USEFUL INFORMATION

Sri Lanka is a round-the-year destination. For the visitors who seek sun and sea the best time to visit the island is from November to April. The central highlands are pleasantly cool and relatively dry from January to April. The peak season is mid December to mid January and March-April during Easter with a mini peak season in July and August when festivals and pageants are held through the country.

Passports must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. Depending on your country of origin, tourist visas may be obtained on arrival. Details are available online at www.eta.gov.lk . We strongly advise you check visa requirements in good time before your departure date. This goes without saying, but keep your documents and valuables safe, either on your person, in the room-safe found in many hotels, or with hotel reception.

While all major credit cards are accepted throughout Sri Lanka, you will need cash for some of the smaller souvenir shops and grocery stores. ATM cashpoints are widely available. The national currency is the Sri Lanka rupee (LKR), while many tourist shops will accept the US dollar, the euro, and other major currencies, offering up-to-the-minute exchange rates obtained via the Internet. As a rough guide, carry 3–5,000 rupees in cash. If you need more, your driver/guide will be happy to arrange for you to exchange currency at a bank, licensed money-changer, or your hotel.

If you’re new to the tropics, the heat and humidity, mild dehydration, and first-time exposure to hot and spicy cuisine, might leave you feeling out of sorts. Keep a blister-pack of paracetamol handy (Panadol are widely available in Sri Lanka), plus a pick-me-up effervescent antacid and pain reliever (such as Alka-Seltzer).

It is easy to become so wrapped up in your new adventure that you forget to drink enough, and may experience the onset of dehydration: dry mouth, slight headache, weakness and lethargy. If that happens when you are out and about, tell your driver/guide and he will quickly provide bottled water and a shady spot with a cooling breeze to rest and recuperate. But it shouldn’t come to that if you remember to carry with you and drink a litre of water an hour, or more if you feel the need. And don’t ration yourself—your driver/guide will always enough to go round!

Light, loosely-fitting clothing is a must in any hot and humid tropical climate. However, in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country, the high altitude and low cloud mean it can get quite chilly, so pack a jacket, sweater or fleece. Swimwear is fine around pool or beach areas, but not inside the hotel. Most important, you must be fully covered—including long dresses (or saris/sarongs) and trousers—when visiting Buddhist temples and other places of worship.

Sri Lanka’s tourism and health authorities enforce western food and hygiene standards, and stomach complaints are rare. Nevertheless, we recommend that you drink only bottled water, either from supermarkets and reputable shops, or obtained from your driver/guide.

Photographing airports, dams, roadblocks, and anything else to do with security or the military is forbidden. Don’t pose beside or in front of, or in any way disrespect, a statue or image of the Buddha.

This goes without saying, but keep your documents and valuables safe, either on your person, in the room-safe found in many hotels, or with hotel reception.

Power is standard 230V throughout the island, but you might need a multi-plug adapter, particularly for phone, tablet and battery chargers.

TORCH
Always useful, particularly if a seasonal lightning storm temporarily knocks out the power supply.

SUNSCREEN
UV light, the rays that cause sunburn, are particularly strong in the tropics, even through haze and light cloud. Make sure you have—and use!— the right filter factor for your skin type, plus an after-sun moisturizer.

UMBRELLA
Depending on the season, you might get caught out in a sudden tropical shower (or full-blown downpour!). A collapsible umbrella will not only help keep you dry, they are also widely used by Sri Lankans as parasols for protection against the mid-day sun.

INSECT REPELLANT
Mosquitos are the bane of the tropics, but a little repellent goes along way. Many brands of creams and sprays are widely available in shops and pharmacies, and your driver/guide will also have a plentiful supply.

Tips have to be earned not expected.

In the hotel:
Room boy/girl LKR 900/week,
Pool boy LKR 900/week,
Bell boy/porter LKR 200-300 depending on how far he has to carry your luggage.

Restaurants:
if 10% service is not already added to the bill a 10% tip is reasonable.
If 10% service charge is added usually tip less than LKR 200.

Driver/guide: LKR 1000/day.

If you visit temples that don’t charge entrance fees a small donation (< LKR 1000) is always welcome.
Tips are always down to discretion.

You are allowed to bring into the country duty free 1.5 litres of spirits, two bottles of wine, a quarter-litre of toilet water, and a small quantity of perfume and souvenirs with a value not exceeding US $250. The import of personal equipment such as cameras and laptop computers is allowed but must be declared on arrival. However, personal equipment must be taken out of the country upon departure. The import of non-prescription drugs and pornography of any form is an offence.

Sri Lanka has two official languages . Sinhala and Tamil – with English as a link language. Most people have some knowledge of English, and signboards are often in English.

Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. (Allowance should be made for summer-time changes in Europe.)

Minor health problems can always be treated by doctors with practices in the resorts and elsewhere in the country.