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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 a dry season and a rainy season, which changes depending on where you are on the island. Temperatures are fairly stable throughout the year, however you can expect to need a warm sweater in the evening and during the day if you’re in the highlands.

The rainy season is created by Sri Lanka’s two monsoons, the Maha monsoon and the Yala monsoon, which come in from the north-east and south-west respectively. A monsoon is a seasonal change in wind direction bringing heavy rains to different parts of the country at different times.

Sri Lanka is an incredibly lush, green country precisely because of the monsoons, and in the periods between the monsoons, there may be some rainfall throughout the year. However, most heavy showers occur during the rainy season. Below, you can read more about the weather in the different seasons, when the monsoons strike, and when it is dry season and rainy season in the different parts of Sri Lanka.

The dry seasons bring very little rain, many hours of sunshine and averagely high temperatures.

The rainy seasons bring heavy rain, which, however, rarely falls over several days. The heavy showers often last no more than a couple of hours, and then the weather quickly clears up again. The temperatures are still hot, but due to the wind, the air is slightly cooler than during the dry season.

Southern Sri Lanka (Hikkaduwa – Galle – Mirissa – Yala):
Along the coast of southern Sri Lanka are the towns of Hikkaduwa and Mirissa and the city of Galle, and situated a little further to the west is the large Yala National Park. Hikkaduwa and Mirissa are ideal beach holiday destinations.

The dry season is from around December to April. This season is the best time to visit the area’s beach holiday destinations.

The rainy season is from around May to August, when the rain is blown inland by the Yala monsoon.

Weather statistics for Hikkaduwa: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 30 30 31 31 30 30 29 29 29 29 30 30
Average minimum temperature 22 22 23 24 25 25 24 24 24 23 23 22
Rainfall mm 89 101 134 251 349 236 209 181 270 363 305 181
Average sea temperature 28 28 29 30 29 28 27 27 27 28 28 28
Weather statistics for Galle: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 29 30 31 31 30 29 29 29 29 29 29 29
Average minimum temperature 22 22 23 24 25 24 24 24 24 23 22 22
Rainfall mm 102 86 117 241 297 206 165 155 213 340 302 178
Average sea temperature 28 28 29 30 29 28 28 28 28 28 29 28
Weather statistics for Mirissa: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 30 30 31 31 30 30 30 29 29 29 30 29
Average minimum temperature 22 23 24 24 25 25 24 24 24 24 23 23
Rainfall mm 89 91 109 207 258 173 173 149 215 305 276 171
Average sea temperature 28 28 29 30 29 28 28 28 28 28 29 28
Weather statistics for Yala: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 29 30 32 32 33 32 32 32 32 31 30 29
Average minimum temperaturef
20 20 20 22 23 24 24 24 24 23 23 21
Rainfall mm 16 16 35 35 25 22 40 35 40 72 81 40

Sri Lanka’s west coast (Negombo – Colombo):
Situated on the west coast of Sri Lanka are the country’s capital, Colombo, and Negombo, a fishing village and beach holiday destination. In both places, the seasons are just like in southern Sri Lanka.

The dry season is from around December to April.

The rainy season is determined by the Yala monsoon and falls from around May to August.

Weather statistics for Negombo: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 30 31 31 31 31 29 29 29 29 29 29 29
Average minimum temperature 22 22 23 24 26 25 25 25 25 24 23 22
Rainfall mm 89 69 147 231 371 224 135 109 160 348 315 147
Average sea temperature 27 28 29 30 29 28 27 27 27 28 28 28
Weather statistics for Colombo: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 31 31 32 32 31 30 30 30 30 30 30 30
Average minimum temperature 22 23 24 25 26 26 25 25 25 24 23 23
Rainfall mm 58 73 128 246 392 185 122 120 245 365 414 175
Average sea temperature 28 28 29 30 29 28 27 27 27 28 28 28

North-eastern Sri Lanka (Trincomalee):
Situated on the north-east coast of Sri Lanka is the beach holiday destination, Trincomalee. This part of Sri Lanka is generally a relatively dry area with a mere 1,000 mm or so per year.

The dry season is from around March to August. Summertime in Europe is the perfect time to visit the beach holiday destinations in this area.

The rainy season is from around September to February, with the Maha monsoon bringing rain to this part of the island.

Weather statistics for Trincomalee: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 28 29 31 33 35 35 34 34 34 32 29 28
Average minimum temperature 24 25 25 26 26 26 26 26 25 25 24 24
Rainfall mm 132 100 54 50 52 26 70 89 104 217 334 341
Average sea temperature 27 28 29 30 30 29 29 29 29 29 29 28

The northern part of central Sri Lanka (Sigiriya – Anuradhapura):
In the northern part of central Sri Lanka are the popular areas of Sigiriya and Anuradhapura, as well as the slightly smaller areas of Dambulla, Matale and Polonnaruwa. The best time to visit this area is from the beginning of January to the end of March.

The dry season is from May to the end of September.

The rainy season is from October to early May, with most rain falling in mid-November.

Weather statistics for Sigiriya: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 28 30 32 32 32 31 31 31 31 30 29 28
Average minimum temperature 21 21 22 23 24 24 23 23 23 22 22 21
Rainfall mm 109 87 84 169 97 55 70 71 99 267 298 258
Weather statistics for Anuradhapura: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 29 31 32 33 33 32 32 32 32 31 30 29
Average minimum temperature 22 22 23 24 25 25 25 25 24 24 23 22
Rainfall mm 89 55 75 167 92 18 38 41 72 259 260 224

The central highlands and mountains of Sri Lanka (Kandy – Ella – Haputale – Nuwara Eliya):
Kandy, Ella, Haputale and Nuwara Eliya are located in the central highlands and mountains of Sri Lanka. It is slightly cooler here than at the coast, with a higher likelihood of rain.

The dry season is from around January to April, and this is also when the average temperature is most comfortable.

The rainy season is from around late April to January, the wettest month being October.

Weather statistics for Kandy: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 27 28 30 30 29 28 27 28 28 28 27 27
Average minimum temperature 18 18 18 20 20 20 20 19 19 19 19 18
Rainfall mm 79 74 71 188 144 132 128 113 155 264 296 196
Weather statistics for Ella: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 23 24 26 26 26 25 25 25 25 24 23 23
Average minimum temperature 16 16 17 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 17
Rainfall mm 90 68 75 208 160 108 195 207 293 447 439 199
Weather statistics for Nuwara Eliya: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 20 21 23 23 21 19 19 19 19 20 20 19
Average minimum temperature 9 9 10 11 13 13 13 13 12 12 12 11
Rainfall mm 101 78 72 158 176 172 165 161 179 227 228 196
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

Passport:

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.

Visa:

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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