As regular visitors to Sri Lanka, we have compiled a list of 6 things you need to know once you have booked your flight to Sri Lanka. After being relatively closed to the world for the last generation, it has opened up its borders and tourists are coming here by the thousands. The list below are all important points that will help you have the best time possible in Sri Lanka.
Is Sri Lanka safe?
Yes, Sri Lanka is a safe place. Despite going through a violent and difficult civil war which only finished in 2009, Sri Lanka is now back on track and is really developing as tourist friendly nation. Having been there twice in the last few years, we have never felt unsafe in the capital (Colombo) or even in remote areas. Just use travel common sense (avoiding dark alleys, don’t flash money around etc.)
The recent history of Sri Lanka
Just a quick reminder to be respectful about the past. The Civil War only finished in 2009 so it is still very raw and emotional for many people who were impacted by it. So please talk about it with discretion if you want to learn more.
Visa in Sri Lanka
Everyone needs a visa to get into Sri Lanka and the cost is 35USD (Updated as of April 2017). If you are from South East Asian countries, the cost is only 20USD. The visa can be done all online, so just print it out and show the paper to customs as you go through.
Sri Lankan Rupees are not easy to get
Even though tourism is booming, the banks haven’t quite caught up with demand. Other than the main cities of Colombo and Galle, many ATM’s are hit and miss, so it is worthwhile to get cash out once you arrive. We highly recommend that you do this at the airport, as the exchange rates there were very impressive!
Buses will be fast and wild
One of our favourite things we did in Sri Lanka was to be a local and hop on one of the buses. The Bus Stops are scattered throughout the country and have few English signs, so there is plenty of asking and non verbal gesturing. But that is just the start. Get a seat (don’t get the front seat, saved for clergy) and strap yourself in. The bus rides in Sri Lanka are crazy. Swerving, lane changing, overtaking are just part of the norm. Make sure you know where you are getting off, there are no warnings!
One of the most complete islands to visit
We have said this many times, Sri Lanka has one of the widest ranges of things to do we have ever seen. From world class surfing and beaches to the South and East, animal filled Safari parks and thousand year old Buddhist temples. All of this within 3 hours of each other. So pack for every occasion!
Look ahead, booking ahead may be a good thing
Getting a train ride in Sri Lanka is one of the best ways to see the beautiful parts of the country and gives you access to areas that cars cannot. However, the train fills up very quickly and you can reserve tickets online before you arrive to Sri Lanka. The alternative? Get to the train station 24 hours before the train is due to leave and see if you can score a seat!
Hope these pre-travel tips will help you out in your planning to Sri Lanka!
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