Last update:Wed, 08 May 2024

Tips for Travellers

Immigration Basics


The World Health Organisation declared Sri Lanka malaria-free on 6th September 2016. Read more: >>>>


Meningococcal Infection

Sri Lanka is not an endemic country for Neisseria Meningitidis, and major outbreaks are not known to occur even though a few isolated cases were reported in the recent past. Therefore, routine vaccination against Meningococcus is not carried out.

People travelling to countries known to harbour the risk of Meningococcal Meningitis transmission should receive Meningococcal vaccine before embarking on their journeys.

For more information, please contact your general practitioner.

Yellow Fever

Sri Lanka is not an endemic country for Yellow Fever, and major outbreaks are not known. Therefore, routine vaccination against Meningococcus is not carried out.

People travelling to countries known to harbour the risk of Yellow Fever transmission should receive vaccination before embarking on their journeys.

For more information, please contact your general practitioner.


Sri Lanka is not an endemic country for Cholera, and major outbreaks are not known to occur. Therefore, routine vaccination against Cholera is not carried out. Immunisation against Cholera is not required.

For more information, please contact your general practitioner.


For more information, please refer to the VISA page.


If you wish to take your pet (dog, cat, bird etc.) with you, when you are visiting Sri Lanka, please be aware that you need a valid permit from the Director General / Animal Production & Health of Sri Lanka. Applications to the Director General of the Department of Animal Production and Health ( DG/APH ) have to be made using the relevant application form Duly filled application forms should be sent to the DG/APH together with all the prescribed documents.

Preconditions for import of live animals are the following:

Live animals (excluding poultry, dogs and cats) are required to be subjected to a pre-export quarantine in the country of export.

Animals should accompany a Zoo-Sanitary Certificate' issued by the Government Veterinary Authority in the exporting country.

Animals will be subjected to an inspection by the AQ&IO, at the Port of Entry.

All live animals will be subjected to post-export Quarantine by the importing country.

Documents to be submitted along with the application form:

  • Specimen Health Certificate form which is to be obtained from the exporting country.

Documents to be submitted at the time of clearance at the port of entry.

  • Import Permit for animals can be obtained by visiting the website: http://www.daph.gov.lk
  • Zoo - Sanitary Certificate
  • Pre-export Quarantine Certificate if this is not indicated in the Zoo-Sanitary Certificate.
  • Vaccination Certificate in case of pet dogs and Cats.

Dogs, Cats, Monkeys not already vaccinate against rabies will be vaccinated on arrival. Cost of vaccine,transport etc. will have to be borne by the owner.

Dogs should be vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvoviros and kennel cough.

Cats should be vaccinated against feline infectious enteritis and respiratory viral diseases.

Contact details are as follows:

Director General, Department of Animal , Production & Health, 1120, Kandy Road, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka, Tel. 00-94-8-388195 / 388462 / 388563, Fax. 00-94-8-388619, E-Mail: , Website: http://www.daph.gov.lk

The Animal Quarantine Offices at Katunayake can be contacted via Tel 252861 or at 41, Morgan Road, Colombo 2, Sri Lanka

If you take your pet without a prior permit to Sri Lanka, your pet will be re-exported to your country (of origin).

On Arrival at Colombo International Airport

Waiting for you

  • Airport Tourist Information Centre (TIC) of the Ceylon Tourist Board open during flight arrivals and departures.
  • 24 Hours Opening International Exchange Counters
  • Bank of Ceylon
  • Sampath Bank
  • Seylan Bank
  • Hatton National Bank
  • Habib Bank Ltd.
  • Airport Snack Bar (24 hrs. service.)
  • Airport Day Rooms (24 hrs. service. Single room Rs. 325/- double room Rs. 400/- )
  • Left luggage and bond baggage services available, and Rs. 60/- per piece for 24 hrs. For bond baggages Rs. 100 per piece for 24 hrs. (for foreign passport holders only).
  • Sri Lankan: Reconfirmation and stop-over counter located in the arrival lounge.
  • Porter Service: Available at Rs. 10/- per piece of luggage

On Departure

Embarkation Tax US $. 1.70 - passenger Jetty, Colombo, Rs. 500 Colombo airport Katunayake. (These rates are subject to change).


Dual Channel System: Green/Red

Tourists who do not have anything to declare may chose the green channel for clearance.

Tourists who have dutiable goods or goods which are subject to license or the movement of which are governed by the international conventions are expected to clear through the red channel.

Customs Inward

For customs purposes a tourist means a persons who enters Sri Lanka and remains for a period of not less than 24 hrs. and not more than 6 months for legitimate non-immigrant purposes such as touring, recreation, sports, health family reasons, study, religious pilgrimage or business.

The 'baggage' of a tourist means the 'personal effects' which such person wears or brings with him on his arrival in Sri Lanka for his personal use but does not include goods which are :

1. in commercial quantities as determined by the Director-General of customs; or

2. imported for purposes of sale of exchange; or

3. the property of any person other than the passenger or a member of his family travelling with him; or

4. to be given as a gift to any other person.

However, items brought in as gifts are permitted to be cleared on payment of duty and other taxes.

What to Declare

1. All currencies including traveller cheques, drafts, letters of credit and bills of exchange etc.

2. Precious metal, ii.e.. platinum, gold and silver

3. Precious stones and valuable jewellery (in order to facilitate outward clearance)

4. Fire-arms and dangerous weapons

5. Flora and fauna (Sri Lanka is a signatory to the CITES Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species)

6. Any goods in commercial quantities

For any other information, please consult the Customs.

Prohibited & Restricted Imports

Import of certain goods are prohibited or restricted. They include precious metal, platinum, gold, silver in any form, counterfeit coins, dangerous drugs and narcotics; fauna and floral antiques; obscene or seditious pictures, publications or literature Sri Lanka currency in excess of Rs. 1000/- Indian and Pakistan currency. Any of the foregoing items must be declared to Customs, Imports of firearms and ammunition; explosives and dangerous weapons and strictly prohibited; Antiques - include rare books, palm leaf manuscripts and rare anthropological material etc. IT IS NOT ALLOWED TO IMPORT TOBACCO OR ANY UTEMS CONTAINING TOBACCO.

Duty Free Allowances

Baggage of a Tourist shall temporarily exempt from import duty if the Director of Customs is satisfied that the Tourist will re-export the articles comprising his baggage (other than tobacco, spirits and toilet water brought within the allowance) on his leaving the island or which a period of one month from the date of his arrival in the island, whichever is the earlier, and that the Tourist is not likely to abuse the concessions granted to him under the Customs regulations.

  • Alcoholic Drinks: Two regular size bottles of wine and one and a half litres of spirits.
  • Other Goods: Toilet water not exceeding a quarter litre and a small quantity of perfume.

A tourist may be allowed to import in transit without a temporary permit, travel souvenirs not exceeding Sri Lankan Rupees One Thousand in value, if such souvenirs are carried on the person, or in the baggage accompanying the Tourist and if they are not intended for commercial use.

Unaccompanied Baggage

Clearance of unaccompanied baggage is only permitted at the ..... For details contact airlines/shipping lines or Customs.

Resident Visa Holders

They enjoy all facilities extended by Customs to Sri Lanka citizens. They are entitled for a duty free allowance. For details please contact Customs Officer.

Motor Vehicles

A tourist will be permitted to import without payment of Import Duty and free of import restrictions, a Motor Vehicle (which includes a motorised boat) provided he is in possession of a valid Carnet de Passage/triptyque. He must however re-export the vehicle within six months from the date of import.

Third party insurance is compulsory in Sri Lanka. Insurance facilities are available at the Insurance Corporation of Sri Lanka, Vauxhall Street, Colombo 2. Traffic is on the left.

A Recognition Permit is necessary for using a car in Sri Lanka, which will be issued on presentation of the original diver's license by the Automobile Association of Sri Lanka at 40 Sir Mohamed Macan Markar Mawatha, Galle Face, Colombo 3. Tel: 0094-11-242 1528 / 292, Fax 0094-11-244 6074, E-Mail: . The Association will also help visitors with advice on road conditions, driving licences and importation of vehicles under carnet, Speed limit (cars) with Colombo is 56 kmph and outside Colombo is 72 kmph.

Bond Facilities

Any dutiable item imported by a passenger as baggage may be left in airline bond with Custom approval, pending re-export at time of departure subject to payment of bond charges. Merchandise for commercial purposes brought into Sri Lanka even in transit will be liable to forfeiture if it is not declared to Customs and if not covered by a licence from the relevant authorities.

Customs outward

Export of Commercial Quantities

Tourists who require to export unaccompanied baggage in commercial quantities should contact the Customs for further information. For any additional information, please contact appropriate Customs Officer as follows:

1. Airport Customs - 452086, 452404

2. Colombo Harbour Baggage Officer - 421673, 433911, 446263

3. Customs Head Office - fax No: 446364

4. Public Information Counter - Ground floor, Times Building Bristol Street, Colombo 1.

Prohibited & Restricted Exports

Export of certain goods are prohibited or restricted. They include precious metal (platinum, gold, silver) in any form: antiques precious or semi precious stones (cut or uncut); animals, birds, reptiles and any part thereof. (except domestic animals); foreign currency: Sri Lanka currency in excess of Rs. 250/- narcotics; ivory products even if set with gems/jewellery. Export of firearms and dangerous weapon is strictly prohibited.

A Tourist is permitted to export goods not in commercial quantities without an Export Council Licence if he proves to the satisfaction of the Director General of Customs that such goods have been purchased in Sri Lanka out of foreign exchange legally brought into the country by him. However, commodities restricted under other controls require permits from that authority. For further information, contact the Customs Officer. Tourists are however permitted to export their unexpended balances in foreign exchange. In regard to unspent rupees, a tourist is advised to reconvert such unspent balances of Sri Lanka rupees at a Commercial Bank. The Bank of Ceylon has an exchange counter in the lounge of Colombo Airport, Katunayake.

Getting around

Where to go

Traditional Tourist Areas in Sri Lanka are Colombo and the South Coast as well as the Highlands, Kandy and the Cultural Triangle. However, with the end of the ethnic conflict, it is now also possible to visit the rest of the beautiful island.

What to wear

Light cotton dresses of the drip dry, wash and wear variety and light weight suits are the most comfortable year round attire. A wide brimmed beach hat and sun glasses are recommended as well as comfortable shoes or sandals. Medium weight slacks and pullovers will be necessary in the hill country where the temperatures can go down as low as 16 C.


Do carry an umbrella. Sri Lankans use them constantly-as parasols if it's sunny or as umbrellas if it's raining (it's always doing one or the other).


GMT + 6 hrs.


230/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Round three-pin plugs are usual, with bayonet lamp fittings.


IDD facilities are available to the principal cities. Country code: 94. Outgoing international code: 00. Phone cards are available at post offices and shops.

Telecom Operators in Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka Telecom 94 1 432201 www.slt.lk
  • Lanka Bell 94 1 075375375 www.lankabell.net
  • Suntel 94 1 074747000 www.suntel.lk
  • Celltell 94 1 541541 www.celltelnet.lk
  • Mobitel 94 1 330550 www.mobitellanka.com
  • Dialog GSM 94 1 678678 www.dialog.lk
  • Lanka Internet 94 1 565071 www.lanka.net/internet


Do send postcards from post offices, and ask the attendant to cancel the stamp, or it's unlikely the postcard will reach its destination.

For information on postal rates contact hotel front desk or No.4, Inquiries Counter, General Post Office, Janadhipathi Mawatha, Colombo 1. (opposite the President's House), Post Restante - Tel. 326203, For times of arrival and dispatch of foreign mail - Tel: 692273. The General Post Office is open day and night for the sale of stamps and for local calls.

Business hours are from 0830 hrs. to 1630 hrs. Certain businesses are open on Saturdays till 1300 hrs.


National daily newspapers are published in English, Sinhala and Tamil languages and Magazine type editions during weekends. A comprehensive selection of International publications, newspapers, journals and magazines are available at newsagents, bookstalls and in hotel foyers.


There are 8 channels in operation - Rupavahini, ITN, MTV, TNL, Dynavision and ETV. A wide variety of programmes covering various subjects are telecast on these channels which include News brief from B.B.C., Sky News & CNN. Please refer daily press for programmes


The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation operates radio transmissions in 9 Languages - Sinhala, Tamil, English, Hindi, Nepali, Kannada, Telungu, Malayalam and Japanese to listeners between 0530 hrs. and 2300 hrs. TNL and other FM Service Transmissions are also available to listeners islandwide.. Please check daily newspapers for programmes.


Tropical climate. Upland areas are cooler and more temperate, and coastal areas are cooled by sea breezes. There are two monsoons, which occur May to July and December to January.

Food & Drink

Staple meal is rice and curry. Abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables in Sri Lanka. The breakfast dishes are particularly tempting. The island also grows excellent coffee. Leading hotels have daily 'oriental' buffets

Standard foods are spicy and it is advised to approach curries with caution. There are many vegetables, fruits, meats and seafood. Continental, Chinese, Indian and Japanese menus are available in Colombo. A speciality is basic curry, made with coconut milk, sliced onion, green chilli, aromatic spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and saffron and aromatic leaves. Hoppers is a cross between a muffin and a crumpet with a wafer-crisp edge, served with a fresh egg soft-baked on top. Stringhoppers are steamed circlets of rice flour, a little more delicate than noodles or spaghetti. Jaggery is a fudge made from the crystallised sap of the kitul palm. The durian fruit is considered a great delicacy.

Do be careful buying the Sri Lankan version of fast food-the curried meat, fish or vegetable packets sold on the street at lunchtime. Their cleanliness can be suspect.

Tea is the national drink and thought to be amongst the best in the world. Toddy, the sap of the palm tree, is a popular local drink; fermented, it becomes Arrack which, it should be noted, comes in varying degrees of strength. Alcohol cannot be sold on poya holidays (which occur each lunar month on the day of the full moon). Do have a drink of fresh coconut water by the side of the road. For about Rs 10, a vendor will lop the top of the fruit and put a straw in the hole, giving you a safe and delicious tropical drink. Be more careful about other fresh fruit juices-outside tourist hotels they may be mixed with unpurified water.

Water in Sri Lanka is not World Health Organisation approved, so only drink bottled water and take a good supply on hikes etc. Please note that many restaurants and hotels do not provide water at the tables and charge exorbitant rates per bottle. Either take your own or request filtered water. Bottled water is available in shops.


Most hotels include a service charge of ten per cent. Extra tipping is optional.


Sri Lanka is indeed a shopper's paradise with a wide range of handicrafts at very reasonable prices. The country is also famous for gems and silverware. Many hotels have their own shopping arcades. Goods purchased at the Duty-Free Complex in the Airport have to be paid in foreign currency.

Special purchases include handicrafts and curios of silver, brass, bone, ceramics, wood and terracotta. Also cane baskets, straw hats, reed and coir mats and tea. Batik fabric, lace and lacquerware are also popular. Some of the masks, which are used in dance-dramas, in processions and on festival days, can be bought by tourists. The '18-disease' mask shows a demon in possession of a victim; he is surrounded by 18 faces - each of which cures a specific ailment. Versions produced for the tourist market are often of a high standard. Sri Lanka is also rich in gems. Fabrics include batiks, cottons, rayon, silks and fine lace. Shopping hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1730, Sat 0900-1300.


Local Traffic: A large number of three-wheelers operate on the roads. It is advisable to agree to a rate before commencing your journey. Make sure the driver has a clear idea of your destination. Dial-a-taxi service is also available. Kangaroo, Tel. 0094 1 502888, 0094 1 501502 , GNTC Cabs Tel. 0094 1 688688 , SHEL Tel. 0094 1 727046,738080

Railway: The Sri Lanka Government Railway provides an Inter-City Express Service to and from Kandy. Special tours in restored vintage steam trains could be arranged. Contact: Fort Railway Station, Tel.435838.

Train travel around Sri Lanka is great fun! They have superb air-conditioning as all the windows are missing and the doors permanently jammed open, you get a chance to meet people and it's very cheap. Your average 2 hour journey will set you back around 75Rs / 75p / $1. People are walking up and down selling fruit and nuts. Up in the hill country you pass through wonderful countryside. From Kandy down to Colombo there is a first class viewing carriage with reserved seats at the back of the train.

Bus Transport: There is a wide network of bus services to all parts of the island. Rates are among the cheapest in the world. Contact: Central Bus Stand, Olcott Mawatha, Colombo 11. Tel.328081

Air Travel: More than 30 airlines have their sales offices in Colombo.

In 2004, the national carrier SriLankan Airlines has launched a domestic air taxi service that provides convenient links from the capital Colombo for visitors to destinations such as Kandy, Bentota on the west coast and Trincomalee in the east. Travelling times have been reduced to between 30 and 40 minutes, compared to three and four hours previously.

Originally launched with two Cessna Caravan amphibious aircraft, the sky taxi service has revolutionised domestic air travel in Sri Lanka, offering transfers between the airport and Colombo and Kandy, Koggala, Bentota, Trincomalee, Anuradhapura and Hingurakgoda – flight times from Bandaranaika International Airport are just 30 minutes to each town except for Trincomalee, which is a 45-minute transfer. The network incorporate most major tourist sites, from the beach resorts on the west coast around Bentota and Galle (Koggala) to the ancient ruins at the former capitals of Polonnaruwa (Hingurakgoda) and Anuradhapura, the spices and temples of Kandy and the unspoilt east coast at Trincomalee.

Subject to prior arrangement, passengers could also fly between each of the points on the domestic network, while the aircraft were also available for private charter for a fee of US$1,000 per flying hour, with a maximum passenger load of eight. With four passengers, each will pay only US$100 for each sector, with children's discount of 50 per cent, offering a viable alternative to road transfers since SriLankan Air Taxi will enable visitors to see more and enjoy a stress-free travel experience.

Bandaranaike International Airport: Tourist Information Counter of the Ceylon Tourist Board at the Airport is open 24 hours. Airport Restaurant-24 hours service. A train service is available from the Airport to the city. A regular bus service is also available to Colombo and Negombo. See also Waiting for you...


In the Tourist Areas of Sri Lanka there is a wide choice of accommodation from 5 Star Hotels to backpacker's Lodges. For more information please contact the local branch of Sri Lanka Tourist Board.

Throughout the Island you may find the Resthouses of the Ceylon Hotels Corporation which usually have the advantage of best access to historical sites.


Large scale maps of the island are available at the Survey Department, Map Sales Branch, Kirula Road, Narahenpita, Tel : 585111/585112-6 and Maps Sales Centre, York Street, Colombo 1. Tel: 435328 or at leading bookshops.

Book Stores

Road maps and books on Sri Lanka may be bought from the following bookshops in Colombo and Kandy -

  • Cargills, H.W. Cave & Co. K.V.G. de Silva & Sons, Y.M.B.A., Fort, Colombo, Tel. 326831 and 86. D.S. Senanayake Veediya, Kandy, Tel: 08-23251,
  • Lake House Bookshop at Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mawatha (Near Regal Cinema), Colombo 2,
  • Gunasena & Co., Olcott Mawatha, Colombo 11 (Pettah), K.V,G,. de Silva & Sons (Colombo) Ltd, 415, Galle Road, Colombo 4.

Books on Buddhism are available at the Buddhist Information Centre, 50 Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 7. Tel : 573285 and Buddhist Publication Society, forest Hermitage, Kandy.

Picture Postcards and contemporary reading matter are also available in these stores, and other good book shops in provincial towns. Hotel front desks will provide further information. Most large hotels have bookshops on the premises.


Sri Lanka's most celebrated export. Blue Sapphires, Cats Eyes, Rubies, Star Rubies, Star Sapphires, Alexandrites, Moonstones, Zircons, Garnets, Amethysts, Topaz, etc. are offered for sale at the Sri Lanka Gem & Jewellery Exchange, 310 Galle Road, Colombo 3. Tel. 576144-46, 574274, 574361, Fax : 576171. A free gem testing service is provided to tourists.


The handicrafts emporium run by the State. Available here are handicrafts made in wood, brass, silver, rush and reed, natural fibre, papier mache, buffalo horn, coconut shell, cane and bamboo. Household linen, batiks, embroidered garments, lace, lacquer products, toys, pottery, artificial flowers and costume jewellery could be purchased at this emporium. Laksala has a network of branches in the main towns. The main office is at 60, York Street, Fort, Colombo 1.

Guide Service

Guide lecturers trained by the Ceylon Tourist Board may be hired through the TIC or through travel agents. All guide lecturers are proficient in English. Some guides speak other languages such as French, German, Japanese, Italian, Russian, and Spanish. They carry incenses issued by the Ceylon Tourist Board.

Tickets / Entry Fees

Fees charged and any other benefits are specified by the Competent Authority from time to time. Tickets can be purchased from Travel Agents or the Central Cultural Fund Head Office, 212/2, Baudhdhaloka Mw; Colombo 07 or Publication and Sales Dept. at 11A, Independence Av; Colombo 07 or at any of the five sites (except Dambulla)

Bring home a chair...

If you have enough space in your backpack, you could always bring home a chair. However, the ones you can pick up at Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage are a bit special though. They are elephant scenes carved into thick leather and stretched over a collapsible frame, which will fit into a backpack when rolled. At around ?35 / $50, they make a very special souvenir.

Money Exchange

Sri Lanka Rupee (SLRe, singular; SLRs, plural) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of SLRs1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of SLRs10, 5, 2 and 1, and 50, 25, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. There are also large numbers of commemorative coins in circulation.

The best rates for changing money can be found at the airport - all the hotels offer significantly lower rates. Please also note that the rupee is not an internationally recognised currency, so try to spend whatever rupee you have before leaving as it will be difficult to revert to another currency.

Apart from your 500 rupee departure tax (mandatory), the Colombo International Duty Free does not accept rupees. Money exchangers also prefer to change rupees into US dollars only, the currency of choice at the airport (and representative of the prices)


National banking hours are from 0900 hrs. to 1500 hrs. on weekdays.Banking hours may be different at private banks. Further teller machines(ATM ) are operated through out the day.

International Commercial Banks

  • Bank of Ceylon Bureau de Change, York street, Colombo 1, Tel 422370, Hours of Business: Weekdays - 0900 hrs. to 1800 hrs. Holidays - 0900 hrs. to 1600 hrs. International Airport, Katunayake, Tel : 452424, Encashment of travellers cheques, foreign currencies, re-exchange of un-expended Sri Lanka Rupees. All days 24 hrs services
  • Cey Bank - Travel Centre, Kollupitiyam Hours of Business: Weekdays - 0830 hrs. to 1730 hrs.
  • INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL BANKS (Operating in Sri Lanka): People's Bank Bank of Ceylon: Deutsche Bank (Asia) Indian Bank State Bank of India, Standard Chartered Bank, Habib Bank Ltd Hatton National Bank Ltd., Indian, Overseas Bank Ltd, Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation Bank, Indosuez Bank of Credit & Commerce International (Overseas) Ltd., Citibank N.A., ANZ Grindlays Bank, Algemene Bank Nederland N.V., Bank of Oman Ltd, Union Bank of the Middle East Ltd, Commercial Bank of Ceylon Ltd, Habib Bank, AG Zurich Amro Bank, Amsterdam Rotterdam Bank N.V., Middle East Bank, Overseas Trust Bank Ltd

Credit Cards

American Express, Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Diners Club has more limited acceptance. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

In some cases the shops may try to add a surcharge to the price of the merchandise purchased. This is not an acceptable practice and in such cases the card company should be contacted so that corrective action can be taken.These services are available at the Departure lounge and in Kandy and Colombo


Do visit an Ayurvedic spa. Ayurvedic medicine, which developed in India, uses natural products to treat illness. Even if you're not sick, you can still enjoy an oil massage or a steam bath at one of the many Ayurvedic centres around the island.

Dance & Music

Do take in a performance of traditional music and dance at night. Many hotels offer dinner and performance packages.

Travellers Cheques

The rate of exchange for travellers cheques is better than the rate of exchange for cash. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

Car Hire

In many places such as Colombo or especially Kandy it easy to find a driver and car to hire for a day or more. This is handy if you are limited for time and want to explore the cultural triangle.

However, in order to avoid scams it is imperative to negotiate the details very carefully and make sure that the agreed price covers all cost in order to avoid surprises.

The Ceylon Tourist Board's TIC would be pleased to help you draw up your itinerary. Most local tour agents can supply cars with drivers/self drive.

A Recognition Permit is necessary for using a car in Sri Lanka, which will be issued on presentation of the original diver's license by the Automobile Association of Sri Lanka at 40 Sir Mohamed Macan Markar Mawatha, Galle Face, Colombo 3. Tel: 0094-11-242 1528 / 292, Fax 0094-11-244 6074, E-Mail: . The Association will also help visitors with advice on road conditions, driving licences and importation of vehicles under carnet, Speed limit (cars) with Colombo is 56 kmph and outside Colombo is 72 kmph.


Don't take pictures of people unless you ask their permission. Don't take photos of people if there are religious buildings or shrines in the background (posing next to a Buddha is especially frowned upon). And don't take photos of military installations, bridges, airports or other strategic areas. Even some religious buildings have camouflaged gun emplacements and military bunkers.

A fee of around 50 rupee is expected for photos taken of tea pickers, snake charmers, fisherman - anyone who does tricks. These professional posers are easy to pick and it is difficult to begrudge them earning a little extra money. It is requested you do not give money to children.


Thanks to the internal unrest within the country, there are many people serving in various forces, and all wear different uniforms. So many different uniforms in fact that it can be hard to work out which are the police - they are the ones in the khaki coloured uniforms!

Special Tourist Police Units are available to assist our visitors.

  • Tourist Police, Fort Police Station, Bank of Ceylon Mawatha, Fort, Colombo Tel: 433342
  • Galle Road, Moragalle, Beruwela
  • Ethukala, Negombo Pushpadana Road, Kandy. Tel : 08-22222.
  • Sigiriya Village Hotel Road, Sigiriya Police Station
  • National Holiday Resort, Bentota. Tel: 03475022.
  • Police Station, Galle Road, Hikkaduwa. Tel : 0957222

To ensure the health and safety of all guests in Sri Lanka, every tourist hotel has to be equipped with equipment to manage illness and injury. To further ensure that safety standards are maintained, the Sri Lanka Tourist Board is equipping a fleet of ambulances that will be used to bring tourists from the hotel care centres to the closest large hospital or to the nearest point of evacuation if required. The Ceylon Tourist Board and the tourism sector in Sri Lanka are going to great lengths to ensure you enjoy a pleasant stay in Sri Lanka and if any unfortunate occurrence happens, the best health care available is on call at all times


In addition to Saturday and Sunday, the full moon day (Poya Day) of each month is a holiday in Sri Lanka. On Poya Days all places of entertainment are closed and no liquor is sold. Hotels make special arrangements for customers to order their liquor the day before Poya holiday.

Useful Addresses

  • Sri Lankan Air Lines, Level 19-22 East Tower, WTC, Echelon Square, Colombo 1, https://www.srilankan.com, Tel: Reservations, Ticket Office, Flight Information - 0735555
  • Colombo International Airport, Katunayake : Tel 252861,255555
  • Tourist Information (Airport) 252411 Ratmalana Airport : Tel. 716261 & 717776
  • Automobile Association of Ceylon 40, Sir Mohamed Macan Maker Mw, Galle Face, Colombo 3. Tel. 421528 - 9
  • Buddhist Information Centre 50, Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 7, Tel. 573285 ´
  • Telephone Directory: Inquiries : Tel. 161 International Call Bookings, Tel : 100
  • Cultural Triangle Office : (For site entry tickets) Ministry of Cultural Affairs Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, Tel : 587912, 500733
  • Railway Tourist Office : Fort Railway Station Colombo 1. Tel : 435838, 35838
  • Railway Department Website - www.scienceworld.lk/railway
  • Sri Lanka Philatelic Bureau 4th Floor, Ceylinco House, Janadhipathi Mawatha, Colombo 1, Tel : 326163, 326177, 325578
  • Ceylon Tourist Board Head Office 80, Galle Road, Colombo 3, Tel : 437055/437059/437060
  • Sri Lanka Customs Times Building Bristol Street Colombo 1, Tel : 321141/320251
  • General Hospital Regent Street Colombo 8 (Round-the-clock Accident Service and Out Patients Treatment) Tel : 691111/693184 Ambulance : Tel . 322222
  • General Post Office Janadhipathi Mawatha Colombo 1 Tel : 326203
  • The National Gem and Jewellery Authority 310-Galle Road Colombo 3, Tel : 576144-46, 574274, 574361
  • Dept. of Immigration & Emigration Tower Building , Station Road Colombo4 Tel : 503629, 503638
  • Tourist Police Fort Police Station Colombo 1 Tel : 433342, 326941/321111 Emergency : Tel. 33333
  • Wild Life & Nature Protection Society Chaitya Road Marine Drive ,Colombo 1, Tel : 325248
  • Animal Quarantine Office Animal Quarantine 41, Morgan Road, Colombo 2 Tel. 448683/253430/08 388189 Fax 44883/253430 www.gov.lk/estate/animal
  • Plant Quarantine Deputy: Director National Plant Quarantine, Sri Lanka Canada Friendship Road Katunayaka, Tel. 252028/252527/ 08-388421/08-388077 Fax 252028/252527,
  • Fire and Ambulance, Tel : 422222 Time Tel : 104 Police Tel : 433333

So sorry


With the recent cease-fire apparently still holding, war is not necessarily your main concern. One problem, if travelling independently, you will be affected by, is the scam.

You may be directed onto the wrong train, only to be rescued at the next station by the surprise appearance of a taxi. Someone will latch onto you and won't leave you alone until you have looked in their brothers shop, seen their guesthouse etc. A taxi driver will tell you a place is infested with cobras to get you to somewhere where he will receive a commission. It does not happen often, however, it happens.

A good rule of thumb to bear in mind is that Sri Lankans are naturally shy, so when someone approaches YOU with excellent English, they want your money, pure and simple.

Reserved for Clergy

Like it or not, if you see a seat on a bus or train with 'Reserved For Clergy', it is advisable to stay clear. It is one of the signs really to be taken serious and tourists may be taking a big risk disobeying this sign.


Visitors should be decently clad when visiting any place of worship (beach wear is not suitable for temples and shrines). All visitors to Buddhist and Hindu temples are expected to be unshod and have their heads uncovered.

The laws of Sri Lanka strictly prohibit topless sunbathing and strict penalties are levied. So please conform to our way of life and do not do something which is alien to us.

Souvenir Special

There are many souvenirs you can bring back from Sri Lanka, but please do NOT buy anything that remotely looks like it is made from turtle shell or any other endangered species of Sri Lanka. And do not try to bring home any artefacts from the historical sites of Sri Lanka. It is illegal, and immoral.


Do handle all security delays as the Sri Lankans do - with a smile...