Best Of Sri Lanka
Departure TimeOn Request
Return TimeOn Resquest
Dress CodeTravel suitable dress code
IncludedAirport dropAirport pick upBreakfastDinnerEconomy Class train ticketEnglish GuideFree Guide BookPrivate Air Conditioned CarTour as in the itinerary
Not IncludedAir TicketAll entrance TicketsAyurveda massageJeep FeeLunchTravel insuranceVisas or vaccinations
Airport > Negombo
You will have Breakfast in the garden of a local family (morning arrivals). Breakfast will consist of a variety of exotic fruits and a cup of Ceylon Tea.
After breakfast, you will make your way to “Lellalama Beach” to meet fishermen who return from the lagoon or from the sea of Negombo, with lobsters, crabs and prawns in their Oru. (outrigger canoes).
Check-in hotel and relax.
At sunset, you will be able to walk along Dutch canals enjoying a chilled beer. Then visit St Mary’s Church and Angurukaramulla Temple.
The rest of the day is at your leisure.
You will conclude the day with dinner and an overnight stay in Negombo.
Negombo > Dambulla Cave Temple > Ayurvedic Massage
Shortly after sunrise, the 2nd day will begin by visiting the vegetable and fruit markets in Negombo. where you will be able to taste a variety of fruits like mangoes, bananas, rambutan and peanuts (offered by travel agency)
You will then travel to Dambulla which is part of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. The cultural triangle consists of Dambulla,
Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Kandy (Map Attached). You will explore the Dambulla Cave Temple consisting of 5 caves and contains some of the most stunning wall paintings dating back to 3rd century BC. You will able to admire some of the historical artifacts such as 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of kings and 2 statues of god Vishnu and Ganesh who are considered as the guardians of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
You will conclude the day with dinner and an overnight stay in Dambulla.
Polonnaruwa > Minneriya or Kaudulla
After the breakfast, we visit Polonnaruwa, medieval capital of Sri Lanka, here we come! We will explore Polonnaruwa UNESCO archaeological site on foot or by bike, witnessing the remnants of Sri Lanka’s golden age of trade and agriculture under the patronage of King Parakramabahu the Great.
The ruins of the Royal Palace, the Assembly hall, Shiva Devale, Twin ponds, Elephant pond, Vatadage and many more will transport you to the glorious past. Lastly the Gal Vihara (Rock Temple) is pure magic of all. The four Buddha statues carved from one slab of granite will leave you spellbound!
Lunch will be a choice between local cuisine of Rice and Curry or sandwich etc. after which we will make our way to Minneria or Kaudulla National Park (depends on the elephant movement). The 8,890 hectares of Minneriya National Park consists of a mixture of evergreen forest and scrub areas and home to favourites such as elephants and Sambar Deer.
The central feature of the park is the ancient Minneriya Tank which was built by King Mahasen in the 3rd century AD. During the dry season (June to September), this tank is an incredible place to observe the elephants, who come to bathe and graze as well as huge flocks of birds that come to fish in the waters.
In the evening, on request, we can arrange a rejuvenating traditional Ayurvedic Massage with oils and herbs to relax your mind and body (extra cost).
You will conclude the day with dinner and an overnight stay in Dambulla.
Sigiriya > Hiriwadunna village trekking
On the 4th day, we will explore King Kassapa’s Royal palace (AD 477 – 495) built on the summit of a rock. Which covers 1.6 hectares.
There are ruins of water gardens and the palace, which to this day is a mystery as to how the plumbing worked at the top of the rock fortress. Almost 500 frescos of celestial nymphs, covering the lateral surface area of the rock is one of the main popular tourist attractions.
On the way to the top of the Rock Fortress, we will visit the Mirror Wal, Cobra Hood Cave, Lion’s Paws, and arrive at the top to admire the breathtaking view of surrounding area as far as the eye can see.
We stopover in Heriwadunna rural village for lunch. On our way, we go through a series of small villages, lakes and paddy fields, which is the habitat for plenty of birdlife including Egrets, Brahmany Kites, Kingfishers, Bulbuls.
On arriving at the village, you will be able to join the family preparing our lunch and have an experience of cooking Sri Lankan food. The meal will be served outdoors at a table bordering a green paddy fields.
You will conclude the day with dinner and an overnight stay in Dambulla.
Dambulla > Matale > Kandy
After an early breakfast, we make our way to the City of Kandy, known as Maha Nuwara.
On our way we can enjoy a free guided tour at Spice Garden with an English speaking guide who will explain the merits and the health properties of herbs, spices and plants including cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, coffee, nutmeg, pepper, cardamom, aloe vera, irriweriya and the henna plant.
During our journey, at Matale, we visit Sri Muthumariamman Kovil (Hindu Temple) which is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, who is considered as the guardian of rain and water. We can admire the colourful 55 m tall gopuram (a monumental tower, usually ornate, at the entrance of any Hindu temple, especially in Southern India) with 1008 statues of Hindu gods and goddesses. This is a depiction of Sub-Indian influence in Sri Lanka during the Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura Kingdoms (377 BC- 463 BC).
Check-in hotel, relax and we prepare to participate to cultural dancing show in the Kandyan Art Association.
You will conclude the day with dinner and an overnight stay in Kandy.
Temple of Tooth Relic > Millennium Elephants Foundation > Peradeniya Botanical Garden
Today we spend some time at the Millennium Elephant Foundation, just 2 km from Pinnawala (you can choose either visit Millennium Elephant Foundation or Pinnawala elephant orphanage).
We can help the staff to feed the elephants and bathing them in the nearby river. There are a number of rescued elephants from various situations such as aggressive mahouts or elephants retired from working temples.
On our arrival at Kandy, we will visit Royal Botanical Gardens which is incredibly famous in Asia for its collection of Orchids and Royal Palm. During the Kandyan reign, these beautiful gardens were exclusively for the Kandyan Royalty.
But today everyone is welcome at the 60 hectares of the largest and the most impressive botanic gardens in Sri Lanka. Spend couple of hours, relaxing in this fabulous garden with stunning landscapes with multicoloured flowers which stretches along both sides of the boulevard. Then step into a small café inside the garden for hot cup of Ceylon tea!
Then in the evening we will visit Dalada Maligawa and we will participate in the evening sound ceremony .
Kandy is the home for the Temple of the Tooth Relic (Dalada Maligawa) one of the most sacred places to worship in the Buddhist world. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988.
It is worth to spend couple of hours visiting the temple which is full of affresco, wood carving and granite columns and statues which witness the buddhism. You can see also visit buddhist museum, hindu temples and the museum of Royal elephants of the temple.
If you wish you can visit:
1. Gem Museum
2. Atelier di Batik3.Wood Craft workshop
You will conclude the day with dinner and an overnight stay in Kandy.
Kandy > Tea Plantation > Train Tour from Nanu Oya
After an early breakfast, we move to everyone’s favourite village in the Hill country Ella.
On our way, we will be joining a guided visit to a tea plantation and participate in the process of tea manufacturing at the factory. Having warmed ourselves up with a hot cup of fresh black Ceylon tea in the cafeteria, we resume our journey!
From Nanu Oya you will board the world’s most scenic train journey. Guide will arrives at your final destination, Ella station with your luggage. The train passes through the breath-taking landscapes with thick forests, arced bridges, mountains, cascades, waterfalls and green vegetable fields, which stretch for kilometres.
The scenery from the train is like a green carpet of tea bushes rolling hills with tea plucking maids dressed in colourful saris, popping out of the sea of green s far as the eye can see. Enjoy this blue train tour journey up to Ella!
After a long and enjoyable day, we will have little pause watching Rawana Waterfall drinking fresh king coconut and drive to the hotel.
You will end the day with dinner and an overnight stay at Ella.
Ella > Little Adam’s Peak > Nine Arc Bridge > South Coast Beach
Around 7 am, we begin our hike to Little Adam’s Peak, with Tamil families who are heading off to work in the tea plantation, passing through villages and tea estates.
It is an extremely easy hike that takes around 20 min to arrive at the summit and admire an astonishing panorama of waterfalls, tea factories shimmer out of the mist of the Hill Country.
Then we visit Nine Arch Bridge, built completely with bricks and cement without using any metal. It is a 30-metre-high viaduct with dramatic, high arches, a beautiful piece of architecture which stands in testament to the exceptional engineering skills of the British.
After this world-famous Instagram destination, we move to the South Coast of Sri Lanka. On our way we visit Ravana waterfall and continue our tour to the beach.
Arrive to South Coast beach, check-in hotel and relax.
Dinner and overnight stay in a comfortable hotel in the South Coast beach.
South Coast beach (dipende on your request)
Welcome to the south coast of Sri Lanka! A chilled beer on the beach during the sun set is a must when you are in the South Coastal Beach.
Gorgeous white sandy beaches with lovely trees providing shade in some parts. You will be able to sit and relax to enjoy the sun and the sea. It is a paradise for snorkelling, surfing and even for bodyboarders.
The rolling waves are ideal for surfers and enjoy the night life in the beach bars tasting the fresh seafood and BBQs.
During your stay, we can arrange the following activities. Please contact your guide
1. Dolphin and whale watching
2. Stilt fishing
3. Snorkelling and diving
4. Ayurveda treatments
5. Scuba diving
7. Jet ski riding
8. Koggala Boat Tour
9. Galle Dutch Fort
10. Turtle conservation projects
South Coast beach (dipende on your request)
South Coast beach (dipende on your request)
Depart to Airport from South Coast beach (dipende on your request)
On demand, we accompany you to departure terminal of the Bandaranaike International Airport. Our local guide is very happy to assist you with your luggages.
Hope to see you soon in Sri Lanka!
Visas & Customs Formalities
Do I need a visa to enter Sri Lanka?
Yes, you will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. In addition, if you intend visiting Sri Lanka on a short visit, you will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) prior to arrival.
What is an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) ?
The Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is an official authorization for a Short Visit to Sri Lanka and is issued through an on-line system. You need to obtain an ETA if you intend visiting Sri Lanka as a Tourist, on Business or on Transit. No passport copies, documents or photographs are required to obtain the ETA. ETA holders will be issued a 30 day Short Visit visa at the port of entry in Sri Lanka.
Am I required to obtain an ETA?
Nationals of all countries with the exception of citizens of countries mentioned below are required to obtain an ETA to visit Sri Lanka.Nationals of following countries who visit Sri Lanka for a Short visit up to 30 days are exempt from obtaining an ETA;
- The Republic of Singapore
- The Republic of Maldives
- The Republic of Seychelles
How much does the ETA cost?
The non-refundable ETA processing fee for a Tourist visa with Double Entry for 30 days for citizens of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries will cost US$ 15, all other countries will cost US$ 30. Children below 12 years of age are exempt from the ETA fee. A complete list of ETA processing fees could be obtained from the ETA website.
How do I apply for the ETA?
You can submit the ETA application online through the ETA website. Select the language, click ‘Apply’ and follow the instructions.
Other options for you to apply are;
- By Third party
- By Registered agents
- At Sri Lanka Overseas Missions
- At the head office of the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DI&E), Colombo
On arrival at the port of entry in Sri Lanka. Answers to FAQs on the ETA can be found at the official web site,
My holiday is over 30 days, how can I obtain an extension to my visa?
You can either apply and obtain an extended visa from a Sri Lankan Embassy/ Consulate from your country of residence prior to arrival in Sri Lanka or get an extension from the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo 10. This procedure will take about 2-3 hours, and you will have to give a bona fide reason for staying over 30 days. If you are staying in a resort for a long period, the staff will be able to help you with the application.
Language & Communication
What Language will people understand?
Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages in Sri Lanka.
English is a ‘link’ language and generally understood by most people and is easy to get by. Off the beaten track knowledge of it thins. English is spoken at all hotels, major restaurants and shops. Dream Vacations provides guides in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese languages to foreign visitors requiring assistance. Road signs are written both in Sinhalese & English throughout the country, with few exceptions.
How are telephone facilities in the country?
Telephone facilities are available extensively throughout the country. There are many telephone booths which accept coins, but the clarity and talk times may be short. Telephone bureaus are quite common with most offering IDD and internet facilities. Some offer the cheaper net-to-phone facilities, but quality is not always reliable. IDD facilities are available in most tourist hotels.
What is the country code and how do I dial area codes?
Dialling in – Sri Lanka’s country code is 94, (E.g. If you need to call a number in Colombo, dial ++94 11 2XXXXXX). If you are calling a mobile number, you dial the number after the country code (E.g. dialling a Dialog number, dial ++94 77X XXXXXX).
Dialling within/ out – If you need to take an overseas call, you’ll have to dial ’00’. You do not have to dial the area code if you are within the area. However, the area code must be dialled if you want to take an outstation call (e.g. calling within Colombo, dial 2XXXXXX, Calling Kandy from Colombo, dial 081 22XXXXX).
What mobile technology is supported in Sri Lanka?
All mobile operators support the GSM technology on GSM 900/ 1800 bands. WAP & GPRS is widely supported. 3G and wireless broadband is available in Colombo. Wifi zones are available in selected spots in major towns.
Can I purchase a local mobile connection while on holiday?
It’s a good option to purchase a local SIM card and top up cards while you are on holiday. The mobile call rates are relatively cheap for both local and IDD calls. There are many mobile operators in the country (E.g. Dialog, Mobitel, Etisalat, Hutch etc.,). Dialog has a counter at the Colombo Airport and you can obtain a connection on arrival. A Dialog connection will cost about Rupees 1500. Top up cards are freely available island-wide. You can buy top-up cards for denominations of Rupees 100, 400 & 1000. Be sure that your phone is `dual band’ and unlocked.
Can I access the internet freely?
Most hotels provide internet facilities. There are internet cafes in most towns with ADSL connection. Connections in smaller towns will be slow. The average cost of surfing in a Cyber Café is about US$ .50 per hour. Many large 5 star and some boutique hotels provide Wifi facilities. Dialog also provides WiMAX Broadband wireless connections
Health & Safety
Is it Safe to Travel to Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is quite a safe destination to travel and one of the most picturesque countries on earth. The country is at peace and we are experiencing record a record number of visitors; as Sri Lanka is considered one of the few ‘un-spoilt’ destinations in Asia . Our tours are conducted in areas which are considered safe for tourists to visit. Many of our clients have become friends and cannot wait to return to their ‘second home’, feeling safe and secure in our care.. Please visit our news page for latest updates.
What safety precautions must I take when travelling?
According to accepted norms of travel you should deposit your valuables like money, passport, tickets, jewels etc in the hotel safe deposit locker. In accordance with international custom the Hotels in Sri Lanka are not responsible for objects lost in the room. You should also not leave your valuables unattended on the beach, the balconies or terraces.
Never leave your money or passport in your backpack or suitcase. Always keep a record of your Travellers Cheque numbers separately from the Travellers Cheques. It is wise to keep an amount of money (about US$ 200) stashed away separately from your money-belt or pouch.
What health issues must I be concerned with?Sri Lanka has an effective health care system which is considered a model for most developing countries across the world. However, emergency medical facilities may not be found outside main cities. You may have to be brought to Colombo for treatment. We recommend you use the private sector hospitals, which are likely to offer better care. It is mandatory for those travelling to Sri Lanka from Africa or Latin America to have a valid certificate of vaccination for Yellow fever and Meningitis prior to arrival in Sri Lanka. You need up-to-date Hepatitis A, Polio and Tetanus shots. Mosquito borne diseases like dengue, chckengunya and malaria are common. It’s advised you take adequate protection against mosquitos. Take some Imodium tablets (just in case you get an upset stomach). Almost every town has a pharmacy selling common medicines. However, we advise you to carry any special medication as the availability of medical supplies may vary. You are strongly advised you take an adequate health insurance cover when travelling to 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 turn down. You can buy the mats (small repellent tablet inserted to the plug-in unit), from most local supermarkets. 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. The locally available ‘Siddhalepa balm’ is quite effective to take the itch out of mosquito bites.
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.
Food & Lodging
What food will I find?
Sri Lankan dishes are based on rice, with a large variety of vegetables, fish & fruits. The uniqueness of Sri Lankan food influenced by invaders and traders – Indians, Arabs, Malays, Moors, Portuguese, Dutch and English all whom have left a mark on the Sri Lankan diet, will surely make your trip a voyage of culinary discovery!
Sri Lankan food is good, perhaps a little too piquant for foreign palates, but worth trying. The Lankan food served in your hotel is toned down a little bit due to the sensitive stomach of most tourists, but nevertheless is delicious and you should try it.
International food of any kind is found in all major Sri Lankan Restaurants.
Most coastal towns have excellent seafood including prawns & delicious crab. Rates are quite inexpensive. Being a tropical country, Sri Lanka is blessed with a large variety of fruits. Some fruits like mangoes and Bananas (known a plantains here), come in over a dozen of sub varieties of shapes, sizes & tastes! Fruits such as Rambutan, Pineapple, Mangosteen, Papaya (Papaw), wood apple, melons, passion fruit, guavas, etc., are but a small sample of the amazing variety of fruits to be discovered and enjoyed.
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.
Can I obtain ‘Halal’ food?
‘Halal’ food is quite scarce in major hotels. The Galadari and Holiday Inn in Colombo serve halal food, as well a couple of hotels on the west coast. There are quite a few restaurants in Colombo and Kandy, but not much else. The best bet is to order seafood instead of meat to be on the safe side.
What sort of food can I expect in an ‘Ayurveda Resort’?
The food is exclusively based on Sri Lankan rice and curry menu. The curries are mostly Sri Lankan vegetables; Chicken and fish maybe included.
How about drinks?
Sri Lanka is famous for it’s tea, and pride ourselves in producing ‘Ceylon Tea’, the finest tea in the world. There is a local version of coffee, which is a bit strong. But Colombo is the only place that you could get a really good espresso. Highly recommended are the fresh fruit juices. Popular international soft drinks are available even in little village boutiques.
Sri Lanka has it’s own variety of local beer. Sri Lanka also has two extremely popular local varieties of intoxicating beverage – Toddy and Arrack. Toddy is a natural drink, produced from one or other palm trees. Fermented and refined toddy becomes Arrack. Some varieties are real “rocket fuel”! Imported beer and foreign liquors cost almost the same as in most western countries.
Thambili or King Coconut is a sweet, clean and cheap natural drink that you’ll find by the wayside. It’s extremely cooling and refreshing!
We advice not to drink tap water unless it is purified. Bottled water is recommended. Only use water from containers with serrated seal-not tops or corks. Most hotel rooms have boiled water in thermos flasks, which is safe to drink.
Is it true that liquor is not served on Full Moon days?
True. Liquor is not served on Full Moon Days.
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.
Can I smoke in public places?
No. 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 Dream Vacations vehicles while on tour; however, regular comfort stops will be provided.
What sort of accommodation can I expect?
Accommodation is usually in a shared twin-bed room with a supplementary charge for single occupancy. We offer a wide range of accommodation from private boutique hotels, villas, eco lodge and tents. Some of our nature & adventure trips include traveling to remote or undeveloped outstation destinations, hotel accommodation of International tourist standard may not exist & facilities are rudimentary. Sleeping huts & tents are simple & often lack Western-style toilets or bathing facilities. In such places, tour participants will be provided with the best available facilities.
The package price may include meals as specified in each tour program.
Money & Banking
What currency is 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).
Hotels and other tourist establishments will quote you the price in US$ or Euro and collect in Rupees at the prevailing exchange rate.
Is Rupee the only currency used, or is the US$/ Euro also widely used?
The Sri Lankan Rupee is used only for transactions within Sri Lanka.
US$/ Euro etc., is accepted in most large hotels, and tourist establishments, but not in outlets catering to locals. Advice to bring in US$/ Euro and change as and when needed.
If the Rupee only is used – what is the best currency to bring – US$ / £ Sterling / Euro?
It depends on your primary account currency.
If your account is in Singapore Dollars, bring that (or you’ll lose on converting to a third currency).
You can change the currency to Rupees on arrival at the airport. However, if your currency is a non-freely convertible local currency (not freely traded in international foreign exchange markets) it’s better to bring a freely convertible currency like the US$/Euro. There are many currency exchange counters at the arrival lounge (after passing baggage clearance and customs).
Internationally accepted currencies and credit cards are easily accepted at most tourist establishments. Travellers cheques are also recommended. We recommend you change some of your money into local currency for tipping, shopping and other miscellaneous expenses.
The exchange of foreign currency is only permitted at banks, money changes and Hotels. You’ll have no problem changing Traveler's Cheques at any major bank. Thomas Cook and Visa are the most widely accepted. Banks charge a 0.5% handling fee and generally a commission, which varies from bank to bank. Change only that amount of money you require for spending.
How much of money can I bring in to/take out of the country?
There is no restriction in bringing money in foreign currencies into Sri Lanka. This sum could be in TCs, Bank drafts or currency notes. However, if the total exceeds US$ 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.
Please retain whatever receipts of exchange (including ATM receipts) for monies declared. This will be helpful when re-exchanging to foreign currency and taking your money back out of the country. The Re-Exchange (purchase of foreign currency) can only take place on your departure at the Bank counters at the airport. Do note that they will only accept bank receipts (not Money Changer receipts).
Are credit cards widely accepted?
Credit Cards are widely used and accepted by local establishments (even in small towns). The most widely used card types are Visa and MasterCard, with Amex to a lesser extent. It would be a convenient option to use your Credit Card (valid for international use) whenever possible.
Due to currency regulations in Sri Lanka, credit card charges cannot be made in foreign currency Local tourist establishments (including Dream Vacations) will apply the daily exchange rate on the day of your payment and convert foreign exchange rate to Sri Lankan Rupees. Please use the exchange rate indicated in the currency converter only as a guideline as we will apply the prevailing bank exchange rate at time of transaction.
Are ATM machines widely available and do they issue cash against my debit/ credit card?
ATM’s are available in most main cities. You can take cash against Visa / MasterCard in most ATM’S. However, as different banks accept different cards, we advice you ensure that your card is valid for use in Sri Lanka by contacting your bank. Watch out for the Maestro or Cirrus logo!
What are the business hours and days?
Institution Hours Open Days Closed
Banks 09:00 – 15:00 Mon – Fri (some open Sat morning) Sundays, Poya Days*
Government Offices 09:30 – 17:00 Mon – Fri (some open Sat morning) Sundays, Poya Days
Shops 10:00 – 19:00 Mon – Fri (most open Sat morning) (Some open Sun morning), Poya Days
Post Offices 10:00 – 17:00 Mon – Fri (Sat morning) Sundays, Poya Days
*Poya days (Full moon days)
Why don’t Sri Lankan banks have IBAN account numbers?
The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is a bank account number structured according to the ECBS (European Committee for Banking Standards) standards. The IBAN was originally developed to facilitate payments within the European Union. Apart from most European countries, IBAN has now been adopted by a few other Middle Eastern countries as well. You can download the latest update of countries supporting IBAN from the SWIFT website.
Sri Lanka like most other Asian countries, USA and Australia use the current Bank Identifier Code system (BIC or SWIFT code) in conjunction with the BBAN (Basic Bank Account Number).
Travelling & Photography
When is the best time to travel?
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 & 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.
Are there any areas that I cannot travel to?
You may travel to anywhere in the island. However, travel to the North requires prior authorization from the Ministry of Defence. We do not conduct tours to the Northern province at present.
What are the do’s and don’t of local photography?
Ask permission before taking photographs of people and respect their wishes if they refuse. Minority groups in particular are often unhappy to have their photo taken. Travellers should avoid paying for the right to take a photo as this has been found to encourage a begging mentality in the locals. If photos are taken please send back copies (through our tour leaders or direct to the village) so that the people receive copies. The locals gain a great buzz from seeing themselves in photos and it encourages a ‘sharing’ rather than ‘taking’ attitude towards photography. Our tour leaders will make every effort to distribute them the next time they are in the area.
While we welcome travellers to pack their video cameras, there are some places where we do not allow you to film. In small villages, at home-stays or trekking, we do not permit the use of videos as local people have requested this and we ask for courtesy and discretion with still cameras.
Ask permission before taking pictures either of people or inside temples or other sacred places. For example, it is forbidden to take photographs inside the cave temple complex of Dambulla. Never use flash on murals inside temples and other places; it can damage them. You are not allowed to use flash at the frescoes at Sigiriya, but where there is no ban, please behave responsibly.
Never pose beside or in front of a Buddha statue (i.e. with your back to the statue). Such conduct is considered extremely disrespectful. Never take a photo of a monk without asking permission. Tourists are sometimes asked for money for taking photos. Always ask before you shoot whether payment is expected. Our accompanying representatives will be able to guide you on this.
Never take photos of dams, airports, roadblocks or anything to do with the military. Don’t tote the camera around Colombo Fort.
Can I process my digital photos in Sri Lanka?
There are many franchised photo shops such as Kodak & Fuji with advanced digital imaging services in major towns. Almost all types of digital data storage devices are accepted. It’s always advisable to keep a backup of your pictures before handing over for processing.
It’s always advisable to bring a USB cord (camera to PC) so you transfer the pictures to a PC. The internet cafés are ideal for this (you’ll find them all around the country). Simply copy the pictures to the PC and then burn them into a CD. This is much cheaper than processing through a photography shop/ studio. It’s best to make two copies of the CD. One you keep with you, the other send it home in the post. That way you can always keep your memory cards empty to capture more photos!
Digital camera accessories such as memory cards and batteries are available in Colombo, Kandy and a few major towns.
Power & Energy
What is the voltage type in Sri Lanka?
The voltage is Sri Lanka is 220/ 240 volts
What type of plug/s can I use?
Sri Lankan hotels have two types of plug bases; either the UK (Type G) or India (Type D).
Plug type Pins Amps Plug base compatibility
UK (Type G) 3 rectangular pins 13 Amps Accepts Type C (by tricking Earth socket). Need an adapter to accept Type D
Euro plug (Type C) 2 round pins 5 Amps Compatible with Type G and Type D (by tricking Earth socket).
India (Type D) 3 round pins* 5 Amps Accepts Type C (by tricking Earth socket). Need an adapter to accept Type G
*Do not confuse with the larger 15 Amp plug which is used for ‘heavy duty’ appliances like air-conditioners, and microwave ovens.
If you have a rectangular plug (UK – Type G) and the hotel base is round pin (India – Type D) or vice versa, just ask the reception to send you an adapter, which will solve the problem. Alternately, adapters are freely available in supermarkets/ hardware shops.
If you have a Euro plug (Type C), you can stick a pen into the Earth socket (either UK Type G or India Type D) to open the shutters and insert the plug; Do not forget to switch off the power before you do this!
The Type I plug (two slanted pins) used in countries such as South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and parts of China is not compatible with Sri Lankan plug base and need an adapter. Its better you bring a ‘Universal Adapter’ if you have this type of plug, as it will be difficult to find adapters for Type I plugs in the local hardware shops.
A word of caution; do not insert a 110V – 120V appliance (E.g. hairdryer) into a Sri Lankan 240V plug base, you might find it catching fire in your hands!
Shopping & Entertainment
Any advice on shopping?
Sri Lanka has a wide variety of very attractive handicrafts on sale. Sri Lankan masks are a very popular collector’s item. Other recommendations are batiks, wood carvings, gemstones, semi- precious stones, lacquer-ware, hand made Silver- and Brass objects and don’t forget the famous ‘Ceylon Tea’. Please avoid ornaments made from tortoise shells & ivory. Never buy turtle shell, we even suggest you not to purchase any woodcarving made from ebony, in order to preserve this scarce hardwood.
Sri Lanka is a major garment manufacturer and exporter of all kinds of clothing. There is an excellent selection of children’s and casual clothing for men & women, beach wear and even warm padded jackets at extremely attractive prices. Colombo is fast becoming an attraction for garment hunters.
How is the nightlife in Sri Lanka?
The places with some active night life are Colombo, Negombo and Hikkaduwa.
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.
Negombo 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.
Is tipping accepted and how do I tip?
Tipping is widely accepted and generally expected. tipping is a customary way of showing your appreciation for services rendered. A general rule of thumb for tipping;
Tour Guide – Your chauffeur-guide will expect something between US$ 10 to 15 a day (depending on your level of satisfaction with his service). If you are in a tour group of more than 7 people (and tour of more than 6 days), you can pool the tip and pay the guide $65 – $ 80, Driver $55 – $75, Driver’s assistant $35 – $45 for the tour.
Restaurant Staff – A 10% service charge is usually included in bills for food in more established restaurants. However the waiter/ waitress will expect a small tip. If a 10% service charge is included in the bill, a tip of $1 or $2 will be sufficient. If you receive exceptional service, add another 5% – 10%. If you are staying at a high-end hotel with a personal butler, tip him about $10 per day.
Housekeeping, bell desk & maintenance staff – A tip of $0.50 cents or $2 for the porter/ bell boy per bag (depending on distance to your room). Airport porters usually have the rate marked on their vests – about Rs. 50 per bag – this is not really a tip but more like a ‘service charge’. The room boy/ maid & pool boy will expect about $4 – $5 per week.
Temples & places of interest – The man who looks after your shoes at temples will require a small tip. The resident monks in some smaller temples will show you around and expect a ‘donation’ – in such cases you can buy a ‘ticket’ from a layperson or place the tip in the ‘donation box’. If you visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and want to take photo or bottle feed a baby elephant – you’ll need to cough up a ‘tip’. Always check with your guide before snapping a picture.
Transport – taxi cabs & tuk tuks run on a fixed price, so tipping is not required.
A 1 US$ bill is roughly equal to Rs. 130, so giving this as a tip is also well received by the locals. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the tipping advice, after all it’s purely discretionary.
Local Customs and Etiquette
What are the dos and don’ts when interacting with locals?
The Right Hand rule – Always gives and receives and eats with your right hand. It is extremely bad mannered to use your left hand for eating.
Respect cultural differences – Things are done differently in Asia, and Sri Lanka is no exception. This is why we love it! Please make sure in your dealings with local people you accept these differences and not try to change them for your own benefit or comfort. The traveler who wishes to have a happy and successful trip in Sri Lanka should keep as calm, cheerful and friendly as humanly possible. Patience and courtesy are virtues that open many doors. Demanding tourists do not get smiles, service or respect.
Environmental responsibility – Pollution and waste management is a huge problem throughout the world. Unfortunately in many parts of Asia, disposal systems are inadequate and recycling of plastics is limited. We suggest avoiding plastic packaging where possible and take along your own bag when shopping. Plastic bags will be offered for everything! Collect and dispose in the next town.
The law protects certain endangered species of flora & fauna. Export & in even possession of these species as well as of wild animals, birds, reptiles etc., is illegal. The production and sale of items made from wild animals and reptiles, e.g.: Leopard skins, crocodile skins, elephant tusks etc., is also illegal.
Never break coral, or brush against it. Coral is basically a colony of living organisms and damaging them, might kill them. If you go out in a Glass-bottom Boat, encourage the pilot to steer well clear from the coral itself. Boats scraping over the top of the reef are doing damage especially at Hikkaduwa. Never buy coral if it’s offered for sale. Similarly don’t buy sea shells or turtle shells (or eggs). All of Sri Lanka’s five species of Turtle are endangered. If you happen to spot a turtle, when being take out on a boat, discourage the driver from circling it; this sort of harassment is very stressful to the turtle