Travelling to Sri Lanka
Tikalanka Tours does all it can to ensure that travellers stay safe
overseas. Before you go abroad, please check out the
British Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Best Time to Go
Customs and Excise
Embassies and Consulates of Sri Lanka
Health Check - Vaccinations and Malaria
Passport and Visas
Tourist Offices of Sri Lanka
What to Take
Sri Lanka travel planner (NOT for East Coast):
Ideal weather for visiting Sri Lanka
Good weather for visiting Sri Lanka
Weather more variable but travel still possible,
and you can take advantage of the lowest holiday prices of the year!
A non-stop daily flight between London Heathrow and Colombo with
takes approximately 10 hours 45 minutes outbound and 11 hours 30 minutes inbound.
Daily flights with Emirates from Birmingham, Dublin,
Glasgow, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester or Newcastle, via Dubai, and
Qatar Airways from London Heathrow or Manchester,
via Doha, take at least 12 hours outbound and 13 hours inbound, depending on the time and day of travel.
Three-times weekly flights with British Airways
from London Gatwick, via Malé (Maldives), take approximately 12 hours 30 minutes outbound and
13 hours 15 minutes inbound.
Travel light because most of the essentials are available
in the cities, items are cheap and laundry services
Light cotton clothes are useful at any time of the year.
It is a good idea to have some lightweight long sleeve
cotton tops and trousers in pale colours for evenings,
as they give some protection against mosquitoes. It
can be cool at night in the
Hill Country around Nuwara Eliya and some warm clothing
is essential. Dress is usually informal, although one
or two hotels expect guests to be formally
dressed at evening meals and for functions. For travelling,
loose, lightweight clothes are most comfortable.
Women should dress modestly. Even on the beach, very
revealing swimwear can attract unnecessary attention.
All everyday toiletries, including condoms and tampons,
are available in the larger towns but you may prefer
to take your own supply.
Carry personal medicines and inhalers and a copy of
For easy reference, click on Travel Checklist for a
generalised list of travel items you may need (or have
The in-hold baggage allowance permitted on most airlines is 30kg in Economy Class (although 23kg on Qatar Airways flights) and
40kg in Business Class (although the maximum allowance per item is 30kg).
The cabin (carry-on or hand) baggage allowance permitted varies between airlines and flight classes so please
contact your airline carrier for more details.
Due to tightening of security regulations, no sharp objects are allowed in your
hand luggage (e.g. nail scissors, manicure sets etc.) and all items carried by passengers
will be x-ray screened. Some liquids are allowed once again through airport security checkpoints.
There are, however, restrictions on the quantity of liquids that can be taken through, and they must
be contained in a single, transparent, re-sealable plastic bag, which itself must not exceed one (1) litre in
capacity (approximately 20cm x 20cm). For current travel advice, please click
of Sri Lanka
The Sri Lanka Tourist Board's main website is at www.srilankatourism.org
The Sri Lanka Tourist Board's UK and Ireland website is at www.srilankatourism.org.uk
Sri Lanka Tourist Board offices located abroad include:
29 Lonsdale St, Braddon, Canberra, ACT 2612
Tel 02-6230 6002
925 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC, V6C 3L2
Tel 604-662 7708
19 rue du Quatre Septembre, 75002 Paris
Tel 01-42 60 49 99
Allertheiligentor 2-4, D-60311 Frankfurt am Main
Dowa Bldg, 7-2-22, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Tel 03-3289 0771
26-27, Clareville House, Oxendon St, London SW1Y 4EL
Tel 020-7930 2627
111 Wood Ave South, Iselin, New Jersey 08830
Tel 732-516 9800
You must hold a valid passport to enter Sri Lanka. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period
of six months from the date of entry to Sri Lanka.
You are also required to hold an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to enter Sri Lanka, which is an official
authorisation for short visits to Sri Lanka. ETA holders will be issued a 30-day short visit ETA at the port of
entry in Sri Lanka. Foreign nationals, who intend to visit Sri Lanka for short stays of up to six months,
must obtain an ETA prior to arrival. The ETA is issued through an online
system and no passport copies, documents or photographs are required, and there is no requirement to endorse
the ETA in your passport. Upon arrival, simply produce your passport to the immigration officer at the port of
entry along with a copy of your ETA approval notice. Please go to
Sri Lanka visa for more information and to apply online.
The Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) is not traded abroad and
so it is not possible to purchase local currency before
your arrival in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Rupees or Rs come
in denominations of Rs 2000, 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20,
10 (notes) and
Rs 10, 5, 2, 1 and 50, 25 cents (coins),
although 10- and 5-cent coins may still be seen. Visitors
bringing in over US$10,000 into Sri Lanka should declare
the amount on arrival. All Sri Lankan Rupees should
be reconverted upon leaving Sri Lanka.
On arrival. At the airport you can change money at one
of the many exchange counters in the arrivals hall,
which are open when flights arrive. The exchange rates
here are normally some of the best on the island and
there is usually little difference between the various
banks represented. ATMs are also available. It is very useful
to ask the banks or moneychangers for small denomination notes
(Rs10, 20 and 50) for buying items locally and tips.
Around the island. Private banks, like Commercial Bank, Hatton National
Bank, HSBC and Sampath Bank, are generally more efficient
and offer a quicker service than their government-run
competitors (Bank of Ceylon, People's Bank and National
Savings Bank). Banking hours are generally 09.00 to
13.00 Monday to Friday, although some banks in Colombo
and Kandy have extended opening hours and also open
at the weekend. However, most banks are closed on Saturdays
and Sundays, monthly Poya days, national holidays, 30
June and 31 December, and other days throughout the
year. Therefore, it is best to ask locally for accurate
Encashment receipts. All foreign exchange transactions
must be done through authorised banks or exchanges with
the provision of an encashment receipt. Changing money
through unauthorised dealers is illegal. Unspent rupees
may be reconverted at a commercial bank before you leave
Sri Lanka, but you will need at least one encashment
receipt to re-exchange any rupees.
For up-to-the-minute exchange rates, check out www.xe.com
Travellers' cheques (T/Cs) issued by American Express
and Thomas Cook (in UK£, US$ or Euro €) are
best and are accepted without difficulty and give a
slightly better exchange rate than currency notes in
Sri Lanka. They also offer the security of replacement
if lost or stolen. Always change T/Cs at banks rather
than hotels or elsewhere as the exchange rates can vary
dramatically, and never in your favour! A 1% stamp duty
is payable on all T/C transactions plus a small commission
which varies from bank to bank. Passports need to be
shown when encashing T/Cs.
If you are travelling with T/Cs, it is probably best
to retain all encashment receipts and to make a note
of the numbers of all your T/Cs cashed, keeping this
information separately from the T/Cs themselves. In
case of loss or theft, you will need to get a police
report and inform the T/C company with this information.
Major credit cards (Visa and MasterCard are best) are
accepted in the main centres of Sri Lanka
both for shopping and or purchasing Sri Lankan Rupees.
No surcharge should be applied when making purchases
but the 1% stamp duty is applicable when obtaining cash
against a credit card.
Automated Telling Machines (ATMs) are widespread in Sri Lanka,
especially in Colombo and other
larger towns or tourist centres (e.g. Airport, Bentota, Galle,
Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Tissamaharama etc.).
However, we strongly advise that you get in contact with your bank before departure
to inform them of your travel plans, otherwise you may have problems accessing your account
when on the island. ATMs also give cash advances
on credit cards, although different banks accept different
cards (ask your credit card company for details). A
small fee, less than the commission charged for changing
T/Cs, will be charged on your bill at home.
Sri Lanka - Insight Fleximap (1 : 560 000)
Laminated for durability, this map of the island, which
includes a gazetteer, also has city maps of Colombo
and Kandy on the reverse side.
Sri Lanka - Nelles Verlag (1 : 450 000)
Conventional layout with city insets of Colombo, Kandy,
Anuradhapura and Galle.
Sri Lanka - Globetrotter (1 : 600 000)
Decent colour country map and a handful of simplified
Sri Lanka Road Map - Berndston & Berndston
Excellent for detail on routes and sites.
and Consulates of Sri Lanka
35 Empire Circuit, Forrest, Canberra, ACT 2603
Tel 02-6239 7041
Herrengasse 6-8, 1010 Vienna
Tel 01-533 7426
27 rue Jules Lejeune, 1050 Brussels
Tel 02-344 5394
Suite 1204, 333 Laurier Ave West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P
Tel 613-233 8449
16 rue Spontine, 75016 Paris
Tel 01 55 73 31 31
Niklasstrasse 19, 14163 Berlin
Tel 030-80 90 97 49
Via Adige no. 2, 00198 Rome
Tel 06-855 4560
2-1-54 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108 0074
Tel 03-3440 6911
Jacob de Graefflaan, 2517 JM, The Hague
Tel 070-365 5910
13-06/12 Godhill Plaza, 51 Newton Road, Singapore 308900
Tel 254 4595
410 Alexander St, Brooklyn, Pretoria 0181
Tel 12-460 7702
Strandvagen 39, PO Box 24055, S-104 50 Stockholm
Tel 08-663 6523
13 Hyde Park Gardens, London W2 2LU
Tel. 020-7262 1841
2148 Wyoming Ave NW, Washington DC 20008
Tel 202-483 4026
On arrival, visitors to Sri Lanka are officially required
to declare all currency, valuable equipment, jewellery
and gems, but it is very rarely checked.
Visitors are not allowed to bring in goods in commercial
quantities, or prohibited/restricted goods such as dangerous
drugs, weapons, explosives, obscene or seditious literature
or pictures, or gold. Drug trafficking or possession
carries the death penalty, although this is very rarely
carried out on foreigners.
You are allowed 1.5 litres of spirits, 2 bottles of
wine, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250 g rolling tobacco,
a small quantity of perfume and 250 ml of toilet water.
You can also import a small quantity of travel souvenirs
(may be as gifts) not exceeding US$250 in value.
Professional photography or filming equipment must
be declared and will be allowed entry on a valid Carnet,
Bank Guarantee or a refundable deposit of the duty payable
on the items.
Last updated: 17 December 2012
Travel and Medical Insurance
Vaccinations in detail
You are advised to visit your general practice surgery or
a specialist travel medicine clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel.
However, it is never too late to seek advice. If you suffer
from a long-standing medical condition such as diabetes,
high blood pressure, heart/lung disease, or a nervous
disorder, arrange for a check up with your doctor who
can prescribe enough medication for your time abroad
and, at the same time, provide you with a letter explaining
details of your condition. You should
also have a dental check up before you travel, and obtain
a spectacles prescription, if required.
For current, expert travel health advice, please contact:
The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC)Hospital for Tropical Diseases - 020 7950 7799
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine - 0906 701 0095
(Calls cost 50p per minute; calls from mobiles and some networks may be higher).
NaTHNaC has been created to promote clinical standards in travel medicine
with the goal of 'protecting the health of British travellers'.
NaTHNaC will do this by improving the quality of travel health advice available
to GP practices and other health care professionals, as well as providing online
web resources that provide health information and advice for travellers.
NaTHNaC should be your first port of call when considering what health precautions to
take when travelling to Sri Lanka.
NaTHNaC will not be able to answer queries from the public, however there are several
advice lines available that can do this:
Fit For Travel
Public access website provided by NHS (Scotland), which
gives travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK.
Fit For Travel
One of the largest networks of travel clinics in the country and advisors to British Airways
for travel medicine, MASTA provide professional travel health advice directly to the public
through their bespoke online Health Brief and via an extensive network of travel clinics.
Nomad Travel Clinic
Offers a full travel vaccination service, anti-malarials, travel medical kits and
travel health advice. Phone to book for an appointment or use their walk-in service.
Nomad Travel Clinic
Travel and Medical Insurance
It is a prerequisite of booking with Tikalanka Tours that
you take out adequate travel insurance before travelling to Sri Lanka.
Tikalanka Tours has teamed up with Endsleigh Insurance Services Limited to offer our
travellers competitive travel insurance with excellent levels of cover.
Please go to
Travel Insurance for more details.
Anti-malaria tablets (if required)
Bug Wars spray (S-Bioallethrin & Permethrin)
First aid kit and disposable needles
Medicated talcum powder
Mosi-guard natural insect repellent (Citridiol)
Savlon dry antiseptic spray (Povidone iodine)
Sunscreen cream (SPF 15 or higher)
Travel sickness pills
Water sterilising tablets (and/or potable iodine)
Many drugs available in Developed Countries are also
available from pharmacies in Sri Lanka. However, always
check the expiry date and buy from reputable pharmacies
because the shelf life of some items, especially vaccines
and antibiotics, is markedly reduced in hot conditions.
Many locally produced drugs are not subjected to quality
control procedures and so can be unreliable.
ALWAYS consult your doctor or a specialist travel clinic
before travelling. If you require any of the recommended vaccinations below,
see your doctor well in advance of your travel. Most
courses must be completed in a minimum of four weeks.
Travel clinics may provide rapid courses of vaccination
but are likely to be more expensive.
There are no compulsory vaccinations for entry into Sri Lanka, with the exception of Yellow Fever
(only if arriving from an infected area within six days - see below), however the following vaccinations
are strongly recommended for a trip to Sri Lanka:
See Fit For Travel
for recommended vaccinations.
The following vaccinations may also be required, depending
upon your chance of exposure or seasonal variations.
Consult your doctor or a specialist travel clinic for
Japanese B Encephalitis (JVE)
You may be asked for an 'International Certificate
of Vaccination or Revaccination Against Yellow Fever'
if you have visited a country affected by yellow fever
immediately before travelling to Sri Lanka (normally within
the previous six  days).
Children should, in addition, be properly protected
against the following:
whooping cough, mumps, measles and HIB.
Teenage girls should be given rubella (German measles)
vaccination if they have not already had the disease.
Diphtheria is a serious respiratory infection with a high
mortality rate, even in Western Europe. It is spread by droplet
infection through close personal contact.
Many people in the UK are vaccinated against diphtheria as children.
If you are travelling abroad, it is recommended to reinforce protection
with a new diphtheria vaccination every 10 years.
Hepatitis A causes liver inflammation and jaundice. It is
spread through contaminated food and water.
Havrix Monodose and Junior Havrix vaccines
give protection for 10 years after two injections (which
are effective after 10 days). Alternatively, one gamma
globulin injection is effective immediately for up to
six months' travel and is much cheaper. Many travellers
contract Hepatitis A and consequently protection is
Hepatitis B affects the liver causing jaundice and occasionally
liver failure. It is passed on through infected blood,
contaminated needles and sexual intercourse.
A vaccine is available - three shots
over six months - although protection can be variable.
Regular travellers should have a blood test first to
check whether they are already immune to Hepatitis B.
Japanese B Encephalitis (JVE)
Japanese B encephalitis is a serious infection of the brain.
It is spread by mosquitoes.
or Korean vaccines, which are effective in 10 days)
gives protection for around three years. There is an
extremely small risk, though it varies seasonally and
from region to region. Consult a travel clinic.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a serious infection of the nervous system.
It is spread through contaminated food and water.
Many people in the UK are vaccinated against polio as children.
The polio vaccine is a live preparation
generally given orally and a full course consists of
three doses. Boosters are recommended every 10 years.
Rabies, or 'hydrophobia', is primarily a disease
of the nervous system and it is always fatal.
It is spread through bites or licks on broken skin from
an infected animal and it is endemic in Sri Lanka.
Pre-exposure vaccination gives anyone bitten by a suspect animal
time to get treatment - particularly helpful for those
visiting remote areas - and also prepares the body to
produce antibodies quickly. Vaccination is recommended
for those people who are spending lengths of time, or
visiting remote areas, in developing countries.
Even when pre-exposure vaccines have been received urgent
medical advice should be sought after any animal bite.
Pre-exposure vaccination is two doses of Human Rabies Immunoglobulin
(HRIG) one month apart before travelling and then a
booster dose after one year. Further boosters are recommended
every 2-5 years.
Tetanus is a serious infection of the nervous system.
It is contracted through dirty cuts and scratches.
Many people in the UK are vaccinated against tetanus as children.
One dose should be given with a booster at
six weeks and another at six months. Ten yearly boosters
thereafter are recommended.
Tuberculosis (TB) is typically a lung disease but it can also
spread via blood from the lungs to all organs in the body.
It is most commonly transmitted via droplet infection.
The BCG vaccination (with live but weakened tubercle bacteria)
is the best defence against TB and many people in the UK are
vaccinated as children. Consult your doctor for advice
on BCG inoculation against TB as the disease is still common in Sri Lanka.
Typhoid causes septicaemia (blood poisoning). It is spread
through contaminated food and water.
One dose followed by a booster in one month's
time. Immunity from this course lasts 2-3 years. A single
dose injectable vaccine (Typhim-Vi [Merieux]) is also
available but it is more expensive.
Malaria is a serious febrile illness caused by infection of red blood cells with
Plasmodium sp. parasites: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale
and P. malariae. Malaria is transmitted via the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes,
which feed predominantly during the hours from dusk to dawn. All travellers to malaria areas are at risk.
There is no vaccination to prevent malaria.
There is a risk of malaria in Sri Lanka in the area north of Vavuniya, however
the risk is very low in the rest of the country.
Malaria precautions are essential. Avoid mosquito bites by covering up with
clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers especially after sunset, using
insect repellents on exposed skin and, when necessary, sleeping under a mosquito net.
Chloroquine together with proguanil are usually recommended for those visiting risk areas.
However,due to the
malarial parasites immunity to certain older drugs,
and the side effects caused by newer alternatives, you
must check with a reputable agency, ideally a specialist
travel clinic, which prophylactic
drugs are best for your trip to Sri Lanka.
If you have been travelling in a malaria area and develop a fever seek medical
attention promptly. Remember malaria can develop even up to one year after exposure.
Dengue is a systemic viral disease transmitted via the bite of infected Aedes aegypti
mosquitoes, which feed predominantly during daylight hours. All travellers to dengue areas are at risk.
There is no vaccination or medication to prevent dengue.
Dengue is known or presumed to occur in Sri Lanka.
Dengue precautions are essential. Avoid mosquito bites at all times in dengue areas
by covering up with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers, using
insect repellents on exposed skin and, when necessary, sleeping under a mosquito net.
If you have been travelling in a dengue area and develop a fever seek medical
attention promptly. A previous dengue illness with one of the four dengue virus serotypes
does not confer immunity to other virus serotypes. Infection with a second dengue
serotype may be a risk factor for the development of dengue haemorrhagic fever.