where to go
Where to Go
what to Do
What To Do
- where to stay & dine
how to travel
How To Travel
There are a number of Tourist Information Centres all over Sri Lanka where you can avail of helpful advice and other information so that you can make the most of your holiday in Sri Lanka. You can pick up brochures, maps, magazines, guidebooks etc., from these centres.
There are many ways to get around Sri Lanka, whether it’s by taxi, plane, rail, bus or car. Sri Lanka has a better transport system operated by public and private sectors and payment method is most often cash.
Sri Lanka has two international airports, 13 domestic airports and about 20 waterdromes (open water aerodrome facilities for seaplanes) across the island. The Bandaranaike International Airport located at Katunayake 32 km north of Colombo is the main international airport of Sri Lanka and the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport located 264 km southeast of Colombo serves as the second international airport. Located 16 km south of Colombo City, the Ratmalana Airport serves as Sri Lanka's main domestic airport.
There are a number of airlines currently operating domestic flights within Sri Lanka offering scheduled flights, scenery flights as well as charter flights. In Sri Lanka are about 13 domestic airports covering the whole island, most of which operate from the Ratmalana airport. A number of seaplanes are also operated from Colombo to many cities across the island.
Sri Lanka's rail network is operated by Sri Lanka Railways, linking Colombo with almost all the popular tourist destinations and the other populous cities across the island.
A number of train services are available: Inter-City Trains with unreserved 3rd Class, reserved 2nd Class and Observation Saloon seats, offer express service between main cities such as Colombo-Kandy, Colombo-Batticaloa; Fast Passenger Trains with unreserved 2nd and 3rd Class seats, reserved 2nd and 3rd Class seats, reserved 1st Class Observation Saloon, and reserved 1st Class Sleeping Berths, offer semi-express service between Colombo and other major outstations. Reserved 1st Class Airconditioned service is offered only on some routes. A Deluxe Coach with TV, Wi-Fi, catering etc. is available for groups of 20 - 35.
Sri Lanka has a well-connected national network of roads consisting over 12,000 kms, out of which about 4200 kms of “A” class roads and about 7800 kms of “B” class roads. Almost all the roads are metalled or asphalted and they cover all the cities and places of tourist interest. Therefore, any part of the island can be reached within a few hours. Driving in Sri Lanka is on the left.
Two expressways have newly been constructed in the island; one from Colombo to the Bandaranaike International Airport, another from Colombo to Matara known as Southern Expressway. In addition, an expressway known as Outer Circular Highway that runs 20 km away from the Colombo city centre is being built linking the above two expressways.
With 10 interchanges, the Southern Expressway runs from Kottawa to Matara (126 km) while the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (25.8 km) with 3 interchanges runs from Peliyagoda to the Bandaranaike International Airport. The Outer Circular Highway (29.2 km) will link the Southern Expressway at Kottawa with the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway at Kerawalapitiya. All these user-fee levying expressways with a designed speed of 100kmph contain four lanes and have been constructed according to the international standards to ensure the safety of all road users and emphasis has been given to increase the mental and physical comfort of passengers and drivers.
A variety of bus services are readily available in Sri Lanka: normal, intercity, semi-luxury and luxury buses in which you can travel to any part of Sri Lanka.
Luxury buses operate from the Central Bus Stand in Colombo to selected destinations such as Galle, Kandy, Badulla, Nuwara Eliya, Jaffna and Trincomalee. The Expressway buses to Galle and Matara start from Maharagama as well as from Kaduwela and it is from the Colombo Central Bus Station where the expressway buses to Katunayake start.
These buses are air-conditioned with comfortable seats and provide entertainment to the passengers. They could also accommodate a fair amount of luggage.
Air-conditioned intercity buses travel from one city to another with limited stopovers to make the journey fast and comfortable to the passenger. In these buses only a limited space is available for luggage.
Operated by both public and private sector, normal buses that are non A/C with fewer facilities stopping over at every halt to pick and drop passengers, have an island-wide coverage. Most of the Sri Lankan people use these buses for daily travelling from one city to another. They are operated from morning to late night.
Your travel agent/tour operator would provide chauffeur-driven or self-driven cars/vans or else coaches according to your preference.
The rates for A/C coaches depend on the capacity, make and condition of the coach. Mini- coaches have a 26-seat capacity and larger coaches have a 40-seat capacity. Non A/C coaches are cheaper.
Radio-controlled taxi services (Call-up cabs) that are safe and provide value for money are available in Colombo and the suburbs. The prices are metered. There is no call-up charge. These cabs could be hired for long distance travels too.
Most suited for short distance journeys, these taxis are readily available anywhere in the island and a tuk tuk can accommodate only three persons. Most of them are metered. If not metered, it is recommended that a fare be negotiated before starting the journey.
Self-drive A/C cars could be hired at rates ranging from Rs 2,500/- to Rs 5,000/- per day depending on the make of the car and the number of days required. A refundable deposit ranges from Rs 20,000/- to Rs 35,000/-. Some rent-a-car companies do not charge a deposit.
Travel tips help make your tour safer, more hassle-free, comfortable and happier. Here you will find the most important tips that will make your holiday in Sri Lanka a wonderful one indeed.
The Sinhalese traditional way of greeting is by saying 'Ayubowan!' which means 'may you live long!' with hands clasped at chest height and bowed slightly. The same gesture accompanies the word 'Vanakkam' among Tamils.
Currency: The Sri Lankan Rupee is made up of 100 cents. Currency notes in circulation are in denomination of Rs 5000, 2000, 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and coins of Rs 10, 5, 2, 1 and 50, 25 cents. Visitors bringing in excess of USD 15,000 into Sri Lanka should declare the amount on arrival. All Sri Lankan Rupees should be re-converted upon leaving the country.
All banks in the country are usually open for the public from 0900 hrs to 1500 hrs from Monday to Friday, but some banks in Colombo have extended their opening hours up to 1800 hrs. Commercial Bank Mini Com branches and Sampath Bank Super branches remain open even on public holidays.
Import on arrival: visitors to Sri Lanka are officially required to declare all currencies, valuable equipment, jewellery and gems etc. All personal effects should be taken back on departure. Visitors are not allowed to bring in goods in commercial quantities, or prohibited/restricted goods such as dangerous drugs, weapons, explosive devices or gold. Drug trafficking or possession leads to severe punishments up to the death penalty. In addition to completing Part II of the Immigration Landing Card, a tourist will be required to fill in a Baggage Declaration Form too. You are allowed to bring 1.5 litres of spirits, 2 bottles of wine, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g rolling tobacco, a small quantity of perfume and 250ml of toilet water. You can also bring in a small quantity of travel souvenirs not exceeding US$ 250 in value.
Professional photography or filming equipment must be declared and will be allowed entry on a valid Carnet, Bank Guarantee or a refundable deposit to the tune of the duty payable on the items.
Cleanliness and modesty are appreciated even in informal situations. Nudity and topless bathing are prohibited and subject to heavy fines. Display of intimacy is not considered suitable in public and will probably draw unwanted attention. Women in rural areas do not normally shake hands with men as this form of contact is not traditionally acceptable between acquaintances.
Use your right hand for giving, taking, eating or shaking hands as the left hand is considered to be unclean. Do not shake hands with a Buddhist Monk or a Hindu Swami. Greet them with your hands clasped together as if a prayer and raising them to your forehead bending slightly forward. When handing objects to another person, using right hand or both hands would be appreciated by the receiver.
Visitors to Buddhist and Hindu temples are welcomed though the shrines of Hindu temples are sometimes closed for non- Hindus. However, visitors to any place of worship in Sri Lanka are expected to be decently clad covered down at least below knees, unshod and heads uncovered. It is best to visit places of worship early in the day and to take thick socks for protection against the hot stone floor. Do not attempt to shake hands or be photographed with Buddhist monks or to pose for photos with statues of the Buddha or other deities and paintings. Visitors may offer flowers at the feet of the Buddha statues. Mosques may be closed to non- Muslims shortly before prayers.
Homosexuality is illegal in Sri Lanka. Any sexual activity against the order of nature and any act of gross indecency shall be guilty of an offence and subject to imprisonment up to 15 years according to Sri Lanka's Penal Code. Therefore, it would be prudent not to commit such sexual acts.
When compared with many other countries, it is relatively easy and safe for women to travel around Sri Lanka, even on their own. There are some problems to watch out for and some simple precautions to take so that possible personal harassments and giving offence can be avoided. Modest dress for women is always advisable: loose-fitting, non-see-through clothes, covering the shoulders, and skirts, dresses or shorts (at least knee-length).
Smoking is prohibited in public places. Please observe nonsmoking rules.
In conversation Sri Lankans can be quite personal. This simply reflects the emphasis Sri Lankans place on family life.
Photography at most tourist sites is prohibited except without permission. A photography fee will be charged.
Theft is not uncommon especially when travelling by train or in a crowded bus. It is essential to take much care of personal valuables when you are carrying them, and when you have to leave them anywhere. You cannot regard hotel rooms are always safe. It is wise to use hotel safes for valuable items. It would be better to keep credit cards and passports with you at all times.
Even after taking all the reasonable precautions, people do have valuables stolen. You can minimize this by keeping a record of vital documents, including your passport number, credit card numbers etc., in a separate place. If you have items stolen, it should be reported to the police without delay. Larger hotels will be able to help in contacting and dealing with the police which can be difficult. The paper work involved in reporting losses can be time consuming and irritating. Tourists should not assume that if procedures move slowly they are expected to offer a bribe. If you face really serious problems, e.g. in case of a driving accident, you should contact your consular office as quickly as possible.
The rule of 'might is right' applies. Never overtake a vehicle in front of you which indicates to the right. It usually means that it is unsafe for you to overtake and rarely means that they are about to turn right. Flashing headlights mean 'get out of the way, I'm not stopping'. In these circumstances it is advisable to give the oncoming vehicle adequate space, since they usually approach at high speed. Roundabouts are generally a free-for-all, so take your chance cautiously. Horns are used as a matter of course, but most importantly when overtaking to warn the driver being overtaken. It is also used to warn vehicles and pedestrians approaching the main road from a side road since they rarely look. Most Sri Lankan drivers appear to take unbelievable risks, notably overtaking at ridiculous times (e.g. when approaching a blind bend). It is essential to be aware of the danger from fool-hardy driving and anticipate the mistakes that Sri Lankan road users might commit.
Foreigners intending to drive in Sri Lanka are required to obtain a recognition permit which is valid only for one year. This is a simple process. Just call the Automobile Association of Sri Lanka at 40, Sir M M Markar Mawatha, Galle Face, Colombo 3. Tel: 2421528, 2446074 Fax: 2320454. Open 0800hrs-1600hrs, Monday-Friday except on public holidays. If you do not have an International Driving Permit but do have your country licence, you must apply for a temporary Sri Lankan Driving Licence from the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, Department of Motor Traffic at Werahera. Tel: 011 254 5893/2. Temporary driving licences are issued on payment of Rs 2500 + VAT per month up to a maximum period of one year. (Rates are subject to change)
Mains power in Sri Lanka is 230V @ 50Hz AC. Some top hotels have transformers/converters enabling visitors to use their appliances. There may be pronounced variations in the voltage and power cuts are common, but most hotels have standby power generators. As socket types vary, it is advisable to take a universal adapter (available at airports). D-type sockets are widely used, so make sure this is included. Some hotels do not have electric razor sockets. It is difficult to obtain shaver adapters for Sri Lankan sockets in shops outside Sri Lanka, so a battery operated shaver is recommended.
Post Offices: Open 0800hrs-1700hrs Monday-Friday and
Government Offices: Open 0900hrs-1600hrs Monday-Friday; 0930hrs-1300hrs Saturday.
Restaurants and Bars: Permitted hours are 1100hrs-1400hrs and 1700hrs-2300hrs. No alcohol is served on Poya Days. Wine stores are open from 0900hrs to 2100hrs.
Get to know about Sri Lanka customs regulations and have a hassle-free travel experience. Here’re laws governing the movements of cultural & national heritage and fauna & flora.
|Customs Ordinance (Chap. 235) Ord : No. 17 of 1869 Amend. Act No. 2 of 2003||Sec 12,
|Co-ordinates the application of written laws with Customs Ordinance.|
Import & Export Control Act
Provides for the application of the Customs Ordinance.
Antiquities Ordinance (Chap.394), Ord.
No. 09 of 1940 Act No.24 of 1998
Act No.12 of 2005
Declaration of Monuments prior to 2/3/1815 by the Minister.Prohibition of export of antiquities except upon license issued by DG Archaeology
Amendment of Sec.16 as the ancient monument means
|Cultural Property Act
No. 73 of 1988
Prohibition of export of cultural properties except upon license issued by Controller of Imports &Exports. Penalties,
National Archives Act (Chap 380).
Act No. 05 of 1976
Being a public record, document, or manuscript or any other printed matter which is over 50 years old & which is of a historical, cultural or literary value.
|United Nations Convention on the World Cultural & Natural Heritage (1972).||D/A 16.11.1972 D/R 06.06.1980||Declaration of the Sites of World Cultural & Natural Heritage.|
|1 Customs Ordinance (Chap 235)
Ordiance No.17 of 1869
Act No.02 of 2003
|Co-ordinates the application of written laws with the C.O.|
2 Imports & Exports Control Act
|Sec 21||Provides for the application of the C.o Stipulates|
|FAUNA AND FLORA|
3 Fauna & Flora Protection Ordinance
|Prohibition of imports & Exprots of Mammals,birds,reptiles,amphibians,fishs and invertebrates dead or alive or parts egges larvae etc.
* Permits only for scientific ourposes by Director General of Wildlife Covservation
|4 Plant Protection Act
Act No. 35 of 1999
Gazette Notification 165/2 of 02.11.1981
|Sec. 12/13||Prohibitation and restriction for impotation of plants,fruits seed,vegitables and their production ect. as per shedules.|
|5 Agricultural Products Ordinance
Ord.No.29 of 1939
|Sec.05/07/08/15||Importation of Agricultural products
License from Commissioner of Agricultural for Ristricted Goods
|6 Forset Conservation Ordinance (Chap.451)
Act No.65 of 2009
|Exprots permits for forest produces, forest seeds and timber from Conserva or Genera of Forest.
Appliction of C.O.to regulate ther exports of Timber & Forest Produces Punishments Ofr violation
|7 Rubber Controls Act
Ord No.30 of 1930 Act No.11of 1956
|Sec 23||Exprot permits requierd from controller of Rubber For any Living portion of a rubber plaant capable of propagation|
|8 Tea Control Act
Act No, 51 of 1957
|Sec, 28||Exports permit requiered form Commissioner of Tea of any living portion of a Tea plant capable of propagation|
|9 Water Hyacinth Ordinance
Ordinance No.04 of 1909 (Chap 277)
Gazette Notification 43/4 of 22.07.1979
|Sec.03/05/06/07||Prohibitation of the Importation of water-Hyacinth Power of Customes Officer|
|10 Poisonous, Opium & Dangerous Drug
Ord. no 17 of 1929
Act No, 22 of 1955 (Chap 218)
|Sec.28/29/30/69/70||Prohibitiation against Import Exprot and Transition Poppy plants,Coca plants or Hemp plants or seeds, pods,leaves flowers or any part of any such plants|
|11 Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act No, 02 1996
Extra. Ord.. Gazette Notification
No.1273/6 :27.01.200 3
|Schedule on prohibited, restricted Import & Export of Live fish
Schedule on prohibited, restricted Import & Export of Live fish Lobster Fisheries Management Regulation of 2000
Prohibit the importation of two species of live fish
Restriction on export of Chanks
Regulate exports of Sea Cucuber
|12 Dried Meat Ordiance
Ord No. 19 of 1908 (Chap 480)
Act No. 22 of 1955
|Sec 09||Prohibit the exportation of dried meat|
|PREVENTION OF DISEASES|
|13 Animal Diseases Act
Act No. 59 of 1992
|Sec 21/33/34/38||Recommend to the Controller of Import & Export on the import & export of domestic animal,products & biological products etc.|
|14 Animal Feed Act
Act No.15 of 1986
|Sec 5/9/15/22/23/25/31||Recommend to the controller of import & Export on Imp/ Exp of matters related to Animal Feed|
|15 Quarantine & Prevention of Diseases
Ord. No. 03 of 1897 Act No.12 of 1952
|Sec 14||Security for expenses of certain persons landed from aircraft or vessel|
|Rabies Ordinance No.07 of 1893
(Chapter 575)Act. No 23 of 1956
|Sec 14||Power of principal Collector of Custom when the rabies exist in dogs|
|Food Act No. 26 of 1980
Extra ord. Gazette Notification No. 1456/22.03.082006
|Sec 32||Requierment approval from Chief Food Authority in import GMO as food for human consumption food with GMOs & food ingredients produced from GMOs|
When entering and leaving Sri Lanka, you will be required to declare foreign currencies if the amount you carry is in excess of the limit allowed by the Exchange Control Laws of Sri Lanka. Here you will find Sri Lanka's regulations related foriegn currency declaration.
1. A person may bring any sum of money in foreign currencies into Sri Lanka. This sum could be in TCs, bank drafts or currency notes. However, if the total of such sum exceeds US$ 15,000 such sum should be declared to the Sri Lanka Customs.
2. If a person whishes to take out from Sri Lanka any sum in excess of US$ 5000 in currency notes out of the sum brought in as per (1) above, such person should declare the entirety of the sum brought in, even if it is less than US$ 15,000.
3. Any person may take out from Sri Lanka a total of legally acquired foreign currency in any form up to US,000 without any declaration. However, if the sum in currency notes exceeds US$ 5,000, the entirety of the sum must also be declared.
4. Any person can bring any sum of foreign currency earned from employment, profession or business abroad and upon declaration of such foreign currency to Customs as per (1) above and may retain such sum in his/her possession for 90 days before changing into Sri Lanka rupees.
6. Foreign currency retained by any person as per (4) and (5) above may be used for subsequent visits abroad for permitted transactions within the allowed period of retention.
7. Any person returning after travelling abroad may retain without any time limit a sum of US$ 2,000 out of the foreign currency purchasd for such travel or earned by him/her outside Sri Lanka for his use during future travels.
(The foreign currency amounts indicated in US $ may be inequivalent amounts in other convertible foreign currencies)
When you are holidaying in Sri Lanka, it is important for you to be aware of the public holidays of the country in order to avoid frustations. Get to know Sri Lanka's public holidays here and have a wonderful holiday without frustations.
Public Holidays of Sri Lanka - 2015
- January 4 Sunday - Durutu Full Moon Poya Day
- January 4 Sunday - Milad-Un-Nabi (Holy Prophet's Birthday)
- January 15 Thursday - Tamil Thai Pongal Day
- February 3 Tuesday - Navam Full Moon Poya Day
- February 4 Wednesday - National Day
- February 17 Tuesday - Maha Shiva Ratri Day
- March 5 Thursday Medin Full Moon Poya Day
- April 3 Friday - Bak Full Moon Poya Day
- April 3 Friday - Good Friday
- April 13 Monday - Day prior to Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day
- April 14 Tuesday - Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day
- May 1 Friday - May Day
- May 3 Sunday - Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
- May 4 Monday - Day following Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
- June 2 Tuesday - Poson Full Moon Poya Day
- July 1 Wednesday - Adhi Esala Full Moon Poya Day
- July 18 Saturday - Id-Ul-Fitr (Ramazan Festival Day)
- July 31 Friday - Esala Full Moon Poya Day
- August 29 Saturday - Nikini Full Moon Poya Day
- September 24 Thursday - Id-Ul-Alha (Hadji Festival Day)
- September 27 Sunday - Binara Full Moon Poya Day
- October 27 Tuesday - Vap Full Moon Poya Day
- November 10 Tuesday - Deepavali Festival Day
- November 25 Wednesday - Ill Full Moon Poya Day
- December 24 Thursday - Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day
- December 25 Friday - Christmas Day
Srilankan Airlines serves as Sri Lanka's main airline. In addition a number of airlines from around the world serve the island. The airlines flying to Sri Lanka are listed below with their contact numbers.
|Flight Information / Ticketing||1979|
|General Lines||019-733 5555|
|Flight Information||019-733 2377|
|Flight Information||011-225 2861|
|Bimen Bangladesh (Jetwing)||011-473 2482|
|Cathay Pacific Airways||011-233 4145/7|
|Emirates||011-225 2230 / 011-470 4040|
|Etihad Airways||011-476 6500/10|
|Indian Airlines||011-232 3136/011-232 6844|
|Jet Wing Air||011-473 2400|
|KLM||011-243 9747/011-243 9751/2|
|Korean Air||011-244 9773|
|Malaysian Airlines||011-234 2291|
|Mihin Lanka||011-200 2255|
|Qantas Airlines (Air Global)||011-476 7767|
|Royal Jordanian||011-230 1621|
|Singapore Airlines||011-249 9690|
|Swiss Air||011-243 5403/5|
|Thai Airways International Ltd||011-230 7101/8|
|Virgin Atlantic Airways||011-2301545|
Unless you are a Sri Lankan, you will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. If you are planning a short visit to Sri Lanka, you should obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) from the Department of Immigration & Emigration and you can apply for ETA online . Citizens of Singapore, Maldives and Seychelles are exempted from this requirement.
You can apply for a range of visas, including tourist visas, work visas, student visas and diplomatic visas at Sri Lankan embassy or consulate in your country.
Please follow the link given below to apply online visa...