Sri Lanka once know as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ is a beautiful island country surrounded by the ocean. Over the centuries many …
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Sri Lanka once know as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ is a beautiful island country surrounded by the ocean. Over the centuries many travellers who arrived there referred to the island by different names – ‘the teardrop of India’, ‘Resplendent Isle’, Tabrobane, Serendib and Ceylon. This colourful collection reveals the country’s richness and beauty, and the intensity of the affection it evokes in visitors. Sri Lanka is also famous for the warmth of its people, richness in culture and delicious, spicy food.
- Visit seven magnificent UNESCO world heritage sites:
- Sacred City of Kandy
- The ancient city of Sigiriya
- Sacred City of Anuradhapura
- The old town of Gall and its fortification
- The ancient city of Polonnaruwa
- Dambulla Cave Temple
- Central Highlands
- Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and Nursery
- Discovering Manner Peninsula
- Discovering Jaffna, the northern tip of Sri Lanka and hop across to Delft Island
- An encounter with elephants on the Minneriya Jeep Safari
- Climbing the lion rock in Sigiriya
- Relaxing at the clear blue pristine waters of Pasikuda beach
- Tea tasting in Central Highland of Nuwara Eliya
- Cinnamon plantation discovery walk in Mirissa as part of the Southern Food Experience
- Colombo city tour
Day 1 Arrival Hotel transfer / Overnight: Negombo
- On arrival you will be greeted by the Tour Guide/ Chauffeur who will take you to Negombo
Negombo is a city on the West coast of Sri Lanka, located North of the capital city Colombo and just 10 km from the International Airport in Katunayaka. With plenty of hotels and restaurants Negombo is one of the easiest cities to put your foot down and explore.
Day 2 Negombo fish market, Cooking classes, visit a coconut oil mill Overnight: Negambo
Bird watching in Muthurajawela and a chance to visit nostalgic Dutch buildings and canals of Negombo
Negambo, it’s old quarters are full of nostalgia of the Dutch and Portuguese eras, the Negombo Fort (1672), old building complexes and the Dutch Canal system is reminiscent of a thriving trade that once took place in the city. Fishing is the mainstay of the populations in Negombo. The lagoon offers some of the best selections of prawns and lobsters. Lining the long strip of lagoon are the mangroves that is home to a wide variety of birds and animals. The Muthurajawela swamp being part of this eco-system is a great place to visit for bird watching. The Tourist Centre there offers a 90-minute boat ride that will take you across the swamps, to the canals to view the old fort, churches and fishing lagoon.
Day 3 Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage visit / Temple of Tooth / Kandy cultural show / Overnight: Kandy
Probably your closest encounter with the pachyderm at the Pinnawala elephant orphanage, followed by a visit to the Tooth Relic Temple and a cultural pageant
- Breakfast at the Hotel
- En route to Kandy visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Pinnawala Orphanage has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world, with most of elephants having either lost their mother or separated from the herd. The orphanage spans 25 acres of coconut property alongside the Maha Oya. Two of the greatest attractions found here, are the feeding and bathing times. If you are lucky the handlers may pick you to feed the baby elephants. Most of the elephants at the orphanage are very domesticated and friendly, so they’ve even got platforms set up where you can feed the larger elephants fruits. A major pachyderm pleasure is bathing and the wide river nearby enables the elephants to bathe twice daily. The inherent gentleness of elephants is most obvious at this time.
- Visit the Temple of Tooth in Kandy
The golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth houses the country’s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of the Buddha. The sacred city of Kandy was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1988 largely due to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The tooth relic is said to be encased in a jewelled casket and kept in an inner shrine on the second floor. The relic is removed only once a year during the Esala Perahera in the months of July-August. The temple complex includes other smaller temples, shrines and museums that you may like to visit. The temple can get crowded with many worshipers jostling for space. Remember to wear clothes that cover your legs and your shoulders, and remove your shoes.
- Kandy Cultural Show at the Cultural Centre in the evening
For those who want to see the dances of Sri Lanka, this show is a must. The rich music, playing of the various drums and the dances of the Kandyan and low country will entertain you. The ‘fire walk’ display is another interesting addition.
Day 4 Cooking classes with a Kandyan matriarch / Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure. Ocernight: Kandy
Enjoy traditional Sri Lankan vegan cooking alongside village folk
- Breakfast at the Hotel
- Transfer to food demonstration location in Kandy
One of the many highlights of the tour will be to engage with local people and learn to cook traditional Sri Lankan food. Using the very rice grown in terraced paddy fields of the central hills we will prepare Kiribath – milk rice. The milk rice will be served with fish Ambulthiyal and Katta Sambola (dry chilie sambol).
The Ambulthiyal is a local specialty done in a seasoned clay pot using plenty of Goraka to add flavour and sourness. Sri Lankan Kukulmas Curry is another option that go well with the main. The chicken curry will be hot and spicy and the curry will more than make up for the lack of gravy in the fish. While you will be part of the cooking experience the village folk help you do the cooking and even serve the food on banana leaves for greater taste. A locally brewed tea will end this simple meal.
Day 5 Anuradapure UNESCO Tour / Overnight: Mannar
Visit a Spice Garden in the cool mountains and also Sri Lanka cultural heritage of Anuradhapura
- Breakfast at the Hotel
- En route visit Spice Garden in Matale
Initially, it was the spices that attracted travellers to Sri Lanka. Many of the early travellers settled down in fertile areas where they encouraged the local people to grow Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamoms, Pepper and Cocoa. Even today there is a big demand for these items in the local and international markets. The Spice Garden will take you on a winding path of leafy plants and trees showcasing over a hundred different varieties that are used for its great aroma and flavour. In addition to the important role spices play in traditional cooking some of these plants and seeds also carry great healing powers and the extracts are used to produce herbal medicines as well as natural cosmetics.
- Visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura
The sacred city of Anuradhapura was constructed around the Scared Bo tree (fig tree). This tree is from a sapling from the tree that helped the Buddha attained ‘enlightenment’. It was brought to Sri Lanka in 3 BC. Over a period of 1300 year the Kings who reigned in power added on to the city complexes. Ruins of temples, monasteries, palaces, royal parks and great irrigation works can be seen in this city. The sacred city of Anuradhapura has been listed as a UNESCO heritage site since 1992. The Sri Maha Bodhi, Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba, Jethavanarama Dagoba and the Archeological Museum are places located within the World Heritage site that can be easily visited in 1-2 hours.
- Lunch at the Seedevi Restaurant and travel to Mannar
Day 6 Cooking classes/Leisure /Sunset city excursion/ Overnight: Mannar
Don’t miss the flight of Greater Flamingos in Mannar during the season or Tamil cooking lessons on spicy and favourable food
- Breakfast at Hotel
- Morning spent in leisure on the beach
- Transfer to food demonstration location in Mannar
The attraction in Mannar is the authentic Tamil food prepared and served in the homes of the village people. We are ready to learn to prepare Idiappam and Idli both served with thick gravy of a traditional vegetable curry and chutney. While the basic ingredients for the food is simple it is the preparation and the flavour of the condiments added that brings out great taste. Mannar is abundant with fish and is well known for dried fish. Dry fish make a fantastic curry with and goes well with Idiappam or string hopper.
Evening visitors can go site seeing in Mannar – Doric at Aruppu, Mannar Fort, Thalaimannar pier & Adams Bridge and the Baobab tree are some of the interesting sites found there. During the season of migratory birds (Jan-May) large flocks of flamingoes are sighted in the swamps along the road.
Day 7 Discover Jaffna Peninsula / City tour/ Overnight: Jaffna
Exciting Jaffna tour including the famous Nallur temple, the Dutch fort and many other places of historical importance
- Breakfast at the Hotel
- Transfer to Jaffna
Jaffna is situated in the Northern part of Sri Lanka and is largely occupied by Tamils. With a long history of connection bettween India and Sri Lanka Jaffna hosts many interesting places to visit – Nallur Temple, Kantharodaia, Keerimallai and the Jaffna Fort. Nainatheevu or Delft is an island off the Northwestern tip and can be made across by boat. The entire trip to tour the island would take about half a day.
Day 8 Jaffna / cooking classes / enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure / Overnight: Jaffna
Step up from Tamil cooking lessons and learn authentic Jaffna cuisine including tasty wada and thosai.
Breakfast at the Hotel
- Transfer to food demonstration location
Jaffna cuisine has a distinct flavour that is different to the rest of the country. Thosai, Idly, Pittu, Vades rice and curries including seafood and meats (mainly mutton) are cooked with local herbs and spices and are rich in their flavours. Cool seafood soup, bone Rasam, Mutton Poriyal, fiery Jaffna crab curry, Brinjal and Murunga (vegetable known as drum sticks) curry, are all signature dishes in Jaffna.
Thosai and Vade which are both based on a type of cereal called Uludu are served with curry and. You will visit a local family who will host you and demonstrate how these food items are prepared. The Thosai is prepared using a hot grill and the Vade is fried in large wok. It is customary to prepare the chutney using an old fashioned grinding stone instead of a liquidiser. Everything will taste lovely when you get involved in the preparations.
Day 9 Transfer to Trinco / Visit Konesh waram temple / Enjoy the rest of the evening at the beach / Overnight: Trincomalee
Explore the beaches of Trincomalee for leisure and seek out the tranquillity of a shrine where the deer and peacocks roam
With alluring sandy beaches, a number of alcoves and coral reefs Trincomalee is the ideal place to slow down and relax. Boasting of one of the largest natural harbours in South Asia Trincomalee that since ancient times been a trading post is locally known as ‘Gorkanna’ (shaped of a bull’s ear). Koneshwaran is a famous temple on Swarmi rock in Trincomalee that draws throngs of people who come to worship god Shiva. A humungous blue statue of god Shiva sits atop the hillock, overlooking the sea. Except for the Fort Fredrick and army barracks at the foot of the hills the entire surrounding has been declared a sanctuary for the roaming deer and peacocks.
Day 10 Cooking classes / Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.
Be spoilt for choice of seafood and enjoy Sri Lanka cooking style on the beach
Extend your stay to eastern style Sri Lankan cooking – explore food influences by the Muslims like Buriyani and Naan roti. Enjoy unlimited fresh seafood bought from the daily market. Up North of Trinco town is the Nilaveli beach that’s popular among tourists, and Pigeons Islands reached by boat ride is a popular spot for diving and snorkeling. There are a couple of interesting museums in Trincomalee, including the Maritime Museaum housed in the Governor’s mansion.
Day 11 Polonnaruwa UNESCO Site tour / Minneriya Jeep Safari / Overnight: Trincomalee
Learn about ancient irrigation systems and ancient kingdom of the Polonnaruwa and also stand a chance to see small herds of pachyderm during a wild life safari in Minneriya
En route the journey to the Eastern coast Polonnaruwa gives a chance to visit yet another ancient city showcasing a number of monumental ruins. Polonnaruwa era began with the fall of the Anuradhapura period around 993 AD. Which is the reason for most of the temple complexes, shrines and palaces are in a well-preserved state. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa was declared a UNESCO Worlds Heritege site in 1982. The Medirigiriya Vatadage, Pothgul Viharaya, Gal Viharaya and Kuttam Pokuna (twin ponds) will be the highlights of the tour displaying great mastery in sculpture and architecture. Offering insight into the art and history of the medieval city of Polonnaruwa, the Archaeological Museum is worth visiting after touring the ruins.
- Lunch at the Lake Restaurant in Polonnaruwa
one of Sri Lanka’s best national parks that is famous for sighting of large number of elephants. Even though it is one of the smallest national parks in the country, covering just 8,889 hectares, it’s a sanctuary with many natural wonders. The Minneriya National Park protects the catchment of the Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding areas. During the dry season the park serves as the feeding ground for the elephant population dwelling in the forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts. Around August and September every year, the receding banks of the Minneriya tank create one of the most unique scenes -a mass exodus of elephants create the World famous ‘Minneriya Elephant Gathering’. A sight to behold and a must see if you happen to visit Sri Lanka.
Day 12 Discover Sigiriya / Trekking village tour / Golden Temple of Dambulla / Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure / Overnight: Habarana
Visit Sigiriya rock fortress = probably the eighth wonder of the World and visit the golden rock temple of Dambulla
Breakfast at the Hotel
- Visit the Sigiriya rock fortress
Sigiriya is considered one of the most remarkable sights in the world. It was built by King Kashyapa in 477-495 AD and used as a fortress until the end of his rein. A path through the gardens and along the stone stairways leads to the Lion Gate. Only the rock carving and the brick structure is evident today of the lion’s mouth, through which millions of people have walked to admire the beauty of this magnificent citadel. On the Western face of the rock are beautiful frescos of ladies (Apsaras) naked up to the waist and adorned in jewellery. Considered the 8th Wonder of the World, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982.
- Trekking through the village
Hiriwaduna is a tiny village about 20 km North-east of Dambulla an opportunity to immerse with the villagers. The beginning of the trek is through a scenic stretch along a reservoir. Visitors are fascinated by the amazing birdlife, butterflies and the possible sighting of crocodiles along the way. You have chance of meeting villagers as they go about their daily routine of fishing or washing clothes at the edge of the lake. Then you come across a set of colourful boats. At which point the trek turns into a boat ride. A local farmer will meet you there and take you to see the “chena” cultivation he is working on. You will notice a treehouse an interesting feature in a “chena”, that is not only the farmer’s abode during his stay, but also a perfect vantage point to spot elephants down below.
- In the evening visit the Golden temple of Dambulla
Dambulla is well known as a historical site for the 3rd century BC Golden Temple that is perched on a tall magnificent rock. Where King Valagamba is said to have been protected by Buddhist monks from his enemies for over a decade, the cave temple found today is a result of the King’s gratitude. The Golden Temple complex was recognized by UNESCO in 1991 as a World Heritage site.
Day 13 Tamil Food Classes in Na-Ula / Matale Spice Garden Visit / Overnight: Ella
Follow cooking classes in a village location and be able to cook garden-fresh vegetables and fried fish
- Breakfast at the Hotel
- Transfer to food demonstration location
Our food demonstrations program in Dambulla will give you the chance to cook rice and curry as the village folk would be doing. These humble ladies will assist you in the initial chores of grating coconuts, chopping onions, garlic, ginger and finely cutting handful of leafy vegetables. While a pot of red rice boils and simmers to a melt in the mouth main, you can give a hand in preparing the side dishes consisting of various home grown vegetables like Brinjals, Beet, Pumpkin and more exotic options like lotus stems, fiberous Kohila stems or Mangoes. Adding simplicity to this great outdoor meal would be fried sprats and hot and spicy pol sambol. Having joined in the preparations you could have your meal of rice and curry on a lotus leaf sitting beside a languorous lake.
Day 14 Half Day Tea Planation & factory tour / Rest & relaxation / sightseeing (Nine arch bridge, Rawana water falls, little Adams peak) Overnight: Ella
Be among the fortunate few who gets to visit the beautiful hill country and learn more about the turban shaped railway tracks and the amazing 9-arches bridge
- Breakfast at the Hotel
- Visit Ella
Ella is a tourist destination in the hill station, that offers a host of interesting places to see. If time permits get off the trail and take a short train trip from Ella to Demodara railway station (20 minutes) and you will be able to enjoy a ride over the famous nine-arches bridge (built in 1921) and take the Demodara loop which is supposed to be 2.83 km of rail line laid in the shape of the Kangany’s turban. Other attractions in Ella that accounts for the immense popularity of this location includes the trail to the ‘Little Adam’s Peak’ and the Ella Rock.
Day 15 Enjoy the morning at leisure / Yala evening safari / Overnight: Thissamaharama
Stand a chance to see leopards and enjoy abundance of wild life at the Yala safari park in the deep South
- Breakfast at the Hotel
- Visit a curd manufacturer in Tissamaharama
Trailing down the beautiful Ella-Wallavaya mountain range the journey heads the Southern coast to touch the golden sands again. It is possible that you encounter a few wild elephants en route, especially closer to Yala.
Day 16 Salt harvesting / Weherahena Temple visit / Overnight: Mirissa
See the Hambantota salt pans as well as agriculture fields and home gardens before going further South
Also en route you will have a chance to visit a family that makes curd out of Buffalo milk. The best curd is believed to come from Tissamaharama
Visit yala national park, one of Sri Lanka’s premier eco-tourism destinations,
The vegetation in the park comprises predominantly of semi-arid thorny scrub, interspersed with pockets of fairly dense secondary forest. Small patches of mangrove vegetation also occur along the coastal lagoons. The vegetation in the park comprises predominantly of semi-arid thorny scrub, interspersed with pockets of fairly dense secondary forest. Small patches of mangrove vegetation also occur along the coastal lagoons.
Day 17 Cooking classes / Mirissa beach leisure (cinnamon plantation visit, fish market) / Overnight: Mirissa
Visit the beautiful coastal village of Mirissa, Cinnamon plantations and the secret gardens of Rumassala
- Breakfast at the Hotel
- Explore Rumassala and the Jungle Beach
An early morning trek to Rumassala (also linked to Ramayana) which is a forest of rare medicinal plants, overlooking the brilliant sea. A foot path leads to the jungle beach and cove where the waves are very soothing. If you arrive early enough you wil have the beach and coral spun shores all to yourself. Take a swim.
- Transfer to food demonstration location
The highlight of the Galle cooking experience would be to enjoy the southern Sinhala cooking style of making Fish Ambulthiyal – fish marrinated and simmered in sour Goraka paste. The Southern also exell in making Achcharu – pickled vegetables which you may like to try. As the main we will be making yellow rice. Here the rice is boiled with a pinch of salt and a dash of saffron to add colour and flavour. The rice is finally tempered in ghee or butter with onions, cashew nuts, condiments and curry leaves. In addition, Batu Moju a dish of fried brinjal and cutlets go well with the yellow rice. The meal will end with a glass of locally brewed fresh tea.
Cinnamon was a valued spice during the classic period. Cinnamonum Zeylanicum a pure variety that is native to the island allured many a passing traders in the past, and there is no reason why you should fail to visit this quaint place called the Mirrissa hill. The Mirrissa Hills is a working Cinnamon Estate which has been restored in the recent years by its current owner to produce Cinnamon of the highest grade. The estate has over a hundred tree and half way up the hill is a museum, that provides a unique encounter with the spice which has been associated with Sri Lanka for thousands of years.
Day 18 Enjoy the morning at the beach / Turtle farm Ahangama / Galle Fort & city tour / Overnight: Colombo
Discover UNESCO heritage site in Galle, the Dutch Fort and enjoy the cool breeze of the sea
- Visit the Galle Dutch Fort
The 17th century Dutch Fort is the only fort in the country that is thriving with life inside – not unlike it was many centuries back. Inside you find cafes along cobble-stoned pathways, old churches, museums, government officers and a light house side by side with busy restaurants and hotels. You can traverse the ramparts and visit the three bastions without tiring too much. As the sunset draws to a close the sight over looking the ocean is an absolutely stunning and not to be missed at any cost.
Day 19 Colombo City tour & shopping / Late departure
To end with a Colombo City tour including shopping at some of the big complexes and a chance taste Colombo’s street food
- Breakfast at Hotel
Colombo is the commercial and business hub of Sri Lanka. The cityscape blends modern high-rise building complexes with old colonial buildings and a network of canals connect the dots of the busy city. A city tour can be done in open decked bus giving a birds-eye-view of the sprawling building and cityscape. Some of the highlights in Colombo city are Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) which is a gift from the People’s Republic of China in 1973, the Old Parliament Complex, Dutch Hospital (restored as shopping & eatery), the old Clock Tower on Upper Chatham’s Street, the Queens House and the Gangaramaya temple.
- Lunch at Dutch Hospital
- Shopping at ODEL/ Barefoot Gallery
- Airport drop off
- 19 days of accommodation; 3-4 star (self-rated)
- English speaking private Chuffer guide
- Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner
- All parking, taxes and fuel charges etc.
- All government taxes and service charges
- Driver’s allowance and other expenses related to the vehicle
- Surface transport by air-conditioned vehicle
- Entrance fees: Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Hiriwaduna village tour, Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Minneriya Jeep Safari, Dambulla Cave Temple, Kandy Cultural show, The temple of tooth entrance and Galle Fort.
- All cooking demonstrations and workshops.
- Spice garden
- Wood carving Factory
- Tea Factory & plantation
- Travel insurance
- Medical expenses of any kind
- Personal shopping expenses
- Arrival day dinner
- Personal expenditure
- Any costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances (flight delays, cancellations, hike in fares, costs incurred by natural calamities or industrial action.
- Photography fee- if any
- Gratuities or tips. (we do not include tipping when quoting tour price, if you are travelling with a guide, we suggest $9 per day as tips.
- Visa fee
Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)
With effect from 1st January 2012, all Holiday or Business travellers to Sri Lanka must have Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) for entering into Sri Lanka. Please visit www.eta.gov.lk for more information. Payments are to be made through the arrangement made in website http://www.eta.gov.lk/ and obtain an acknowledgement of ETA application. No third parties are authorised to collect payment.
What is a Sri Lankan Visa?
A Sri Lankan visa is an endorsement on a passport or a similar document to facilitate the legal entry of non-Sri Lankans into the country and to regulate the period of their stay and the conditions governing such stay.
What are The Types of Sri Lankan Visas?
There are four kinds of visas which permit a person to enter and/or stay in Sri Lanka.
A Visit Visa is an entry permit signifying the consent of the Sri Lankan Government for the admission of a foreign national to the country. The Visa contains details of the period and the condition/s of the stay. There are two sub-categories which come under visit visas –
Tourist Visit Visa
A Tourist Visa is issued to bona fide tourists who want to enter Sri Lanka for sightseeing, excursions, relaxation, visit relatives or yoga training for a short period.
Photo Permits & Entrance Charges
Sri Lanka is a photographer’s delight. However, permits are required before you can take photos at specific sites. Entrance tickets to individual sites are available only from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. These tickets cover charges for photography, recording and parking. Rates are quoted in US Dollars, and rupee parities are subject to fluctuation.
Custom Imports and export
You are allowed to bring into the country duty-free 1.5 litres of spirits, two bottles of wine, a quarter-litre of toilet water, and a small quantity of perfume and souvenirs with a value not exceeding USD 250. The import of personal electronic items such as cameras and laptop computers is allowed but must be declared on arrival. However, personal electronic items must be taken out of the country upon the visitor’s departure. The import of non-prescription drugs and pornography of any form is an offence.
On leaving the country, you are allowed to export up to 10kg of tea duty-free.
No antiques defined as anything more than 50-years-old - rare books, palm-leaf manuscripts and anthropological material cannot be exported without a permit.
Purchase and export without a licence of any wild animal, bird or reptile, dead or alive are prohibited. Exportation of parts of animals, birds or reptiles, such as skins, horns, scales and feathers is prohibited. Occasional exports are, however, permitted exclusively for bona fide scientific purposes. It is also prohibited the exportation of 450 plant species without special permits. The export of coral, shells or other protected marine products is also strictly prohibited.
Foreign Currency Regulations
Visitors to Sri Lanka bringing in more than US$10,000 should declare the amount to the Customs on arrival. All unspent rupees converted from foreign currencies can be re-converted to the original currency on departure as long as encashment receipts can be produced.
The health risks in Sri Lanka are different to those encountered in Europe and North America. Watch out for bowel diseases such as diarrhoea and amoebic dysentery, vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, and a variety of fungal infections. Sri Lankan physicians, though, many of whom have trained in the West, are particularly experienced in dealing with locally occurring diseases.
Before You Go
No vaccinations are compulsory unless you are coming from yellow fever or Cholera area. (Cholera is very occasionally reported in Sri Lanka, so is not considered a serious risk.) However, the following vaccinations are recommended, particularly if you plan a long trip or intend visiting remote areas:
Typhoid (monovalent), Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies.
Children should also be protected against diphtheria, whooping cough, mumps, measles, rubella.
Remember to plan well ahead with vaccinations. Allow up to six weeks to receive the full course, for some vaccinations require more than one dose, and some should not be given together.
The risk of malaria exists throughout the whole country apart from the districts of Colombo, Kalutara and Nuwara Eliya. Medication has to start one week before travel, continue during the trip, and finish four weeks after your return. Once again, planning is essential, as well as care to ensure the course is followed.
When You Are There
As most stomach upsets are due to the unsanitary preparation of food, it is useful to know what to watch out for. Under-cooked fish (especially shellfish) and meat (especially pork and mince) can be hazardous. Salads can be risky unless purified water has been used to wash the various vegetables. Fruit that has already been peeled should be avoided. Be careful of ice cream, in particular, the varieties sold by street vendors and served at cheap restaurants. Sometimes there are power outages in Sri Lanka, especially away from urban centres, so it pays to be suspicious of all refrigerated foods if you know there has been a recent outage in your area.
Tap water is not safe to drink, and boiling and filtering are sometimes done too hastily in some hotels and restaurants, so the best solution is to drink bottled water. There are now many brands available, mostly using spring water from the highlands of the island. Make sure that the bottle carries an SLS certification and that the seal is broken only in your presence. Beware of ice unless you are satisfied it has not been made from tap water, and remember the tap water you may be tempted to use to rinse out your mouth after brushing your teeth is unsafe. Keep a bottle of water in your bathroom for this purpose.
When you flop onto the beach or poolside lounger for a spot of sunbathing, always remember to apply a sunscreen product with a sun protection factor of at least 15. Remember you are just 600km from the equator. Even with sunscreen, your sun exposure should be limited in time. If you don't apply sunscreen you are liable to become so sunburnt that it will be painful to move, your skin will peel, you will have to start again to get that tan, and most importantly you put yourself at risk of severe dermatological disease.
Sometimes those who have spent too long in the sun suffer what is termed heatstroke, the most common form being caused by dehydration. This condition can occur if the body's heat-regulating mechanism becomes weakened and the body temperature rises to unsafe levels. The symptoms are a high temperature - yet a lack of sweat - a flushed skin, severe headache, and impaired coordination. In addition, the sufferer may become confused. If you think someone has heatstroke, take that person out of the sun, cover their body with a wet sheet or towel, and seek medical advice. To avoid heatstroke, take plenty of bottled water to the beach.
Prickly heat rash occurs when your sweat glands become clogged after being out in the heat for too long or from excessive perspiration. The rash appears as small red bumps or blisters on elbow creases, groin, upper chest or neck. To treat it, take a cold shower, clean the rash with mild soap, dry yourself, apply hydrocortisone cream, and if possible, a product that contains salicylic acid. Repeat every three hours.
Local Health Care
Minor health problems can be treated by doctors with practices in the resorts and elsewhere in the country. If you have a more serious problem, Colombo now boasts a selection of modern, well-equipped private hospitals offering the latest in conventional medical and surgical therapies. A growing number of foreigners are taking advantage of affordable, high-quality private healthcare in Sri Lanka, and combining it with the chance to take a holiday. Though the medical tourism industry in Sri Lanka is still in its early days, some private hospitals in Colombo are geared to provide advanced surgery and other treatment to international clients
Travellers with Special Needs
Travellers with special needs, especially if they visit Sri Lanka without a companion, should note that the country has relatively few facilities for disabled people, although greater awareness and improvements are evolving. Colombo's Airport is equipped with wheelchairs and assistance in boarding and disembarking are available. Buildings, offices, and banks are becoming better-equipped with wheelchair ramps.
Sri Lanka's Currency
The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, divided into 100 cents (you rarely come across scents today). Currency notes are Rs5,000, Rs2,000, Rs1,000, Rs500, Rs100, Rs50, Rs20 and Rs10. Beware of mistaking the Rs500 note for the somewhat similar Rs100 one. To check whether notes are genuine when not given at a bank, look for a lion watermark. Coins, should you have received them, will be in denominations up to Rs10.
Make sure you have plenty of lower denomination notes (Rs50, Rs100, Rs500), especially when travelling and you need to buy small items, fruit, and eat cheap meals because change is often hard to come by apart from at hotels and big shops.
Banks are open from 0900 hrs. to 1300 hours Monday to Friday. Some city banks close at 1500 hrs., while some are open on Saturday mornings. It’s easy to withdraw money across the island at ATMs using international credit cards or debit cards.
Most hotels, restaurants and shopping centres accept credit cards. Some establishments may try to add a surcharge, which is illegal.
Sri Lanka Standard Time is five and a half hours ahead of GMT. (Allowance should be made for summer-time changes in Europe.)
230-240 volts, 50 cycles AC. If you travel with a laptop -computer, bring a stabiliser.
Sri Lanka has two official languages. Sinhala and Tamil - with English as a link language. Most people have some knowledge of English, and signboards are often in English.
Photography, Restrictions & Permits
Sri Lanka is a tremendously photogenic island, so it is hardly surprising that most tourists bring a camera of some kind when they visit the country. The stunning landscapes, the captivating fauna and lush flora, and the breathtaking archaeological remains provide great opportunities: a bonus is that Sri Lankans love to be captured on film. So it is easy to capture the traditional rural lifestyle. You will find villagers, farmers, fishermen and tea pluckers will readily stand in front of your viewfinder. Your subjects will often ask to have a copy of picture sent to them. This may be laborious, but it is a reasonable courtesy as many may never have seen a picture of themselves. It is also understandable that many will also expect a token payment for allowing themselves to be photographed.
Some restrictions may apply to photograph Buddhist imagery. When you visit a temple or other religious site, remember that photography should not be carried out in a manner causing disrespect. For instance, it is strictly forbidden to be photographed in front of or beside any statues and murals. Note that flash photography can damage old murals.
Tourists who wish to visit and or photograph the principal ancient monuments in Sri Lanka are required to purchase a ticket. A single round ticket for two months’ validity costs US$50 and will entitle you to visit and photograph historic monuments such as as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Nalanda, Ritigala, Medirigiriya. There are separate charges at each site for those who do not obtain round tickets: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya USD25, Nalanda USD5, Ritigala USd8, Medirigiriya USD5.
When to Visit
Sri Lanka is a round-the-year destination for the visitors who seek for sun and sea the best time to visit the island is from November to April. The South-western coastal area, where most of the beach resorts are located. Kalpitiya, located on the North Western coast has been declared a new tourist attraction. Many development projects have also been planned such as hotels and other infrastructure to make the East a new tourist destination in
The central highlands are pleasantly cool and relatively dry from January to April. The peak season is mid-December to mid-January and March-April during Easter with a mini-peak season in July and August when festivals and pageants are held through the country.
What to Wear
Cotton clothes are useful at any time of the year, but you will need light woollens for the hills and waterproof clothing or an umbrella. Modest dress for women is advisable especially off the beach and when visiting religious sites. Don't forget comfortable shoes, sandals or trainers and cotton socks. If you are planning to trek and climb, go prepared with suitable gear. Water sports enthusiasts would do well to take their snorkels and diving equipment along.
Usually, all visitors to Sri Lanka travel by air; flights arrive at the Bandaranaike International Airport, 35 km north of Colombo, and 6 km of Negombo.
You may sometimes be overwhelmed by crowds of people in public places (railway stations, markets, bus stands, temples or simply busy streets). "Touts" and hawkers may jostle and push and clamour to show you a hotel and sell you things. Taxis and three-wheelers are often there when you do not need them.
In general, the threats to personal security for travellers in Sri Lanka are remarkably small. It is more pleasant to travel with a companion as it is advised not to travel alone especially after dark. The island including the North and East is safe to visit. If you have anything stolen, report it to the Tourist Police on + 94 11 2382209.
Where to Stay
Sri Lank Offers visitors an excellent range of accommodation facilities to suit all budgets from luxury hotels to low budget accommodations. In the peak season (mid-January and during Easter) bookings can be heavy, so it is best to reserve accommodation well in advance through Tour operator’s, travel agents, booking online and through our travel planner.
Ceylon tea is prepared as in the West. There are a vast variety of bottled soft drinks, including well-known international brands. Thambili (king coconut water) is a safe and refreshing option. Local beer and spirits are widely available. Bottled mineral water is available in all hotels.
Alcohol Sales Restriction
Please note alcohol is not sold on Poya Days. (full-moon day of the month)
Source: Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau
Terms & Conditions – Food Tours