Travel Tips

ARRIVING IN SRI LANKA

What you should expect on arrival?

Sri Lanka has only one International Airport, the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake (30km north of Colombo). If you are lucky enough to land while the sun is still out, you will notice Sri Lanka's rich green foliage the moment you begin descent. Remember to fill out your disembarkation form before you proceed to the sparkling new wing of the Island's Airport. Most often, many flights arrive at the same time, but as long as you have your documents ready and don't allow any over-eager travellers to cut in line, the smiling immigration officers will send you sailing through towards your adventures in Sri Lanka.

thermometer
Heat and humidity on arrival

The moment you step out of the well-air conditioned airport, prepare for Sri Lanka's warm and humid climate with an average temperature of 24°C. Put your jacket away and drink lots of water. The average temperature is 24°C.

migration
Airport clearance process

Being a small Airport, the clearance process is not too complicated. You will be able to get your disembarkation form from a flight attendant before you land, or from the desks in the immigration area. Make sure you have them filled out before you get in line at immigration.

When you have your bags, if you have any goods to declare, make sure you fill out a customs form before you get into the exit line. These forms can be found at the desks near the luggage carousels.

The porters will be more than happy to assist you with your bags, and are usually paid Rs. 100 ($1) per bag to help you move your bags and push your trolley.

transport
Transport on arrival

If Airport Transfer arrangements have been made through srilanka.com we will have one of our friendly chauffeurs waiting with a name card in the arrivals lobby, ready to escort you to your first destination in Sri Lanka.

If no prior transfer arrangements have been made, arrangements for an Airport taxi can be made at the service desk in the lobby. If you don't already have Sri Lankan Rupees, there are authorized moneychangers within the lobby area of the airport.

Business Hours

bank
Banks

09:00 to 13:00

Monday to Friday

some stay open until 15:00

post-office
Post Offices

09:00 to 17:00

Monday to Friday

market
Department Stores and Shops

09:00 to 17:30

Monday to Friday

09:00 to 13:00 Saturdays

Museum
Museums

10:00 to 16:30

Tuesday to Saturday

office
Business Offices

09:00 to 17:00

Monday to Friday

Cautions

The ongoing war between the government and the Tamil Tigers in the north has deterred many visitors from coming to Sri Lanka. However, although fighting is indeed fierce and frequent, it is mainly limited to specific regions in the north and northeast of the island. Travellers will be warned or prohibited from visiting these hotspots by the local government and tourism office.The rest of Sri Lanka is generally very peaceful and safe. Colombo, and to a lesser degree Kandy, have a small problem with petty crime, which is usually limited to theft. Keep a close eye on your valuables and bags when visiting tourist attractions or beach resorts, as this is where much of the theft takes place. Violent crime against tourists is rare, but you should use extra caution when travelling around at night. Electricity: 230V AC, 50Hz; round three-pin plugs are the norm.

language
Language

The official language of Sri Lanka is Sinhala, though English is widely spoken in the tourist areas and by people working within the tourist industry.

Currency

Sri Lanka’s currency is the rupee (Rs). There are 100 cents in one rupee, and banknotes come in denominations of Rs2,000, 1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins come in denominations of Rs10, 5, 2 and 1, as well as 50, 25, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

currency
currency-exchange
Currency Exchange

The best places to exchange foreign currency into rupee are authorised moneychangers, banks and hotels. Hotels will likely offer the lowest rates, but they are convenient. Major cities such as Colombo and Kandy are the easiest sites for money transactions. There are plenty of ATMs, though some of them don’t accept international debit cards. The smaller and more remote the town, the less money amenities will be available.Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted around the country, although in small shops and cafés you will need to use cash. Traveller’s cheques are accepted in all banks and at many hotels, and the exchange rates are often slightly better for cheques than those offered for cash exchanges.

Visa and Passports

Visitors from most countries are eligible for a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport in Sri Lanka. Tourist visas are valid for stays of up to 30 days and require a small fee. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from your date of entry. If you want to extend your stay, you need to apply at the immigration office in Colombo.

passport
internet
INTERNET

You shouldn't have much trouble finding Internet facilities in most towns. If your hotel does not have Internet or email facilities available, ask anybody where you can find a " Tele communication". The locals will be happy to point you towards the closest store where you will be able to use the internet. In the city of Colombo, there are a few places that have free wireless internet like the Coffee shop, Barista's. Internet access in Colombo is cheap (Rs. 4 per minute), but more often than not you'll have to fork out Rs. 7 to 12.

Phone

Mobile phones have been made so affordable in Sri Lanka that almost everybody has one, and coverage has extended beyond the major cities. There are five main network operators on the island; Dialog GSM (www.dialog.lk), Mobitel (www.mobitel.lk), Etisalat (www.etisalat.lk), Airtel (www.airtel.lk) and Hutch (www.hutch.lk). If you'd rather not use your own mobile phone on roaming but still want to be contactable, the cheapest alternative is to get a mobile phone connection with one of these major companies. All these phone companies have a pay-as-you-go plan where you can buy a local SIM card for around Rs. 200/= (that will work in GSM phones from Europe, the Middle East and Australia) and keep adding money to the connection as you require it. You will find recharge cards at any corner store throughout the island.

smartphone
world-call
International Calls, IDD phones & Calling Cards.

Most Hotel phones have the IDD facility (International Direct Dialling) for which you will be charged depending on which country and what time you call. For most countries, it costs about Rs. 20 to call from Sri Lanka. If your hotel does not have IDD, International calls can also be made from the thousands of communication bureaus and booths. The cheapest option, however, is the card-operated IDD telephones, of which there are many in Colombo. These cards are sold at small roadside shops, usually displaying signs indicating which cards they sell. Each card is specific to that company phone booth.

CABLE TV

Most Hotels in Sri Lanka have Cable TV with a minimum of 16 channels. Although the channels vary depending on the Cable company that the Hotel subscribes to, most companies provide HBO, Cinemax, ESPN, Hallmark, Ten Sports, Cartoon Network, Channel V, MTV, National Geographic, AXN, Discovery Channel, BBC World, Star Word, Star Plus and Star Movies.

tv
POLICE /FIRE /AMBULANCE /TOURIST POLICE
Name Phone Number
Police /Fire / Ambulance 119
Tourist Police, Fort Police Station, Bank of Ceylon Mawatha, Fort, Colombo 433342
Galle Road, Moragalle, Beruwela, Ethukala, Negombo, Pushpadana Road, Kandy. 08-22222
Sigiriya Village Hotel Road, Sigiriya Police Station, National holiday Resort, Bentota. 03475022
Police Station, Galle Road, Hikkaduwa. 0957222
HOSPITALS
Name Phone Number
Ayurveda General Hospital, Colombo 08 011-2695855
Colombo North General Hospital, Ragama 011-2959261
Colombo South Hospital, Kalubowila, Dehiwela 011-2763261
Cancer Institute, Maharagama. 011-2850252
Dental Hospital, Ward Place, Colombo 07 011-2678834
Castle Street Hospital for Women, Colombo 07 2696231-2, 2695529
De Soysa Hospital for Women - Colombo 10 011-2696224 - 6
Eye Hospital - Colombo 10 011-2693911 - 5
General Hospital - Regent Street, Colombo 08 011-2691111
General Hospital - Galle 091-2222261, 091-2223836
General Hospital - Kandy 081-223337 - 9, 233340 - 42
Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children, Colombo 08 011-2693711 - 4
General Hospital - Peradeniya 081-2288001
General Hospital - Kalutara 034-2222262
General Hospital - Jaffna 021-2222261
Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital - Kotte 0112778610 - 19
Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital - Kotte 0112778610 - 19
PRIVATE HOSPITALS
Name Phone Number
Apollo Hospital, Colombo 05 554154 /074 930000
Asiri Hospitals, 181, Kirula Road,Narahenpita, Colombo 05
Website: http://www.medinet.lk/hospitals/private/
500608 ~ 11, 593930, 593929, 508766, 508767, 074513939,
Durdans Hospitals, Colombo 03
Website: http://www.durdans.com/
575205-7, 575402-3
Asha Central Hospital, No.33, Horton Place, Colombo 07 696411
New Delmon Hospital, No.58, Galle Rd., Wellawatte. 503295
Nawaloka Hospitals (pvt) ltd., Colombo 2
Website: http://www.nawaloka.com/
304444-56
AYURVEDIC CENTERS
Name Phone Number
Queens Hotel - Badulla road, Bandarawela 057-222806, 222927
Barbery Reef Hotel - Beruwela 2276582, 0034-2275220
Pilapitiya Ayurveda Health Resort - Kesbewa - Piliyandala 2504362
Siddhalepa Ayurveda Hospitals (Pvt) Ltd. - 106A, Teinplers Road, Mount Lavinia 2722509, 2722504

Tourist Information

OfficesThere is an excellent tourism information office in Colombo, as well as a smaller information centre at the Railroad Tourist Office at Fort Station.

Sri Lanka Tourist Board
78 Stuart Place
Colombo
Phone: +94 11 441 464

TIPS:

Taxi drivers, hotels and restaurants: 10 per cent is common. If you hire a car and driver, please also consider tipping your driver for good service.