Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte
Voltage: 230V, Frequency: 50Hz
Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian
Rupee (LKR) exchange rates
UTC +5:30 hours
What to expect
You are sure to fall in love with Sri Lanka’s tropical charms: whether it be her incredible white-sand beaches, fascinating cultural melange, ancient architectural wonders, or delightful cuisine. Sri Lanka still feels relatively undiscovered, but now that the civil war has ended that is set to change.
Tourist facilities are generally of a very high standard, and there is a range of exceptional accommodation options that incorporate stylish design and heritage features. Service can be on the laid-back side, if friendly and well-intentioned. A measure of flexibility and patience will come in handy.
From Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne
approximately 11 hours
approximately 8 hours
Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the holidays listed below. In addition, the full moon day of every month, Poya, is a Buddhist public holiday. On this day practising Buddhists visit a temple, many shops are closed, and alcohol and meat sales are prohibited. As major holidays are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our Australia-based Asia specialists for details.
, New Year's Day.
January (full moon day)
, Duruthu Perahera. In Colombo, there is a festival to celebrate Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka.
, Independence Day. Commemorates Sri Lanka’s independence from British rule in 1948.
February (full moon)
. Navam Perahahera. A parade takes place over two nights in Colombo for this Buddhist festival.
February/March (full moon)
, Maha Shivarathri. A Hindu festival in honour of Lord Shiva and his wife, Parvati.
, Good Friday.
, Sri Lankan New Year. This is a big celebration, with parties, feasts and fireworks. Expect some disruption to your travel plans and heavy traffic.
, Labour Day
May (full moon)
, Vesak Poya. Buddha’s birthday.
, Kandy Esala Perahera. This month-long festival revolves around the country’s most important Buddhist shrine, the Temple of the Tooth, and includes daily rituals, processions, and dancing.
, Christmas Day. There may be a compulsory dinner at your hotel.
Health & Fitness
As with travelling elsewhere in Asia, you need to take a number of health precautions when visiting Sri Lanka. The following diseases are all known to exist in Sri Lanka: tetanus, tuberculosis, typhoid, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, malaria, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, polio, rabies and HIV/AIDS. We strongly recommend you consult your doctor with regards to vaccinations and up-to-date health advice at least a month before you depart.
There are a number of private hospitals that provide international standard of care in Colombo, and one in Galle. There are general hospitals in Colombo, Galle, Negombo and Kandy, but these are often subject overcrowding. In other areas, health care facilities are basic.
Australian citizens need a valid tourist visa to enter Sri Lanka. You can arrange your visa online atwww.eta.gov.lk (30 USD for a 30 day visa) or on arrival at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (35 USD). We recommend arranging your visa in advance to avoid queues at the airport.
Note: Sri Lankan visa regulations are subject to change. We strongly advise that you check with the Indian embassy or consulate closest to you in Australia prior to travel. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa.
Safety and security
Sri Lanka is largely a very safe and friendly country to travel in; however, petty crime can be an issue in tourist areas and larger cities, especially Colombo. You should use your common sense as you would when travelling anywhere. Make sure your spending money is out of sight and near your body and keep jewellery to a minimum. You may wish to use a money belt, especially if you are travelling on trains during your stay.
In larger centres, we recommend you travel by taxi at night rather walk. Taxis usually aren’t metered so you will need to agree to a price first. It is always a good idea to carry a hotel address card, in case you have trouble communicating.
While on holiday in Sri Lanka, always keep a photocopy of your essential documents i.e. passport, airline tickets, credit cards and traveller’s cheques separate from the originals in a safe place. Most hotels have room-safes or deposit boxes at reception where you can store valuables.
If you would like to know more about staying safe when you travel with Travel Indochina, you can read out safety guidelines here.
Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
is a fictionalised memoir with elements of magical realism. It focuses on the author's return to his home country of Sri Lanka in the 1970s, weaving tales of his family with Sri Lankan history.
A Village in the Jungle by Leonard Wolf
is a literary novel about his time working as a civil servant in Sri Lanka.
Sam’s Story by Elmo Jayawardena
is a fictional novel focusing on the country's people and how their lives were impacted by civil war. It is told through the eyes of a young illiterate boy.
Serendip: My Sri Lankan Kitchen by Peter Kuruvita
is a journey through the delicious traditional cuisine of Sri Lanka and the role of food in culture and family, by an acclaimed Australian chef with Sri Lankan roots.
Reef by Romesh Gunesekera
is a coming of age love story set in Sri Lanka, covering politics, culture and class.
July by Karen Roberts
is an insightful tale of two neighbours growing up together - one Sinhalese and the other Tamil.
Useful words & phrases - Tamil
Hello (or hi)/ goodbye
Vanakkam/ poytu varukiren
What is your name?
Ungal peyr en-na?
My name is…
How much is this?
Where is the...?
Adhu en-ghe irukaradhu
Useful words & phrases - Sinhala
Hello (or hi)/ goodbye
What is your name?
Aayage nama mokka da?
My name is…
How much is this?
Where is the...?
Arrival and departure transfers
Arrival transfer: If you have booked an arrival transfer for your holiday in Sri Lanka, you will find your driver waiting for you at Colombo’s International Airport. He or she will be wearing a Travel Indochina t-shirt and carrying a Travel Indochina signboard with your name on it.
Road: For our Small Group Tours, we use air-conditioned minibuses and small coaches (25-40 seats) when travelling by road in Sri Lanka. Private travel will be with a car and driver. Roads are mostly in relatively good condition, but you can expect some winding roads in the highland areas.
Other: Three-wheelers (tuk tuks), and your own feet
Internet: You will find that most hotels offer high-speed internet connection in your room, and most towns have telecommunications stores that offer internet services to the public. There are also a few cafes in Colombo that offer free Wi-Fi.
Phone: There is good mobile phone reception throughout Sri Lanka. You can make International Direct Dial (IDD) phone calls from your hotel, though a cheaper option is to buy a pre-paid card for a card-operated IDD telephones.
Food & drink
Sri Lankan cuisine is likely to be a highlight of your stay. Fresh and fragrant spices are a feature – Sri Lanka isn’t known as the Spice Island for nothing – as are locally-grown tropical fruits and vegetables, coconut, seafood, pickles and chutneys, and of course rice.
While you will notice some similarities with South Indian cuisine, Sri Lankan food also shows Portuguese, Dutch, English, Arabic and Malaysian influences. As with other parts of Asia, meals are often served banquet-style, and consist of at least one meat or fish-based curry, alongside a variety of vegetable and lentil-based curries. Though spicy, Sri Lankan curries are not necessarily hot – the accompanying chutney or sambol may be though! Be sure to try the ubiquitous local snack known as hoppers, a kind of pancake made from rice flour and coconut milk. There are sweet and savoury varieties.
It is not advisable to drink the water from the tap in Sri Lanka. You can buy bottled water throughout the country.
Tipping is a personal matter, and you should never feel obligated to tip. However you may find that a tip is the most appropriate way to show your appreciation for great service.
If you are joining one of our Small Group Tours, your Western tour leader or local guide or will ask for a small sum at the beginning of your stay in Sri Lanka. This will be used to tip hotel porters and boat crews during your trip. This means that you do not have to worry about having small change on hand, and helps to prevent over-tipping.You may also choose to show your appreciation for Travel Indochina guides, drivers and tour leaders with a tip; however, it is not compulsory to do so.
One of the highlights of Sri Lanka is the many wonderful beaches around the island, many of which are popular with surfers. Beaches may not be patrolled so be sure to check conditions prior to entering and stay close to shore as rips and currents may be present.
Swimming pools are a feature of many, though not all, of our hotels. Remember to observe common sense safety precautions around swimming pools, particularly if you are travelling with children.