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Sri Lanka - Frequently Asked Questions

Table of contents

  1. When is the best time to go?
  2. Do you need a visa?
  3. How can I get there?
  4. What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
  5. What is there to see and do?
  6. Where are the best beaches?
  7. Is it cheap to eat out?
  8. Do I need any vaccinations ahead of travel or do I need malaria tablets?

When is the best time to go?

Sri Lanka is an all-year-round destination, as complex weather patterns mean that there's always a stretch of the island's coast that's dry and warm. There are two main monsoon seasons, one that hits the south-western coast between May and August and another that affects the north and east from October to January. That said, the busiest period in Sri Lanka is from December to March, when the popular south coast is accessible and when tourists flock here to enjoy its glorious beaches. This is also the best time of year to visit the inland hill country.

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Do you need a visa?

Anyone wishing to visit Sri Lanka (except Singaporean, Maldivian and Seychelles citizens) needs to apply for a visa before travelling to the country. The process can be completed online and is straightforward. You'll receive a 30-day tourist visa, which costs US$30 (equivalent to £19 approximately). Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from your date of entry to Sri Lanka.

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How can I get there?

There are regular direct flights from the UK to Sri Lanka, with British Airways and Sri Lankan Airlines both offering nonstop services to the Indian Ocean island. The flight takes around 11 hours from London to Sri Lanka's capital of Colombo. Other carriers, including Emirates and Etihad, offer flights with one stop.

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What is the local currency and what currency should I take?

The local currency is the Sri Lankan rupee and it's easy to change US dollars, Euros or Sterling once you arrive in the country, either through a money changer or a bank. There are also plenty of ATMs, especially in Colombo and other major cities. MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in most tourist areas, while Amex and Diners Club can also be used in some places.

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What is there to see and do?

Sri Lanka is an incredibly varied country, with a lot of amazing attractions. It is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the impressive Sigiriya rock fortress and the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. There are also some fantastic national parks in Sri Lanka, such as Horton Plains and Yalla, where you have the chance to spot leopards, among other exciting animal species. There's also the opportunity to get up close to elephants by visiting one of the sanctuaries that looks after these beautiful animals. Along Sri Lanka's coast are some of the world's most picturesque beaches - think golden sweeps of sand fringed by palm trees. In the capital, Colombo, you'll find an interesting mix of colonial buildings and a cosmopolitan city with some excellent shopping malls - look out for Odel and Barefoot if you want authentic Sri Lankan wares.

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Where are the best beaches?

Although there are stunning beaches all along Sri Lanka's coast, many of its most beautiful - and most developed for tourism - are located on the southern coast. The likes of Beruwala, Bentota and Galle are among those regularly named as the top stretches of sand in the country.

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Is it cheap to eat out?

There's a lot of variety on Sri Lanka's restaurant scene, particularly in Colombo. It can be very cheap to eat out here if you stick to local establishments. Visiting these eateries will also give you the chance to sample delicious and authentic - but often very spicy - Sri Lankan dishes.

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Do I need any vaccinations ahead of travel or do I need malaria tablets?

Many of the usual travel vaccinations are recommended before visiting Sri Lanka, including hepatitis A and B, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, typhoid, TB, Japanese encephalitis and rabies. If you're unsure of what you need, visit your doctor well in advance of travelling. The only vaccination that's required under international law when visiting Sri Lanka is yellow fever if you're arriving from a country that has a risk of yellow fever transmission. There is also a slight risk of malaria in many parts of Sri Lanka, so it's advised that you take malaria tablets before, during and after your holiday.

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