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Practical information about Sri Lanka

1 The following are not included in our package tour prices
  • Local airport fees
  • Meals except those specifically mentioned
  • Cancellation and travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Visa, 35 USD per person (Free of charge for children u/ 12 years)
  • Vaccinations
2 The climate in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a tropical climate, with a dry season and a rainy season. Along the coast, the temperature remains between 25 and 35 °C all year round. The highlands and mountains are typically cooler, with temperatures of approx. 15–20 °C. You may well need a warm jacket here, particularly in the evening and at night. You should also make sure to bring warm clothes if you are going on morning safaris.
The dry and rainy seasons take place at different times on different parts of the island. May until August is the period for the Yala monsoon, which brings plenty of rain to the south-western part of the country. The dry season here runs from December to March. The Maha monsoon blows from October to January, bringing rain to the north and east of the island. The dry season here lasts from May until September. The northern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka are relatively dry, with around 1,000 mm of rain per year. You may also experience heavy downpours at any time of the year. The weather is usually delightful afterwards, with the air fresh and clear.

3 Form of travel

Excursions and transfers are conducted in small, international groups led by English-speaking guides.

4 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.

5 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

6 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.

7 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.

8 Vaccinations

We always advise you to contact a medical specialist, your GP or an authorised vaccination clinic for the latest, up-to-date information about vaccinations and preventive medicine (if required).

Please be aware of the rules about yellow fever – especially if you are entering via another Asian 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.

Visit nhs.co.uk for more information about vaccinations and Sri Lanka.

9 Visa

As a UK citizen, you should be able to pick up a 30-day tourist visa on entry into Sri Lanka on the following conditions: 1) you have completed an ETA registration in advance at www.eta.gov.lk, 2) your pass is valid for at least six months after your departure from the country, 3) you are in possession of a return airline ticket and 4) you have sufficient money with you.

For details, visit the Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorization website at www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa and study the visa information presented there. Of course, you are also welcome to ask us for advice.

Visit also gov.uk and study the visa information presented there.

10 Currency

The unit of currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee (LKR). One rupee comprises 100 cents. Visitwww.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.

11 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
12 Time difference

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

13 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.

14 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.

15 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.

16 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.
17 Public holidays

Sri Lanka is home to a multicultural community, where the four major global religions are all represented. This is also reflected in the number of public holidays celebrated in the country.

  • 1 January 2014 – New Year’s Day
  • 13 January 2014 – Milad un Nabi (birthday of the Prophet Mohammed)
  • 14 January 2014 – Tamil Thai Pongal Day
  • 15 January 2014 – Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day
  • 4 February 2014 – National Day
  • 14 February 2014 – Navam Full Moon Poya Day
  • 27 February 2014 – Mahashivratri
  • 16 March 2014 – Medin Full Moon Poya Day
  • 13 April 2014 – Sinhalese and Tamil New Year
  • 15 April 2014 – Bak Full Moon Poya Day
  • 18 April 2014 – Good Friday
  • 1 May 2014 – International Workers’ Day
  • 6 May 2014 – Vesak (Buddha’s birthday)
  • 13 June 2014 – Poson Full Moon Poya Day
  • 12 July 2014 – Esala Full Moon Poya Day
  • 28 July 2014 – Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan)
  • 10 August 2014 – Nikini Full Moon Poya Day
  • 9 September 2014 – Binara Full Moon Poya Day
  • 4 October 2014 – Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
  • 7 October 2014 – Vap Full Moon Poya Day
  • 24 October 2014 – Diwali (Festival of Lights)
  • 5 November 2014 – Il Full Moon Poya Day
  • 6 December 2014 – Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day
  • 25 December 2014 – Christmas Day
18 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 have any comments on the itinerary or find 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.

19. 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.

20. Seat reservation, upgrades and extra legroom

We recommend that you make a seat reservation on the plane. Many airlines also offer to upgrade reserved tickets for seats with extra space and comfort, e.g. Economy Comfort at KLM and Premium Voyageur at Air France. You can do this through the airline’s website. Most airlines have a point in the menu called “manage my booking”. Please note that many airlines require payment for seat reservation, so you should have your credit/debit card to hand when you get started.

Unfortunately, rules differ as to when seat reservation is opened. We recommend that you try to make a seat reservation as early as possible and you will then know when you can make a seat reservation if it cannot be done right away. It is very common for seat reservation to be opened between 72 and 24 hours before departure.

21 Checked luggage and hand 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 and your travel companion should pack your luggage so that you can both make do with one item of luggage if the other is lost or delayed. While it is unlikely to happen, the problem may arise. If it does, it may take a few days before your luggage is delivered to the hotel where you are staying.

So make sure to carry all your important, indispensable items in your hand luggage: passport, visa, plane tickets, insurance papers, credit card(s), cash, prescriptions and essential medicines. You should also carry items such as your camera, binoculars, computer, chargers and adapters with you.

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.

22 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.

23 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.
Help, Advice or Booking

Contact our experts now:
0845 528 1416

Hours of opening:
Monday to Friday 8-4

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