What may strike you the most about this tiny island of Sri Lanka is the amazing diversity of scenery. It is possible to pass green paddy fields, sun bronzed beaches, ruined cities, small lively villages near desert regions, sanctuaries for wildlife and hill country tea plantations within hours of each other. Since the war ended a couple of years ago, Sri Lanka is rapidly becoming a touted tourist destination. Here are some facts and figures one might want to know.
65,610 sq. km., it lies in the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of India.
It is warm all year round. The average temperature is around 27 C in the capital city, Colombo and it can go as low as 10 C in the hill country. Sri Lanka has two wet seasons. Between May and July for the south-western regions and December through January for the north-eastern regions. Sri Lanka has no off seasons.Bright sunny days are always present even during the wet seasons. The ocean’s temperature stays around 27 C
Estimation: around 20 Million in 2010, among them 74% Sinhelese. The literacy rate average is 90%, one of the highest in Asia. The minorities are Tamils, Burgers? Malays and Arabs. Surprisingly, everyone cohabits peacefully.
Mostly Buddhists. Other religions such as Catholic, Hindu and Islam exist.
Five and a half hours ahead of GMT
Bottled water is available everywhere as well as regular well water. It’s recommended that you drink bottled water if you are not accustomed to well water with all the parasites and microbes. It’s easier to get sick if you are not careful. Tea is the most popular drink in Sri Lanka but coffee is becoming popular.
230 – 240 V. It is wise to bring a converter. Some hotels will provide one if you ask.
It’s optional. It is left to the customer to tip. Most places charge 10% service charge. In general,
the tip would be 10% of the bill.
Sri Lankan rupee. An American dollar is roughly equivalent to 120 Sri Lankan rupees.
Visitors who bring more than $10,000 should declare it to customs. Most of the hotels and the shops accept major credit cards. Keep your shopping receipts, especially for gems. This will make customs clearance easier.
Since January, 2012, the rules have changed. A visa upon arrival was free for a month before the 1st of January. Now, the rule is that you have to ask for a visa upon arrival. It costs $25 for one month for a US citizen and varies for each country.
You are entitled to take out what you have declared to the customs. No antiques may be exported. No one is allowed to purchase and export without license any wild animal, bird or reptile dead or alive. Make sure to buy products from a licensed dealer and if it seems suspicious, it definitely is.
Tourists who wish to visit and photograph the monuments in Sri Lanka are required to obtain a ticket. A single ticket for two months costs $50 which allows the tourist to photograph most of the monuments. There are some exceptions. Some ruins require an extra ticket you can buy on site. Be respectful to the area and the ruins when you do so.
Visitors are required to have their head uncovered while visiting the Buddhist and Hindu temples. It’s recommended to dress nicely. Beachwear is not ideal for temples and shrines. Entry will be denied to the temples if you forget to comply with these instructions.