Travel Tips for Sri Lankan Holidays
Here’s a short list of things to keep in mind when travelling to Sri Lanka, to help make planning and preparation easier. There’s nothing too complicated, just a few ideas that might come in handy, some suggestions for navigating the tropics and things specific to the island.
When To Visit Sri Lanka
The island generally has two season which basically are the wet monsoon season and the dry season. However one side of the island always has great whether, depending on the time of the year, making Sri Lanka a year round destination. From November to April the western and southern coast of the island have gorgeous whether, which the south-west monsoon emerging around May
The north-east monsoon starts around October, lasting until the end of November or even early December. The monsoon primarily affects the north and east, however inclement weather in the form of light, sporadic showers are sometimes seen in other parts of the island.
All technical information you will require can be found at the government website: www.eta.gov.lk
Regulation maintains that passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months before entering the country. Depending on your country of origin visa can be obtained on arrival, though checking with the relevant authorities prior to your journey, is advised Take care to secure your travel documents while in the country and this extend to all other valuables and belongings.
Cash in local currency and major credit cards are accepted throughout the country. However areas outside the major cities might not have a credit card facility. ATM’s are widely available and easily accessible, there are also several points for changing your foreign currency, however attending to the matter while at the airport or in Colombo is advised. A range of tourist friendly gift shops do accept foreign currency at the daily exchange rate. As a rule of thumb carrying a few thousand rupees (under US$50) with you at all times is recommended.
A change in climate and cuisine can sometimes take a little acclimatizing to. Paracetamol (often referred to by its brand name Panadol) can be easily purchase from most outlets, even in the more rural areas. Keep some Pepto-Bismol, Tums, or your preferred brand of antacid for heartburn relief handy. There are numerous well-stocked pharmacies in the major cities, which can help with procuring anything else you might need, from anti-allergy medicines to antibiotics, though keep in mind that some drugs require a doctor’s prescription.
A hot and humid climate requires that you stay properly hydrated, so carrying some drinking water with you is advised. Bottled water can be purchased easily from most outlets. An alternative to this is King Coconut water (obtained from a variety of bright orange coloured coconut), locally known as Thembili, a wonderfully refreshing drink, which has the benefit of natural electrolytes.
Light, loose fighting clothes are a necessary accessoryfor exploring the islands more tropical areas. However,when venturing towards the hill country, warmer clothing and even a light jacket are advised as temperatures can get quite low, especially at higher altitudes. Beach wear is fine for most settings, however when visiting religious sites or places of worship a more conservative dress code is required. If you have any doubts feel free to ask your tour guide or even check with your hotel’s help desk and they will be happy to supply the assistance you need.
Diet and hygiene
Food safety and hygiene standards are maintained in accordance with international standards by the local authorities and enforced island wide. For your safety we recommend patronizing only reputed establishments, this includes the major supermarket chains available throughout the island. If you have an allergies, notify the establishment prior to preparation.
Shooting either pictures or video at airports, dams, barricades, and military zones is prohibited. Posing next to statues in places of worship is considered impertinent. However if in doubt simply inquire and most locals will be happy to answer your queries.
Sri Lanka functions on a voltage of 230 V and a frequency of 50 Hz in keeping with European standards. Carrying a multi-plug adapter is recommended for charging your devices, though obtaining one is possible at most establishments.
Diligent use of sunscreen is strongly recommended, even on overcast days, as UV radiation can be quite high. Couple this with a good moisturizer to ensure proper skin care and maximum comfort.
Mosquitos are ubiquitous in the tropics and can be quite the nuisance. A good mosquito repellent will help guard against them and can be obtained at major supermarkets and pharmacies. Several herbal remedies are also available and some are just as effective as their synthesized counterparts.
Tipping & Etiquette
Tipping is not obligatory and most establishments levy a reasonable service charge, though a small contribution rewarding good service is customary.
The duty free provision allows you to enter the country with 1.5 liters of spirit, two bottles of wine, a quarter-liter of toilet water, a small quantity of perfume and souvenirs with a value not exceeding US $250. The import of electronic equipment is not allowed and personal items should ideally be declared on arrival. These personal items should also be taken back with you upon departure. The import of non-prescription drugs and pornography is an offence.
Sri Lanka has two official languages. Sinhala and Tamil, though English is widely spoken throughout the island, especially in major metropolises and in areas popular with tourist. Most signboards on the island are also available in three languages.
Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. (Allowance should be made for summer-time changes in Europe.)
A selection of private health practitioners, reputed private hospitals and government institutions are available throughout the island. The cost effective medical and dental care in Colombo has given rise to some medical tourism over the last few years, with numerous private hospitals offering excellent facilities,comprising a wide array of health care and wellness options.