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Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Traveling To Sri Lanka

It’s prudent to check travel timetables beforehand for all modes of travel; air, sea, train or bus as timetables can change without notice. This will save travelers from any inconvenience and will help make the trip productive. Do not rely only on the information provided here as the information is based on approximate estimates.

By Air

Traveling from Europe
It take approximately 10 hours of flight time for those travelling direct and approximately 14 hours for those flying through the Middle East.

Two good flight options are Sri Lankan Airways which flies from London Heathrow (occasionally via Male in the Maldives) and sometimes from Amsterdam, Zurich, Frankfurt, Rome, Milan and Paris and the other option being British Airways from London Gatwick via Maldives.

The others alternatives are Emirates, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian, flying via the Middle East.

Travelling from North America
There are no direct flights to Sri Lanka. If you are travelling from the East Coast then Emirates or Singapore Airlines via London or the Middle East is recommended and if from the West Coast Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong, Singapore or Bangkok is a good option.

Travelling from Australia and New Zealand
Since there are no direct flights to Sri Lanka, travelers will have to break journey in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or India.

Travelling from South India
Travelers can take the Sri Lankan flight from Trivandum (Kerala). Additionally there are Sri Lankan Airline flights from Delhi and Mumbai. Sri Lankan also flies between Colombo and Male which takes approximately an hour of flight time.

Travelling from the main International Airport
The Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is situated 34 km from the capital city of Colombo. Travelers can engage a taxi/ tuk-tuk or take the train or bus plying on the route. However, most tour operators/hotels will make arrangements for airport pick-up and drop.

Departure Tax
Please take note there is a departure tax applicable for those leaving the country. Most often this is included in the airline ticket; just make sure it is so.

Traveling Around Sri Lanka

Car & Driver
Using a chauffeur driven car is the best recommended option in travelling around Sri Lanka. This option is time saving, convenient and relatively cheaper and safer than self driving. This will also be better as the unfamiliar routes, terrain and local driving habits may be quiet perplexing and stressful. Furthermore drivers find their own accommodation and food, making it hassle free for the visitors.

Talk to us and we will provide air-conditioned vehicles with reliable, experienced and friendly drivers.

By Air
The Helicopter Charter Service provided by Deccan Aviation Sri Lanka is a good option for domestic flights, but is relatively more expensive than other forms of travel. Sri Lankan Air taxi service and Cinnamon Air Taxi Service also offers domestic air flights using small sea planes, to key destinations such as Kandy, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Nuwara Eliya, Bentota and more. The entire list of available destinations can be provided on request.

By Bus
Bus travel in Sri Lanka is the cheapest way to get around. It might also be an interesting option yet can be a little uncomfortable due to overcrowding.

By Train
Train travel is an interesting and more comfortable travel option though a little more expensive than bus travel. The train routes in Sri Lanka pass through scenic settings, especially on the up-country routes and is a must travel mode at least once. The trains themselves are conventional yet capable of doing a successful journey. Additionally there are trains with air conditioned carriages, which serve food and drinks and includes free Wifi, entertainment and clean toilets. This luxury train travel requires prior booking and is relatively more expensive. There are trains connecting Colombo with all main cities in the country.

By Taxi
There are hundreds of Tuk-Tuks (three wheelers) operating in Colombo and all the main towns and cities. Rates are negotiable, so please agree to a rate before commencing on your journey and be specific about where you want to go.

When To Go

When To Go The peak tourist season in Sri Lanka is from December to March. However tourists visit the country right throughout the year, especially from November to mid April when the weather on the south and west coasts (where the country’s most popular beaches are situated) is sunny and warm. The beautiful hill country is pleasantly cool and relatively dry from January to April, making it ideal for outdoor activities. The off season is picked by many as it is less crowded and the prices are relatively lower.

Diving activities in the southwest coast is best done from December to February, when the waters are calm and clear.

The rainy season in the west and south coast’s are between April and October, with the intense rainfall between May and June and again in October to November with most of the other months being dry. However there is every possibility of having slight downpours even during the dry seasons along with a good mix of sunshine. Temperatures remain steady throughout the years, with small variations.

The magnificent Kandy Esala Perahera parades the streets in July/August; this cultural treat is a ‘must see’ event that is known as one of the finest festivals in Asia.

Holidays in Sri Lanka include Sundays, full moon Poya days and all national and religious festivals. On Poya days which fall once every month, places of entertainment and taverns/bars selling alcahol are closed and sales prohibited. Nevertherless hotels make special arrangements for their guests.

Important Festivals In Sri Lanka

Duruthu Poya Day (January) – A colourful procession takesthe roads of Colombo

Navam Poya Day (February) – A grand cultural procession with traditional dancers, drummers, hundreds of elephants and temple chiefteins takes the streets

Esala Perahera – It is known as the grandest and most important cultural festival that takes place in the country, and probably in Asia too. This festival takes place during the last 10 days in July August, concluding on Esala Poya day.

Time Difference – Sri Lanka standard time is 4 ½ hours ahead of GMT in summer and 5 ½ hours ahead of GMT in winter.

Visa / Entry Requirements

Visitors must have in their possession a passport that stands valid at least six months after the date of arrival. A 30 day visa is issued free of charge on arrival for visitors from most countries which includes European countries , the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) has replaced tourist visas for most countires (excluding Singapore and Maldives) commencing from January 2012. ETA which is valid for 30 days can be got online prior to travel.

Other Essentials

As a precautionary measure it is prudent to take a course of anti-malaria drugs as malaria can be a hazard in some areas of the country. Also take possible precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. It is also reccomended to be immunized against polio, tetanus and hepatitis A.

Sri Lanka has reasonably good hygeine standards which offers visitors a healthy stay. Don’t drink tap water or any food made from it. Bottled water is available at all hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and stores. Stay away from dairy products made from unboiled milk, and make sure the meats / fish are all well cooked and served fresh. Pork, uncooked veggies and salads carry more risk, therefore be cautious

Tipping / Customs
Tipping is an accepted norm in Sri Lanka, even when service charge is included. Any reasonable amount can be given, content guests often give tips amounting to Rs. 500/ per day and Rs. 100/ for carrying baggage to and from the room. It is suggested that chauffers and guides be paid Rs. 1000/ to 2000/ for a complete day.

It is advised to refrain from taking photographs posing besides Buddha statues, as this is considered disrespectful and against the law. Treat Buddhist monks with respect.

With Children Sri Lanka is a child friendly country. People here love kids and would do anything to welcome and keep them happy. Food and beverages specially prepared for children can be requested at hotels.

There is plenty of activity for children. Kids would love to visit the Water World, an underwater fish aquarium, the Leisure World-water park, Pinnawala elephant orphanage, the zoological gardens in Dehiwala, turtle hatcheries in the south coast and many other activities available in most parts of the country.

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