Travel Tips

Accommodation

Sri Lanka is among the travel destinations that have recei ved the Safe Travel stamps from the World Travel & Tourism Council due to its adoption of global standardised health and hygiene protocols. The country is home to a variety of guesthouses, apartments, and star class hotels and resorts that cater to most needs. The high end hotels and resorts generally quote room rates in US Dollars. Colombo has a number of five-star hotels located in the heart of the city, and in close proximity to the business district and shopping malls. Many of these lodgings can be booked through online travel agencies – both local and global – as well as Airbnb.

Airports

The Bandaranaike Inter national Airport (BIA) is located 30 kilometres north of the commercial capital Colombo. Many international airlines – including the national carrier SriLankan Airlines, as well as Emirates, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines and Turkish Airlines – fly into and out of BIA, some en route to other destinations in the region. Refurbished and upgraded, BIA has all the facilities a traveller would expect to find at an international airport, including duty-free shops, cafes, money chang ing facilities, and hotel and car hire desks. Sri Lanka’s second international airport (the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport) is located in the south of the island in close proximity to the port city of Hambantota. And the country’s third in ternational airport (Jaffna International Airport), opened in October 2019, is located in the northern town of Palaly with plans in the pipeline to expand its facilities. In addition to the national carrier, Sri Lanka also boasts domestic flight services such as Cinnamon Air and Helitours. Infor mation on flight arrivals and departures, as well as immigration and customs procedures, is available at www.airport.lk. SriLankan Airlines also offers a mobile app, which is available for Android and iOS devices, enabling travellers to check in and view flight information.

Arts

Sri Lanka’s arts scene caters to a variety of tastes. In addition to locally produced stage shows in English and Sinhala, the local theatre scene also offers local adaptations of western productions, books and Shakespeare, Broadway musicals, school pro ductions, standup comedy, and Western and oriental dance shows. Galleries display contemporary and traditional art, installations and sculptures from local and international artists. Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), the British Council, Elphinstone Theatre, Lionel Wendt and Nelum Pokuna often serve as home to theatre productions and art exhibitions.

ATMs and credit cards

Most banks have ATMs located in and around Colombo, and also in the outstations. Major international credit cards such as Visa, American Express and MasterCard are widely accepted in Sri Lanka.

Banking

Banks are generally open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, and some for longer. A number of banks also offer online banking facilities through their web sites and mobile apps.

Business hours

The working week in Sri Lanka is generally Monday to Friday with offices operating in the main bet ween 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Currency

The Sri Lankan Rupee (Rs.) and cents (a rupee equals 100 cents). For information regarding exchange rates, visit www. cbsl.gov.lk.

Entertainment

The latest mainstream movies out of Hollywood, as well as Sinhala, Tamil and even Bollywood movies can be viewed in cinemas around Colombo such as Empire Cineplex, Liberty Cinema, PVR Cinema, Savoy Premiere and Scope Cinemas. Tickets can be booked through each cinema’s website or booking services including BookMyShow (lk.bookmyshow.com), 444 (www.444.lk), TicketsLK (tickets.lk), Tak Tik Book (www.taktikbook.lk) and BuyMyTickets.lk (www.buymytickets.lk).

Healthcare

Colombo is home to many hospitals with modern faci lities and expert care. Like wise, there are many pharmacies dotted around the city with some open round the clock. Channelling services are also popular with eChannelling (www.echannelling.com) and Doc990 (www.doc.lk) being among the most widely used and offering mobile apps as well. Addi tionally, telemedicine ser - vices are gaining traction including those of oDoc and MyDoctor.

Stethoscope on a printed sheet of paper

Languages

English is widely spoken in Colombo with Sinhala and Tamil being the other common languages. Many travel guides speak other languages, in particular Chinese, Russian, German and French.

Museums

Sri Lanka’s museums provide insight into the island’s heri tage and evolution such as the Bandaranaike Museum, The Dutch Period Museum, Natural History Museum and National Museum of Galle, as well as underwater museums in Galle and Trin comalee. For information on the country’s various museums, go to www.museum.gov.lk or download the Sri Lanka Museums app for Android devices.

Shopping

Many shops are open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday to Saturday with the larger malls and

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