Here is a selection of frequently asked questions. If you have a query that isn’t answered here please do Contact Us.
Planning your holiday…..
Preparing for your holiday….
Once your trip starts….
Do your itinerary prices include flights?
Flights are not included in our prices. If you know your approximate date of travel we can give you an itinerary and quote and once you book your flights we can then make the hotel reservations and firm up the itinerary.
What is included in your itineraries?
As a general rule, unless otherwise requested, all our tours include your transport, including driver and fuel, and all accommodation costs on a basis specified by you. You are responsible for booking your flights and your personal expenses as incurred on your trip. If you like we can purchase historical site entrance fees on your behalf.
Are your drivers English speaking?
All our drivers speak English and if you would like a qualified national guide please inform us so that we can arrange that for you too.
Preparing for your holiday….
No inoculations are compulsory unless you are coming from a yellow fever or cholera area. (Cholera is very occasionally reported in Sri Lanka, so is not considered a serious risk.) However, the following vaccinations are recommended, particularly if you plan a long trip or intend visiting remote areas:
Typhoid (monovalent), Polio, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Rabies. Children should, in addition, be protected against diphtheria, whooping cough, mumps, measles, rubella
You will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. You can get a short stay visa online at: Although it is possible to get a tourist visa on arrival, it is recommended that you do this before your travel, as you could face delays.
All other visas, including for those undertaking voluntary activity and paid or unpaid work, should be obtained at a Sri Lankan High Commission or Embassy before you travel.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry to Sri Lanka.
It is best to bring Sri Lankan rupees or US dollars with you. You can change money at the Bandaranayake International Airport on arrival where there is a Thomas Cook counter. It is also possible to change major currencies into Sri Lankan rupees at any bank or exchange bureau here.
ATMs and moneychangers are common in all larger cities.
Most larger shops and restaurants accept credit cards.
Is there anything we should bring from home which it is not possible to buy in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is a fairly developed country and in the larger cities there are many Western items on offer, however it can be hard to find the same brands you might at home. There is no need to stock up on things like shampoo and shower gel (unless you are particularly loyal to one brand!), but you might find it useful to bring your own sun cream, after sun, mosquito repellent and more specific items such as tweezers, razors, make-up, etc, as it can sometimes be harder to find these things here. Colombo generally has everything on offer you might find at home, however, so don’t worry if you forget something – there is always help at hand.
Generally it is very hot in Sri Lanka all year round. If you are visiting the west coast between Novmber and March you might like to bring some warm items of clothing for the evening when it can cool down. If you are visiting Nuwara Eliya at any time of the year it is advisable to bring some warm clothing as it can get proper chilly there!
Also it is wise to take a shawl with you when visiting temples as ladies should have their shoulders covered.
Please remember that Sri Lanka is a fairly conservative country so proper beach wear is appropriate and bikinis shouldn’t be worn on the street (it has been known!). Also hot pants might get the odd raised eyebrow…
It is very handy to get a local SIM card for your travels to stay in touch with your loved ones and driver whilst on your holiday. The Dialog operator has a counter directly at the Bandaranayake International Airport, where you can purchase one for about USD 1. You will see it as soon as you arrive into the main airport after immigration.
Duty free items
You are allowed to bring into the country duty free 1.5 litres of spirits, two bottles of wine, a quarter-litre of toilet water, and a small quantity of perfume and souvenirs with a value not exceeding US $250. Cigarettes are not available at duty free shop in Sri Lanka, but can be purchased in any supermarket or road shop for about USD 5 per packet. If you are a chocolate lover, it is advisable to purchase some in a duty free shop, as international chocolate is quite expensive in Sri Lanka. Likewise with wine which is fairly expensive to buy from the supermarkets.
Once your trip starts….
Do I need to stick rigidly to the itinerary?
In short, not totally! Once we have arranged an itinerary, hotel bookings cannot be changed as these will have been paid for in advance. You have the flexibility to decide which sites you see and where you would like to eat depending on the basis you have booked. This is your holiday and we will do our best to accommodate your wishes.
Can I stop at any time during the tour to take a photo or have a toilet break?
We’ve prepared some excellent stops for photos and toilet breaks along the way during the tour, however should you need to stop at any point, just ask your driver and we will be happy to make a stop for whatever you might need. This is your tour and we want you to be as comfortable and happy as possible, you can of course stop at any time you like.
Do I need to tip?
Most restaurants in Sri Lanka charge a 10% service charge as standard, although this often goes to the owner, not the staff. Use 10% of the original price as a general guide to how much you should tip for services. It is also customary to tip the people who look after your shoes at a temple and porters around 70-100 rupees. Sri Lanka also has its fair share of touts who prey on tourists, offering services that might appear voluntary and asking for tips afterwards. This is especially the case when taking photos. If someone invites you to take a photo of something, they will usually expect a tip. Be aware of this, particularly in the case of men on the beach carrying around snakes and monkeys with them for photos.
Are there any dangers/annoyances for women?
There are relatively few cases of women being physically harassed by men in Sri Lanka, however you may find that you get the occasional stare or the slightly personal question of ‘are you married?’ Mostly the men here are simply curious about Western women and do not pose any actual threat. As in any country, if you plan on walking around by yourself at night, always let someone know where you are going and outside of Colombo be respectful of the dress code. There is no strict dress code in Sri Lanka but it is polite to cover your shoulders and wear shorts/skirts that come to your knees, especially when travelling on public transport or when visiting temples. At the beach there is no problem in wearing a bikini, but should you venture off the beach into the town, cover up with at least a sarong. Sri Lankan women tend to bathe in their clothes, so don’t be surprised if you get the odd glance from men when bathing in a bikini or swimming costume – this is often not meant to be rude, but is more due to curiosity. Refrain from sunbathing topless in Sri Lanka as this is not accepted.
Is it safe for gay/lesbian travellers in Sri Lanka?
Homosexual activity is technically illegal in Sri Lanka, however the larger cities are becoming more liberal and a gay scene has been emerging in Colombo over the last few years which also now holds an annual Gay Pride celebration.
Do you provide special services for disabled passengers?
For those with mobility problems, Sri Lanka isn’t quite as well equipped as some of the more developed countries. However many of the hotels we work with offer wheelchair access and our van is easy to use with plenty of space for passengers with wheelchairs. If you have a disability which you think might be a problem, let us know and we will do our best to provide for you.
What can I expect from shopping in Sri Lanka?
In the larger cities there are shopping complexes and bazaars offering pretty much anything you might want from designer clothes to cheap Chinese mobile phones and much more. Sri Lanka also has a large variety of traditional handicrafts and locally sourced items on sale such as batik, leather, masks, spices and teas, and gems. These can be found throughout the island and can be bought very cheaply. It is worth visiting some of the factories where these items are made to learn more about Sri Lankan arts and culture.
What is the food like?
The fertile island of Sri Lanka has a lot to offer in the way of food. With its varying climate and heaps of rainfall, almost anything can be grown here from asparagus to jackfruit. Vegetables are in abundance and meat and fish are no different. Market stalls in Sri Lanka are usually bursting full of fresh fruit at very cheap prices and men on bicycles sell king coconuts for about 20 rupees a piece all over the island.
Specialties that we recommend are:
Rice and curry – the Sri Lankan staple, often eaten for all three meals a day by the locals. This usually consists of a mountainous portion of one of Sri Lanka’s many varieties of rice alongside an array of assorted curries. You will usually get your choice of meat and fish with dahl curry, a vegetable curry and a pappadum.
String hoppers – usually eaten for breakfast or supper. String hoppers are small noodle like nests made of rice flour that are usually served with dahl, fish or chicken coconut milk curry and a coconut sambol.
Seafood – in the coastal areas, Sri Lanka offers a sumptuous range of fresh seafood. Chose from jumbo prawns, crab, lobster, shark, etc. From sea to plate in one day, you can’t get any fresher than this.
Bakery snacks otherwise known as “short eats” – Most small cafes and shops offer a range of baked goods during the morning and early afternoon. For an authentic Sri Lankan taste, try vaddai – a crispy, spicy snack made from dried lentils and spices, or malu pahn – fish and curry stuffed inside a freshly baked bread bun.
‘Devilled’ food – most restaurants offer meats and fish in a devilled sauce, a delicious sweet and spicy Chinese-style sauce that is unique to Sri Lanka. If you don’t like your food too hot, ask your waiter and they will be happy to make you a milder version.
· Buy an up to date and comprehensive guide book before your holiday
· Many hotels will go off menu if you ask
· Check whether the menu price includes service charge and tax
· Be expected to barter especially with market traders, tuk tuk drivers or beach sellers
· Carry plenty of small change for tipping and tuk tuk rides
· A few local phrases can take you a long way
· Remember your mosquito repellent especially after 5pm
· Always carry a shawl to cover up in a temple if necessary
· Be culturally sensitive – no topless sunbathing!
· Buy a local sim card
A 10% tip is usually adequate
Carry a roll of toilet paper....
Drink lots of water and always have bottle handy
Ask permission when taking a photo of someone
Get lost – don’t stick to tried and tested tourist routes
Lock up your cash, valuables and passport in your room safe when possible
Don’t buy the first thing you see, look around and you may get it cheaper
Better to give kids pens than sweets
Take hand sanitizer and tissues everywhere you go
Get the head wobble down pat which can mean thank you, yes, good or I understand to name a few
Be prepared for Sri Lanka’s loose concept of time
Coffee is a lottery in Sri Lanka and on that you rarely win!