About Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka is a developing country. Infrastructure, including modern roads, is fairly good, but poverty is apparent. The Country Walkers tour has been designed to maximize exposure to the diversity, land, people, and culture of Sri Lanka, both on foot and during the travel days. The most important tools that a traveler can bring are a sense of humor, flexibility, and an open mind to cultural differences. While the itinerary in Sri Lanka has been created in collaboration with our local expert guides, each experience is unique and requires patience on the part of the traveler.
U.S. citizens: Passports are required and must be valid for at least three months beyond the dates of travel as the actual Visa will be stamped in your passport. Visas are required. To obtain a Visa you first need to secure an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) which can be quickly and easily done through the following website: http://www.srilankaetavisa.com/english. Then, upon arrival, you will be issued a 30 day Short Visit visa at the port of entry in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka uses the Sri Lanka Rupee (Rs.). For current exchange rates, visit oanda.com.
It is not recommended to change money on the street. Instead, exchange houses or banks. Some international businesses no longer accept credit cards without PIN numbers (chip and pin cards).
For up-to-date exchange rates, see oanda.com.
Always contact your bank or your credit-card company for details on fees and card use when traveling.
Sri Lanka is 10 ½ hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. You can follow this link for more information on worldtimezone.com.
Sri Lanka Country Code: +94
Cell phone coverage throughout Sri Lanka is extensive, but we cannot guarantee adequate signals on all American phone models or while on walking trails or in remote areas. For more information regarding international phone use, please refer to this blog post www.countrywalkers.com/the-best-international-phone-options-for-travelers/.
All of the hotels on tour provide internet in the lobby and/or rooms but it can be intermittent and quite slow.
The official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhalese and Tamil.
While knowledge of the local language is not necessary, you may want to learn some fun and useful phrases. Follow insightguides.com/destinations/asia-pacific/sri-lanka/useful-phrases for helpful hints.
Alternating current of 230V and 50Hz is used in Sri Lanka. Plugs have three large round pins in a triangular configuration. For a full listing of electrical outlets worldwide, see electricaloutlet.org.
Warmed by Indian Ocean winds, Sri Lanka enjoys tropical warm days and cool nights year-round. But its ecological zones vary from equatorial rainforest to drier savannas. The north, where the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and Anuradhapura are located, east, and southeast, are considered dry zones despite that they receive 50-75 inches of rain per year. In the central, tea-growing highlands, temperatures are cooler, often in the 60s, and frost may occur in the winter months. Night-time temperatures can dip down to freezing in the highlands.
No immunizations are required to enter Sri Lanka. Always consult a travel clinic at a local university, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, and/or your personal physician for the most up-to-date recommendations and routine vaccinations. Hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations are generally recommended for all travelers. Be sure to let your physician know what parts of Sri Lanka you plan to visit, as recommendations may vary depending on the regions you are visiting.
Sri Lankan cuisine has been called “Indian food for beginners.” For breakfast, you will often find string hoppers. These paper-thin rice noodles are served with several condiments to bring bright flavors to your morning. Thosai, or flat pancakes of rice and lentil flour, are also common. Curry dishes at lunch and dinner time tend to be lighter and milder than their Indian counterparts, yet they bring out the vivid flavors of their ingredients. Each meal typically has up to a dozen curries; tasting them all can be sheer delight, a parade of lively flavors balanced by red or white rice. A standout at many meals is the brinjal, or eggplant, curry, caramelized from a perfect braising. Another delicious snack or side is roti, a simple wheat-flour flatbread. Often, the baker mixes ingredients into the dough, such as shredded coconut (to create a thengappu roti) or onions and chillies (uraippu roti). Crab is also quite popular in Sri Lanka, especially in seaside cities.
Steeped in leaves plucked from the island’s central highlands, tea doesn’t get much fresher than it is in Sri Lanka. The country boasts several different zones where the tea bush is cultivated and each leaf yields a different cup depending on the elevation in which it was grown. Fruit juices, especially from passion fruit, are also common. The ubiquitous coconut is used to make a distilled spirit known as arrack. And for a sweet treat, try faluda, a blend of syrup, ice cream, jelly and basil seeds.
Shopping and banking hours
Shops and stores are generally open Monday to Friday, between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 or 10:00 p.m. Some shops are open Saturdays for a half day. Large supermarkets and department stores may also be open a half day on Sundays. Most banks are open Monday to Friday, between 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Meal-times: Breakfast is generally served at hotels from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. In restaurants, lunch is between 12:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and dinner is usually served from 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Tipping in restaurants and bars is not necessarily expected, but you may leave small change if you wish. Taxi drivers aren’t generally tipped, but you could round up the total to the nearest Rs. 150 or Rs. 200. For luggage assistance, a small tip of Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 per piece of luggage is appropriate, depending on the weight and distance carried.
Traveling in Sri Lanka requires the common sense and exercise of above-normal precautions for personal safety that apply in many countries and cities worldwide; in addition to being aware of your surroundings, keep your valuables close and hidden while in public (avoid dangling cameras or other “tourist bait”), and avoid walking alone at night. Please follow accommodation personnel and/or your guide’s suggestions about securing valuables.
The national Sri Lankan tourist board official site
To assist in travel planning, it may be helpful to be aware of public holidays, festivals, or calendars of events. Visit the Sri Lankan tourist board’s website, srilanka.travel/srilankan_public_holidays, for a list of public holidays and festivals.
A wealth of information is available at srilanka.travel.
Most international flights arrive at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (airport.lk) in Negombo. However, Hambantota’s Mattla Rajapaksa International Airport (airport.lk/mria) also has flights to neighboring countries.
Other Local Transportation
Taxis are available at all major airports, train stations, and in smaller towns, and can be reserved in advance (your hotel can usually provide assistance). For more information, visit srilanka.travel/getting_around.