lanka Visa Rules
Sri Lanka has exempted tourists from 80 countries including USA, Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Japan, from visa requirements. The tourists from these 80 countries automatically receive a free 30-day visa on arrival. For nationals from other countries there is a varying fee for 30 days tourism visa. Nationals coming to Sri Lanka for a purpose other than tourism have to get prior visas from Sri Lanka Consular office. The 30-day visa can be extended up to 90 days on the payment of a fee. Tourists need to show a return or onward airline ticket out of Sri Lanka, along with proof of funds, such as traveller’s cheques or credit card, and provide a copy of the bio-data page of your passport and 02 photographs.
Language and Time Difference
English is widely spoken throughout the country and literacy levels are high.
Sri Lanka standard time is 5 hours ahead of GMT (in summer), 6 hours ahead of GMT (in winter).
How to get there
Sri Lanka is only accessible by air with the international airport being Bandaranaike International Airport, 35 km north of Colombo, and 6 km of Negombo.
What to wear
Cotton clothes are useful at any time of the year but you will need light woollens 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.
When to Visit
Though Sri Lanka is a round-the-year destination, tourists who seek for sun and sea the best time to visit the island is from November to April. 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.