Book Now
Exploring Sri Lanka

Essential Information

Currency: The Sri Lankan currency is the rupee and has an approximate exchange rate of £1=450 rupees (current as of January 2023). Exchange rates have been extremely variable over the last 5 years. The Sri Lankan rupee is a restricted currency and so can’t be purchased outside of Sri Lanka. Colombo Airport has many bank kiosks where you can change money – Dollars, Sterling and Euros can all be exchanged easily.  After that ATMs are widely available and international credit and debit cards are accepted by most hotels.

Vaccinations: Be sure to visit your GP at least six weeks before travel for general and up to date advice on travel risks and vaccinations. Make sure you take out comprehensive travel insurance with a good accident policy and that you know your blood group. In case of emergency the best hospital in the country is the Apollo in Colombo. For more information visit these useful sites & .

Latest entry requirements for covid-19 and all other factors are kept up to date here:

Visas & Passports: It is recommended that you safely carry your passport at all times and ensure that it is valid for 6-months beyond the date of return. Visitors to Sri Lanka need to purchase a tourist visa in advance from the Department of Immigration & Emigration (DI&E) Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. This is very easy and can be done online at –  Should you have any questions though please feel free to contact us.

Insurance: A policy to cover theft, loss and medical issues is a must. You may also wish to check out cover for activities such as diving, white water rafting, cycling and abseiling etc.. It is a good idea to photocopy all relevant documents – passport, travel, insurance policy etc., and leave one copy at home. Carry another copy with you separate from the originals.

Language: Sri Lanka is a wonderful destination for British tourists because due to a good education system, English is widely spoken throughout the country and literacy levels are high.

Time Difference: Sri Lanka standard time is 4.5 hours ahead of GMT (in summer), 5.5 hours ahead of GMT (in winter)

Telephone & Post: Country code: 94, outgoing international code: 00. Airmail to Europe takes up to a week.

Electricity: 230-240 volts AC, 50Hz. It can be difficult to find appropriate adaptors in the UK, but they are readily available in Sri Lanka itself and most good hotels/villas have English sockets anyway. The 2 round pin adaptors for use in Europe also often work so its worth taking one of these with you if you have one.

Laws & Customs: Modesty is important in all situations. Nudity and topless bathing are prohibited and can incur hefty fines. Use your right hand for giving, taking, shaking hands and eating as the left hand is considered unclean. Blowing your nose in public is considered rude, but spitting is not and so visitors should not take offence to this.

When visiting religious buildings, both men and women must ensure that their shoulders and knees are fully covered. Shoes should be left at the entrance (consider taking socks with you) and the head should be uncovered. Do not attempt to touch or take photos with Buddhist monks, or next to Buddhist statues. Donations should be put in the temple offering boxes and not given to the monks as they are not allowed to touch money.

Tipping: It is not customary in Sri Lanka and in most hotels/restaurants a 10% service charge is automatically added to room charges and meals, therefore additional gratuities are not necessary – but always appreciated. In the case of drivers and guides tour operators do recommend a suitable tip, of about USD$5 per person per day, or more if you would like to. Not only does this supplement fairly low wages but it also helps to secure professional guides who are less likely to push commissionable trips to over-priced craft shops and spice gardens. Expect to tip someone like a street performer for creating what they believe to be a photo opportunity – 100 rupees is appropriate.

Crime & Nuisances: Although the vast majority of Sri Lankans are genuinely friendly and welcoming towards tourists, it is best to be wise to the fact that touting and hustling do occur, particularly in tourist hot spots. They usually pretend to offer friendship or help, often calling themselves guides. However, their real aim is to lead you to a hotel or shop where they hope you’ll spend money and they’ll get a commission. Don’t be too polite or made to feel pressured. Crime is not a cause for great concern, but it is a good idea to take the usual precautions against petty theft, particularly in Colombo.

Festival & Public Holidays: Sri Lanka must have more holidays than anywhere else in the world – about 72 including Sundays. All important Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian as well as national festivals are celebrated. Every full moon day (Poya Day) is also a Buddhist holiday. On these days all public places of entertainment are closed and no alcohol is sold. For more information on the different festivals and their exact dates please visit the Sri Lanka Tourist Board website –


There is only one word to describe Colombo and that is hectic! It can be fun with a handful of good shops and restaurants to explore but we wouldn't overly recommend it as the first point of call for newcomers to Sri Lanka. It isn't a must see. More
Kandy is 3 hours from Colombo and the religious heartland of Sri Lanka. It was made a world heritage site in 1988. The city's main attraction is the Temple of the Tooth, home to Sri Lanka 's most precious Buddhist relic which becomes the focus of a fortnight long festival known as the Perahera each July. Other points of interest include the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, Royal Botanical Gardens and the Commonwealth Cemetery. More
Originally a fishing town the long beaches of Negombo are nowadays dominated by tourists who like the short transfer times from Colombo International Airport. With a few good hotels, Negombo is a popular jumping off point for visitors but it is by far the most touristy town in Sri Lanka and so may not appeal to everyone. More
Bentota is just 2 hours from the airport and as such has a good range of facilities such as watersports and local restaurants. There are a number of larger hotels along the main beach, but your likely to have the smaller beaches to yourself. The area is ideal for families with elephant rides on the beach, banana rides year round and Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery nearby. More
Hikkaduwa is traditionally a surfer town and so has a number of laid back beachfront bars and restaurants, as well as two of the only discos on the island. We have a few accommodation options in Hikkaduwa and recommend it as a day trip from both Bentota and Galle for the glass bottom boat and chance to swim with turtles in the bay. More
Galle Fort
The Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its Dutch colonial past and makes a great day trip from a coastal villa. It has a real cosmopolitan feel due to boutique gift shops and hotel restaurants, mixed with Moorish, Portuguese, Dutch and British history. It is possible to stay in the fort and definitely fun for a few nights. It is approx 3 hours from the airport.
Adam's Peak
Adam's Peak at 7500 ft high is the most famous physical feature in Sri Lanka and a place of pilgrimage. Sri Lankans come mainly in the month of April to pay their respects to the mountains deity Sumana, while foreigners come to admire the sunrise. The climb takes several hours and is done at night, therefore only suitable for the physically fit. More
Yala National Park
Yala National Park on the southeast tip of the island is the most well known of Sri Lanka 's 15 wildlife reserves. Yala is prime leopard spotting territory, especially in August when the area is at its driest, but it is also home to a healthy population of elephants, sloth bears, crocodiles, wild boar, buffalo, jackal and an abundance of bird life. More
Ella has one of the best views in Sri Lanka - through the Ella Gap to the Kirinda Lighthouse on the coast 1000m below. Ella can be reached by road or rail, 7 hours from Colombo. Home to some lovely waterfalls, working tea estates and mini Adam's Peak you can happily spend a few nights in this charming little hill town. More
Home to the Kelani River, Kitugala is a pretty riverside village dedicated to white water rafting, canyoning and kayaking. More
Arugam Bay
Arugam Bay on the east coast of Sri Lanka is a surf paradise, popular with backpackers during the months of April - September. Best avoided in the off season when most of the local businesses close down. More

Your adventure starts here!

Do you fancy having a chat about Essential Information? Personally, it's one of our favourite things to talk about.

Award-winning and fully-protected holidays
Itineraries & Destinations