Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Sri Lanka FAQ

What do I need to do before I travel?

We suggest that all our customers review foreign office advice for Sri Lanka before travelling. Click here for the latest information from the foreign office.

What are the Visa requirements?

You will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. Although it is possible to obtain one on arrival it is recommended you arrange one prior to travelling. You can organise a visa through the Electronic Travel Authority website. 

 

What is the currency in Sri Lanka?

The local currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee, however major credit/debit cards are accepted in the main hotels, resorts and larger shops and restaurants. Travellers cheques and cash may be the only payment method in smaller shops or bars. Banks operate from around 9am until 3pm Monday through Friday. 

Will I need to bring an adaptor?

No electrical adaptors will be required in Sri Lanka, as they use the same plug sockets as the UK. 

What is the language in Sri Lanka?

The official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala and Tamil, however English is used as a ‘link’ language and is therefore widely spoken. 

Are there any customs or public holidays I should be aware of?

The majority of the Sri Lankan population are practicing Buddhists, and the mistreatment of Buddhist artefacts or images is viewed as a serious offence – do not pose for photographs by statues or images of Buddha, and it is strongly advisable not to have any visible tattoos of Buddha on display at the airport, as tourists have been refused entry for this!

Do not take photos of military bases or government buildings, and be aware that you may face fines if you ignore instructions not to smoke or drink in various public areas.

Although a relatively westernized nation in some respects (the ubiquity of English speakers, for example) Sri Lanka is a country with a strong sense of pride in its unique cultural heritage. The country’s main religion of Buddhism has a pervasive influence over everyday life, and you should take care to dress and behave appropriately when visiting Buddhist temples. The Sri Lankan people are unerringly friendly, with a heavy emphasis placed on the importance of manners and politeness – you will instantly notice the supreme courteousness of restaurant and hotel staff. 

Festivals & Public Holidays  *Please note alcohol will not be served on Poya Days in hotels (except from the minibar)

  • Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day is on Monday, January 05, 2015
  • Navam Full Moon Poya Day is on Tuesday, February 03, 2015
  • National Day Sri Lanka is on Wednesday, February 04, 2015
  • Medin Full Moon Poya Day is on Thursday, March 05, 2015
  • Good Friday is on Friday, April 03, 2015
  • Bak Full Moon Poya Day is on Saturday, April 04, 2015
  • Sinhala and Tamil New Year is on Monday, April 12 & 13, 2015
  • Labour Day in Sri Lanka is on Friday, May 01, 2015
  • Vesak (Buddha’s Birthday) is on Monday, June 01, 2015
  • Poson Full Moon Poya Day is on Tuesday, June 02, 2015
  • Esala Full Moon Poya Day is on Friday, July 31, 2015
  • Nikini Full Moon Poya Day is on Saturday, August 29, 2015
  • Binara Full Moon Poya Day is on Monday, September 28, 2015
  • Vap Full Moon Poya Day is on Tuesday, October 27, 2015
  • Diwali (Festival of Lights) is on Wednesday, November 11, 2015
  • Il Full Moon Poya Day is on Wednesday, November 25, 2015
  • Christmas Day is on Friday, December 25, 2015
  • Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day is on Friday, December 25, 2015

Is Sri Lanka safe?

Violent crime against tourists is relatively rare, although there have been a small number of reports of sexual offences. Credit card fraud is the most common type of crime in Sri Lanka – you should use cash wherever possible, and only use ATMs that are attached to banks or major hotels. As always, you should take precautions to safeguard your personal possessions and valuables.

What is the cuisine like?

Sri Lanka enjoys a status as one of the original ‘spice islands’, and the nation’s staple dish is rice and curry. Often much hotter than most Indian cooking, Sri Lankan cuisine liberally incorporates chillies, curry leaves, cinnamon, garlic, coconut milk and what is known as ‘Maldive fish’, a strongly flavoured pinch of sun-dried tuna. 

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