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Travel Tips

Be ready. Live like a local.

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Sri Lanka is a small island nation in South Asia that is rapidly becoming one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. With its stunning beaches, rich culture, and diverse wildlife, Sri Lanka has something to offer every type of traveler. However, like any foreign country, there are certain things you should know before visiting. In this article, we will share our top travel tips for Sri Lanka to ensure that your trip is safe, enjoyable, and hassle-free.

1. Money and Currency Exchange

The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). While credit cards are widely accepted in major tourist areas, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash with you, especially if you plan on traveling to more remote areas. You can exchange currency at the airport or at any major bank in the city. It’s important to note that many businesses in Sri Lanka do not accept USD bills that are older than 2006, so make sure you have newer bills before you arrive.

2. Transportation

Getting around Sri Lanka can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re not familiar with the local transportation options. Taxis and tuk-tuks (three-wheeled vehicles) are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, but it’s important to negotiate the price before you get in. If you’re traveling to more remote areas, it’s a good idea to hire a driver who can take you around the island. You can easily find drivers through your hotel or online travel forums.

3. Visa and Entry Requirements

Before you pack your bags and head to Sri Lanka, you need to ensure that you have the necessary documents to enter the country. All travelers must obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) before arriving in Sri Lanka. The ETA is an online visa that can be obtained through the official Sri Lankan government website. The cost of the ETA is USD 35 for most countries, and the process usually takes less than 24 hours.

4. Food and Drink

Sri Lanka is famous for its delicious cuisine, but it’s important to be mindful of what you eat and drink. While most restaurants and street food vendors are safe, it’s a good idea to stick to cooked foods and avoid raw fruits and vegetables that may have been washed in contaminated water. It’s also important to stay hydrated and only drink bottled water. If you’re feeling adventurous, be sure to try some of the local specialties like kottu roti, hoppers, and string hoppers.

5. Dress Code

Sri Lanka is a conservative country, and it’s important to dress appropriately, especially when visiting religious sites. When visiting temples, women should cover their shoulders and wear long skirts or pants, while men should wear long pants and shirts. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes, especially if you plan on doing a lot of walking or hiking.

6. Safety and Security

Sri Lanka is generally a safe country, but it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety. Avoid traveling alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded tourist areas, and be mindful of your surroundings. If you’re traveling to remote areas or hiking, it’s a good idea to hire a guide for safety reasons.

7. Culture and Customs

Sri Lanka has a rich cultural heritage, and it’s important to respect local customs and traditions. When visiting temples, be sure to remove your shoes and hats before entering. It’s also considered disrespectful to take photos with your back to Buddha statues or to point your feet towards religious images. When greeting locals, it’s polite to put your hands together in a prayer-like gesture and say “Ayubowan” (may you live long) instead of shaking hands.

8. Communication

Sinhalese and Tamil are the official languages of Sri Lanka, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas. It’s a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in Sinhalese or Tamil to make communicating with locals easier and to show that you respect their culture. You can also download translation apps on your phone to help you communicate with locals who may not speak English.

9. Healthcare

It’s important to take care of your health while traveling in Sri Lanka. Be sure to pack any necessary medications and bring insect repellent to protect against mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever. If you do get sick, there are many hospitals and clinics in major cities, but the quality of healthcare can vary. It’s a good idea to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies before you arrive in Sri Lanka.

10. Respect for Wildlife

Sri Lanka is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, leopards, and monkeys. It’s important to respect these animals and their habitats. Avoid feeding or touching wild animals, and don’t participate in any activities that involve riding elephants or other animals. If you’re interested in seeing wildlife, opt for a responsible eco-tourism company that prioritizes animal welfare.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful and fascinating country that is definitely worth a visit. By following these travel tips, you can ensure that your trip is safe, enjoyable, and memorable. From exploring ancient temples to relaxing on pristine beaches, Sri Lanka has something to offer everyone. So pack your bags, grab your passport, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!