Standard voltage is 230 - 240V; 50Hz AC. Sockets are of the 3 round-pin variety, similar though not identical to European sockets. Use a power adaptor with a hairdryer or other appliances.
It is recommended that you be vaccinated for Tetanus and Polio, if you haven't had a booster in the last ten years. Food and waterborne diseases are more common, so we recommend vaccinations for typhoid (valid 3 years) and Hepatitis A (validity varies). You are also advised to take anti-Malarial medication. However vaccination information can change regularly and this is only intended as a guide so please contact your local healthcare provider for the most up to date and accurate information.
Only drink bottled mineral water which is readily available. Avoid salads which may be washed in unhygienic water.
Situated in the Indian Ocean, at the base of the Indian Sub-Continent and around 880km north of the equator, the island nation of Sri Lanka has a pleasant tropical climate and despite its two short monsoon seasons has no ‘off-season’ as such.
The average temperature of the lowlands ranges between 25-30 °C, with higher temperatures in April.
The hill country is particularly popular at this time of the year where temperatures can be 5 to 8 degrees cooler during the day, yet rather chilly at night.
The two monsoons are the south-west from May to July, affecting south/west/central areas and the north-east from September to November, affecting north/east areas.
Despite intermittent rain, the sun does shine and the days are warm, unlike the partnering of rain and cold weather in Europe.
Sri Lanka is 5.5 hours ahead of GMT. Sri Lanka does not observe Daylight Saving.
Pound Sterling, US Dollars or other major currencies can be exchanged into Sri Lankan Rupees locally, as the Sri Lankan is presently exchangeable only in Sri Lanka. The Rupee is non-exportable, so spend it all before you leave!
There are plenty of money changers in Colombo, at the airport, in the street and at hotels. Banks will tend to offer a slightly better rate for traveller cheques.
A growing number of ATMs in Colombo and Kandy accept foreign-issued cards. Credit cards are widely accepted for purchases. Visa and Mastercard withdrawals can be performed at banks.
Sri Lanka offers a diversity of cuisine. The national dish is rice and curry (even for breakfast!). A typical Sri Lankan meal consists of a ‘main’ curry that could be fish or meat with several side dishes including vegetables, chutneys and ‘sambol’. Made of ground coconut, onion, chilli, dried fish and lime, sambol is fiendishly hot.
Excellent seafood can be found along the coast, including local crab, prawns and tuna. Local specialities include appa or hoppers which are small rice-batter pancakes eaten with palm treacle and yoghurt.
Roti stuffed with fresh chilli, onions and cooked eggs, griddled meats or fish are also popular. Kotu roti is chopped roti with onions, vegetables and meat.
Colonialism left an indelible stamp on the local cuisine. A popular Dutch-Portuguese dish is Lamprais (rice steeped in stock with a special curry), accompanied by frikkadels (meatballs), baked and served in banana leaves.
Sri Lanka grows some of the finest tea in the world for export. Your best chance for a good cuppa is in the hill country, where tea plantations and hotels serve the pick of the locally harvested crop.
Sri Lanka is excellent for gemstones especially sapphires, moon-stones and cats-eye. Other items to look out for include spices, wood carvings and other handicrafts, clothing of types, batik and hand-woven textiles, brassware, handmade lace from Galle and of course tea. Tea varies in quality, so if you’re buying in bulk, ask for a tasting! If seeking modern local chic, Colombo offers a selection of department stores and stylish boutiques. Refrain from buying souvenirs made of coral (creation of this sort of tourist that contributes greatly to the destruction of Sri Lanka’s reefs), ivory or the hides of endangered animals.
For the most part, we’ll be traveling by road. Roads in Sri Lanka are generally well maintained, though traffic moves notoriously slowly in Colombo and surrounds. Investment in recent years has brought about better roads from Colombo to Kandy, Puttalam and Galle.
Taxicabs, identified by their yellow tops and white number plates with red writing, are available in the capital and most towns. Negotiate the price before setting off. Radio cabs such as Ace, Quick and GNTC are more expensive. They have a higher minimum charge, but offer fixed price journeys thanks to the benefit of working digital meters. They’re also usually air-conditioned. Radio cabs are available in Colombo and Kandy. In tourist locales, taxis are often in the guise of a minivan, which can carry up to 10 passengers. Ask your tour leader or hotel for a fare estimation.
Motorised three-wheel rickshaws are available for hire throughout the country. Whilst fun to ride as the kamikaze rickshawallah weaves his way through oncoming traffic, the fare for an auto rickshaw ride when compared to that of a cab ride will usually always be more expensive; however, the ride will be fast, efficient and usually a lot of fun! Always negotiate the price you want to pay before setting off. Offering around 50% of the asking price is the general rule of thumb, though you’ll always pay more than the going rate for a local!
Note: Hours may change during Ramadan.