Before you leave home, we’ll send you practical information about preparing for your travel in Sri Lanka. We are also available to answer any questions you might have in the lead-up to your trip. Here is an overview of some of the foremost topics people ask about when they are preparing to go.
Sri Lanka has varied topography that produces a wide range of weather conditions. Being a small tropical island it can rain at any time of the year. However, a noteworthy feature of Sri Lanka’s climate is the small variation in the mean monthly temperatures throughout the year, that is, it’s pretty much always warm!
Generally speaking, January to September inclusive is the best time to visit Sri Lanka. However it’s likely that you will see rain at some point during your trip, no matter when you visit.
In March, April and May it’s likely that you’ll get afternoon thunderstorms, but it’s quite nice to experience a tropical country such as Sri Lanka when there is rain around.
The weather is unpredictable in October and November and on the whole these are the wettest months of the year. However there are some parts of the country that are relatively dry at this time. If you can only travel during October/November and are concerned about the rain we can create an itinerary that avoids the wettest parts of the country.
The chart below details Sri Lanka’s 30 year average rainfall month by month.
Unless stated, no meals are included in the villa rate. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be arranged with a day’s notice (to give the cook time to buy fresh ingredients and prepare the meal). The cost is paid directly to the villa in Sri Lankan rupees cash during your stay.
Sri Lanka is well served by many international airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. In addition, SriLankan Airlines recently commenced direct flights from Melbourne to Colombo.
We require you to take out travel insurance before your arrival in Sri Lanka. It’s wise to purchase travel insurance when booking your flights and confirming your trip with us.
The Department of Foreign Affairs offers extensive travel advice and information on its Smart Traveller website: www.smartraveller.gov.au. You should familiarise yourself with their advice before commencing your trip.
While we do provide general background on vaccinations once you have booked, it’s absolutely essential to seek the advice of a medical doctor around six weeks prior to your arrival in Sri Lanka. This will give you sufficient time to get any vaccinations that you deem necessary for your trip.
Over the years we’ve spent many hours on trains, planes and in hammocks reading the writing of and about the sub-continent. Whether you like to read up on historical background or want to read a novel set in the region you are visiting, we are happy to share our recommendations with you.
Sri Lanka employs a decimal system, with 100 cents equal to 1 Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). The 15-year average exchange rate is LKR 90 per Australian dollar. It’s worth noting that all of our private tours are priced in Australian dollars; once you have booked you can rest assured that the price will not change, irrespective of any foreign currency fluctuations. ATMs are widespread in Sri Lanka so withdrawing rupees is the easiest way to obtain local currency. Australian dollars cash is widely exchanged; there is no need to carry US dollars. Pre-paid travel cards offer security and low fees and are also worth considering.Smaller shops and eateries only accept rupees and generally do not have credit card facilities; many larger shops accept foreign currency and credit cards; large restaurants and hotels accept cash and credit cards. We suggest you inform your bank that you are planning to visit Sri Lanka to avoid your card being blocked after your first transaction on your card. It’s handy to carry some Australian dollars cash with you for when you arrive in Colombo. At the airport there are a number of banks offering foreign exchange in the main hall of the arrivals area (after you clear customs). They are open 24 hours. The rates offered here are all fixed and identical. We recommend purchasing some Sri Lankan rupees at the airport when you arrive so that you have rupees on hand, especially if you plan to purchase a local sim card at the airport for your mobile phone.
Most of the larger stores and shops in Sri Lanka have fixed prices. Unlike India, there is not as much bargaining in the markets of Sri Lanka. Often the purchases you are looking to make in local shops and markets will be in the order of a couple dollars – try to keep this in mind when bargaining. What might be a few dollars for you makes a huge difference to a local making their living from a small stall holding or shop
Food hygiene and preparation have improved markedly in Sri Lanka over the last 15 to 20 years. Your digestion might be slightly disrupted as you adjust to the different food – this is more to do with the different ingredients, the richness of the food and the spices/chilli than anything else. We’ve noticed the incidence of serious stomach upsets reduce over the years.
It still pays to observe some basic rules while travelling: use bottled water rather than tap water, thoroughly wash your hands or use hand sanitiser prior to eating, when eating out choose clean and reputable restaurants that have good patronage from locals, take it easy with new and unfamiliar foods and begin with staples such as rice and dal before moving on to richer and more ambitious dishes (and street snacks) once you have acclimatised. If you have a sensitive stomach you might consider a course of probiotics in the lead up to the trip, and then a travellers’ supplement (such as Travelan) while travelling, to help keep stomach upsets away.
It is also pays to take common sense general precautions such as staying well hydrated, covering up against the sun, ensuring that you are well rested and not overdoing it in the early days of your trip. (Many people get swept up in the excitement of their trip that they forget to ease into it.
We provide advice and guidelines on tipping in the documentation you receive prior to travelling.
Modesty is important in Sri Lanka. Women should wear long skirts or pants with chest and upper arms covered. It’s wise to carry a shawl or scarf with you in case of an unexpected stop at a sacred or religious site. Men should wear shorts to the knee or long pants. At some temples and sights men are required to have long pants on to enter the temple. It’s not such an issue in the bigger cities, but is important in the countryside. Your driver or local guide will advise you on this if there is a particular dress requirement for any given day
Your mobile phone will work if you have global roaming activated; keep in mind the high data and call rates before using your phone extensively. Alternatively you can purchase a local sim card upon arrival in Sri Lanka. It is easy to purchase a local sim card at the airport (located in the arrivals area after customs and immigration), which will give you data and calls. It is easy to top this up during your trip too. Your driver will recommend a particular operator if you ask.
Call rates from hotels are very high. However most hotels in Sri Lanka are wi-fi enabled and this is generally the best way to stay in touch. Your driver will be carrying a mobile phone and you can use this number for people at home to contact you on if necessary
Minimum – maximum temperatures (Celsius)