Top Sri Lanka Hotels
Sri Lanka Quick Guide
- Banking Hours
- Local Telephone Codes
- International Airport
- International Airport Departure Tax
- Domestic Airports
- Domestic Airport Departure Tax
- Etiquette/Dress Code
- Diplomatic Missions
- Useful Sources of Information
- 5 Star Hotels in Sri Lanka
- 4 Star Hotels in Sri Lanka
- 3 Star Hotels in Sri Lanka
All visitors to Sri Lanka must possess a passport that is valid for at least 3 months beyond the length of their proposed stay. Certain nationalities are entitled to a free visa on arrival at Colombo airport, while other visa applications need to be made to a Sri Lankan Consulate or Embassy abroad - allow 4 days for processing. An extension of stay can be obtained while in the country and should be applied for at the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo.
The import and export of local currency is limited to Rs1000.
Visitors may take the following into Sri Lanka duty free:
- Alcohol - 2 bottles of wine and 1.5litres of spirits
- Tobacco - 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 340g of tobacco
Precious metals such as gold, platinum and silver must be declared on arrival.
Penalties for carrying or trafficking illegal drugs are extremely severe.
Sri Lankan time: GMT +6 hours
- Sri Lankan Rupees (Rs) - Check current exchange rates.
- 100 cents = Rs1
- Notes issued - Rs1,000, Rs500, Rs100, Rs50, Rs20, Rs10
- Coins issued - Rs5, Rs2, Rs1, 50 cents, 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents, 2 cents, 1 cent
The official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala, Tamil and English.
A 10% charge is automatically added to bills in most top hotels and restaurants. There is no need to tip taxi drivers and if tipping hotel porters, they should receive around Rs10-20 per bag.
Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 3.00 pm at national banks
The international dialling code for Sri Lanka is 94
When making international telephone calls from Sri Lanka, first dial 00 + country code + area code + telephone number
Local Telephone Codes
- 230-240 V, 50 cycles AC
- Round 3-pin plugs are used in Sri Lanka.
Tap water is not considered safe for consumption and ice cubes should be avoided. Bottled water is widely available throughout the country.
Medical facilities are not always of a good standard and it is recommended that you take out adequate health insurance covering evacuation. Cholera and malaria are both considered serious risks and all necessary precautions should be taken. Consider inoculations against typhoid, polio, hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis and take advice regarding anti-malarials. It is always best to check the current situation and any vaccination requirements with a doctor when planning your trip.
- Colombo - Colombo Bandaranayake
International Airport Departure Tax
Air travel is limited in Sri Lanka and only a few airports offer flights:
- Colombo - Ratmalana
- Gal Oya
Domestic Airport Departure Tax
As with many Asian countries, modest dress is required; shoulders and legs should be covered when visiting temples or shrines. All visitors to temples should remove their shoes before entering and heads should be uncovered. Topless sunbathing is prohibited throughout Sri Lanka.
Many countries have diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka.
Useful Sources of Information
Further information on Sri Lankan culture and tourist attractions.
- Sri Lanka Tourism
Sri Lanka is affected by two monsoons that sweep over parts of the country at different times. In general, there are two seasons Monsoon and Dry, with the climate remaining hot, humid and wet throughout the year.
Rain is common all year round and an umbrella is useful whatever time you visit.
- Southwest Monsoon - arrives in May bringing heavy rains to south and central areas. During this time, temperatures can soar above 35oC in the coastal regions of the south.
- Northeast Monsoon - arrives in October and lasts until January. The wet season turns the northern countryside lush green with tropical vegetation and the vibrant colours can make this a wonderful time to visit despite the rain.
- Inter-Monsoon - heavy rain and thunderstorms are commonplace in south and central areas during September and November.
It is advisable to carry a lightweight jumper as it can be chillingly cold inside air-conditioned buildings.
The South & Southwest
|Season||Average temperature||Average rainfall|
|Dry Season (December - April)||22 - 30°C||136mm|
|Monsoon Season (May - August)||25 - 29°C||210mm|
|Inter-Monsoon Season (September - November)||24 - 29°C||224mm|
- Monsoon Season - the Southwest Monsoon brings heavy rain, which tends to fall in short bursts and usually at night.
Swimming in the sea may not be possible in some areas during the Monsoon Season, as the Indian Ocean can become extremely rough. However, if you do choose to visit Sri Lanka at this time, the countryside is at its most lush, the seascapes are most dramatic and the reef actually protects certain beaches such as at Hikkaduwa.
The hottest temperatures tend to be recorded from March to June straddling both the Dry and Monsoon Seasons.
Best time to visit: During the Dry Season as humidity levels do not rise until the monsoon months.
The Central Hill Country
|Season||Average temperature||Average rainfall|
|Dry Season (December - April)||8 - 21°C||92mm|
|Monsoon Season (May - August)||13 - 19°C||210mm|
|Inter-Monsoon Season (September - November)||11 - 20°C||240mm|
The moderate climate here provides the perfect weather for the surrounding tea plantations that are famous around the world. The weather feels cool and damp all year, which can be a pleasant change after the heat of the lower lying lands and the coastal regions.
- Kandy - which lies at the foot of the hill country, is only slightly cooler and wetter than the coastal areas but once you ascend into the lush hill country, you will definitely need a warm sweater and thicker clothes, especially at night.
Best time to visit: During the Dry Season when there is less rainfall and cooler temperatures.
|Season||Average temperature||Average rainfall|
|Dry Season (February - September)||26 - 33°C||63mm|
|Monsoon Season (October - January)||25 - 28°C||278mm|
- Dry Season - in the northeast is longer and temperatures are marginally higher on average.
- Monsoon Season - this area of Sri Lanka suffers from a different, shorter monsoon to other parts, namely the Northeast Monsoon, which brings wet and humid weather to the area. Again, the scenery is lush and vibrant but views can be hampered by the intense downpours that occur.
Best time to visit: Although temperatures remain high throughout, there is less rainfall during the Dry Season.
Featured Sri Lanka Hotels
Sri Lanka Travellers Tales
We would recommend anyone visiting Sri Lanka to stay somewhere near to Polonnaruwa as a visit to Sigiriya and the ancient cities is a must. We thought Sigiriya was spectacular and the climb to the top was not as difficult as expected (try to go at the end of the day when temperatures are cooler). Beware of guides who insist on helping you and then ask for a large fee 30 USD is not appropriate and somewhere around 500 rupees is all that is required. Polonnaruwa needs a minimum of 4 hours and the visit should commence with the excellent museum. We found a guide to be invaluable and very reasonable. Unless you have a second stop near to Anuradhapura we did not think sightseeing worth the long journey if you have already visited Polonnaruwa. We rented a micro bus and driver for our trip and found it both excellent value and a pleasurable way to see the country. Our guide spoke excellent English and directed us to various places to stop on route, including a pineapple farm and spice/herb garden. 12 days vehicle hire covering 1500km (Colombo-Polonnaruwa-Anaradhapura-Kandy-Bentota-Galle-Colombo) cost approximately 200GBP
Colombo - don''t drive!! take taxi''s! Must visit - Sigiriya and surrounding cultural triangle. Pinnawela Elephant orphanage. Shopping - some good stores for cheap good export quality clothes - Odel, Arena, House of Fashion Advice- leave early on tours, distance is not great but driving is hectic hence give enough time for the road. Don''t eat from dodgy road side outlets; take plenty of water, drink plenty of king coconut!!! Sri Lankan Papaya and pineapple is the best in the world!!!!
It is easy to go up and down Galle Road by public bus, instead of dealing with the insouciance of the three-wheeler drivers parked outside the hotel, who will overcharge for very short rides and often won''t accept reasonable offers. Just ask a friendly local at the bus stop opposite the hotel on Galle Road, if the bus goes down to wherever your destination is and hop on. A chap holding a bunch of tickets will come up to you and get your fare. Be ready with small change. The fare for a trip to where the Barefoot boutique is costs about Rs.5-8.
take a tuk tuk ride! In the city - Eat Lamprais! Don''t overkill on rice and curry, you will end up with indigestion due to the excessive use of chilli powder. Take gaviscon/digene :-) Don''t change currency at the hotel, rate is very low. Plenty of nice restuarant with great atmosphere to go to. Visit Galleria Paradise Road. Gay scene at Kolu''s! super! Shoppping - Odel, Arena, House of Fashion, Paradise Road
Sri Lanka is just gorgeous. Stunning beaches and clear blue warm water. Galle Fort is interesting for a day or so. We also did a safari in one of the National Parks, which was fantastic. Had a wonderful dinner in the Sun House in Galle. Food at the Amans is also good, though you need order well ahead of being hungry.
From this hotel we were close to the Pinnewala Elephant reserve, great for families to see these amazing creatures close up. Central Kandy was very accessible with lots of interesting sights and walks. We visited a tea plantation and factory nearby which was very informative and a Batik factory and shop. On the Kandy to Colombo road on the way back we stopped at one of the Spice plantations (no.100) which we toured with a Guide, had a complimentary massage with some of their products and obviously bombarded with sales talk to buy some (quite) expensive products.
Temple of the tooth and cultural show are worth visiting. Evening meal at Madame Helgas although fairly expensive is a must for ambience, fantastic food, and breathtaking views.
Just a short visit to Sri Lanka of 7 nights and although usually an independent traveller preferring to use local transport, we booked a very good holiday with Mr. Lindley who has a Tourist Office right near the Ist Class Booking Office at Colombo Fort Railway Station. For a modest fee two of us had our own use of a mini bus and driver with bed and breakfast at hotels in the Central Highlands. Sri Lanka is very cheap to travel in as is eating out. A good place to visit with friendly people.
The Devon restaurant was cheap and cheerful, the Rams restaurant tended to trade on its reputation within the Lonely Planet guide. Peradeniya Botanical Gardens were worth a visit along with elephant orphanage
From Colombo I took a tour of the highlands of Sri Lanka, before attempting the potentially difficult and emotional visit to the coastline devastated by the tsunami. Despite the obvious devastation, I found a warm welcome everywhere I went and a keen interest in wanting to invite tourists to the whole country. Sri Lanka is open for business, and wants to return to normality, and that means a return to the tourism industry. Travellers, please do not disappoint them.