Sri Lanka

Essential Travel Information

Entry/Exit Requirements

U.S. citizens visiting Sri Lanka must have either an Electronic Travel Authorization or a visa to enter Sri Lanka. Your passport must remain valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip.

 

U.S. citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka for purposes of tourism or transit require an approval notice from Sri Lanka’s Electronic Travel Authorization System, onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds. The Electronic Travel Authorization System is available online or at the port of entry. Visitors are strongly urged to use the online system to avoid lengthy delays at the port of entry. The online application, fees, and other relevant information are available here. This travel authorization allows entry for up 30 days.

 

Sri Lankan regulations define tourist travel as sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, receiving medical treatment including Ayurvedic and yoga, and participating in sporting events, competitions, and cultural activities. Foreigners entering Sri Lanka on a tourist visa cannot convert their visa to a non-tourist one, and risk deportation if they engage in other activities without the appropriate visa.

 

Transit passengers are defined as foreigners who expect to enter Sri Lanka and remain for a period not exceeding 2 days while waiting for onward travel. Passengers who do not cross Sri Lankan immigration lines, but who transfer between flights inside the airport, are defined as transfer passengers and do not require an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) approval or a visa.

 

For detail Sri Lanka visa requirements, please visit: http://www.immigration.gov.lk/web/?lang=en

 

For more updated and other information please visit:

http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/india.html.

 

Please note: Each traveler is fully responsible for bringing and acquiring travel documents (e-tickets, hotel and travel vouchers, etc.) necessary for his or her itinerary. If you are not a citizen of the United States, your entry requirements may vary— please contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the country or countries to be visited and obtain the specific requirements for entry.

Arrival Information

Please refer to the instructions on your itinerary confirmation provided by your destination specialist.

Map of Sri Lanka

Territory Information

 

Full Name: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Religion: Buddhist (official) 70.2%, Hindu 12.6%, Muslim 9.7%, Roman Catholic 6.1%, other Christian 1.3%, other 0.05%

System of Government: Semi-Presidential System

Population: 22,053,448

Location: Southern Asia

Timezone

 

Sri Lanka operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), plus 5.5 hours.

 

At 9:00 am anywhere in Sri Lanka, it is:

• 10:30 pm the previous day in New York – Eastern Standard Time (EST)

• 9:30 pm the previous day in Chicago and Houston – Central Standard Time (CST)

• 7:30 pm the previous day in Los Angeles and San Francisco – Pacific Standard Time (PST)

• 5:30 pm the previous day in Hawaii – Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST)

 

*Note: Add one hour to local time during Daylight Savings Time.

Practical Information

A good source of health information for travelers is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Please be advised that high-standard medical care is not available in the more remote areas of Sri Lanka. Sightseeing may require, at minimum, the ability to walk at a moderate pace for a mile or two, and the balance and agility necessary to climb stairs, enter and exit buses and boats, and navigate uneven or cobble-stoned streets. Some sightseeing stops do not have elevators or wheelchair access. Bring medications in their original, clearly labeled containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your med­ical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. Carry a simple travelers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be needed, including anti-diarrhea tablets. When on vacation, it is always wise to watch what you eat and drink, but please do not drink the tap water while traveling in Sri Lanka. Most hotels provide complimentary bottled water or available for purchased throughout your trip.

Sri Lanka’s unit of currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, divided into 100 cents. It is available in the following denominations: Banknotes: 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000 Rupee; Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10 Rupee. Traveler’s checks and foreign currencies can be exchanged in larger cities and only at authorized agencies such as banks, exchange offices, and hotels. Large banks may offer the best exchange rates. Most hotels, restaurants and shopping centers accept all major credit cards, but in small towns cash or traveler’s checks may be required. ATM access is available in major cities such as Colombo and Kandy . Cash is the best (generally the only) option in street markets. Save all receipts from any currency exchange transactions. You may be asked to present them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency. The exchange rate is constantly fluctuating, but it can be found to be approximately 1 USD = 140 LKR. For the most updated exchange rate, please check www.xe.com.

Electrical service in Sri Lanka is supplied at 230 volts, 50 hertz. Bringing an adaptor is a good idea if you are planning on using electronics (i.e. cell phones, laptops, cameras, etc.) during your trip.

Sri Lanka’s food has a strong influence by British and India. Sri Lanka food mainly are rice, coconut, and spices. the central feature of Sri Lankan cuisine is boiled or steamed rice, served with a curry of fish, chicken, beef, mutton, or goat, along with other curries made with vegetables, lentils, or fruits. Dishes are accompanied by pickled fruits or vegetables, chutneys, and sambols. Especially common is coconut sambol, a paste of ground coconut mixed with chili peppers, dried Maldive fish, and lime juice. A common dessert in Sri Lanka is kevum, an oil cake made with rice flour and treacle and deep-fried to a golden brown. When dining on your own, reservations for dinner are essential in Sri Lanka, even in hotel restaurants. Regardless of precautions, changes in water and diet can result in mild abdominal upsets and nausea. It is advisable to bring antacids or abdominal pain medicines. To prevent serious illness, avoid suspect foods such as uncooked vegetables, peeled fruit, unpasteurized milk, and milk products. Beware of any food or drink sold by street vendors. Do not use tap water for drinking. Even “purified” water in open containers should be avoided. It is always preferable and safer to use only bottled or canned water.

In Sri Lanka, the official language is Sinhala (also called Sinhalese or Singhalese) is the mother tongue of the Sinhalese ethnic group which is the largest in Sri Lanka. It is one of the constitutionally-recognized official languages of Sri Lanka, along with Tamil. Tamil is a classical language and the oldest of the Dravidian language family and spoken by the Tamil population of Sri Lanka.

Weather

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 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 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.

Average Temperatures


All temperatures in Fahrenheit (°F)

Month/CityJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Anuradhapura788083848484848383817978
Colombo818182848482828282818181
Galle787778808080807878787877
Kandy757375787778757575757573
Negomgo797979828281818181807978
Nuwara Eliya575757596059595959595957
Polonnaruwa798081858686858584817979
Sigiriya747678808080797980787674

Other Information

This will be contingent on your own personal preference and the time of year you are traveling. Generally, we suggest that travelers pack lightly and to bring comfortable, casual clothes in natural, “breathable” fabrics because of the humidity. Choose versatile styles that can be layered. A lightweight (preferably non-plastic) raincoat or poncho is a good idea, as well as a sweater or lightweight jacket for early morning/evenings and air-conditioned buildings.  A sturdy, comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must, as sandals may not be comfortable for some sightseeing activities. Some hotels have pools, so you may want to pack your swimming suit. Do not forget to bring sun block, sunglasses, insect repellent, pocket packs of tissues, a sunhat, an umbrella (for both the sun and rain), and any medications you may need. Most hotels offer reliable laundry and dry cleaning services.

Always wear what you are most comfortable traveling in, but a reasonable amount of modesty ought to be exercised. In most areas, comfortable, casual clothes such as short sleeved shirts, polo shorts, long skirts, etc., are great for sightseeing. Remember that temperatures are likely to be warm and humid so wearing light, loose fitting fabrics is a good idea.

 

When visiting temples, or other religious sites, wear modest, conservative clothing. No shorts or sleeveless shirts on either men or women. Plan to cover most of your body, including your shoulders, upper arms, and legs. You will also have to remove your shoes and socks before entering temples as part of the tradition.

 

Women: Women should have all skin covered; ankle-length skirts or pants are required. Sleeves should reach each wrist. Pants or skirts that are too revealing, clingy, or tight should not be worn.

 

Men: Men should wear long pants and plain shirts without messages or slogans when visiting mosques. Short-sleeved shirts are acceptable as long as the sleeves are not shorter than average. If in doubt, wear long sleeves.

Hotels may impose a hefty charge on international calls. Check your hotel’s policy before placing any calls. To avoid hotel markups you can use a calling card from your local long-distance carrier. A number of United States cell phones manufactured today have the ability to operate overseas on the GSM (Global System for Mobile) standard. We recommend that you contact your cell phone service provider to determine if your phone operates on the GSM and what, if any, activation may be required. In Sri Lanka, reception on any cell phone can be unreliable and unpredictable. In some locations, transmission is not possible at all. If access to e-mail is of critical importance during your trip, please check availability in advanced. Most hotels have business centers or in room WI-FI service, surcharges may apply.

The nationwide emergency phone numbers are:

Ambulance: 110

Fire: 110

Police: 118 / 119

Tourism Info: 1912 (within Sri Lanka)

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