Your adventure begins

In this section you’ll find everything you need to know about Sri Lanka.
Starting with some information about the country and its people, the different areas and travel times, as well as many practical tips.
Now you can start planning your personal journey from the scratch, with many tips for preparations and inspirational insights so
that nothing can stop you from enjoying unforgettable holidays.

About Sri Lanka

Serendib. Sinhala. Ceylon. Sri Lanka has had many names over the course of its rich history. Its name today could be best translated with “sacred beauty”. The drop-shaped island amidst the Indian Ocean has been an important junction for trades and developed into a crucible of many different cultures.

Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam exist side by side; Singhalese and Tamil as well as many other ethnical groups have had influence on the country we know today. Countless temples and shrines are silent witnesses to the eventful and erratic past of Sri Lanka.

One country - unique diversity

From the mountains covered with green forests to the lush palm trees and the idyllic beaches – Sri Lanka has so much to offer. The land is diverse and fascinating unlike any other. Sri Lanka is divided into 9 provinces including 25 districts. Overall, the island consists of 6 regions: east and west coast, south and north, the central highlands as well as the “cultural triangle”. Each of these regions is unique in its own way and differs in landscape, cultural sights and events as well as the range of activities.

Best time to travel? Anytime!

Due to its proximity to the equator, the island shows all the characteristics of the tropics and is blessed by the sun throughout the entire year making Sri Lanka the perfect destination. Still, the best travel time varies depending on the different regions. The South and West Coast have the best weather conditions with up to 10 sun hours per day between December and April. The East Coast is just the opposite. Here you can enjoy pure sunshine and dry weather from April to September. Anywhere you go, the seawater is always comfortably warm, reaching up to 25 degrees each day. Perfect for taking a swim!

Public holidays in Sri Lanka

Due to different religions and cultures Sri Lanka celebrates various public holidays and festivals. The main festive days are the Sinhala and Tamil New Year on April 14th, Independence Day on February 4th and the Full Moon Days (Poya days) that are celebrated once a month. Banks, public buildings and shops stay closed on these specific days. Furthermore, selling of alcohol is prohibited.

Sri Lankan Cuisine

Groceries and food are of a great diversity in Sri Lanka. The land offers a large variety of locally grown vegetables and most of all fruits. On the coasts fish and seafood enthusiasts can enjoy a sheer never-ending feast made of freshly caught fish and seafood throughout their stay. The most characteristic meal is “rice and curry” which is available in many variations and is served for lunch or dinner.

Applying for a visa

Since 2012, travelers have to apply for a Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) when they want to go to Sri Lanka. This ETA is given by Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration & Emigration. You can register here on the official website of the Sri Lankan government and get your visa online.

It is best to apply for the ETA before traveling to Sri Lanka. If necessary, you can get it at the airport in Colombo, but the fee will rise from 35 to 40 US dollar and a long waiting time is almost guaranteed.

The ETA is limited to a period of 30 days and you will need a passport that will be valid for a minimum of 6 months when arriving in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, you will have to fill in an entry form when entering the country. You will get the form either from the airline on your flight or when arriving at the airport.

Embassy of Sri Lanka in Germany

Niklasstraße 19
14163 Berlin
Tel. +49 (0) 30/80 90 97 49
Fax. +49 (0) 30/80 90 97 57
http://www.srilanka-botschaft.de

Consulate of Sri Lanka in Switzerland
Consulat général de Sri Lanka en Suisse

Rue de Moillebeau 56
1209 Genf
Tel. +41 (0) 22/919 12 50
Fax: +41 (0) 22/788 31 92
http://lankamission.org/

Embassy of Sri Lanka in Austria

Weyringergass 33,
A-1040 Wien
Tel. +43 (0) 1 / 503 79 88
Fax. +43 (0) 1 / 503 79 93
http://www.srilankaembassy.at

Safety advice

It’s always important to talk about travel safety. Even in Sri Lanka there are a few things you should keep in mind while travelling around. For one thing, there is the riptide along the coastline that can be a big challenge even for experienced swimmers. But there are some more things that you should know about safety in Sri Lanka.

Customs tariff regulations

Ready to go? Perfect! But before you start your journey, we’d like to share some knowledge about the customs regulations when travelling to Sri Lanka and back. There are some things to be considered, from importing and exporting certain goods to taking your pet to Sri Lanka. It’s best to be prepared in advance to avoid unpleasant consequences.

What to pack

Some clothing is indispensable when going to Sri Lanka. Most regions are dominated by tropical heat; light clothing made of linen or cotton, a hat and sandals are essential under these humid conditions. For women, dresses, skirts and shorts that reach down to the knees are recommended. Shirts with a moderate neckline are appropriate when being out and about. Bikinis and other swimwear are perfectly suitable when at the beach though going for a swim and sunbathing topless is strictly forbidden.

All about money

Sri Lanka’s national currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, short LKR, which divides into 100 Cents. In April 2016, 100 Rupees were equal to 0,64 Euro. 1 Euro is worth about 160 Rupees, depending on the daily up-to-date conversion rate. Our tip: Change a small amount of your money directly after arriving, at the airport in Colombo. It might not be the best rate you get, but easily you can change at the exchange office and right away have some cash on hand, to pay the taxi from the airport for example.In general you can change currencies in all bigger towns and cities, also in some hotels and restaurants.

Here you usually have to pay an exchange fee and the exchange rate often is not very good.If you own a Maestro-card, you can also withdrawl money directly from the bank cash mashine (ATM), which even is usually the cheapest possibility. For those preferring paying with credit card, in most of the bigger hotels as well as in many shops and restaurants credit cards such as American Express, Diners, Visa- and Mastercard are accepted and welcomed. You can as well withdraw money using your credit card at the ATM Cash points, you will need your PIN number to do so.

Internet and phone

Sri Lanka is very well equiped in the telecommunication- and internet sector.The coverage of cell phone and internet networks is basically available nationwide. It is advisable to buy a local SIM-card for your phone, smartphone or tablet. Right inside the arrival hall at the airport, you can find shops of all major telecommunication suppliers, such as Airtel, Mobitel or Dialog. Here you can buy pre-paid SIM-cards for telephony and internet access, as well as surf-sticks that are available, which can be used for the laptop. The SIM-cards can be topped up everywhere all over the country either online or in several shops. Availability while travelling, for planning the next days online or for checking local offers - the usage of a local SIM-card is recommended. Mainly all hotels as well as most of the cafés and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi for their guests. Usually you just need to ask for the login details, some places do charge a small amount for the usage.

Electricity

The voltage in Sri Lanka is 230/240 V, 50 Hz;. In any case it can be helpful bringing a socket adapter, since there are different variants of power outlets.
You will often find the British outlets with three pins in angular or round shape, but in bigger hotels a socket adapter often is part of the service. Power blackouts are not unusual and happen from time to time in all parts of the country, but are usually just temporary and patched after a short while.

Travelling by bus, train, car and more

There are numerous ways to travel through Sri Lanka and depending where you want to go and how much time you like to spend, it is a lot of fun trying different transport options.

Travelling as a woman through Sri Lanka

Whether travelling alone as a woman or together with female friends - through Sri Lanka you can travel easily and safely without any male company. Woman are treated respectfully and are shown the same kindness male travellers benefit from, while travelling though Sri Lanka. Both on the beach, as well as while visiting the city women can always feel safe. However, in the public it may sometimes be advisable to stand close by local women, for example on a bus or train ride. Being without company as a woman may draw some unwanted attention of some men. Here as well, the golden rule applies; wear moderate clothes, not too short and too low-cut. The Sri Lankans in general are very friendly and open-minded, so the local men and women are happy and eager to speak with their countries’ visitors and show great interest.

Some may approach you with very direct questions about your marital status, your children and family life, this is their genuine interest since the family and children play a very important role in the Sri Lankan society. Why not showing some pictures of your family and friends? The locals will enjoy watching. Also very friendly, but not without a hidden agenda, you may encounter one of the cheerful and flirting so called “Beach Boys”. But do not be fooled: they are often only interested in the money of western female tourists and can be very persistent. Best is to simply ignore them or tell them to leave with friendly but direct words. If someone does get too close or too intrusive, you should inform the front desk of your hotel.

Traveling with children

Sri Lankans love kids - this is a fact! Children have an important role in the families and the society and are taken care of very well and with a lot of joy. Therefore when travelling with children, you can be confident that your little ones are very welcomed and cared for. Many hotels offer special programs, food for kids and childcare that is available at many places too. Nevertheless, there are a couple of things to remember if you're travelling the country with children.

Round trips through Sri Lanka

There are many ways to discover the island - and so many things to explore! A round trip through the country can provide you a great insight of many highlights and also give a deeper understanding of the cultural and natural beauty of the island. Find out about divers options of round trips, customised accordingly to your interests and needs. Get inspired to explore Sri Lanka!

Golden rules