Sri Lanka holiday checklist, Sri Lanka travel tips
Sri Lanka holiday checklist / Sri Lanka travel tips (about Sri Lanka) is a set of important tips and advice for planning a Sri Lanka tour and holidays in Sri Lanka. I thought it would be useful to talk about Sri Lanka travel tips on my blog, for vacationing in Sri Lanka. This Sri Lanka holiday checklist consists of three-pointers and I am planning to publish more important Sri Lanka travel tips in my future posts. I am hoping to hear the thoughts and opinions of you and improve the Sri Lanka travel tips list in the future posts.
Sri Lanka’s diverse landscape takes most holidaymakers in surprise. Sri Pada or better known as Adams peak and Knuckles mountain range both are surpassing most of the mountains in the region with regards to historical and natural importance. Both places are ranked among the adventure holiday destinations of top-notch value. The highest peak of Sri Lanka known as Pidurutalagala rises up to 2524 meters from the sea level. Its green cap is engulfed in mist at most of the time of the year. Today Pidurutalagala is not a hiking destination as it was in the past, accessibility is restricted due to the security reasons.
The wildly spectacular mountains of the central mountain range make Sri Lanka a holiday destination with awe-inspiring scenery and it helps the island in the run to be favourite winter holiday destination in the region. Sri Lanka has become the choice of holiday destination for people who look for a hideout to get away from the extreme cold in the northern hemisphere. Therefore, Sri Lanka is most crowded from November to April.
Sri Lanka still has yet to go a long way to be a developed country. The island is enjoying decades of development, but the island has been able to retain its charming beauty of nature despite the increasing demand for natural resources for economic fulfilment. A large number of national parks, primaeval rainforests, streams and rivers, mountains and escapement covered with green blanket are frequented sights in unspoiled corners of the island. And, everywhere you travel, the pristine beaches with access to warm, clear waters of the Indian Ocean is just a matter of few minute drives.
The traditional life of Sri Lankan is perch on charming villages and very appealing to people who love to get away from the busy routine life. Try to have some time and enjoy peace of mind amidst the very basic and simple life of these remote villagers. If you can’t organize a village tour in Sri Lanka yourself contact Seerendipity tours, we are capable of helping you to organize you Sri Lanka holiday.
Sri Lanka is a multi-faceted holiday destination with the possibility to touch one of the oldest unique cultures in the world with pristine beaches, primaeval rainforest, awe-inspiring historical construction, fascinating animal world and warm friendly people. Following are some of the Sri Lanka travel tips that can be helpful for you to know how things happening on the island.
Plan your Sri Lanka holiday package
Planning your Sri Lanka road trip. This is the first step of your holiday in Sri Lanka and it is the most important. A well planned holiday enables you to have an enjoyable holiday that you dream of. This is the step you need to pay extra consideration; you have to think of your budget, choose the best time for visiting Sri Lanka and where to go to Sri Lanka in order to get the best out of your planned tour. Choosing the best holiday destination in Sri Lanka is largely depending on the monsoon, it could be either East coast or West coast. If you visit the island from November to April, west coast offers you the best weather while East coast offers you the best weather with holiday vibe from April to November.
The next important decision is, whether you work with a tour operator such as Seerendipity tours or your own. Solo travellers can find it difficult to move around Sri Lanka especially due to the language barrier. If you plan to do round tour or excursion, you better arrange it through a tour operator. Due to the Rules and regulation, only the tourist guides license holders are allowed to escort tourist on the island.
Hire a qualified tour guide to have the best travel experience
This is one of the very important Sri Lanka travel tips, especially for newcomers. If your driver does not have tourist guide license you have to hire site guides in every important tourist attraction, which adds unexpected expenses to your holiday budget. Unlike individual service providers, tour operators employ only the national tourist guide license holders, whenever their foreign clients are on the way.
Planning the places to visit during the tour is also very important and you need to have the help of local knowledge. You can book a pre-planned tour or a customized itinerary. If you need any assistance with regards to planning a tour itinerary, our guides and travel experts are ready to assist you. The tour with a licenced guide is definitely expensive than the tour with an un-licenced guide. Byt still worth if you are looking for the best travel experience.
Obtaining tourist visa or ETA
Foreign tourists need to obtain the visa for holidays in Sri Lanka. The tourists from several countries are exempted from this requirement. You can see whether the tourists from your country need to have visa on the official government website. You can use the online visa system through the website aforementioned or obtain the visa at the airport. It is essential to have a renewed passport and travel insurance. Make sure your passport is valid for the number of days designated by the immigration department, beyond the return date. In fact, it can be useful in case you plan to extend your holiday.
Do you have travel insurance?
Even though it is not compulsory to have travel insurance, is highly recommended to have peace of mind during the holiday. There are instances people pay for holidays and ultimately unable to take the tour at the last moment. There is no refund unless you have travel insurance in a situation like that. Holiday to a distant destination such as Sri Lanka is expensive and paying a little bit more to a travel insurance would definitely be a very wise investment. So, those are the first three (and easily the most important) items on your Sri Lanka vacation checklist.
You have to bargain virtually from everywhere!
Learn how to bargain before you land in Sri Lanka. Bargaining is a traditional custom of the island. From the water bottle at the corner store to Souvenir shop at star class hotels, bargaining helps you to save money. It is difficult to say how much you save and it all depends on your capability of bargaining. There are some products such as pharmaceutical products are sold at fixed prices and the products sold in supermarkets are also not negotiable. After some days on the island, you will understand the importance of bargaining and where to do it and how to do it properly.
Beach boys or not
If you happen to spend your holiday at a beach resort, you will be approached by beach boys, when you jump on to the beach. For every beach hotel, there is a group of beach boys and they have the monopoly over the tourists come to that particular hotel. None other than the members of the group allow at least talk to the customers of that particular hotel. You will be approached by those guys and offered various excursions and tours. There are some genuine trustworthy guys, who provide a valuable service for tourists, while some guys are not trustworthy and cause some hardships for tourists. The best way to escape from them is ignoring them and says “No Thanks for whatever they offer.”
Know the price before getting in the TUK TUK
It is essential to know the price before start a journey with a TUK TUK. TUK TUK is the cheapest form of taxis in Sri Lanka and they are very handy on the busy streets of the island. Most of the TUK TUK’s are private taxis and prices are decided by the taxi driver. They usually have no taxi meters and the price is decided on the distance of the journey. Knowing the price before the journey is very essential, otherwise, the commuters have no option than paying what demanded by the taxi driver and it is usually more than double the normal price.
Know the price before you buy
Another important thing to do while shopping in the islands is to know the price beforehand. Especially when you buy things from small vendors on the road, they have no price tags on the goods. A t-shirt that usually cost 1500 RS can cost as much as 5000 with them. Ask the price and negotiate to get the maximum for what you pay.
What to wear
Being a tropical country, Sri Lanka is warm and humidity rises up to 90%. Therefore, light cotton dress in the most suitable for wearing on the island. Sandals or flip-flops also can be wearing on the island while the roads in Sri Lanka are clean at most of the time. Dress code should be changed while visiting a Buddhist temple. You need to remove shoes and hats upon entering the temple and shoulders and knee should be covered with the dress.
Normally Sri Lankans has a relaxed attitude towards the informal style of dresses. But it is highly recommended to cover shoulders and legs and have a modest dress code for women travellers. Take off shoes and hats before entering the religious sites. There are several other rules to know before entering the temples in Sri Lanka follow our blog post on 9 Sri Lanka Buddhist temple rules.
Where to eat
There are many possibilities when it comes to dining in Sri Lanka. The cheapest meals are sold at small boutiques along the streets. More hygienic and quality foods are sold in restaurants. Try to have your food in a good restaurant, because food poisoning is a common issue on the island and I believe you don’t want to ruin your holiday for saving few bucks on the meal. In fact, Food poisoning cost you a large sum of money and it can exceed the whole amount you pay for the entire holiday.
Take a lot of fluid
Drink plenty of water. You tend to lose a lot of fluid during the daytime due to the sweating condition of the atmosphere. In fact, you tend to be thirsty very often if you are not familiar with high humidity of Sri Lanka. King coconut is the most popular thirst quencher on the island. This natural drink contains a lot of water, mineral and vitamin and not added to any form of chemicals.
Violent crime may occur targetting foreigners, although the frequency of such incidents is very rare. Tourists police posts are set up in all places where foreigners roam such as beach areas, cultural sites etc. Make your Sri Lanka road trip arrangements through the reputable travel company in order to have the peace of mind. Every tour company take care of their guests during the entire tour and they appoint an employee to provide assistance to the customer during the holiday. The companies employ well experienced licensed guides and drivers in order to make sure your safety as you drive through the country.
Try to avoid solo journey with unknown people. Avoid drinks offered by strangers at bars, restaurants and beach areas. There are incidences in which the guests had made acquaintances with young boys on the beach and later subjected to various difficulties, especially the women should avoid the touts.
It is advisable to keep all the valuable and important items such as money, passport, flight tickets, jewellery in a safety deposit box. Usually, all hotels provide safety deposit boxes either free or at a nominal fee. Use a safety deposit box to keep things protected. Hotels do not take responsibility for lost items left attended in the room.
Travelling in northeast
Travellers who are heading to Northern and eastern parts of the country should be careful due to the land mines. Millions of landmines were buried in those areas in the past and now they are been cleared by the security forces. It can be dangerous to walk in the uncleared areas. Several incidents reported in the past in which several people were affected due to the land mines.
Check the weather pattern before you reach the destination, especially the beach resort. The sea bath and other activities on the sea can be dangerous due to the high-tide and underwater current. Sea bath is extremely dangerous during the monsoon.
Driving in Sri Lanka
The international driving licence is a major requirement for foreigners to drive in the island. Apart from the international license foreigners need to make the local permit at the motor traffic department of Sri Lanka. wearing the seatbelt is essential.
Sri Lanka has a well-developed road network and roads are in very good shape. There is a large concentration of vehicles in the city areas and road are more or less empty outside the cities tempting you to drive fast. But be attentive on speed limits, it is 40 km within the city and 70km outside the city limit. Try to use highways as much as possible and you can save time.
Public buses and TUK TUK are notorious, they drive fast and not obey the traffic rules. Take care when passing through them, most road accidents are led by TUK TUK’s and buses.
TUK TUK scam
TUK TUK is a very handy way to travel to the island on short distance trips. It will be inconvenient on long journeys. Agree on a price before starting the journey or look for a metered taxi to avoid a big loss. If you are in the city book your taxi through taxi service providers it is the safest way to travel by TUK TUK and cheap too. Never accept free rides offered by TUK TUK.
Wildlife can be dangerous sometimes. Wild elephants attacks and crocodile attacks are reported in remote areas of Sri Lanka. Therefore I decided to dedicate one paragraph on Sri Lanka wildlife in this article of Sri Lanka Travel Tips. Places like Sigiriya, Habarana, Tissamaharam, Matar are places such incidents are reported in the past.
Sigiriya and Habaran are very popular places, where tourist are based while they explore the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Avoid night walk and late evening walk in those places and try to use the vehicle whenever you move into those areas, in order to avoid wild elephant attacks.
There can be crocodiles in rivers, canals, and tanks and it is strongly recommended to be away from inland water resources such as tanks if you are not very sure that they are free of the crocodiles. Several crocodile attacks are reported in the island, every year, especially during the rainy season due to the flooding. The crocodiles have been sighted even in beach resort areas such as Arugambe.
Venomous snakes are also reported in most parts of the country and snake bites are recorded many times every year. Such incidents are very rare in populated areas but it is better to be vigilant.
Dogs, cats and monkeys are very frequently seen in many places in the island do not try to feed them they might carry rabies. If you are bitten by any of those animals you should report to the hospital immediately.
Usually, the drivers and guides have a very good idea of the locality you come across during the tour and they instruct you accordingly how to be safe in those areas.
Sri Lankan rupees is the local currency and most foreign currency types can be exchanged in all banks on the island. If you wish to change money in the bank, you need to fill out a form and produce the passport. The entire process might take about 30 minutes. Please be kindly informed that certain foreign currencies are not accepted by Sri Lankan Banks.
Change money at the airport on arrival is the most convenient way to do it. It is quick and no paperwork, in fact, you get the best exchange rate. Having Sri Lanka currency is essential during the holiday in Sri Lanka. You have to make payment in Sri Lanka Rupees at eateries, buses, trains etc. Make sure you have the local currency all the time with you.
There is a large number of local and foreign banks in Sri Lanka and most of them have a well-developed network with branches everywhere. All banks provide the facility to withdraw money from the teller machine using Master and Visa card. If you do not wish to change money at the bank because it takes a lot of time, you can use the Visa or Master cards to withdraw money from the teller machine.
In case you need to visit a doctor during the Sri Lanka tour ask a TUK TUK driver to take you to the hospital. The hospitals can be found in all cities. Apart from hospitals, dispensaries are also available in remote areas. Dispensaries are the places where doctors do private practising. Sri Lanka has a well-developed health system and it is free of charge at the government hospitals.
You might need the laundry facilities during the tour. The guests have 2 options. The first option is washing cloth your own in the room. This method cannot be recommended because you will not be able to get it done properly without the necessary equipment. 2nd option is getting it done by the hotel, which cost around 100 LKR average for a 1 kg of cloth. All accommodation facilitators provide the laundry facility.
Drugs related offences and child abusing are treated with severe penalties, which can lead to a lifetime imprisonment.
Nudity is not allowed, therefore avoid topless sunbathing on the beaches.
Every full-moon day is a public holiday in Sri Lanka and No alcohol and meat served on Full moon days.
Alcohol in public places
Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking in public places, severe fines are imposed if found guilty.