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Facts

Population

20,278,000

Capital City

Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte

Another fact

Answer

Plug types

Voltage: 230V, Frequency: 50Hz

Religion

Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian

Currency

Rupee (LKR) exchange rates

Timezone

UTC +5:30 hours

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  • What to expect

    Sri Lanka's dramatic, beautiful landscapes can often be a pleasant surprise for visitors whose preconceptions of the country are overshadowed by the recent civil war. Lush, green tea plantations, tropical foliage, untouched beaches and warm, friendly people are highlights.

    Travel on Sri Lanka's roads can be chaotic at times, and trips to local markets, particularly in Colombo, can feel overwhelming. Tranquil places are easy to come by in Sri Lanka though, with many peaceful villages and towns to explore.

    Tourism is rapidly developing in Sri Lanka following the civil war, and facilities and accommodation in the country are excellent. Expect hotels with stylish design, many retaining a heritage feel, and wonderful dining options. Service levels can be more relaxed that what you are used to, and it is important to remain calm and patient when interacting with people you encounter.

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Flight times

From Los Angeles

approximately 19 hours

From New York

approximately 18 hours

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Events

Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the vacations listed here. As major vacations are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our USA-based Asia specialists for details.

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  • Every month - Each full moon day of the month is Poya

    a Buddhist public vacation in Sri Lanka. Practicing Buddhists visit a temple on this day. Shops are mostly closed and the sale of alcohol and meat is generally prohibited.

  • 1 January is New Year's Day

    , a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • January (full moon day) is Duruthu Perahera

    , a vacation and major festival held in Colombo, honoring Buddha's first visit to Sri Lanka.

  • 4 February is Independence Day

    , celebrating Sri Lanka's independence from British rule in 1948. It is marked by parades and cultural events.

  • February (full moon day) is Navam Perahahera

    , a festival commemorating Buddha developing a code of ethics for monks. It is celebrated with a large parade spanning two nights in Colombo.

  • February/March (14th day of the lunar month Phalguna) is Maha Shivarathri

    , a Hindu festival commemorating the marriage of Lord Shiva to his wife Parvati.

  • March/April (first Friday after the Paschal full moon) is Good Friday

    , a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.

  • 13-14 April is Sri Lankan New Year

    , a major celebration which may impact travel plans with heavy traffic and businesses closing. There are family parties, feasts and firecrackers to mark the new year.

  • 1 May is Labor Day

    , a national vacation honoring workers for their contribution to society.

  • May (full moon day) is Vesak Poya

    , celebrating the birth and life of Buddha.

  • July/August (full moon day July to full moon day August) is Kandy Esala Perahera

    , Sri Lanka’s most spectacular festival, centerd on the Temple of the Tooth and culminating in a grand procession.

  • 25 December is Christmas Day

    , where travelers may encounter compulsory dinners at numerous hotels. The cost of these should normally be directly settled with the hotel.

  • Health & Fitness

    Travelers should take the same health and safety precautions in Sri Lanka as they would elsewhere in their travels. International standard medical facilities are available in the major cities, though in smaller centers may be more basic.

    Diseases that can be found in Sri Lanka include malaria, polio, typhoid, rabies, hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis, tuberculosis, tetanus, diphtheria and HIV/AIDS.

    We advise you to take every precaution to lessen your risk of exposure to these and other health risks. At least one month before departure, you should visit your doctor for current health advice.

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  • Visa Information

    Vistors to Sri Lanka from most countries must obtain and submit an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) via an online registration and payment system. This can be simply and quickly completed at www.eta.gov.lk.

    Visa fees are very reasonable and a 30 day Tourist Visa for most nationalities is currently 20 USD. You can pay online via credit card and the site is easy and efficient to use. Visas may still be obtained on arrival at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport at present, but the fee for a visa on arrival is significantly more expensive (currently 75 USD for most nationalities).

    It is important to be aware that Sri Lankan visa regulations and arrangements are subject to change and it is your responsibility to consider visa arrangements before departure. We strongly advise that you consult with the relevant embassies in your country of residence for current guidelines.

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  • Safety and security

    Sri Lanka is generally a safe destination with friendly, helpful people, however petty street crime can occur, particularly in Colombo. We advise that you catch cabs at night rather than walk in dark or deserted areas. Ensure your driver turns on the meter, and is confident about your destination. It is advisable to carry a hotel address card to show to drivers.

    During your time in Sri Lanka, keep photocopies of your passport, credit card details and airline tickets. These copies should be kept securely in a separate place to the originals. Valuables should be locked in hotel safety deposit boxes whenever possible.

    We advise that you wear minimal jewelry and keep your cash secured close to your body when outside your hotel room. On train journeys, you may wish to use a money belt under your clothing. Read our safety guidelines for further information.

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Reading

 

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  • Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje

    is a fictionalised memoir with elements of magical realism. It focuses on the author's return to his home country of Sri Lanka in the 1970s, weaving tales of his family with Sri Lankan history.

  • A Village in the Jungle by Leonard Wolf

    is a literary novel about his time working as a civil servant in Sri Lanka.

  • Sam’s Story by Elmo Jayawardena

    is a fictional novel focusing on the country's people and how their lives were impacted by civil war. It is told through the eyes of a young illiterate boy.

  • Serendip: My Sri Lankan Kitchen by Peter Kuruvita

    is a journey through the delicious traditional cuisine of Sri Lanka and the role of food in culture and family, by an acclaimed Australian chef with Sri Lankan roots.

  • Reef by Romesh Gunesekera

    is a coming of age love story set in Sri Lanka, covering politics, culture and class.

  • July by Karen Roberts

    is an insightful tale of two neighbors growing up together - one Sinhalese and the other Tamil.

Useful words & phrases - Tamil

  • Hello (or hi)/ goodbye

    Vanakkam/ poytu varukiren

  • Thank you

    Nandri

  • What is your name?

    Ungal peyr en-na?

  • My name is…

    En peyr

  • How much is this?

    Adhu evalavu

  • Where is the...?

    Adhu en-ghe irukaradhu

  • No

    lllay

  • Yes

    Aam

  • Help

    Udavi

  • Sorry

    Mannikavum

 

Useful words & phrases - Sinhala

  • Hello (or hi)/ goodbye

    Aayu bowan

  • Thank you

    lsthu tee

  • What is your name?

    Aayage nama mokka da?

  • My name is…

    Maaghe nama

  • How much is this?

    Ehekka keeyada?

  • Where is the...?

    ...koheda?

  • No

    Naha

  • Yes

    owu

  • Help

    Aaeeyoh/ aaneh

  • Sorry

    Kaana gaatui

  • Getting around

    Arrival and departure transfers

    Road journeys in Sri Lanka are in comfortable minivans or small coaches. There may be some long periods sitting in vehicles on road journeys of up to six hours. Roads may be quite windy through some regions, though are generally in good condition. A large amount of walking is required in certain areas, though more vigorous activities such as climbing the rock fortress at Sigiriya are optional.

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  • Internet

    Internet services are widely available in Sri Lanka. Internet can be found in most hotels and in some telecommunications stores in the towns. Certain cafes in Colombo also feature Wi-Fi. International Direct Dial (IDD) can be used in most hotels at an extra cost. A more affordable way to make international calls is to buy a pre-paid card at a roadside shop to use with a compatible IDD telephone.

    Cell phones can be used throughout most of the country, though you should arrange roaming with your service provider before leaving home. An alternative is to purchase a local SIM card.

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  • Food & drink

    Sri Lankan cuisine is delicious and fragrant, with an emphasis on locally grown spices and produce. Not every dish features chilli, rather, a blend of other spices such as coriander and cardamom are used to enhance the dish's flavor. Vegetarian dishes are widely available.

    Rice is a staple of Sri Lankan cuisine, and you can also try hoppers, which are a local type of pancake. String hoppers are made of noodles and are a great accompaniment to curries. In coastal towns, many dishes incorporate fresh, local seafood.

    British influences can be found in Sri Lanka's bakeries, which feature local snacks called 'short eats'. There are also Dutch-influenced sweets, and dishes with a distinct Muslim origin, like the rice dish biryani. You should never drink the tap water in Sri Lanka, yet bottled water is commonly available.

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  • Tipping

    While tipping is a much appreciated gesture for good service, it is not an obligatory practice in Asia. At the start of your trip, your Western tour leader and local guide will request a small amount of money (such as 50 cents per day) to use as communal tips for staff such as porters and boat crews encountered. This is to prevent over-tipping and to negate the need for carrying small denominations of money.

    We are sure you will be pleased with the service levels received from our tour leaders, guides and drivers, and you may opt to provide them with a tip. We do not suggest compulsory tipping for any Travel Indochina representatives, so the choice to tip is up to you.

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  • Swimming

    Swimming pools can be found in most hotels of superior or deluxe level, and sometimes in standard and classic hotels. It is important to be mindful of local customs and to retain modesty, even when swimming. It is considered offensive to swim or sunbake topless or to wear revealing swimwear.

    Around Sri Lanka's coastline are many picturesque beaches, ranging from calm to surf beaches. It is important to be mindful that rips, currents and other dangerous conditions may occur, and that beaches are not generally patrolled by lifeguards.

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