Sri Lanka Overview

  • Overview
  • Sri Lanka Highlights
  • Things to do
  • Sri Lanka Journey Chart

Capital: Colombo

Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee

Population: 20.5 million

Language: Sinhalese, Tamil

Religion: Buddhism

International Endorsements

"Sri Lanka - World's No: 01 destination to visit in Year 2013" - Lonely Planet

"Sri Lanka among world's top five exotic destinations to visit in 2012" - Hello Magazine - Uk

"One of the world's Top 5 destinations for 2012" - Conde Nast Traveller Magazine

"Home to 8 world Heritage sites" - UNESCO

"No: 02 in the list of Top 20 Tourist Destinations for 2012" - National Geographic Channel

"One of the Top 06 destinations for Travel in 2012" - National Geographic Traveller Magazine

"One of the Top 05 destination where UK customers want to spend their Holiday" - KOUNI Annual Travel Report

"No: 01 Travel destination of the Year 2010" - New York Times

Travel Guides

When to visit

Sri Lanka is a year-round destination for visitors looking for sunshine and beaches. The best time to experience the South Western coastal area - where most of the beach resorts are located - is from November to April. The ancient city areas as well as the eastern coastal regions are usually visited from April to September, whilst the central highlands are pleasant and cool from January to April.

In particular, the peak season in Sri Lanka is mid December to mid January and March- April during Easter. There is also a mini peak season in July and August when festivals are held. It is advisable to book in advance if you are planning a trip during peak seasons.

Climate and weather

The average temperature is around 27°C – 30°C in most parts of Sri Lanka, with a gradual drop in temperature as the land rises towards the central hill country. Sri Lanka is affected by two monsoons. The south-west monsoon brings rain to Colombo and the south and west coasts briefly between May and July, whilst the north-east monsoon affects the north and east between December and February.

What to wear

Cotton clothes are the most suitable to wear, since Sri Lanka is a tropical country that is hot and humid. For cooler hill areas, you will need a light sweater at night. Topless sunbathing is officially illegal in Sri Lanka. Although bikinis are generally acceptable while on the beach, dress standards are conservative elsewhere, and it is respectful to wear loose, long and lightweight clothing. During cultural and religious excursions, you are required to wear appropriate clothing. Gents have to wear trousers that cover their knees, or a sarong with a shirt or t-shirt. Ladies should wear trousers or a long skirt and a blouse or t-shirt, that is not deep necked or sleeveless. Don’t forget comfortable shoes, sandals or trainers with cotton socks.

Photography

It is courteous to ask permission before taking photographs of local people, and if possible to show or share the picture with them, as this gesture will be greatly appreciated. There are important restrictions that apply to photography regarding Buddhist imagery. When visiting religious sites, you cannot pose in front of or beside any statues and murals, and should always be respectful. Flash photography is generally not allowed at heritage and religious sites as it can damage old murals.

Health advice

Since Sri Lanka is warm and sunny throughout the year, it is important to protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen (factor 15 and above), a lightweight hat and sunglasses, and to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. During evenings, don’t forget to spray mosquito repellant or wear long sleeved clothes to prevent bites. Please make sure that you drink and clean your teeth with bottled water only. Check with your own GP or vaccination center at least a month before travel, to find out which inoculations you require – these usually include tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A and polio. In the event of serious illness, your hotels will advise you on reputable local doctors or private hospitals. Pack body-salt replenishment powder and Imodium which is useful for diarrhoea.

Local customs and etiquette

It is wise to read up about local customs and attitudes before you travel to ensure your trip is trouble free. Here are a few important points:

  • Alcohol is not served in hotels, bars and public recreational areas on Poya Day, which is celebrated every full moon.
  • Tipping is accepted for taxi drivers, hotels and restaurants. A rule of thumb is to tip 10% of the total amount due to show your appreciation for services rendered.
  • Smoking and drinking is illegal in public spaces.
  • If you have a Buddhist tattoo, it is important to cover it at all times in Sri Lanka, as this is considered offensive to locals.
  • Travellers should keep calm, cheerful and friendly as patience and courtesy are virtues that open many doors in Sri Lanka.

Wildlife & Adventure

Jaffna and the North

Hill Country

Sri Lanka Driving Times

driving times in Sri Lanka