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FAQ - Travel in Sri Lanka

Travel in Sri Lanka

How about mosquitoes and other pests?

Most hotels will provide you with a plug-in mosquito repellent which will usually be switched on during sun down. Mosquito nets in hotels are a rarity. You can also buy the burning coils or citronella candles from the supermarket. It would be advisable to apply some repellent lotion if you plan to have dinner in an outdoor/ alfresco setting. Leeches - A good remedy is to apply soap and left to dry or apply lime to exposed areas. You can wear leech socks. Which are pulled over the trousers to prevent leeches reaching the exposed skin of the legs. If you find a leech sucking on your leg, do not pull it off, but wait for it to fall off after feeding. Else you can apply some salt; this will make the leech release its hold and fall off.

Can I obtain vegetarian food?

Most large hotels and restaurants have a ‘vegetarian section’ in the menu. The smaller local ‘rice and curry’ restaurants may say the food is vegetarian but include a serving of fried fish or sprats (anchovies). The ‘South Indian’ vegetarian restaurants are 100% vegetarian.

What are the visa requirements for Sri Lanka and Maldives?

Holders of passports from the vast majority of countries, including UK, Ireland, United States, Germany, France, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and India, can holiday in Sri Lanka and the Maldives as bona fide tourists for up to 30 days. Tourists should have a return air ticket, sufficient foreign exchange [currency / travelers cheques / credit card] for maintenance.

What are the regulations about smoking in public?

Smoking and consuming liquor in public areas is banned in Sri Lanka. The smoking ban includes enclosed public places such as restaurants and social clubs. Smoking is not allowed inside vehicles while on tour; however, regular comfort stops will be provided.

How is the nightlife in Sri Lanka?

The places with some active night life are Colombo, Negombo ,Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna. Colombo has some decent pubs, night clubs, karaoke lounges and bars. There is a growing pub-culture among the young crowd in Colombo. Friday and Saturday nights are the days for all night partying. The casinos offer a good combination of live entertainment, food and games of chance. Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa have some good beach restaurants and bars. Negombo doesn’t have much of a party scene, but you will find regular beach parties in Hikkaduwa.

What about traveling with children?

Sri Lanka is one of the most child friendly places to travel in the world. Children are always welcome and indulged and it will help you break the ice and get far more involved with the country than otherwise. It?s a real joy. Children can enjoy travelling with their parents, there are many resorts which are suitable for families with children.

What are the days alcohol is not served in Sri Lanka?

Full Moon days (known as Poya days), are of religious significance to Buddhists and devoted to prayer and meditation. In keeping with its significance as a religious day abstinence is practiced. As such places selling liquor (including hotel bars) and Meat shops closed. Places of entertainment such as cinemas, discos and casinos are closed as well.

How much of money can I bring in to/ take out of the country?

There is no restriction in bringing money in foreign currencies into Sri Lanka. This sum could be in TCs, Bank drafts or currency notes. However, if the total exceeds US$ 15,000, that sum must be declared to the Sri Lanka Customs. If you wish to take out from Sri Lanka a sum in excess of US$ 5000 in currency notes (out of the money brought in), you must declare the entirety of the sum brought in, even if it is less than US$ 15,000. The foreign currency amounts indicated in US$ may be in equivalent amounts in other convertible foreign currencies.

What is the currency used in Sri Lanka?

The Sri Lankan currency is the Rupee (Rs), divided in to 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 & 2000. Breakdown larger notes when you change money - it can sometimes be a problem to breakdown a larger note (500, 1000 or 2000). The Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) is not traded abroad and so it is not possible to purchase local currency before your arrival in Sri Lanka. It is recommended that you exchange money upon arrival at the Airport Bank Counters (open 24 hours) or at bank branches located in towns because hotel counters usually offer substantially lower rates of exchange for foreign currency or credit card advances. You will need to show your passport for any foreign exchange transactions. Keep your receipt to enable re-conversion to upon departure.

Where is Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. The South Asian island nation was known as Ceylon until 1972. Sri Lanka is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the Maldives.

What is the general norm about tipping in Sri Lanka?

Although a 10% service charge is included in bills for food and accommodation, tipping is a customary way of showing your appreciation for services rendered. A rule of thumb is to tip 10% of the total amount due. Your housekeeping staff, doorman, bellboy all expect a little tip. A tip between 100 - 200 rupees for each service is considered sufficient. Your guide or driver on tour will expect something between US$ 5 to 15 a day (depending on your level of satisfaction with his service). A 1 US$ bill is roughly equal to Rs. 100, so giving this as a tip is also well received by the locals.

What is the ideal length for a holiday?

Sri Lanka being a small country in size (65 000m2), can be seen fairly quickly. The distances are generally short. In ten days you can cover a fantastic range of beaches, cultural sights, national parks and idyllic scenery. For lovers of diving and complete relaxation, we recommend you continue your journey to the Maldives, a country consisting of 22 coral islands and only one hour’s flight from Colombo. Allow two full weeks if you want to see all the main sites (Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandy, Yala and Galle) and the Maldives.

What is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?

Climatically, the best & driest seasons are from December to March on the West & South Coasts and in the hill country, and from May to September in the East Coast. Sri Lanka is subject to two monsoons, the rainy season in the East coast is the dry season in the south west coast and vise versa. This means Sri Lanka is a year around destination, and there is always a 'right' season somewhere in the island. Out of season travel has it's advantages, not only do the crowds go away, but many airfares & accommodation prices too go down, with many special offers thrown in. On the coast the average temperature is about 27° C. The temperature rapidly falls with altitude. At Kandy (altitude 450m) the average temperature is 20° C and at Nuwara Eliya (altitude 1890m) it's down to around 16°C.

What are the inoculations and health precautions must I be concerned with?

You’ll need to show a certificate to show that you have been vaccinated for yellow fever, if you are coming from an area infected with yellow fever. You need up-to-date Hepatitis A, Polio and Tetanus shots. We recommend taking anti-malaria medication if you plan to travel off the beaten track. However an adequate health insurance cover is highly recommended. Take some Imodium tablets (just in case you get an upset stomach).

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