10 travel tips for Sri Lanka

Since we visited Sri Lanka this April, we have decided to collect some useful information for beginners and share here 10 travel tips for Sri Lanka. Also, we have added the mandatory checklist. All its points you need to get and complete before arriving to the country.

Checklist

Before you begin preparations to visit Sri Lanka you need to note the followings. For more updated and detailed information, visit the official site of Sri Lanka. Ensure you are aware of the documents that need to be submitted and carried with you to ensure a hassle free visit. If you have any doubts or clarifications drop an email on helloagain@srilanka.travel and they will help you to prepare for your visit!

Online visa – ETA

  • Visitors can apply for online visa through eta.gov.lk. It’s a very easy and quick process, after payment (35 USD), still the same day you receive your visa.

Coronavirus update

  • “Fully Vaccinated” travellers are exempted from pre-departure COVID-19 PCR/ Rapid Antigen tests from 1st March 2022.
  • No restrictive quarantine required.
  • “Not-Fully Vaccinated’’ travelers stay in a “Flexible bio-bubble” with all facilities of the hotels made available and ability to visit approved tourist sites.
  • You must ensure you have the mandatory COVID-19 Insurance.

Insurance

  • You must ensure you have the mandatory COVID-19 Insurance of 12 USD with one month cover of 75,000 USD required for all travellers (whether fully vaccinated or not vaccinated). You can pay through this website.

Health declaration form

Flight & accomodation confirmation

  • You should have your flights and accomodation confirmed as well in advance. Make sure you have them with you on your phone or printed out. So you can prove that you will leave the country after your vacations.

10 travel tips for Sri Lanka

How to move around in Sri Lanka?

Rent a car, take the local bus and train, or move around by a tuk-tuk? There are many options, taking the famous Ella – Kandy train, having a ride on the big, overcrowded buses, or renting a tuk-tuk, all are possible on Sri Lanka. Be aware, that if you want to rent a car or a tuk-tuk you will need to request a temporary Sri Lankan driving license.

However the traffic and driving culture is another story. Every developing nation has some pretty exciting traffic conditions – but Sri Lanka stands out. Basically the rules you learned & apply in Europe, you can completely forget there. In Sri Lanka who comes first, goes first and while doing so they also honk. Buses & camions always overrule and overcome every other vehicle. And driving in big cities in Sri Lanka is really not that fun but driving around outside the cities is wonderful. It’s beautiful and not that dangerous. It’s simply amazing.

How safe is Sri Lanka?

Regardless of the current economic crisis, the accidental roadblocks, demonstrations on the road and lack of fuel, Sri Lanka is a safe country.

Locals will always help you, support you, as they understand that the best thing that currently can happen with their country if the tourists are coming back and bringing foreign currency.

Even though, don’t underestimate the wild animals and the harm that they can cause to you. Human-elephant conflict (HEC) is a large threat in certain rural areas of Sri Lanka. People and elephants, very often lose their lives and properties in this conflict. Approximately 250 elephants and 80 people die in Sri Lanka each year. You can meet elephants around the bigger national parks, randomly & freely on the road, and the best you can do is: avoid them! Don’t stop, don’t bother them! They can get irritated or excited by you easily – in the hope of you having food with you – and they can run more than 40 km/h – meaning faster than you. They are huge and can cause significant harm in your vehicle or in you too! Be aware, regardless they look cute, they are wild animals.

What to eat in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lankan food is delicious, so make the most of it while you’re there. However, knowing where and when to find the good stuff may prove a harder task than you anticipated. Bowl-shaped egg-hoppers (savoury rice flour crêpes) are a highlight, though they are typically only served first thing in the morning or late afternoon. Rice and curry is a lunchtime or dinner affair, and the variety of currys are really taste like heaven. Be ready though, that it’s almost always spicy. If you don’t like spicy food, it’s better to tell them in advance.

Can you drink the tap water in Sri Lanka?

No. Although many Sri Lankans have access to clean tap water from the taps, some of the quality may not be up to standard. The rule is simple, avoid tap water! Don’t drink it and don’t eat anything that was washed with tap water. Make sure that your ice cubes are made out of filtered water, and use this kind of water or bottled water once washing your teeth. Not to mention that forget to let the water run into your mouth once taking a shower.

Do you need a travel adapter for Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. For Sri Lanka, there are two associated plug types, types D and G. Plug type D is the plug that has three round pins in a triangular pattern and plug type G is the plug that has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern. The round pins are rarely used anymore, so it’s better to get the one with rectangular pins.

What languages to use in Sri Lanka?

Sinhala and Tamil are the two official languages. The constitution defines English as the link language. English is widely used for education, scientific and commercial purposes. Members of the Burgher community speak variant forms of Portuguese Creole and Dutch with varying proficiency, while members of the Malay community speak a form of Creole Malay that is unique to the island.

With most of the local people you will be able to exchange couple of words in English. They always greet you with “Hello, where are you from?“. And they are actually interested in the answer. Of course, people who work in tourism or bank sectors has even better level of English.

Where to stay in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is ready to welcome many tourists. If you open Booking.com you will also notice, the opportunities are almost endless around the popular coastal destinations. In the less populated and less popular territories, especially on the north the situation is different. And you might get surprised about the differences in terms of quality, services and prices too.

When you arrive to a popular area, in off-season sometimes it’s better to go directly to the accommodation without any booking and ask for the daily price there. It’s not always cheaper than on Booking.com. Especially if you have Genius discounts and so on. However sometimes you can get better prices. In high-season though, it’s always better to book ahead!

Learn & understand the culture of Sri Lanka

Only 35 km of water separate Sri Lanka and India – but there’s a world of difference between the two. The pace of life in Sri Lanka feels much less frantic than that of its neighbour. This makes Sri Lanka the ideal choice for a calmer & slower travel experience than India.

Today, Sri Lanka is a multinational state, home to diverse cultures, languages, and ethnicities. The Sinhalese are the majority of the nation’s population. The Tamils, who are a large minority group, have also played an influential role in the island’s history. Other long established groups include the Moors, the Burghers, the Malays, the Chinese, and the indigenous Vedda.

The island has had a long history of engagement with modern international groups. It is a founding member of the SAARC and a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the G77, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Sri Lanka is the highest-ranked South Asian nation on the Human Development Index and has the second-highest per capita income in South Asia.

Religion

Sri Lanka’s population practices a variety of religions. As of the 2012 census, 70.2% of Sri Lankans were Buddhists, 12.6% were Hindus, 9.7% were Muslims (mainly Sunni), 7.4% were Christians (mostly Catholics) and 0.1% others.

Buddhism is considered as the State religion of Sri Lanka and has been given special privileges in the Sri Lankan constitution such as government is bound for protection and fostering of Buddhist Dharma throughout the nation. However, the constitution also provides for freedom of religion and right to equality among all its citizens. In 2008 Sri Lanka was the third most religious country in the world, with 99% of Sri Lankans saying religion is an important part of their daily life.

How to dress in Sri Lanka?

Covering up is always appreciated and necessary at places of worship. But wearing shorts and vests is unlikely to attract much attention. Especially in the touristy areas, locals couldn’t care less what you are wearing. However, before entering sacred places be ready to have a cover up with you (shoulders and knees to be covered – they take this very seriously). Also your shoes should be removed, though socks can stay. Which is sometimes on the burning hot pavement is useful!

Best experiences in Sri Lanka

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