TRAVEL TIPS

Accommodation

Sri Lanka has 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.

Airports

The Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is located 30 kilometres north of the commercial capital Colombo. Many international airlines – including the national carrier SriLankan Airlines – fly into and out of BIA, some en route to other destinations in the region.

Newly refurbished and upgraded, BIA has all the facilities a traveller would expect to find at an international airport, including duty-free shops, cafés, money changing 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.

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 4 p.m. on weekdays, and some for longer.

Business hours

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

Currency

The Sri Lankan Rupee (Rs.) and cents (a rupee equals 100 cents).

Healthcare

Colombo is home to many hospitals with modern facilities and expert care. Likewise, there are many pharmacies dotted around the city with some open round the clock.

Shopping

Many shops are open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday to Saturday with the larger malls and stores operating extended hours and on Sundays.

Taxis

There are many cab companies running airconditioned vehicles 24/7, whereas the cheaper means of transport is to travel in a three-wheeler although the ride is by no means as comfortable as travelling in a cab.

Tipping

A 15 percent service charge is added to food and accommodation bills but it is customary to tip staff for their services – as a guide, at 10 percent of your bill or Rs. 100 and above, depending on the service rendered.

Visas

Tourist visas are granted on arrival for citizens of some countries, whilst others must apply for one in advance. Check with the Sri Lankan embassy or high commission in your country or go to www.immigration.gov.lk for more information. For information regarding extensions of visas, call the Department of Immigration and Emigration on 5329000 between 9 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. on weekdays.

Weather

Sri Lanka is a tropical island with dry and wet seasons – the latter with monsoon conditions between May and August in the south and west, and between October and January in the north and east. The average monthly rainfall for the island as a whole is 210 mm whilst temperatures range from a mean low of 26°C and a high of 30°C.