FAQs

Please be advised that information supplied in this FAQ is only to be used as a general guide. The onus is upon the client to ascertain further clarification and confirmation.

Do I need a Visa

Most countries will need a visa to visit Sri Lanka. This can easily be obtained from the Sri Lank Consulate in your country or electronically prior to your arrival from ETA services (www.eta.gov.lk). A 30 day short visit visa is offered for a fee of some US$35.00 to US$40.00, a complete list of ETA processing fees could be obtained from the above website.

Short stay visit visas can be further extended by your application for an extension to be submitted to the Visa section of the Department of Immigration (head office) in Colombo. For further details please refer to www.immigration.gov.lk.

Furthermore, bona-fide tourists from most approved countries and those of Europe, Australia are able to obtain a short visit (tourist) visa on arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport, arrivals hall, before proceeding to immigration.

Sri Lanka has an amazing diversity of climatic and weather patterns, a typical tropical climate with sunshine and warmth year round, in tourist terms, there is really no such thing as ‘off season.’ Consequently, Sri Lanka is a year round destination for holiday makers. The average temperature is around 27 C to 30 C, but cooler conditions can be found in the hill country (approx. 16 C to 18 C). The month of May is considered the hottest period as it’s before the start of the Monsoon rains. The country has two seasonal monsoons – the south-west monsoon (May – July) where rains are concentrated in the western, southern and central regions, and the north-east monsoon (December & January) bringing rains to the northern and eastern parts. These are brought on by Monsoon winds blowing in from the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.

Health / Medical /Innoculations

Many hospitals in Colombo offer state of the art medical treatment and facilities are accredited with the Gold Seal of Approval by the Joint Commission International for meeting the highest quality and safety standards. It is to be noticed that many overseas patients combine medical treatments and recovery on the beaches of Sri Lanka.

However, emergency medical facilities may not be found outside main cities. You may have to be brought to Colombo or to a larger city for treatment. We recommend you use the private sector hospitals, which are likely to offer better care. You are strongly advised to have adequate health insurance cover when travelling to Sri Lanka.

Mosquito borne diseases like dengue, chickungunya and malaria are common in certain areas. It’s advised you take adequate protection against mosquitoes. We would suggest that you consult with your travel health clinic or Medical practitioner for further information. We would suggest that you bring with you insect / mosquito repellent, although such repellents are widely available in Sri Lanka. Almost every town has a pharmacy selling common medicines. However, we advise you to carry any special medication as the availability of medical supplies may vary.

There are no compulsory vaccinations for Sri Lanka required by law for travellers from Western Europe to gain entry. However vaccinations for all travellers to Sri Lanka are recommended and we would suggest that you contact your local Medical officer or travel clinic for further information.

Bugs & Pests

Mosquitoes
Most hotels will provide you with suitable mosquito repellent in the evening and during turn down. There is also the electric plug-in unit that can be easily purchased from outlets and supermarkets, together with repellent tablets (small repellent tablet inserted to the plug-in unit) or mosquito coils and mosquito repellent sprays. Some hotels and establishements will provide mosquito nets. It would be advisable to apply some repellent lotion on exposed parts if you plan to have dinner at outdoor or alfresco setting.

Leeches
Primarily for trekkers who venture into tropical forests or wetlands. A good remedy is to apply soap and let it dry or apply lime to exposed areas and carry some salt. Alternatively, you can wear leech socks, which are pulled over your trousers. you find a leach feeding on an exposed part of your leg or body do not pull it off, but wait for it to fall off after feeding. Alternatively, you can apply some salt onto the leach, this will make the leech release its hold and fall off.

Safety

The good news is that Sri Lanka is an extremely safe destination to visit, its people are warm, welcoming and very friendly and violent crime against foreigners are virtually unheard off. Petty theft is less common than in other Asian countries, however, always be prudent and sensible with your valuables. Touts, can be bothersome in various places, however, a firm word in their ear will send them packing. Notwithstanding the above, being cautious and safe is always a sensible attitude to take. If you were to venture out at night, it would be better to be accompanied by a companion.

The country is experiencing a record number of visitors and this is expected to increase substantially year on year. As Sri Lanka is considered one of the few safe un-spoilt and friendly destinations in Asia, many visitors return to Sri Lanka and treat it as their home away from home, as they feel welcomed, safe and secure.

Currency, Credit/Debit Cards & ATMs Banking

Sri Lanka currency is known as the Sri Lanka Rupee LKR, it’s not pegged to the US$, it does fluctuate slightly. The currency is divided into 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000. It is advisable to have a mix of smaller denominations together with the larger valued notes, such as a mix of Rs20, Rs50, Rs100 and Rs500. It can sometimes be a problem to breakdown a larger note (500, 1000 or 2000).

There is no set limits as to how much foreign currency you can bring into the country as a tourists. Generally, the norm would be US$10,000.00. It is recommended that you inform immigration at arrival of such amounts and obtain an acknowledgement from Customs to this effect. During your holidays, any cash purchase receipt should be retained by you in case at your departure immigration/customs inquire into the disposal of your foreign exchange that you brought into the country.

Hotels and other tourist establishments will exchange the Rs/LKR from US$, Euro or various other prime traded international currencies at the prevailing rate of exchange. Banks outside of the Colombo International Airport and regulated money exchange establishments, generally offer better rates of exchange than at the airport. It is a suggestion to change adequate money at the Airport and more, when needed outside of the airport.

Major credit and debit cards are accepted in major and many of the hotels in the country, supermarkets, tourist sales outlets and a whole variety of retail stores. You will be charged a fee of some 2 to 3% and possibly more on the value of your purchase. Some outlets including various banks may charge a higher percentage.

ATMs – Cash in Rupees can be obtained from major bank ATMs, however, you will be paying a fee of Rs200-300.00 per transaction and on all transactions whether ATM or credit or Debit card, you will be subject to rates of exchange.

Transportation

Transportation in Sri Lanka consists of motor vehicles (cars/taxis, SUVs, tourist buses), the famed Tuk Tuk (three wheeler), motor cycles, rail and the national bus service. Buses, TukTuks are cheap and operate all over the country and are ideal for short hops.

The rail service is economical and there are inter city services that serve all major cities in Sri Lanka. The Colombo to Kandy rail service in the observation carriage is most pleasant, so is the Ella to Nuwera Elliya sector.To some sectors the trains service can be crowded. To the larger cities such as Jaffna, Batticoloa, Trincomalee, Badulla, Kandy, Matara, seats can be reserved for the entire route.

Taxis, are a little expensive, but then again it gives you the freedom of when to travel and at your leisure. New expressways are shrinking the time taken to travel within the country.

There are also locally operated small planes and helicopter services to swiftly transport you to the Hill country, East Coast and other parts of the country, however, these domestic flight services are limited to selected cities. Some resorts have their own helipads.

Nearing the time of Poya or other holidays, public transport can get quite busy, it’s suggested that you try to avoid traveling during this time. Road signs are depicted both in Sinhalese & English language.

Hotels & Accomodation

Sri Lanka offers a whole range of hotels, from simple guest houses to star rated hotels, boutique hotels, villas, guest houses, eco lodges and safaris tents. The range of rooms whether shared or single occupancy are based on your requirement. Usually, accommodation is in a shared twin-bed room with a supplementary charge for single occupancy. Jade Lanka will work closely with you to ensure that your comfort is carefully attended too.

Business Hours

A working week is from Monday to Friday, some private sector business work on Saturday.

Institution Hours Open Days Closed
Banks 09:00 – 15:00 Mon – Fri (some open Sat morning) Sundays, Poya Days*
Government Offices 09:30 – 16:00 Mon – Fri (some open Sat morning) Sundays, Poya Days
Shops 09:00 – 19:00 Mon – Fri (most open Sat morning) (Some open Sun morning), Poya Days
Post Offices 08:00 – 17:00 Mon – Fri (most open Sat morning) Sundays, Poya Days

Holidays & Poya

Poya (full moon day) is a National Holidays in Sri Lanka. Every full moon (usually once a month) is a public holiday. Each of the full moons are days to commemorate key events in Buddhism. On Poya days, meat, fish or spirits are not sold in supermarkets or food retail outlets. Resorts and hotels may serve meat and fish.

Food / Drink

Sri Lanka’s principle cuisine is based on rice with a large variety of vegetables, fish, meat and fruit. With the infusion and mix of delicate local spices and flavors from past European rulers, Arab, India, Malay and other trades who historically visited Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan cuisine will most certainly leave its mark on your taste buds.

Most coastal towns offer an excellent range of fresh seafood including prawns, lobster and delicious crab. Being in the tropics, Sri Lanka is blessed with a large variety of exotic fruits, such as dragon fruit, mangoes, rambutan, mangosteen, jackfruit, pineapple, papaya, Bananas (known as plantains in Sri Lanka). These are available in over a dozen sub varieties of shapes, sizes & tastes! wood apple, melons, passion fruit, guavas, etc., are but a small sample of the amazing variety of exotic fruits to be savored and enjoyed.

Vegetarian food is plentiful, there are many vegetarian and South Indian restaurants in the country. Hotels too will accommodate your vegetarian food requirements including gluten free.

We advice you not to drink tap water unless it is purified, purified bottled water is recommended. Only use water from sealed capped bottles. Most hotel rooms will supply you with purified bottled water which is safe to drink. Alternatively, purified bottled water is freely available in all shops. Prices are not expensive. It is recommended that you carry bottled with you when you undertake outdoor activities.

Entertainment

Sri Lanka offers a wide range of entertainment and nightlife in its many resorts and hotels and in the Capital of Colombo, these include sports clubs, discotheques, bars and pubs, karaoke lounges and Casinos that offer a good combination of live entertainment. Friday and Saturday nights are the days for all night partying. The casinos offer a good combination of entertainment and food not to mention trying your hand at lady luck!

Furthermore, at various beach locations in the South Coast where beach parties and wild times could be had, such as in Unawatuna, Hickaduwa, Bentota and Negombo (near Colombo airport).

Telecommunication

Sri Lanka’s land line, internet and mobile telecommunication network is well advanced and covers the country. On arrival at the airport you can obtain prepaid local SIM/top up card (mobile numbers) that includes bundles of Data, IDD and local calls. Cost is cheap and you can top up your phone when your credit has been through retail outlets throughout the country.

Mobile are very widely used throughout the country, the system is based on 3G. All mobile operators support the GSM technology.WAP & GPRS is widely supported. 3G, 4G and wireless broadband is available in Colombo and some other major cities. Wi-Fi zones and cybercafes are available, hotels, restaurants, etc. The cost of logging on is cheap or free.

Dialing into Sri Lanka from overseas– Sri Lanka’s country code is 94, (E.g. If you need to call a number in Colombo, dial +94 11 2 plus the number). If you are calling a mobile number, you dial the number after the country code (E.g. dial +94 7 plus the number).

Dialing within & out of Sri Lanka – If you need to dial an international call, you will need to dial 00 or + followed by your overseas IDD and number. For calls within Sri Lanka you do not have to dial the area code, subject to you being within the area. However, the area code must be dialed if you want to make an outstation call (e.g. calling within Colombo, dial 2 plus the number, calling Kandy from Colombo, dial 081 22 plus the number (this may differ from service provider to service provider).

Power/Voltage

Electrical sockets (outlets) in Sri Lanka usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you’re plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.

Sri Lankan hotels have two types of plug bases; either the UK (Type G).

Plug type Pins Amps Plug base compatibility
UK (Type G) 3 rectangular pins 13 Amps Accepts Type C. Need an adapter to accept Type D
Euro plug (Type C) 2 round pins 5 Amps Compatible with Type G and Type D or use of an adapter.

Hotels have adaptors and will be happy to provide you with one. Alternatively, supermarkets and hardware outlets carry stock, all reasonably priced.

The Type I plug (two slanted pins) used in countries such Australia, New Zealand and parts of China is not compatible with Sri Lankan plug base and will need an adapter. It is better that you bring along a ‘Universal Adapter’, as it will be difficult to find adapters for Type I plugs in the local hardware shops.

Spoken Language

The main spoken and written language in Sri Lanka is Sinhala and to a lesser degree Tamil. Notwithstanding this, English is widely spoken other than in rural villages. Even in such remote locations, there is always someone who will speak some English.

English is spoken at all hotels, major restaurants and retail outlets.

Advice on Shopping & Tipping

Sri Lanka has a lot of different and interesting local products, handicraft, gems and our famous Ceylon teas on sale. Other recommendations are wood carving, batiks, semi- precious stones, lacquer-ware, handmade Silver- and Brass objects. It is best to purchase items from accredited retail outlets. Alternatively, we will recommend reputable retail outlets without liability to Premier Lanka Voyages. It is recommended that you do not entertain touts!

There are specialist retail outlets and shopping malls that carry an excellent range of clothing. Sri Lanka is a major garment manufacturing country for many of the international brands and an exporter of all kinds of apparel. Consequently, there is a wide selection of children’s and adult casual clothing, shoes, trainers, beach wear and even some winter clothing at extremely attractive prices. Don’t miss this opportunity.

If you are offered any type of tortoise/turtle shell or Ivory ornaments, please note that you may violate the CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). We would also request that you do not purchase any wood carvings made from Ebony. This is a scarce specie of wood.

Tipping

Widely accepted and generally well received by locals and a customary way of showing your appreciation for services carried out. Here are ideas for your consideration on tipping, don’t get overwhelmed by all the tipping advice, after all it’s purely discretionary.

Restaurant Staff – A 10% service charge is usually included in bills for food in more established restaurants. However the waiter/ waitress will expect a small tip. If a 10% service charge is included in the bill, a tip of Rs.150 to Rs.200 will be sufficient. If you receive singularly special service, add a further 10%. It’s really left up to you.

Bell desk, porters & housekeeping, maintenance staff – A tip of Rs.150 to Rs.250 the porter/ bell boy per bag. Airport porters usually have the service charge rate marked on their vests – usually about Rs.50 per bag. The room boy/ maid & pool boy will expect Rs.500 per week.

Places of interest and Temples – The person who looks after your shoes at temples will require a small tip of around Rs.100-200/- per pair. The resident monks in some smaller temples will show you around, it is considered gracious to offer a donation – in such cases you can buy a ‘ticket’ from a layperson or place the tip in the ‘donation box’.

If you visit Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage or similar and want to take photo or bottle feed a baby elephant – you’ll need to accommodate a ‘tip’. Always check with your guide before taking a picture.

Transport

Taxis/cabs & TukTuks run on a fixed price rate, so tipping is not required. Always ensure that TukTuks operate a fare/hire meter. Try not to use a TukTuk without a meter, as you can end up paying silly money for a trip.

Tour Guide and driver

Your chauffeur-guide will expect something between Rs.1500 to Rs.2500 per day (depending on your level of satisfaction with his service). If you are in a tour group of more than 5 people (and tour of more than a week), you can pay the guide Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000, driver Rs.8,000 to Rs.10,000 at the end of the tour.

Local Custom & Etiquette

Culture and etiquette in Sri Lanka is different to those of the Western mindset, please ensure that when dealing with locals that you accept differences. The traveler who wishes to enjoy a happy and bountiful visit in Sri Lanka should keep as calm, cheerful and friendly as humanly possible. Courtesy and patience open many doors and gets you smiles, service and respect.

Please note that when eating food with your fingers that you should always use your ‘right’ hand. Using your left hand is deemed impolite.

Request permission before taking photographs of people and respect their wishes if they decline. Generally the locals are happy with pictures being taken. It would be a good gesture to send a picture or two back to us, as we will then forward these when next in the area to the participant. The locals get thrilled when seeing themselves in photos and it encourages a ‘sharing and caring’ attitude. In some areas locals have requested that videos or photos of them are not taken, we would respectfully request same from you. Some venues of antiquity will not permit you to use your flash, as this can damage the subject matter.

Never be obscene or pose in front of a Buddha statue (i.e. with your rear to the statue). Such conduct is deemed disrespectful. Always request permission before taking a picture of a Monk or a person of the Clothe, this includes military or other sensitive area.

A useful Government website to refer to: www.srilankahighcommission.co.uk

Additional Information
  • Dress code when visiting temples: Dress in a conservative manner, ladies are to cover their shoulders and wear a dress or slacks, for men to wear trousers and shirt or polo shirt. In some temples you will find the earth underfoot quite warm due to the heat of the sun, we would suggest that you keep your socks on to avoid being uncomfortable.
  • As a gesture of respect, shoes are generally taken off when visiting temple or visiting private home.
  • It is good practice not to wear attire or handbags, etc that depicts a picture of Buddha or insulting effegies of Bhuddha.
  • Nude bathing or being topless is frowned upon and generally forbidden on beaches.
  • Ladies personal health accessories, such as Tampax are available only in Colombo.
  • Sun protection cream, sun glasses and a hat/cap are recommended for when climbing Sigiriya and for extended out door activities.
  • The famed and nutritiously delicious fresh King Coconut water is abundantly availably throughout the country. Ideal and a must for the morning after a heavy boozy night fun.
  • Animals in Sri Lanka. Do not approach or feed them and be aware of monkeys that have a habbit of being a neusense, they also can bite!
  • When climbing Sigiriya, you will note wasp hives during your climb. It’s well advised to stay clear of the wasps and not annoy them.
  • It is preferred that no excessive expression of affection is displayed in public areas.

Here are a few words to help you along with the locals in Sinhala, phonetic translation from Sinhala  into English

Hello – Ayubowan
Good Bye – Gihi Ennam
How are you? – Kohomadhe?
Thank you – Istuh-ti
Thank you very much – Bohoma istuti
Please – Karunakerala
Good – Hondai
Sorry – samaa venna
OK – hari
I am English – Mama Ingrisi jathikayek
Yes – Owu
No – Naa
let’s go – yamu
What is your name – oyage nama mokadhdha
My name is – mage nama
Do you speak English? – Ingirisi dannevada
I don’t speak Sinhala – Singhala danna naa
Bank – bankuva
Police – Polisiya
Railway Station – Station (Dumriva stanaya)
Airport – Airport
Post office – Thepel kanthoruwa
Train – Kochchiya
Car – car
Bus – bus
Hotel – Hotale
Room – Kamara
Available – Thiyenawadha
Is there a room available? – Hotale Kamara thienawadha?
Chemist – Pharmacy
Toilet Paper – Toilet paper
Bathroom – Nana Kamare
Mosquito repellent – Maduru-koil
Hospital – Isprithalaya
I need a doctor – mata dhosthara kenekva one
I don’t feel well – mata saneepa nae
Help me – mata udhauw karanaa
Fine – Varadhak neh
Very good – Hari hondhai
Delicious – Hari rasai
Stop – Newathuma
I don’t understand – Mata terinneh neh
Price – Gaana
How much – Keeyadha
Very expensive – Hari ganan
Please stop here – Methana nawathana

 

Where are you going – Kohedha yanna
Where is the hotel – Hotale kohedha
Where is the station – Stesemeta eka ko
What is this – Mekeh mokadeh
May I telephone – Mata call ekak ganda poluwandeh
How much is this – Meeka kiyadha?
What time is it? – Welawa keeyada?
Less – Aduwen
More – Thawa
How – Kohomada
What – Mokadhdha
Where – Kohedha
When – Kawadadha
Who – Kaudha
Why – Ayi
This – maka

Today – Ada
Tonight – Ada Re
Yesterday – Eye
Tomorrow – Heta
Monday – Sandudha
Tuesday – Angaharuwada
Wednesday – Badhada
Thursday – Brahaspathindha
Friday – Sikuradha
Saturday – Senasurada
Sunday – Irida

We hope our FAQ’s have been of use to you. We thank you for perusing our website and look forward to meeting you. Please feel free to contact the team at anytime.