Sri Lanka travel tips and advice

Sri Lanka, the beautiful island country in the Indian Ocean is a paradise on earth. The country is rich in everything be it culture, heritage, traditions, food, sunsets, golden beaches, lush green tea estates, thick jungles, Buddhist temples and Monasteries, the calm vibes, peace and serenity. We must admit, the tear drop shaped country won our heart completely in a single visit and now rate in the chart of must visit beautiful destinations. Moreover, the flying and getting a Sri Lanka visa is a super easy and stress free process. In this post we will be listing 5 Sri Lanka travel tips for a wonderful memorable trip

Sri Lanka Travel Tips

1. Sri Lanka Visa

The first and foremost thing is Sri Lanka visa and in the country there is NO option of visa – on arrival. So, it can be booked by Embassy or online. The process of applying online is referred as ETA (Electronic Travel authorization).

Book Through Embassy

We feel booking a visa through embassy is a multistep, tedious and quite a time consuming process. First reach Embassy, wait for your token number, fill an ETA form available there, submit the filled form along with the relevant fee and documents to the embassy officer. The officer will further send it to Sri Lanka’s Emigration & Immigration department. Then an acknowledgment and ETA reference number will be sent to you.

Book online Sri Lanka eVisa

The easiest way is to apply for eVisa Sri Lanka online. Open the website, fill in the required personal details, the details of your passport, transit details, and pay through paypal, American Express, or the master cards.

Sri Lanka ETA are basically issued for short stays (business, tourist and transit purposes) and are valid for 30 days. It is a double entry visa (i.e. 2 entries are allowed per visa) with a fee being USD 35 except for the SAARC countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), which is USD 20.  The only thing to note while applying online is to be very careful while filling the details – a single digit mistake can stop your entry at the airport or can make you pay again. We advise, in case one is not confident or have any issues in filling the form, apply by clicking E-visums.co.uk.

After application, you will receive your evisa by email in 24-48 hours.

Note: The citizens of Maldives, Singapore and Seychelles don’t need a visa to enter Sri Lanka

2. Travel internally through public transport (buses and trains), Tuk Tuks and Scooty’s

Hiring a cab for hoping from one place to another is an expensive affair in Sri Lanka. So, we suggest to go local via bus, tuk tuks or rent a scooty. In Sri Lanka too the Tuk Tuk drivers will try to con you by quoting high prices as it happens in India. So, check with the locals for the correct amount and then bargain. Buses too are good options for local movement but be prepared to walk extra miles to catch one.  The scooty worked best for us as we could stop wherever we wanted and go wherever we can. Indeed, we covered Galle, Hikaduwa, Unawatuna, Ahangama, Handunugoda all on our rented two wheelers.

South Coast of Sri Lanka Travel Tips

For hoping from one city to other like from Kandy to Ella use the train services. This train trail is considered to be the most scenic ride in the world as it passes through the bewitching landscapes, lush green tea estates, waterfalls, bridges etc. 

In Sri Lanka, the cab apps system was not very popular earlier but now its picking especially in COLOMBO and currently the players like UBER have started intercity service too

3. Respect the culture, religion and hide the Buddha Tattoos, if you have

About 70% of the people in Sri Lanka are Buddhist and the religion in their constitution holds the foremost position. So, the people here don’t tolerate any kind of disrespect to religion. Indeed, they consider a Buddha tattoo also an insult to Lord Buddha. Earlier, there are cases of several people deported and arrested who had Buddha tattoo. So, keep them cover if you have one.

The view from Shanti Stupa - Sri Lanka Travel Tips
The view from Shanti Stupa – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Also, remember to take off your shoes and hats, cover legs and arms and bow while entering the Buddhist Temples. Never point a finger at the Buddha statue and obey the no photo signage. There is a zero tolerance for the selfies with Lord Buddha statues.

4. Food, water and Drinks

Sri Lankan food is super rich and is considered as one of the delicious cuisines in the world.  The most common dish is Rice and curry. The other ones include: chopped flatbread stir-fried with eggs and vegetables (Kotu Potty); string hoppers; shredded coconut with red chilies, curry leaves, and herbs; spicy Egg Samosas; Egg Hoppers; and the fresh sea food.

Fish & Chips - Sri Lanka Travel Tips
Fish & Chips – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Locals prefer drinking tap water in Sri Lanka but we stick to the bottled water and advise you to do the same. Coming on to the drinks do try the local brews like Lion (Beer) and Arrack (prepared from coconut flowers).

5. Currency and ATM

On conversion, Sri Lankan currency seems quite cheaper than Indian currency (1 Rs. = 2.50 LKR) and makes you look super rich but actually it is not. While spending you will realize the price of the products in the supermarkets or at good restaurant goes equal to that in India itself. And we found, especially the beach towns and the famous places are far more expensive.

Best Time to visit – Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Don’t completely rely on ATM for the cash withdrawal, you will find many of them in non-working state. We carried USD with us and would advise you also to carry USD/LKR while heading to Sri Lanka. Credit cards too are accepted widely.

Sri Lanka, being a tropical country is blessed with good sunshine and blue skies throughout the year. The temperature remains constant between 18-22 degree Celsius in the coastal areas whereas goes bit lower with the drop in altitude.

Sunset at Beach- Sri Lanka Travel tips
Sunset at Beach- Sri Lanka Travel tips

Sri Lanka can be visited anytime of the year. It also has two monsoon seasons from December to March and June to October. So, the best time recommended for South and West Coast is from December to March whereas for East Coast it is April to September.

Must Carry for Sri Lanka

The packing list for Sri Lanka will completely depend upon the places you will be visiting. But one must keep cotton T- shirts, cotton/ linen dresses, track pants, raincoat, wind cheater, light weight jacket, scarf, sun hat, mosquito repellant, sunscreen and universal adapter.

Must visit places in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has plenty of places to explore but these are the ones we recommend for 10 days trip:

  • Colombo city for its bustling markets, temples and restaurants
  • Galle the gorgeous colonial walled town on the ocean with amazing cafeterias
  • South West Coast for beautiful beaches and sunsets
  • Yala Safari Park to see the acts of wildlife and for natural beautiful scenery
  • Tea towns like Hatton, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Handunugoda
  • Cultural triangle -To see ancient cities and beautiful temples around Dambulla, Anuradhapura and Sigirya

So, Sri Lanka is perfect for every type of traveler or tourist, adventurer or backpacker or photographer. The destination has a variety of accommodation options too, from luxury resorts to budget hotels to hostels. We stayed at one of the heritage property Apa Villa Illuketia, located among the greens.h

Prviate Lotus Pool at Apa Villa Illuketia - Sri Lanka Travel tips
Prviate Lotus Pool at Apa Villa Illuketia – Sri Lanka Travel tips

Apart this, be polite and humble to the locals, respect their culture and traditions and be smart, confident and keep your eyes ear open to avoid getting into any unwanted traps.

Would you like to add anything more to these travel tips. Please leave in the comment and we will be happy to include them.

Sri Lanka Travel Tips

I am a traveler who loves capturing each moment which gives me happiness and reason to explore more.



11 thoughts on “Sri Lanka travel tips and advice”

  • I have been to Sri Lanka but I had no idea that they consider Budhha tattoos as an insult and people have been arrested and deported because of that! Does sound scary and it’s a really good tip for people to know. I love your pictures, especially of the sunset. I remember when we applied for our visa online, it took literally 15 min for the reply to come through – never have I received a visa to a country so soon!

  • I have been to Sri Lanka but I had no idea that they consider Budhha tattoos as an insult and people have been arrested and deported because of that! Does sound scary and it’s a really good tip for people to know. I love your pictures, especially of the sunset. I remember when we applied for our visa online, it took literally 15 min for the reply to come through – never have I received a visa to a country so soon!

  • Sri Lanka is still on the very long travel wish list. Your post certainly shows why we need to move it higher on the list! Good to know that the visa must be done in advance. We like to use public transit. So were glad to hear this is an option here. Interesting to read that the temperatures are constant through the year. Although I would want to avoid the monsoons!

  • I can’t wait to visit Sri Lanka. It was on my list for 2018, but it never quite materialized. I’m hoping to go sooner rather than later. The cuisine sounds amazing. All the rich flavors and fresh seafood. I can hardly wait. Thanks for the heads-up about the visa. Planning ahead is going to be key!

  • Sri Lanka looks to be a diverse and delicious destination to visit. Thanks for the tips about visiting Bhuddist temples – it is important to respect the culture and traditions of the countries you visit. I love the sound of the rich food – mmmm, egg samosas!

  • I think I went to Sri Lanka in October time frame and it was nice and warm and not sticky hot so that was perfect. The food is really spectacular but I was a little too afraid to try the street food and went to cafes and restaurants which was fine.

  • Great information. I didn’t know you needed a visa. I am glad there is an ETA option. I am wondering how much rides from the airport to a hotel normally ranges. I feel like that is one of the first places people get taken advantage of taxi wise.

  • I haven’t been to Sri Lanka yet, but I really want to go. I have read a lot about the country recently and Lonely Planet recently considered Sri Lanka as the best destination for 2019. I didn’t know that 70 percent of the populations are Buddhists. I thought they are mostly are Muslim. Anyway, I think I don’t have any issue because I don’y have any kind of tattoo.

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