You will be comfortable with cotton clothes at any time of the year when you visit Sri Lanka. You must wear appropriately when visiting religious sites in Sri Lanka. Modest dresses for women are advisable and wear a light color if possible though not necessary. You should cover your shoulders and knees when you are visiting venerable places especially Kandy Temple of Tooth and Dambulla Caves Temple etc. As a mark of respect, you will not allow wearing footwear’s and headwear’s when visiting temples. You will need light woolens when visiting hill country. Do not forget comfortable shoes or sandals and cotton socks for the hot pavers around temples.
There are many places in Sri Lanka that require photo permits, especially religious sites. So, make sure to inquire about photo permission and restriction, before capturing these sights. There are important restrictions that apply to photography concerning Buddhist imagery. When you want to take a picture of a Buddhist statue or image make sure to photograph it alone without posing alongside. This includes selfies with Buddha images, which are considered disrespectful. Buddha tattoos are strictly an offence in Sri Lanka.
What you can bring with you
You are allowed to bring into the country duty free 1.5 liters of spirits, 2 bottles of wine, a quarter-liter of Eau-de-Toilette, 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. The import of non-prescription drugs and pornography of any form is an offence.
What can’t you take with you when leaving?
On leaving the country you are allowed to take up to 10kg of tea duty free. Antiques older than 50 years, rare books, palm-leaf manuscripts and anthropological material cannot be exported without permission. Purchase and export without license of any wild animal, bird or reptile, dead or alive, export of parts of animals, birds or reptiles, such as skins, horns, scales and feathers is prohibited. Occasional exports are, however, permitted exclusively for bona fide scientific purposes. A 450 plant species are prohibited to be exported without special permits. The export of coral, shells or other protected marine products are also strictly prohibited.
Visitors to Sri Lanka bringing in more than US$10,000 should declare the amount to the Customs on arrival. All unspent rupees converted from foreign currencies can be re-converted to the original currency on departure as long as encasement receipts are produced.
Most hotels, restaurants and shopping centers accept credit cards. Some establishments may try to add a surcharge, which is illegal.
Banks are open from 0900hr – 1500hr Monday to Friday. Some city banks close at 1500 hrs. While some are open on Saturday mornings. You can withdraw money across the island at ATMs using international credit cards or debit cards.
The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rs, and notes include Rs. 5,000, Rs. 2,000, Rs. 1,000, Rs. 500, Rs. 100, Rs. 50 & Rs. 20 and occasionally Rs. 10. To check whether notes are genuine when not given at a bank, look for a lion watermark. Coins start from Rs. 1 to Rs. 10. Make sure you have plenty of lower denomination notes (Rs50, Rs100, Rs500), especially when travelling and when making everyday purchases.
There are certain health risks to be aware of when visiting Sri Lanka, especially if you are from Europe and North America. You need to watch out for bowel diseases such as:
The following vaccinations are recommended, particularly if you plan a long trip or intend visiting remote areas:
Children should be protected against:
Please remember that food available from street vendors, unwashed vegetables and fruit, under cooked fish and meat, peeled fruit at markets and ice creams and milk products at cheap restaurants can be unhygienic.
Generally, there are no security threats to tourists within Sri Lanka, but it is generally advised to travel with a companion or as a group. It is not safe to travel alone or with little company at night. There’s a special Tourist Police set up for complaints of lost items and you can contact it on this number + 94 11 238 2209.
Tap water is not safe in Sri Lanka. Make sure to drink bottled water or filtered water. Avoid using ice made form tap water, as well.
There are very few facilities in Sri Lanka for travelers with special needs. Although wheel chair access and mobility assistance is available at the airport and in certain buildings and hotels, it is not widespread. So, make sure to travel with a companion who can assist you.
Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. (+05.30 GMT Sri Jayawardhanapura Kotte)
230 – 240 volts, 50 cycles AC. You might also want to bring a stabilizer if you are bringing a laptop or an iPad. If possible, it would also be better if you are able to bring a power point plug converter, to have a hassle free vacation.
Sri Lanka has two official languages – Sinhala and Tamil. Although English is spoken and used, it is a link language, rather than an official language. Most people can understand and speak it and you will find signs in all three languages.
Make sure to bring plenty of SPF-high sun protection and remedies for prickly heat. Wear hats and caps and use umbrellas, and keep yourself well-hydrated to avoid heatstroke.