Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, rolling surf, cheap prices, fun trains, famous tea and flavourful food make Sri Lanka irresistible.
Sri Lanka has typically tropical climate and there are no real marked seasons. The weather in plains and the coastal areas is very hot and often humid with an average monthly temperature of 27 degrees Celsius (81° Fahrenheit). Relative Humidity varies from approximately 70% during the day to 90% at night. The hills are much cooler with an average temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius (68° Fahrenheit).
Sri Lanka sees a lot of rainfall. The monsoon brings rain from May to July to the western, southern and central regions of the island. The north-east monsoon causes rains in the northern and eastern regions in December and January.
Before visiting Sri Lanka, do the following to get a 30-day visa:
Visit the Sri Lanka ETA website several days before arriving.
Follow the online application process and pay with a credit or debit card.
Once approved print out the visa confirmation.
You can still obtain visas at Sri Lankan embassies abroad and there is a counter at Bandaranaike International Airport for people who arrive without a visa, although you’ll have to wait with the other visa-less masses and pay a small penalty.
The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, divided into 100 cents (you rarely come across scents today). Currency notes are Rs.5,000, Rs2,000, Rs1,000, Rs500, Rs100, Rs50, Rs20 and Rs10. Beware of mistaking the Rs500 note for the somewhat similar Rs100 one. To check whether notes are genuine when not given at a bank, look for a lion watermark. Coins, should you have received them, will be in denominations up to Rs10.
Make sure you have plenty of lower denomination notes (Rs50, Rs100, Rs500), especially when traveling and you need to buy small items, fruit, and eat cheap meals because change is often hard to come by apart from at hotels and big shops.
The tipping etiquette in Sri Lanka mirrors India. A 10% service fee is often added to final checks in restaurants and bars, but this often goes to the owner. If you wish to add a gratuity, please give directly to your waiter. A general practice is to tip 10% of your total bill
Tipping in hotels 50-100 Rupees = $0.50 for a little bit of work ie: porters, room service etc. [note: at the airport, they ask for 50 Rupees per heavy bag].
In temples, you should leave money in donation boxes, particularly if you have been taken on a tour by a resident monk.
Sri Lanka is a very conservative country so as a general rule modesty is the best policy. Light loose cotton clothing is advisable. In places of worship or of cultural importance showing shoulders and legs (above the knee) is frowned upon, that includes wearing short trousers. You will also be required to remove your footwear and headwear. Having a sarong or a wrap with you when visiting places of worship could get you out of a sticky spot. Also having a spare pair of socks to wear at Dambulla Cave Temple or at Anuradhapura will help you avoid what we would call a “fire walking experience”.
230. 240 volts, 50 cycles AC. If you travel with a laptop computer bring a stabilizer.
In general, the threats to personal security for travelers in Sri Lanka are remarkably small. It is more pleasant to travel with a companion as it is advised not to travel alone especially after dark. The island including the North and East is safe to visit. If you have anything stolen, report it to the tourist police (a special tourist police set up to look after the needs of the tourists).
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends travelers to consider the following vaccinations for Sri Lanka (as well as being up to date with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations): Adult diphtheria and tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio, Rabies, Typhoid, and Varicella