01 | Visa for Sri Lanka
Unlike many other Asian countries, Sri Lanka doesn’t offer a visa on arrival. However, you canapply for an electronic visa or eVisa. An eVisa is a double entry visa for 30 days, which is usually enough for most of the travelers. The fee for an eVisa is $35 for all the countries but is only $20 for SAARC countries. Yes, India is a part of SAARC so I had to pay only $20 while San paid $35. I’d recommend you apply at least a week in advance. You can click here to apply for your eVisa to enter Sri Lanka.
Please be very careful in filling up the eVisa application because even a single wrong digit will impact your entry and you will be forced to apply again at the airport. I highly recommend you apply for your visa through iVisa to make things simple. If you’re a citizen of Maldives, Singapore or Seychelles, you don’t need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. For a longer stay visa, you can apply directly at the embassy.
02 | Do you have a Buddha Tattoo? Hide it!
Sri Lanka has a zero tolerance for tourists with Buddha tattoos. In fact, there have been cases in the past wherein tourists with Buddhatattoos have been arrested and deported. A few weeks back, a friend of mine was stopped by the police at Kandy railway station for carrying a bag with Buddha face but luckily she escaped trouble. Oh, and also, one of the pop musicians Akon was also barred an entry to Sri Lankabecause one of his music videos featured a Buddha statue next to skimpily clad women. Back in 2012, three French tourists were sentenced to 6 months in jail for clicking pictures of them kissing a Buddha statue.
I’m not religious but it makes sense to me because some countries regard the usage of religious objects and symbols in ornaments or fashion as disrespectful. Don’t be an asshole while traveling and respect Sri Lanka’s culture. In fact, don’t disrespect any country’s culture and religion. If you have a Buddha tattoo, please hide it while you’re in Sri Lanka.
Read: 13 Unique Experiences in Sri Lanka
03 | Negombo vs Colombo
Negombo Beach – Sri Lanka Travel Tips
Wondering why this point is even on the list? Well, because when you book your flight to Sri Lanka, your ticket will say that you’re flying to Colombo. In reality, it’s not Colombo but the suburb area of Negombo, which is a different place entirely and is an hour away from Colombo. Maybe it’s good this way because I didn’t particularly like Colombo but I definitely enjoyed Negombo. It is less stressful and has a massive strip of uninterrupted beach. Moreover, for your journey to other parts of Sri Lanka, it doesn’t make a difference whether you’re in Negombo or Colombo because they are both well connected by a network of trains and buses.
On a side note, it was pretty funny because San booked our hotel in Negombo and for the first few hours that I was in Negombo, I thought I was in Colombo. It happened because I suffer from a selective hearing disorder and assumed that Colombo is massive and Negombo is a part of it.
04 | Tuk Tuk Scams
Living in India, I have faced more scams than most of the people and because of this, I am not easily “scammable”. Despite a lot of pre warnings, we were scammed on our very first day. Every tuk tuk driver quoted 5x the rate as we landed in Sri Lanka. How do we know it was 5x? Well, because we asked a few locals what should be the normal price for reaching our hotel. At last we finally found a tuk tuk driver who agreed to a lower cost, which was still double of what the locals told us. However, within a few minutes he stopped the tuk tuk mid way even though, he had agreed that he would drop us at our hotel. He started yelling and after a while, we gave up and ended up paying extra because we were very tired and just wanted to reach our room.
Don’t get me wrong, Sri Lankans are very nice, humble and honest but many tuk tuk drivers are not. Another scam that I encountered was how the drivers tried to convince us at many bus stops that there was no bus that was going to our destination in an attempt to get us to spend on a tuk tuk instead. By then, I had done enoughresearch to know that they were fooling us. These scams are highly prevalent if you travel to touristy places.
Read: That one time we slept in a tree house in the middle of Sri Lankan forest
05 | The Best way to travel internally is by Train
Picture this – you’re sitting in a cute train coach and everywhere you look, you see tea estates, forests, waterfalls, hills, monkeys.. and maybe even an elephant if you’re lucky. From time to time, you can walk around and even sit by the door and get lost in the beauty (but please hold the door handle firmly if you do).
This is why many say that a train ride in Sri Lanka’s hill country is perhaps the most beautiful train journey in the world!
Me enjoying a scenic train journey – Sri Lanka Travel Tips
San and I sat by the door all the time and didn’t want to leave. We even bought a few snacks on the train and ate them as we sat by the door. I was such a “tourists” here and couldn’t stop clicking and making videos for myInstagram. Trust me when I say this, but this was the BEST thing we did in this beautiful country. Oh, and I must tell you that it was dirt-cheap. We traveled on athird class coach, which was comfortable and clean.
You can do this journey from Colombo or Negombo but I recommend you start from Kandy and head to Nuwara Eliya, or Haputale or even all the way to Ella. I also have a post about this specific train journey that’s from Kandy to Ella on my blog with route information as well as the train timings.
Nothing can match the experience of riding a slow moving train through Sri Lanka’s scenic hill countryside. It may not be the fastest way, but it is the most beautiful way to travel internally. Alternatively, you can travel by buses too, but you will not be as comfortable as compared to the train because the bus seats in Sri Lanka are very small. Oh and you should know that the train ride from Kandy to Ella is supposed to be the most scenic one.
Click here for more information about trains in Sri Lanka, the time table and tips.
06 | Where to go in Sri Lanka
Most of the people think that Sri Lanka is mostly about the beaches, but no they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, my favorite places here were very far from the beaches.
Broadly speaking, Sri Lanka can be divided into four zones – the beaches, the hill country, forests and historical places. The beaches are pretty but it is the middle area that made us fall in love with Sri Lanka.
Our favorite was the hill country, (Nuwara Eliya, Haputale, Elle, etc.) where everything was greener than the color green. You must have noticed a lot of“green” pictures from Sri Lanka on our Instagram account, well, someone mentioned that they reminded them of their time in Sapa, Vietnam; have you ever visited this place?
We also enjoyed the forest area around Sigiriya and Pottuvil, where we saw a lot of elephants and a few crocodiles at a safe distance. Lonely Planet markets Sri Lanka as a “beach lovers paradise” but I think it is more of a nature lovers’ / forest freak’s haven. Anyway, here’s our itinerary for exploring Sri Lanka in a month, or you can check out this itinerary for spending 10 days in Sri Lanka.
07 | Tap Water in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, the locals were mostly drinking tap water but we stuck to bottled water. Although it is safe for them, but it may not be for you because it may contain micro-organisms that your body is not used to. Don’t take a health risk while traveling and please stick to bottled water. In my experience, the cost of bottled water was a little higher if you compare it to most of the Asian countries.
08 | Costs can be extreme (Low and High both)
Travel costs in Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka Travel Tips
When we first arrived in Sri Lanka, we got a shock because everything was expensive in Negombo. Maybe it was because we were comparing it to India but even basic things at supermarkets were expensive. We did eventually find a few affordable eating options but there were not too many. Beach Towns like Arugam Bay, Negombo were definitely more expensive than the hill towns. On our train to Ella, we spotted a cute village called Haputale with breathtaking views, and decided to jump off here. It ended up being our favorite and the most affordable place in Sri Lanka for us. If you’re traveling on a budget, then you should consider spending more time away from the beach towns.
Read: 20 Travel Mistakes that can ruin your trip
09 | ATMs and Banks
After traveling to many countries, Sri Lanka was the first country where my ATM card refused to workin most of the ATMs. I tried many, but the only ATM where my card worked was at Bank of Ceylon ATM. I meta few people who facedthe same issue, even after alerting their banks that they were going to Sri Lanka.
I suggest you carry a few US Dollars or Euros to be safe if such a situation arises.Youcan always head to a bank to exchange currency in case your card doesn’t work. Another important point to note is that most of the banks in Sri Lanka shut at 3 pm, which is quite early as compared to international standards.
10 | About Sri Lankan Food.. and restaurants are called Hotels
Sri Lankan Rice and Curry – Sri Lanka Travel Tips
One word: delicious! Sri Lankan food is similar to South Indian food but with very a mild difference. I fell in love with Rice and Curry meal combos, which were usually served with more than one curry, daal, beetroot salad and “Sambal”. Sambal (or sambhal) is a dry preparation of shredded coconut with red chilies, curry leaves, and a few herbs that Sri Lankans eat with their food. Sri Lankan roti is like India’s Malabari Parotta, which is my favorite kind of Indian bread. This roti can be shredded and mixed with spices, egg, meat or fish to form a delicious meal called “Kothu”. In fact, Kothu (or Kottu) is what Pad Thai is for Thailand – an affordable meal that is popular with backpackers. I also enjoyed egg samosas in Sri Lanka, which are very spicy and way different than Indian’s samosas. In smaller towns, a meal can cost around 100 LKR (less than $1), but can go as high as 500 LKR in bigger towns. I experimented a lot with Sri Lankan food and will try to write a full blog post about it.
11 | Drinking Sri Lanka’s Local Brew – Arrack & Lion lager
San and I always make it a point to try a new country’s local brew, so Sri Lanka was no exception. If you compare the costs with the neighboring countries, drinking in Sri Lanka is expensive. Arrack is Sri Lanka’s local spirit, which is like rum and is made with coconut flowers. (I didn’t even know that coconut trees had flowers!). We saw a lot of price and quality variations when we bought Arrack. At one time we spent 1200 LKR (around $7) but 2000 LKR (around $13) on another occasion.
The most popular local beer in Sri Lanka is Lion Lager and it costs 250 LKR ($1.5) if you buy it from alcohol shops. Of course it costs double or even triple when you buy it in bars and restaurants.
12 | Plug Points and electrical sockets in Sri Lanka
In most of the hotels in Sri Lanka, I saw two kinds of plug sockets – one with round holes (type D / M) and the other with rectangular prongs, which can easily fit UK plugs (type G socket). We didn’t carry a universal adapter and didn’t even need one in Sri Lanka. We were able to use our Indian as well as European plugs (both plug type C) in Sri Lanka without a problem. Yes, our Indian and European plugs had two spikes but could fit the Sri Lankan plugs without a problem. It is obviously recommended that you carry a good quality universal adapter so that you don’t end up harming your gadgets.
13 | Is Sri Lanka safe for single female travellers?
Is Sri Lanka safe for solo female travelers – Sri Lanka travel tips
I don’t have a one-word-answer for this. Although I traveled with San but I often met women who were traveling solo and didn’t face any issues. Sri Lankan people are polite and extremely helpful but I did see several instances of local men persistently trying to befriend international women tourists. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being friends but please be careful when they invite you for parties because there are enough horror stories on the Internet. Just like India, you will need to appear confident and at times intimidating to ward off trouble. As a rule of thumb, dressing sensibly, befriending other travelers for company and trusting your sixth sense will go a long way in keeping you safe.
What do I need to know when traveling to Sri Lanka? ›
- Check the health rules. ...
- Get your travel vaccinations before you travel to Sri Lanka. ...
- Plan your trip according to the monsoons. ...
- Be aware of the rules for full moon days. ...
- Understanding money in Sri Lanka. ...
- Be realistic about how much ground you can cover.
For most people 14 days is the ideal duration for a Sri Lanka holiday. You can comfortably cover most of the must-sees of Sri Lanka with that time. There are many ways to spend 14 days in Sri Lanka. For your reference here are two examples of itineraries recommended for the period between November and April.How should I prepare for Sri Lanka? ›
- Public transport. Tourists often rent a tourist vehicle or a guide in order to make their way around a new country. ...
- Carry cash. ...
- Carry light clothes. ...
- Head north to escape the crowds. ...
- Gorge on local delicacies. ...
- It's all about relaxing.
For example, while it might not look like a long distance, it takes approximately 3 hours to travel from Colombo to the southernmost point of Sri Lanka (around 160 KMs) if you take the Southern Expressway, and it could take you up to 5 hours if you take the scenic, coastal route.Can you wear jeans in Sri Lanka? ›
Much like the Europeans, the same rules of thumb apply when considering suitable attire to wear in the blazing heat: breathable fabrics such as linen and cotton, shirts, jeans and sun-hats which are all appropriate for the high temperatures that Sri Lanka experiences each season.What should I be careful of in Sri Lanka? ›
Protests, demonstrations, roadblocks and violent unrest may take place anywhere across the island at short notice. Restrictions, including curfews, may be imposed at short notice. You should be vigilant and avoid demonstrations, political protests or large gatherings.Can you wear shorts in Sri Lanka? ›
The answer to this question is pretty straightforward: yes, you can. Even the locals wear shorts to combat the heat, but please remember to steer clear of hotpants when you are packing for your trip. After all, Sri Lankans value modesty, and hotpants reveal too much skin to be culturally acceptable.Is Sri Lanka cheap? ›
Sri Lanka has always been an affordable destination to visit for all kinds of travelers. Even for those with a shoestring budget, the island nation offers travel experiences that don't break the bank: palm-fringed golden sandy beaches, wildlife adventures, and ancient temples packed with fascinating history.Which time is best for Sri Lanka? ›
Generally, the best time to visit the west and south coasts as well as the Cultural Triangle is between December and April, while on the east coast the climate is at its finest from May through to October.Can you drink tap water Sri Lanka? ›
Avoid drinking tap water in Sri Lanka. Although it's generally chlorinated and safe to drink, the unfamiliar micro-organisms it contains (compared with what you're used to at home) can easily precipitate a stomach upset. Also avoid ice, unless you're sure that it's been made with boiled or purified water.
Is Sri Lanka friendly? ›
COLOMBO (News 1st) – Sri Lanka has been ranked among the Top 10 friendliest countries in the world in the 2022 Readers' Choice Awards. The Condé Nast Traveller revealed the most welcoming destinations from all four corners of the globe, as voted by its readers.What is the most beautiful island in Sri Lanka? ›
8 Islands In Sri Lanka For The Adventure Of A Lifetime
- Delft Island. ...
- Mannar Island. ...
- Pigeon Island. ...
- Puliyanthivu Island. ...
- Nainativu Island. ...
- Katchatheevu Island. ...
- Rock Islands. ...
- Kirala Island.
Restricted items. Foreign currencies more than US$ 15000 or equivalent. If you intend to take back US$ 5000 or more, please declare the entire amount Srilankan ruppees not more than 20000 only for Srilankan citizens.What do girls wear in Sri Lanka? ›
Sarees are the usual attire for women in Sri Lanka. Some wear a saree on a daily basis, out of choice, or because their work uniform calls for a saree. School teachers and office women wear sarees, as well as tea pluckers when it is their custom.What is not allowed in Sri Lanka? ›
In Sri Lanka it's illegal to: cover your face in a way that prevents your identification. smoke in most public places. drink alcohol in most public places.Should I bring cash to Sri Lanka? ›
Credit cards are widely accepted and there are ATM machines in major centres. Traveller's cheques are still widely used, but not as direct transactions. Sterling, Euros and US Dollars are all equally acceptable. ATM's are available at the airport as well as in most main cities.What should I wear in Sri Lanka? ›
Cotton and linen are your best bet. DON'T BRING EXPENSIVE CLOTHES | Sri Lanka is hot and humid for the most part, so your clothing will get sweaty no matter what. Avoid bringing that $400 pair of shorts and opt for more casual wear for your trip.Is crime high in Sri Lanka? ›
Sri Lanka Crime Rate & Statistics 1990-2022.
|Sri Lanka Crime Rate & Statistics - Historical Data|
|Year||Per 100K Population||Annual % Change|
The smiles and hospitality of Sri Lanka are world famous and so are its spicy food, exotic fruits, and an array of sweetmeats found nowhere in the world. With so many cultures living next to each other life in Sri Lanka continues among a series of festivities throughout the year, an ideal recipe for fun and leisure.Can you kiss in public in Sri Lanka? ›
Public displays of affection (PDA), such as kissing and/or hugging, may be frowned upon. In Sri Lanka, PDA is considered to be private behavior. Holding hands and affection between parents and their children are allowed. Public nudity is illegal in Sri Lanka.
How many phones can I carry to Sri Lanka? ›
Only up to five (5) units can be imported/ brought for the personal use.How do Sri Lankans dress? ›
Traditions and dresses of Sri Lanka have been passed down by ancestors for decades. Most popular items of clothing consist of the sari or wrap-around skirt with a blouse for women and sarong for men, though the traditional dress for women is more complicated, it is more straightforward, smart and cleaner for men.How much cash should I bring to Sri Lanka? ›
How much money will you need for your trip to Sri Lanka? You should plan to spend around LKR6,698 ($18) per day on your vacation in Sri Lanka, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors.Why Sri Lanka price is high? ›
An acute dollar shortage, caused by economic mismanagement and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has left Sri Lanka struggling to pay for essential imports including food, fuel, fertiliser and medicine.Is Sri Lanka hot or cold? ›
Sri Lanka's climate is tropical and consists of distinct wet and dry seasons. Generally speaking, the coastal areas of Sri Lanka enjoy temperatures averaging 28°C (82°F) while the upland areas are cooler and more temperate, with a yearly average around 16-20°C (60-68°F).Which month is hottest in Sri Lanka? ›
May – August
May is generally the hottest month of the year all over Sri Lanka and the east coast sees temperatures consistently over 30°C and remaining high all the way through the summer. Levels of rainfall on the east coast are low throughout the majority of this period.
The coldest month with respect to mean monthly temperature is generally January, and the warmest months are April and August. The mean annual temperature varies from 27°C in the coastal lowlands to 16°C at NuwaraEliya, in the central highlands (1900m above mean sea level).What is the cleanest city in Sri Lanka? ›
Avoid the months from May to August, the monsoon rains will be at their peak in the area. In September the monsoon reaches its end, although there is still some rain until December. The dry season in this part of Sri Lanka starts in mid-December.How do you say hello in Sri Lankan? ›
Hello - “Ayubowan” Aayu-bo-wan.
What is the national drink of Sri Lanka? ›
Tē (tea): The national drink, said to be among the best in the world. Toddy: Mildly alcoholic fermented drink that is tapped from palm trees – often illegally – and drunk across Sri Lanka. Arrack: A potent liquor made from the sap of palm trees.What is Sri Lanka main food? ›
Rice and curry are mainly the staple diet of Sri Lanka, where the curry could be made up of a variety of things like meat, seafood, lentils, vegetables, sambols, mallums, to achcharus.Are Sri Lankan people good? ›
The people of Sri Lanka are the most kind, welcoming, and gentle people I have ever met. They are genuinely so happy to have visitors to their country and are always so eager to show you kindness and invite you into their home for a cup of tea.Is life good in Sri Lanka? ›
Sri Lanka often referred to as the 'pearl of the Indian ocean', is claimed by both locals and expats alike as a truly great place to live and work.Is Sri Lanka richer than India? ›
Aside from the fact that there are 1 billion people in India, and 24 million in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankans take pride in their pearl island home. Sri Lanka has less wealth and natural resources than India, but the streets, cities and country side are so much cleaner.Why Sri Lanka is beautiful? ›
Sri Lanka has it all – a balmy tropical climate, dramatic sandy beaches backed by lush deep green forests that sway to the sound of bird song, high-altitude hill-top hideaways, a diverse array of wildlife and traditional working tea plantations.Which Stone is famous in Sri Lanka? ›
Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, remains one of the single most important sources for fine gemstones. Especially notable are blue sapphire, pink sapphire or ruby, and yellow sapphire; alexandrite and cat's-eye chrysoberyl; and almandine and hessonite garnet.Is Sri Lanka nicer than India? ›
As per the World Happiness Reports, Sri Lanka was ranked higher than India in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, whereas India was ranked higher than Sri Lanka in 2013 and 2015.Why is Sri Lanka so special? ›
It is nicknamed Pearl of the Indian Ocean and teardrop of India. Sri Lanka is known for these two lovely names. Pearl of the Indian Ocean is given to this small island nation probably due to its incredible natural beauty, extraordinary biodiversity as well as its precious gemstones.How much cash I can carry on flight? ›
How much cash can I carry on a domestic flight in India? There is no specific limit on the amount of cash that can be carried on a domestic flight in India, however, you are responsible to provide a valid reason and source (with proof) for carrying cash more than INR 200,000 (Rupees 2 lakhs).
How much cash is allowed in airport? ›
Bringing in Foreign Exchange
If, however, the value of foreign currency in cash exceeds US$ 5,000 and/or the cash plus TCs exceed US$ 10,000 it should be declared to the customs authorities at the airport in the currency declaration form (CDF), on arrival in India.
'Don't carry more than ₹50,000 cash without valid documents' - The Hindu.Do I need a Covid test to fly to Sri Lanka? ›
Commercial airlines are operating flights to and from Sri Lanka. You should check with your airline for any specific travel requirements. Fully vaccinated travellers and children under the age of 12 are no longer required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test before arriving in Sri Lanka.Do and don'ts in Sri Lanka? ›
- DO: arrange your visa in advance. ...
- DON'T: ride elephants. ...
- DO: take the train through hill country. ...
- DON'T: take pictures of people without permission. ...
- DO: cover up when required & dress appropriately. ...
- DON'T: drink the tap water. ...
- DO: try the tea. ...
- DON'T: take a selfie with Buddha.
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM. Sri Lanka is generally a safe country to visit.How much is a Covid Test in Sri Lanka? ›
The average cost per test is around 7,000 Sri Lankan Rupees (approximately $20). Test results are forwarded via e-mail.How should I dress in Sri Lanka? ›
Women should wear long skirts, dresses or loose trousers and modest blouses. Men should wear long trousers. Ancient temples are considered sacred, and should be treated as such. You should remove your shoes when entering a Buddhist or Hindu temple and hats at all religious places, if carrying an umbrella unfurl it.How many phones can I take to Sri Lanka? ›
Only up to five (5) units can be imported/ brought for the personal use.What will happen in 2030 in Sri Lanka? ›
Aligned with the 2030 Agenda, Sri Lanka envisions an “Inclusive Transformation towards a Sustainably Developed Nation for All”, where economic transformation is underpinned by green growth and social inclusivity.Is Sri Lanka beautiful? ›
Full of romantic landscapes, stirring mountains, lush green tea gardens and golden beaches, the island nation of Sri Lanka is nothing short of magnificent.