Ceylon Unesco Site Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka

What do I need to know about Sri Lanka?

Find all the must-know travel requirements and destination information on Sri Lanka before you embark on your adventure.

Sri Lanka is generally a safe country to travel within. While travelling, there is always a possibility of theft, so it is good to be aware of your surroundings. If possible, do not carry a purse or wallet.

Instead, we recommend that you either store your valuables in a hotel safe, or purchase a money/document pouch that can be kept hidden underneath your clothes so that you can keep your valuables with you.

Currency

There are many official exchange services in Sri Lanka—at the Sri Lanka airport, many larger hotels (not guaranteed), exchange houses, and most banks in the city. As the airport is quite chaotic, we suggest waiting until you arrive in town to exchange your money.

For convenience and the best exchange rate, we strongly suggest exchanging all the money you will need for your time in Sri Lanka before departing for Sri Lanka. Be sure to keep any exchange receipts, as you may need to present them if converting excess currency upon departure from Sri Lanka.

  • Credit cards are widely accepted and there are ATM machines in major centres. Traveller’s cheques are still widely used, but not as direct transactions. Sterling, Euros and US Dollars are all equally acceptable.
  • ATM’s are available at the airport as well as in most main cities. Guests can withdraw cash from a Visa or MasterCard at most ATM’S. However, as different banks accept different cards, we strongly advice they ensure that their card is valid for international use, especially in Sri Lanka, by contacting their bank before they travel.
  • Due to currency regulations in Sri Lanka, credit card charges cannot be made in foreign currency. Local tourist establishments will apply the daily exchange rate on the day of payment and convert foreign exchange rate to Sri Lankan Rupees.

Photography

Public computer access may not be available during the trip. If you are shooting with a digital camera and plan to take a large number of photos, be sure to bring enough memory cards or your own computer equipment/image tank onto which you can download your pictures.
A flash unit can be helpful for people pictures and for reducing harsh shadows that can often develop during mid-day conditions.
Make sure your camera gear is properly protected from any potential rain or humidity. If you are using a point-and-shoot camera, store it in a heavy, zip-top plastic bag whenever not in use to protect it from the elements and to keep it in working order.

Passports and Visa requirements

Guests visiting Sri Lanka must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of travel and should have two blank pages available in their passport. A new online visa system, Electronic Travel Authentication (ETA), was recently introduced and is popular among tourists visiting Sri Lanka.) . Through ETA you can apply and get prior approval for your visa instead of on arrival. For further details please log on to www.eta.gov.lk

  • We highly recommend that guests apply for online visas (USD35 for Tourist Visa) to avoid unnecessary delays in trying to obtain a visa on arrival, which can take an hour or so of waiting in line. SAARC Nationals pay USD20 online, and USD25 if applying on arrival.
  • A valid passport, no less than 6 months, a confirmed return or onward air ticket and sufficient funds for the stay are the entry requirements to the country. If obtaining a visa on arrival, please pay by cash (USD40 for Tourist Visa) since payment by credit cards can take longer to process. Guests must carry a passport-sized photograph if obtaining a visa on arrival.
  • Please note that the above details are subject to change, if the government authorities revise their policies.

Luggage allowance

  • Most international airlines flying into Sri Lanka have a 30kg (66lbs) allowance, plus one piece of hand luggage.
  • Additional charges may be levied at the airport if baggage is over the allowance.
  • The allowance on domestic flights varies and depends on the aircraft type.

What the Experts Say

Internet facilities are available in all cities and most rural areas.

Accommodation ranges from guesthouses and boutique hotels to exclusive tented camps.

Religious Sites: Women should cover their shoulders and legs. All visitors to Buddhist temples should remove shoes, hats and umbrellas. Hindu temples also require you to remove shoes and hats. You may be asked to make a donation, which can be placed in the temple’s donation box.