Where is Sri Lanka located?
The tear-drop shaped island of Sri
is located in the Asian continent, in the Indian Ocean. It is just below the southern
India, to the south west of the Bay of Bengal and to the south east of the Arabian Sea.
is separated from India by the Palk Strait, a 50 kilometre stretch of ocean. Sri Lanka
880 kilometres north of the equator, between 5°55' and 9°55' north latitudes and
between 79°42' and 81°52' eastern longitudes.
Lankan (ETA) Tourist Visa Requirements?
As of the first day of 2012,
tourists will need an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) for a stay of up to 30 days in
country. It is issued online, and original passports or other documents are not required
processing. More information can be found on
What are the
languages spoken in Sri Lanka?
Sinhalese and Tamil are the most
spoken languages in Sri Lanka. In the main cities, English is widely spoken as well. As
hotels aim at catering to foreign tourists, almost all hotel staff will be able to speak
English, and many hotels will also have staff members who are able to speak German,
Russian and other languages.
What is the currency used In Sri
The currency used in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee, and a
decimal currency system is used. One Sri Lankan rupee consists of 100 Sri Lanka cents
the currency notes comprise of Rs. 10/-, Rs. 20/-, Rs. 50/- Rs. 100/- , Rs. 500/-, Rs.
Rs. 2000/- and Rs. 5000/- notes. Commonly used coins are one rupee, two rupees, five
and ten rupees.
What should I buy in Sri Lanka?
to the conversion rate between the Sri Lankan rupee and most foreign currencies,
are usually able to buy high quality items at a very low rate. Sri Lanka is also an
excellent shopping destination for tourists who wish to buy clothes, household items,
and spices. However, tourists should be aware that many clothes with fake designer
such as Armani, Gucci, and Tommy Hilfiger are sold on pavement stalls at prices which
fraction of the real price. It is best to avoid these low quality products that are not
original product, but have been produced by unlicensed manufacturers. Tourists should
take great care when purchasing gems and jewels and make sure that they are buying high
It is also worthwhile to purchase items unique to a specific
when travelling out of Colombo. For example, Galle is famous for its traditional
lace, Veveldeniya is famous for its handwoven reed ware such as reed baskets and
is famous for its traditional masks. Other goods that are worth buying are tea, spices,
hand-looms, carvings and gems such as moonstones.
cards are accepted?
Reputed credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard
accepted by most hotels and shops.
Where can I purchase
A wide array of handicrafts, jewellery, perfumes,
items, and wines & spirits are available at duty-free shops at the transit &
departure lounge of the Bandaranaike International Airport. Local or national taxes are
applied on the items sold at these shops. However, only those who possess an entry and
departure permit may purchase these goods.
What are the
export and import items?
Amongst the prohibited item are ivory,
living plants, antiques, reptiles and live animals. A permit is required for precious
What are the best seasons for beaches?
November to April are the best months to visit the South West coast and since the
falls from May to October and December to March, it is best to visit the North West
the months of May to October. There are also 2 inter monsoon periods in SL from March to
may and from October to November.
Do I need vaccinations
come to Sri Lanka?
Travellers are required to have the standard
vaccinations in place. Cholera immunization is also suggested. Antimalarial tablets, as
prescribed by your doctor, should be started about a week before your planned arrival in
island and continued at least two weeks after your departure from the country. However,
malaria is prevalent only in some areas of the country, but precautionary measures are
always advised. Other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue are very common in Sri
mosquito repellents are always a handy item to have in your luggage. A quite effective
natural mosquito repellent, which is widely and easily available from local pharmacies
supermarkets, is citronella oil.
What are the telephone/mobile
services offered to me in Sri Lanka?
Most major hotels are equipped
telephones that allow direct international dialling facilities, though their rates for
and international calls are relatively high. A cheaper alternative would be to seek the
services of a 'communication centre' which can be found almost anywhere in the island.
also offer fax and photocopy services.
What transport facilities are available in SL?
There are many
of transport that tourists could use to get around the island.
usually include transfers from the airport to the hotel, plenty of taxis are available
independent travellers who seek transport to their hotel. Numerous metered taxi services
operate in Colombo and other major cities and can be booked by calling their telephone
numbers. They may operate cars, vans, or minivans which are generally more reliable and
comfortable than trishaws.
However trishaws, or 'tuk tuks' are probably the
convenient way to make short journeys around the island, and can be found all over the
country. Tourists should be aware that some trishaw drivers try to trick foreigners with
regard to the fare, so it is best to bargain and to decide on the fare before the
starts. A rough estimate of the cost is around Rs. 50 for the first kilometre and around
30 for every additional kilometre. For tourists who do not like to bargain, several
taxis are available around the country. These trishaws are tourist friendly and metered
ensure that travellers are aware of the price being paid. Contact details can be found
the Useful Telephone Numbers page
Public buses are probably the cheapest way of
getting around the country, but tourists may find travelling by bus highly uncomfortable
since buses tend to get overcrowded and make frequent stops. Sri Lanka's railway system
charges low fares, but the downside to train travel include overcrowded carriages,
2nd class seat is booked prior to the journey.
However, the most comfortable
getting around Sri Lanka is probably by using a chauffeur- driven car.
What are the business hours in Sri Lanka?
government offices and most private sector organisations operate five days of the week,
Monday to Friday. The opening and closing hours differ, but are generally in the range
8.30-9.30am to 4.30-5.30pm. Some private sector organisations work a half-day on
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 9.00-9.30am to 5.00-5.30pm; some branches of some
may be open on Saturday too, if only till mid-afternoon. Major post offices are
open from Monday to Saturday and for longer hours (typically around 7.00am-8.00pm).
all shops and banks close on public holidays. Most shops, especially in Colombo, are
closed on Sunday. Major supermarkets in the city, such as Keells and Cargills, have
all over the country. They are kept open until about 8.00 pm or even later everyday.
close only on certain public holidays. In smaller towns, the shopping hours depend on
shopkeepers; shops may be open or closed depending on the whims and fancies of the
How does the postal service in Sri Lanka work?
being rather cheap, the postal service is not reliable and it is best to register urgent
post. When sending airmail letters with stamps, it is best to make sure that they are
franked in your presence. All overseas packages should be stamped with a green Customs
stating the contents and their value.
Post offices in the country work from
to 5.00/6.00pm on Monday-Friday and from 9.00am to 6.00pm on Saturday. Mail is delivered
around the country every day except on Sundays and public holidays. The simplest way to
anything is through your hotel, or you can do it yourself through a postal agency. There
also many reliable domestic and international courier services, including the following:
130 Glennie Street, Colombo 2 / Tel.: 011 479 8600
Vauxhall Street, Colombo 2 / Tel.: 011 230 8444
300 Galle Road,
Colombo 3 / Tel.: 011 452 2222
What is the standard voltage used
Sri Lanka uses 230-240 volts, 50 cycles, alternating
large part of the island's electricity is generated through hydro reservoirs so power
are witnessed sometimes during long periods of drought although most hotels run on
generators at such times. Rural and remote areas may not have access to generators and
therefore have to endure such power cuts. Most power sockets are three-pronged, but
are cheap and readily available from most hardware stores. If you have a laptop computer
with you, it is better to bring your own stabiliser as electricity fluctuations are
common even in the main cities. A laptop plug and adaptor are also additional equipment
you may find handy.
Why is Sri Lanka so special?
Lanka is a country with a rich and diverse history with over 2,500 years of continuous
written history, and with the pre-history of the country dating back to over 125,000
Tourist attractions range from ancient Buddhist statues and monasteries, Hindu temples,
relics of ancient dynasties and civilizations, wildlife sanctuaries, underwater
and botanical gardens and parks. With pristine sandy beaches, stunning waterfalls,
mountain ranges and temperate rainforests, Sri Lanka is truly one of the most beautiful
places in the world.