1. What is the best time to travel?
The entire year is good, but for the southwest coast the best time to visit is from November to April. Whenever you go, you will have both sun and tropical rain showers, which are mostly considered very refreshing. The monsoon, from May to August, brings more rain than normal in the south western coastal region. In these months, the sea can be rather wild, which makes it hard to swim and impossible to dive.
2. What is the best time to see wildlife?
You will have the opportunity to see all kind of animals throughout the year.
3. What are the best festivals and when do they take place?
Most festive days are linked to religion. Except for the Christian festive days, the Sri Lankan festive days are linked to the moon calendar, so they vary every year. Each full-moon day is Poya day, the most important temple day for Buddhists. One of the most important festivals is Esala Perahera (end of July – beginning of August).
4. Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?
Yes you can pre-book transfers and extra nights with Shoestring. You can add this on your booking form.
5. What about my passport?
You need a passport that is valid at least 6 months at the date of departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.
6. Do I need a visa?
Yes, from 1st January 2012, all visitors to Sri Lanka will need to purchase an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization). Please see www.eta.gov.lk for further details and to submit your application. The cost of the authorization is US $ 30.00 per person.
You must also ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended exit date from Sri Lanka.
You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa/authorization when you travel. Please check either with the embassy for Sri Lanka or you can also check here for info about the current situation. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure so that you do not run into time problems.
7. Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?
Please click here
for questions regarding vaccinations or malaria tablets for this country and contact after your local practitioner or a specialised health centre and make an appointment to get your shots and pills. Please make sure that you allow at least six weeks for a full program. People who already have had a few shots might do with two weeks. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.
8. What is the recommended currency for Sri Lanka?
The unit of currency is the Sri Lanka Rupee (LKR), which is divided into 100 cents. Major credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are becoming more common, but outside the main cities they are unlikely to accept international cards. Credit cards should be used with caution due to the potential for fraud. Foreign currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change, banks and hotels. Banks are closed on Sundays.
9. What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?
Take thin cotton clothing. A high-collared t-shirt with long sleeves or a thin cotton roll neck sweater is useful in the evening to protect against mosquito bites. An umbrella is useful, against rain and bright sunlight. If the sun is high, some headgear or an umbrella is definitely recommended. During your stay in Sri Lanka’s central mountain region, it is wise to have a sweater for the evening. A pair of good walking boots and a pair of flip-flops is all you will need. Remember you are expected to enter holy places barefoot. Flip-flops will serve you well. Females would be wise not to wear shorts, unless knee length, except on the beach – they can be seen as inappropriate by islanders. Besides, dresses are cooler. Bring a good pair of sunglasses from home, as they are expensive and hard to find on the island. A scarf or sarong is useful to enter mosques.
10. What kind of luggage should I take?
We request that you bring a frameless backpack or a strong weekend bag to carry your luggage. Don’t bring a suitcase, as these are very tricky to transport, and sometimes you will be required to carry your luggage a long way. Make sure your baggage is not too heavy. We find that 12 kilos is the maximum weight for your requirements. A small backpack is best for your hand luggage. For the storage of valuables or important documents we advise that you bring a thin money belt which you can wear under your clothes.
11. What is the situation with electricity in Sri Lanka?
What voltage and plugs are in use in Sri Lanka? Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in this country. You could consider taking a universal electric plug.
12. Which travel guides and maps?
If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.
13. In what kind of accommodation do we sleep?
We will stay in nice comfortable hotels with en-suite bedrooms
14. How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?
If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveller ( from the same sex when possible) unless you have booked a single room.
15. Do I need a sleeping mat or sleeping bag?
16. Do I need to take a mosquito net?
It is not necessary to bring one with you.
17. Do they cater for vegetarians in Sri Lanka?
If you are vegetarian, you will feel like you are in paradise in this country.
18. What kind of transportation is used?
For our tours in Sri Lanka we use fully air conditioned (mini) buses.
19. Is Sri Lanka dangerous?
Theft from tourists is common in Sri Lanka, particularly in busy markets and hotel rooms, even if they are locked. Angling through open windows is a refined art and common practice. Consequently, never leave any valuables in your room; leave money and passports with reception and leave cameras and other important gear in a locked compartment in your room. Despite theft, Sri Lanka is not a place where you should feel unsafe or threatened.
20. What local customs do I need to bear in mind?
Visits to holy places, even ruins, have to be taken bareheaded and barefoot. To take pictures of a westerner in front of a Buddha statue is not done. Adult men wearing shorts are seen as ridiculous by Sri Lankans, and women wearing trousers as outrageous. Sri Lankans will dress formally for important events. Should you be invited to a wedding, ask about the dress code. Swimming naked or topless is prohibited. A monk should never be touched. If you wish, you can perform the Sri Lankan greeting, hand palms pressed together and held upright in front of the face. The higher you hold your hands, the more respect you express. Monks are not allowed to accept money – only food or something to drink. The right hand is used to eat, while the left hand is reserved for washing the backside. Should you be eating a meal with Sri Lankans using your hands, remember to only use your right hand. Changing hands is considered foul by Sri Lankans. Do not touch anyone with your left hand.
21. Are there opportunities to snorkel or dive?
From November to May, you can go diving and snorkelling in places like Hikkaduwa, where you will find coral reefs, but don’t expect them to be great, just OK.
22. Are there opportunities to swim?
You will have plenty of opportunities to have a swim.
23. What are other activities and sports I could do?
You will have the opportunity to rent a bike in Giritale, take a ride on an elephant and take many boat trips.
24. How are communications in Sri Lanka?
International direct dial facilities are available in Colombo and other major cities. Four mobile phone operators provide GSM 900 and/or 1800 frequency networks with coverage across all the main parts of the island. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and resorts.
25. What is the time difference?
Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference.