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Practical information about Sri Lanka

Practical information about Sri Lanka

Practical information about Sri Lanka

1. The climate in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a tropical climate with an alternating dry season and rainy season, depending on whether you’re in the west and south-west or in the north and east of the island. On the coast of the entire island, the temperature is between 25 and 35 degrees all year round, while temperatures in the highlands and in the mountains are slightly lower at between 15 and 20 degrees. Particularly in the evening and at night, you may need a warm sweater. You may also need warm clothing on morning safaris.

Wherever you are in Sri Lanka, it is unusual for it to rain over several days during the rainy season. On the other hand, heavy showers can occur at any time of the year, typically followed by lovely weather with clean, fresh air.

The west and south-west of Sri Lanka:
The dry season is from around December to April in the south-west of Sri Lanka, while the Yala Monsoon, which blows in from around May to August, brings rain and therefore also the rainy season to this part of the island.

Towns/cities in this area: Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, Galle, Yala and Kataragama in the south and south-west as well as Negombo and Colombo on the west coast.

The north and west of Sri Lanka:
The Maha Monsoon brings the rainy season to the north and eastern part of Sri Lanka from around October to January, while the dry season is from around May to September. This said, the northern and eastern part is a relatively dry area with a mere 1,000 mm or so per year.

Towns/cities in this area: Jaffna and Passikudah on the north and east coast.

The highlands and the mountains of Sri Lanka:
The most pleasant average temperatures in the highlands are from January to May, while the most rain falls from April to January. The wettest month in the area is October, so you should avoid it at this time if you’re not a big fan of rain.

Towns/cities in this area: Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Haputale, Kandy, Sigiriya and Anuradhapura.

2. Form of travel

The tour takes place in international groups of up to 14 people and with Asiatours’ own guests. All excursions and transfers mentioned are with English speaking guides.

3. When is it best to travel to Sri Lanka?

You can travel to Sri Lanka all year round. The period April–September is best for beach holidays in Passikudah, on the east coast. The period December–March is best for beach holidays in Hikkaduwa on the south-west coast.

4. Terms & Conditions

Please read our booking terms and conditions carefully. These terms and conditions constitute the basis of your package purchased from Asiatours.co.uk. Click here to read our terms and conditions of travel.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

5. Travel insurance

We are an ATOL protected agency giving you complete peace of mind. It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependants/traveling companions for the duration of their tour.

In cooperation with our partner we can offer advantageous travel insurances. Learn more here.

6. Language

There are two official languages in Sri Lanka: Sinhalese and Tamil. Otherwise, English has been recognised as the third official language, binding the two other languages together. As a tourist, you will have few problems making yourself understood in English, as a great many people speak it well.

7. Vaccinations

We always advise that you contact a specialist, your GP or an authorized vaccination clinic. You can also read more about the rules for travel & vaccinations at the central NHS Fit for Travel website: here

Please be aware of the rules about yellow fever – especially if you are entering via another country where yellow fever is present.

Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. So be sure to bring your vaccination certificate with you in these cases.

8. Passport and visa

Passport and visa


As a British citizen, you must be in possession of a valid British passport. Your passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of arrival.


As a British citizen, you will need to obtain a visa for Sri Lanka.

You will be issued a 30-day tourist visa upon your arrival in Sri Lanka if the following conditions are met:

  • You have applied for ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) in advance and this has been approved
  • Your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival
  • You have a valid return ticket

Your ETA application must be processed via the official site Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorization System.

We recommend that you carefully read through the terms, which you will find here. After reading the terms, click “I agree” and you will be sent to the next page. Here, you should click “Apply for an individual tourist ETA” and the page containing your ETA application will open.

When you complete your visa application, you should have the following to hand:

  • Your passport
  • Your credit card (Mastercard, Visa or American Express)

The ETA application requires you to fill in a number of personal details as well as your address in Sri Lanka. Here, we suggest that you write the address of the first hotel you will be staying at. The name of the hotel will appear on your tour confirmation.

Once you have completed your application, you will be sent on to the payment page where you can pay with one of the above credit cards. ETA costs 35 USD per adult and is free for children under 12. Once your payment has been processed, you will receive a confirmation via email.

You will receive a response to your ETA application within 24 hours.

Your ETA approval is valid for 3 months from the date of issue and must be printed and brought along with your passport, which you must show on your arrival in Sri Lanka.

Questions and answers about ETA can be found here.

If you have any further questions, we recommend that you contact Sri Lanka’s immigration office by telephone +94 71 9967888 or by email eta@immigration.gov.lk.

Further information about Sri Lanka’s visa rules can be found on Foreign Ministry’s website.

9. Currency

The unit of currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee (LKR). Visit www.xe.com/currencyconverter to see the current exchange rate in both US dollars and GBP. We recommend that you bring some US dollars or euros with you in cash to exchange for local currency on arrival. Standard credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are generally accepted, and there are cash machines (ATMs) in all cities. You can use credit cards at almost all hotels and in many restaurants and shops, but not in small local markets.

10. Tipping

Tipping is appreciated and usual practice. It is generally accepted that the tip you leave corresponds to the service you have received. The following suggestions are indicative only:

  • Driver/guide – USD 20 per day, per family
  • Porter – USD 1 per bag/suitcase
  • Maid – USD 2 per day, per family

Our tipping guideline is in USD, but tips should be calculated in the local currency at the destination.

11. Time difference

Sri Lanka is 2½ hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) during summer time, and 3½ hours ahead during the winter months.

12. Electricity

Mains electricity in Sri Lanka is 230 V. The plugs have three round pins: one thick and two thin, positioned in a triangle. Asiatours recommends that you take a travel adapter with you on the tour – especially one that can accommodate a 3-pin plug (earthed computer plug) if you will need to charge your laptop, for example.

13. Telephone and Internet

The international dialling code for Sri Lanka is +94. It can be expensive to place calls to – or receive them from – Europe while you are in Sri Lanka. Ask your own mobile service provider about coverage and call charges.

There are internet cafés in the big towns and cities, and Wi-Fi connections in most hotels.

14. Safety

Sri Lanka is generally a safe country to travel in, but there are a few areas in the north of the island that it is best to avoid. Our tours will not take you to these areas. Following the civil war, which ended in 2009, high priority has been given to security. Ordinary crime directed at tourists is generally limited to pick-pocketing and scams intended to trick people into donating money to non-existent charitable causes. These are usually simple to avoid through the application of common sense. NEVER give money to beggars always follow the advice and information provided by the guides and you can be sure of staying out of danger.

15. Food and drink

There is a wealth of magnificent, tasty food to enjoy in Sri Lanka. The country is famous for its production of spices, which is clearly evident in the local cuisine. ‘Traveller’s tummy’ is not normally a problem. As a general rule, avoid eating salads and other raw foods. Follow the age-old advice: ‘boil it, roast it or forget it!’ Another golden rule is: Only ever drink water from bottles. Bottled water is cheap and readily available everywhere. DO NOT drink water from the taps.
Classic Sri Lankan dishes include:

  • ‘Kottu’ or ‘Koththu Roti’, which consists of bread with vegetables, egg, spices and – occasionally – meat.
  • ‘Hoppers’ is the name for rice flour bread, typically served with lunimiris,
  • which is a mixture of chilli, spices and salt.
  • ‘Lamprais’ is rice cooked in curry stock, to which ‘frikkadels’ (small meat balls) are added. The mixture is then rolled in banana leaves and baked in the oven.
  • ‘Kiribath’ is porridge or a kind of cake consisting of rice boiled in coconut milk.
16. Public holidays

It is always special to experience the traditions and celebrations of other countries. Below is a list of public holidays, important festivals and other special occasions.

Please note that some museums and attractions may be closed on these days.

17. Flight reservations and airline tickets

We will send you your flight reservation as soon as you book your trip. You can see times and routes on the itinerary. It is important to check your name for spelling mistakes. The name on the reservation must be exactly as in your passport. If you find any mistakes in the names, please contact us immediately.

Today, there are only electronic airline tickets (e-tickets), so you do not receive a physical ticket for use at the airport check-in. When you check in at the airport, you use your passport and a booking reference. The booking reference is on your itinerary.

18. Service letter

Once you have purchased a tour through us, you will receive our service letter before your departure. The service letter contains important information about online check-in, what to do in the event of a delay, our agreed guidelines for tips, etc. In addition, you will find important telephone numbers for our local agents as well as our emergency telephone number.

So it is important that you print out the service letter and bring it with you.

19. Seat reservation, upgrades and extra legroom

The airline will assign you a seat on board the aircraft upon check-in. If you have specific wishes, you can make a seat reservation via the airline’s website. Most airlines have an area on their website named “manage my booking” or similar. Please note that most airlines require payment for a seat reservation, so it’s a good idea to have your payment card ready when starting a seat reservation. Airline seat reservations vary from company to company, but as a general rule, you can book seats from around 48 hours before departure.

Many airlines also offer upgrades with extra legroom or comfort seating, such as Economy Comfort with KLM and Premium Voyageur with Air France. You can check these details through the airline’s own website, along with payment information.

Please kindly note that airlines have full access to all seats on the aircraft and therefore always reserve the right to alter a reservation.

If you do not make a seat reservation before departure, the airline will issues your seating upon check-in at the airport.

20. Your luggage

We use many different airlines for our flights to Sri Lanka, so there may be variations in the amount of luggage you are allowed to bring with you as both checked luggage and hand luggage. For information about this, seewww.checkmytour.com or contact us if you have any questions.

You should also make sure you carry all your important and indispensable things in your hand luggage. This applies to items such as passports, visas, airline tickets, insurance documents, credit cards, money and cameras, as well as information about your health and vital medicines.

You may find yourself sitting in a draught from the air conditioning in the plane, so make sure to pack a warm jumper or jacket in your hand luggage.

21. Transfers to and from airports

On arrival in Colombo, you will be met at the airport by our local agent, who will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall with an Asiatours sign. You will naturally also be driven to the airport on departure. Our local agent in Sri Lanka will inform you of the pick-up time.

22. Etiquette and cultural differences

Experiencing differences in culture and etiquette is one of the delights of travelling, and it is essential to respect these differences. ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ is good advice, and the section below contains a number of useful hints and tips intended to help you make the very most of your visit to Sri Lanka.

  • It is usual practice to eat with your fingers in Sri Lanka.
  • Always remove your shoes when you enter a private home, a mosque or a temple.
  • Do not wear short shorts, short skirts and tank tops close to temples and churches-
  • Always use your right hand or both hands when passing something to – or receiving something from – other people. Never use your left hand alone.
  • Do not touch children on their heads, as this is believed to bring bad luck.
  • Try to avoid public displays of affection – kissing or cuddling, for example – as this is considered offensive
  • Do not, under any circumstances, go skinny-dipping or nude sunbathing, as this is considered obscene – even on beaches and at hotels.
23. Travellers with reduced mobillity

Please note, our tours are generally not suitable for persons with reduced mobility. Please contact us for information about the possibilities according any specific needs.

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01279 704 137

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Mon, Wed & Fri: 8 - 16
Tue & Thu: 8-21
Sat: 9-17

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