Sri Lanka generally offers warmth and sunshine throughout the year, and is affected by two South-East Asian monsoons. The southwest monsoon brings most rain to Colombo and the south and west coasts in May/June and the inter-monsoon affects October/early November, although at all times of year sunshine can be plentiful and most of the rain falls in heavy bursts at night. The north-east monsoon affects the north and east between December and February.
Sri Lanka remains one of the safest tourist destinations to walk around at night. Use hotel security safes for your valuables and do not carry unnecessarily large amounts of money on your person. It is a safe destination for solo female travellers, but as in any destination common sense and care need to be taken.
Yes. Holders of passports from the vast majority of countries, including UK, Ireland, US, Germany, France, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and India, can holiday in Sri Lanka as bona fide tourists for up to 30 days.
Taxi drivers, hotels and restaurants: 10 per cent is common, but this is at your discretion. For your chauffer guides we recommend a daily tip of Rs.500 to be paid at the end of your trip.
The simplest and cheapest way to travel around during your free time is by tuk tuk. Local buses are cheap but conditions on board are often cramped and driving is erratic and not always safe. Travel in the hill country we recommend at least a short journey on the hill train with its beautiful scenery and slow pace travel, plus it offers an excellent an opportunity to meet the locals.
Topless sunbathing is illegal and considered culturally offensive. When swimming inland, in rivers or lakes, ask for local advice regarding swimwear as covering with a sarong may be necessary. Away from the beach, dress standards are conservative and it is respectful to wear loose, long and lightweight clothing. Be especially careful about modest dress when visiting religious sites.
Consider buying a Sri Lankan SIM card and top-up cards for your mobile phone on arrival at the airport – Sri Lankan mobile phone call rates are relatively cheap, both for local and international calls, and are recommended.
The most common holiday is Poya Day (approximately 12 or 13 Poyas per year), which occurs every full moon. The sale of alcohol and fresh meat forbidden on these days. Otherwise the main holidays in Sri Lanka are the Sinhala and Tamil New Year (April) and Vesak (birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha) in May.
You are strongly advised to contact your own GP or vaccination centre in respect of required vaccinations for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is malaria free, however dengue is found and therefore good mosquito repellent is a must.
Pack for heat and humidity. Long-sleeve shirts might be advisable after dusk because of mosquitoes. Make sure to pack suncream (factor 30 and above recommended as the sun is strong), aftersun, insect repellent, antihistamine cream or tablets, antiseptic cream, a lightweight hat and sunglasses.
The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee. Currency can be exchanged in Sri Lanka only so you would be best to bring US dollars, British pounds or Euros. It is not possible to get rupees outside the country. Credit cards are accepted in most shopping outlets. ATM machines are available in major cities.