INBOUND FAQ

FAQ

Do I need a visa to enter Sri Lanka ?

Yes, you will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. In addition, if you intend visiting Sri Lanka on a short visit,you will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) prior to arrival.

What is an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) ?

The Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is an official authorization for a Short Visit to Sri Lanka and is issued through an on-line system. You need to obtain an ETA if you intend visiting Sri Lanka as a Tourist, on Business or on Transit. No passport copies, documents or photographs are required to obtain the ETA. ETA holders will be issued a 30 day Short Visit visa at the port of entry in Sri Lanka.

What Language will people understand ?

Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages in Sri Lanka. English is a ‘link’ language and generally understood by most people and is easy to get by. Off the beaten track knowledge of it thins. English is spoken at all hotels, major restaurants and shops. Dream Vacations provides guides in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese languages to foreign visitors requiring assistance. Road signs are written both in Sinhalese & English throughout the country, with few exceptions.

How are telephone facilities in the country ?

Telephone facilities are available extensively throughout the country. There are many telephone booths which accept coins, but the clarity and talk times may be short. Telephone bureaus are quite common with most offering IDD and internet facilities. Some offer the cheaper net-to-phone facilities, but quality is not always reliable. IDD facilities are available in most tourist hotels.

What is the country code and how do I dial area codes ?

Dialling in – Sri Lanka’s country code is 94, (E.g. If you need to call a number in Colombo, dial ++94 11 2XXXXXX). If you are calling a mobile number, you dial the number after the country code (E.g. dialling a Dialog number, dial ++94 77X XXXXXX).

Dialling within/ out – If you need to take an overseas call, you’ll have to dial ’00’. You do not have to dial the area code if you are within the area. However, the area code must be dialled if you want to take an outstation call (e.g. calling within Colombo, dial 2XXXXXX, Calling Kandy from Colombo, dial 081 22XXXXX).

Can I purchase a local mobile connection while on holiday ?

It’s a good option to purchase a local SIM card and top up cards while you are on holiday. The mobile call rates are relatively cheap for both local and IDD calls. There are many mobile operators in the country (E.g. Dialog, Mobitel, Etisalat, Hutch etc.,). Dialog has a counter at the Colombo Airport and you can obtain a connection on arrival. A Dialog connection will cost about Rupees 1500. Top up cards are freely available island-wide. You can buy top-up cards for denominations of Rupees 100, 400 & 1000. Click here for currency converter Be sure that your phone is `dual band’ and unlocked.

Can I access the internet freely ?

Most hotels provide internet facilities. There are internet cafes in most towns with ADSL connection. Connections in smaller towns will be slow. The average cost of surfing in a Cyber Café is about Euro .50 per hour. Many large 5 star and some boutique hotels provide Wifi facilities. Dialog also provides WiMAX Broadband wireless connections

Is it Safe to Travel to Sri Lanka ?

Sri Lanka is quite a safe destination to travel and one of the most picturesque countries on earth. The country is at peace and we are experiencing record a record number of visitors; as Sri Lanka is considered one of the few ‘un-spoilt’ destinations in Asia . Our tours are conducted in areas which are considered safe for tourists to visit. Many of our clients have become friends and cannot wait to return to their ‘second home’, feeling safe and secure in our care.. Please visit our news page for latest updates.

What safety precautions must I take when travelling ?

According to accepted norms of travel you should deposit your valuables like money, passport, tickets, jewels etc in the hotel safe deposit locker. In accordance with international custom the Hotels in Sri Lanka are not responsible for objects lost in the room. You should also not leave your valuables unattended on the beach, the balconies or terraces.

Never leave your money or passport in your backpack or suitcase. Always keep a record of your Travellers Cheque numbers separately from the Travellers Cheques. It is wise to keep an amount of money (about US$ 200) stashed away separately from your money-belt or pouch.

What health issues must I be concerned with ?

Sri Lanka has an effective health care system which is considered a model for most developing countries across the world. However, emergency medical facilities may not be found outside main cities. You may have to be brought to Colombo for treatment. We recommend you use the private sector hospitals, which are likely to offer better care.

It is mandatory for those travelling to Sri Lanka from Africa or Latin America to have a valid certificate of vaccination for Yellow fever and Meningitis prior to arrival in Sri Lanka. You need up-to-date Hepatitis A, Polio and Tetanus shots. Mosquito borne diseases like dengue, chckengunya and malaria are common. It’s advised you take adequate protection against mosquitos. Take some Imodium tablets (just in case you get an upset stomach). Almost every town has a pharmacy selling common medicines. However, we advise you to carry any special medication as the availability of medical supplies may vary. You are strongly advised you take an adequate health insurance cover when travelling to Sri Lanka.

How about mosquitoes and other pests  ?

Most hotels will provide you with a plug-in mosquito repellent which will usually be switched on during turn down. You can buy the mats (small repellent tablet inserted to the plug-in unit), from most local supermarkets. Mosquito nets in hotels are a rarity. You can also buy the burning coils or citronella candles from the supermarket. It would be advisable to apply some repellent lotion if you plan to have dinner in an outdoor/ alfresco setting. The locally available ‘Siddhalepa balm’ is quite effective to take the itch out of mosquito bites.

Leeches – A good remedy is to apply soap and left to dry or apply lime to exposed areas. You can wear leech socks. Which are pulled over the trousers to prevent leeches reaching the exposed skin of the legs. If you find a leech sucking on your leg, do not pull it off, but wait for it to fall off after feeding. Else you can apply some salt; this will make the leech release its hold and fall off.

What food will I find ?

Sri Lankan dishes are based on rice, with a large variety of vegetables, fish & fruits. The uniqueness of Sri Lankan food influenced by invaders and traders – Indians, Arabs, Malays, Moors, Portuguese, Dutch and English all whom have left a mark on the Sri Lankan diet, will surely make your trip a voyage of culinary discovery!

Sri Lankan food is good, perhaps a little too piquant for foreign palates, but worth trying. The Lankan food served in your hotel is toned down a little bit due to the sensitive stomach of most tourists, but nevertheless is delicious and you should try it. International food of any kind is found in all major Sri Lankan Restaurants. Most coastal towns have excellent seafood including prawns & delicious crab. Rates are quite inexpensive. Being a tropical country, Sri Lanka is blessed with a large variety of fruits. Some fruits like mangoes and Bananas (known an plantains here), come in over a dozen of sub varieties of shapes, sizes & tastes! Fruits such as Rambutan, Pineapple, Mangosteen, Papaya (Papaw), wood apple, melons, passion fruit, guavas, etc., are but a small sample of the amazing variety of fruits to be discovered and enjoyed.

Can I obtain vegetarian food ?

Most large hotels and restaurants have a ‘vegetarian section’ in the menu. The smaller local ‘rice and curry’ restaurants may say the food is vegetarian but include a serving of fried fish or sprats (anchovies). The ‘South Indian’ vegetarian restaurants are 100% vegetarian.

What currency is used in Sri Lanka ?

The Sri Lankan currency is the Rupee (Rs), divided in to 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 & 2000. Breakdown larger notes when you change money – it can sometimes be a problem to breakdown a larger note (500, 1000 or 2000).  Hotels and other tourist establishments will quote you the price in US$ or Euro and collect in Rupees at the prevailing exchange rate.

Is Rupee the only currency used, or is the US$/ Euro also widely used ?

Rupee only.  US$/ Euro etc., is accepted in most large hotels, and tourist establishments, but not in outlets catering to locals. Advice to bring in US$/ Euro and change as and when needed.

If it is Rupee only, what is the best currency to bring – US$ / £ Sterling / Euro ?

It depends on your primary account currency. If your account is in Singapore Dollars, bring that (or you’ll lose on converting to a third currency).

You can change the currency to Rupees on arrival at the airport. However, if your currency is a non-freely convertible local currency (not freely traded in international foreign exchange markets) it’s better to bring a freely convertible currency like the US$/ Euro. There are many currency exchange counters at the arrival lounge (after passing baggage clearance and customs). Internationally accepted currencies and credit cards are easily accepted at most tourist establishments. Travelers cheques are also recommended. We recommend you change some of your money into local currency for tipping, shopping and other miscellaneous expenses. The exchange of foreign currency is only permitted at banks, money changes and Hotels. You’ll have no problem changing Travelers Cheques at any major bank. Thomas Cook and Visa are the most widely accepted. Banks charge a 0.5% handling fee and generally a commission, which varies from bank to bank. Change only that amount of money you require for spending.

How much of money can I bring in to/ take out of the country ?

There is no restriction in bringing money in foreign currencies into Sri Lanka. This sum could be in TCs, Bank drafts or currency notes. However, if the total exceeds US$ 15,000, that sum must be declared to the Sri Lanka Customs. If you wish to take out from Sri Lanka a sum in excess of US$ 5000 in currency notes (out of the money brought in), you must declare the entirety of the sum brought in, even if it is less than US$ 15,000.  The foreign currency amounts indicated in US$ may be in equivalent amounts in other convertible foreign currencies. Please retain whatever receipts of exchange (including ATM receipts) for monies declared. This will be helpful when re-exchanging to foreign currency and taking your money back out of the country. The Re-Exchange (purchase of foreign currency) can only take place on your departure at the Bank counters at the airport. Do note that they will only accept bank receipts (not Money Changer receipts).

Are credit cards widely accepted ? 

Credit Cards are widely used and accepted by local establishments (even in small towns). The most widely used card types are Visa and MasterCard, with Amex to a lesser extent. It would be a convenient option to use your Credit Card (valid for international use) whenever possible. Due to currency regulations in Sri Lanka, credit card charges cannot be made in foreign currency Local tourist establishments (including Dream Vacations) will apply the daily exchange rate on the day of your payment and convert foreign exchange rate to Sri Lankan Rupees. Please use the exchange rate indicated in the currency converter only as a guideline as we will apply the prevailing bank exchange rate at time of transaction.

Are ATM machines widely available and do they issue cash against my debit/ credit card ?

ATM’s are available in most main cities. You can take cash against Visa / Mastercard in most ATM’S. However, as different banks accept different cards, we advice you ensure that your card is valid for use in Sri Lanka by contacting your bank. Watch out for the Maestro or Cirrus logo!

For a fuller list of FAQ please refer to http://www.tourslanka.com/information/travel-faq

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