Archaeological, cultural and scenic highlights from hill stations and tea plantations to Buddhist temples and relaxing beaches.
Largest city - Colombo
|Area:||65,610 sq kms|
|Time:||Sri Lanka Standard Time Zone (UTC+5:30)|
|Currency: ||Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)|
ClimateSri Lanka's climate can be described as tropical, in other words, hot and humid. Its position between 5 and 10 north latitude endows the country with a warm climate, moderated by ocean winds and considerable moisture. The mean temperature ranges from a chilly low of 16oC in Nuwara Eliya in the Central Highlands, where even frost may occur for several days in the winter, to a high of 32o C in Trincomalee on the northeast coast. The average yearly temperature for the country as a whole ranges from 28 to 30oC.Seasons - monsoonAlthough Sri Lanka maintains its lovely warm and tropical climate year-round, the island does experience mild changes in rainfall. The rainy monsoon season takes place from October to January; during the rest of the year there is very little precipitation, and all living creatures must conserve precious moisture. The arid northwest and southeast coasts receive the least amount of rain - 600 to 1200 mm per year - concentrated within the short period of the winter monsoon. May, June and July are probably the hottest months of the year and a great time to hit the beach and soak in the sun.
Visas are required for trips to Sri Lanka. ETA is available and you may submit online and take the approval. Visit the website for ETA : http://www.eta.gov.ik/slvisa/
Local laws and customs
You are subject to local laws in Sri Lanka and violating them may result in a jail sentence.
There are severe penalties for all drug offences and crimes related to the abuse of children. In some circumstances detainees can be held without charge, indefinitely and convicted offenders may face lengthy jail sentences.
You can be fined if you ignore instructions not to smoke or drink in certain public areas.
Security checkpoints are common. You must carry a form of official photographic identification on you at all times.
Alcohol and meat are not usually for sale on religious holidays.
Cotton garments are ideal as Sri Lanka is a tropical island. However, viscose/cotton mixed garments are commonly worn. Light clothing is recommended in the lowland areas and light woolen clothing is suitable in the hill country. A sun hat and sunglasses may help you to escape the heat during daytime. A good thing to keep in mind is, despite the tropical weather, some hotels have a 'no shorts' policy at dinnertime. So bring comfortable alternatives.
If you plan to spend most of your time on the beach, bring comfortable sandals. If you intend to hike or do most of your sightseeing on foot, then bring comfortable walking shoes that are easy to pack and clean. Also, if you plan to visit some of the nicer restaurants or nightspots in the city of Colombo, you will need to bring shoes with you as most of these places have "no sandals" policies.
A handshake is the most common form of greeting in Sri Lanka, though try to remember to use your right hand for all physical exchanges. If you are visiting someone’s home, you will likely be offered a cup of tea, and it is considered rude to refuse it. Furthermore, a small gift or souvenir from your home country is a great offering for the host. Appointment times should be kept, as punctuality is appreciated in this country.
Dress is casual in Sri Lanka, though when visiting Buddhist temples you should take extra care to cover your skin and wear your nicest clothes. Be prepared to remove your shoes when entering any temple or home, and never touch the head of a Buddhist. Don’t turn your back on a statue of the Buddha if you are in close proximity. It is fine to take photos of Buddhist statues, but try and face the Buddha when standing next to it. Monks here are held in very high regard, so be extra polite and respectful to them regardless of their age.
When visiting a Buddhist or Hindu temple you should remove your footwear and headgear. Your legs and shoulders should be covered as a sign of respect. Some Hindu temples even ask men to go shirtless in order to enter the inner sanctum. In most temples, you will be asked for a donation. However, the traditional practice is that you make a donation only if you wish to. Any money you decide to donate should be placed in the donation box.
Public Nudity, including females being topless, is not only unacceptable but also illegal in Sri Lanka, although a few German-owned hotels may make an exception in designated areas. Ask your hotel on their policy about this.
Health Protection & Vaccinations
- Vaccinations are recommended for Polio, Tetanus and Hepatitis A & B. Also, the Typhus vaccination is recommended if you plan to venture outside of tourist areas, especially in the wet season
- Dengue fever is common on the island, especially during the rainy season when mosquitoes are in abundance as they transmit dengue. Use mosquito repellent whenever you are outdoors or visiting rural areas
- Gampaha, Colombo, Kalutara, Galle, and Nuwara Eliya districts are considered malaria free, as well as the city of Kandy. In the dry season, use mosquito repellent whenever you are outdoors or in rural areas. Especially after sunset when the mosquitoes are in abundance. Malaria pills are warranted for trips to the north but are not available locally
- A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers over 1 year of age coming from infected areas
Each visitor over the age of 18 years may bring two bottles of wine, 1.5 litres of spirits, and a small quantity of perfume into the country for personal use. Visitors are no longer allowed to bring any tobacco products into Sri Lanka without incurring a duty tax. Although a few packs of cigarettes are allowed for personal use, each carton brought in will cost Rs6,000 in duty tax. Also note that only two members of the same family are eligible for duty-free imports.
Roads & Road rules
Sri Lanka still follows the British system when it comes to Road rules and Traffic Laws. However, traffic in Sri Lanka has a culture all its own. Within just a few minutes on Sri Lank's roads, you will notice that traffic laws seem to be more suggestions and the more you weave aggressively through traffic, the faster you will reach your destination.
Roads are narrow, and in poor condition. However, many "A" Class roads are being upgraded to a smoother bitumen surface, as well as being widened with road markings.
What to see
- Colombo - the largest city, close to the capital Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte.
- Anuradhapura - ruins of ancient capitals (partially restored)
- Galle - a home for a Dutch fort, and a a gathering point for travelers from the nearby beach resort villages
- Jaffna - Northern Capital ravaged by the civil war
- Kandy - the spiritual heart of the country, home to a tooth of the Buddha
- Nuwara Eliya
- Polonnaruwa - ruins of ancient capitals (partially restored)