If travelling by air you will most likely arrive at Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport(CMB)
This is located north of the capital city, Colombo
Depending on the time of your arrival the formalities of passport control and customs are usually very fast. Most visitors require a visa to enter Sri Lanka which lasts for up to 30 days
This should be applied for in advance of travel
The application is completed online at www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ and costs US$15.00 (as at December 2013)
At the arrivals hall you will be greeted by your Kulansa Tours personal driver/guide who will be displaying a card with your name. He will assist with your luggage and escort you to your private air conditioned car for your onward journey
At the end of your time in Sri Lanka your driver/guide will ensure that you arrive at the airport in good time to check in for your homeward flight
On departure you will have to negotiate the usual security and passport checks but it is no longer necessary to complete a departure form when leaving Sri Lanka
The unit of currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). It is not possible to buy the currency prior to arrival. There are many banks at the airport that will change your currency.All offer the same rates. For assistance with currency conversion you may wish to use www.xe.com and there are also smart phone apps available
In most towns major banks will exchange currency. ATM's are widely available for withdrawing cash with debit and credit cards. A 40,000 LKR daily limit can apply to cash withdrawals
Credit card payments are becoming more widely accepted especially for hotels etc. But they are far from universally welcomed. Payments by debit card can sometimes be problematic.A good option is to carry 2 or 3 debit/credit cards from different providers
To avoid difficulties, prior to arrival, it is advisable to notify your card provider (s) that you will be visiting Sri Lanka
Cash is still the most popular method of payment-when exchanging large sums of money remember to ask for some lower value notes e.g. 100, 500, and 1000 LKR
Sri Lankan banks no longer deal with traveller's cheques and are therefore not recommended
Before leaving Sri Lanka please be sure to exchange any unused rupees back to the currency of your choice
You should take care to ensure the security of your documents during your stay in Sri Lanka It is not essential to carry your passport at all times. However you will need this when:
- Exchanging money
- Checking in at any hotel
- Travelling to the Northern Province e.g. Jaffna
It is recommended that you have paper copies of all your essential documents and in case of emergency and for peace of mind also retain "electronic" copies that can be retrieved online
The main language spoken in Sri Lanka is Sinhalese. In the north Tamil is more common. English is spoken widely. Kulansa Tours is pleased to transact business with clients in English and your personal driver/guide will speak fluent English
If you want to pick up a few useful phrases in Sinhalese please check out www.lazybutsmartsinhala.com
The mobile/cell phone coverage in Sri Lanka is excellent. To assist you we can provide a local sim card for use during your stay. You will need to pay for the costs of messaging and calls but charges are inexpensive although they will increase slightly from January 2014. Many hotels provide good free Wi Fi for connecting your devices to the internet
We can assist further by the provision of dongles for lap tops and arrange for printing of documents if required. Throughout your tour you will have telephone numbers to contact us or your personal driver/guide at any time
Should you become ill whilst you are with Kulansa Tours we will assist in every way possible to find you appropriate medical attention. You should ensure that you have adequate travel insurance in place to cover the costs of any treatment (see also What to Bring)
Depending on where you are visiting in Sri Lanka you may wish to check the situation with regard to the need to take antimalarials before, during and after your trip
Hopefully you will enjoy some sunshine and so for most people a high factor sun cream and after sun lotion is important. For touring the sights or even lazing on the beach or by the pool you might want to consider wearing a hat or cap for added protection
Mosquitoes are widespread. It's possible to purchase ointments for bites from pharmacies in Sri Lanka (and a good natural remedy is aloe vera)
Prevention is better than cure and you are advised tobring a repellent spray such as "Jungle Formula"
If you take prescription medication ensure that you bring sufficient quantity for the duration of your stay
You may wish to bring some toiletries as deodorants, shampoo, shower and body gels are expensive and you may not be able to find your favourite brand
There can be occasional power outages (most hotels etc. have standby generators) A torch can be handy or download a flashlight app on to your mobile/cell phone
An international electric adaptor for recharging your personal devices (mobile/cell phones,tablets and lap tops etc.) is necessary and a spare charged battery can prove useful
For our tailor made tours, Kulansa only uses well maintained and insured, modern air conditioned vehicles with experienced and knowledgeable English speaking driver/guides.
Most roads are in good condition and new expressways that are now open or in the course of construction are reducing travelling times to and from the major cities and resorts.
For long distances there is the option of arranging internal flights with Sri Lankan Airlines.
Rail travel is cheap but slow. Kulansa Tours is happy to advise on tickets and reservations.
There is a vast network of bus services connecting every town and village. Unfortunately some vehicles are very badly maintained and driven and there are many accidents.
For everyday travel in towns and resorts you may find hiring a tuk tuk (3 wheeler) is a convenient and inexpensive way of getting around-agree a price before setting out.
Motor bikes/scooters can be hired-but due to the poor state of some minor roads and the many number of obstacles-cattle, dogs and people-not to mention the erratic driving of other road users you are advised to observe great caution if using this form of transport-and always wear a safety helmet.
Visitors should note that Sri Lanka is still recovering from the impact of 30 years of civil war that ended in 2009. Whilst much of the infrastructure has been or is being renewed (e.g.excellent highways and railways) the hospitality industry, hotels, restaurants and levels of customer service in the north of the country are still in need of substantial improvement.
There is still a relatively high level of security in this part of Sri Lanka with many military and police checkpoints. Vehicle, ID and passport checks are carried out routinely by the military.
The south-western monsoon brings rain to the south-west of Sri Lanka between May and September, while the dry season in this region runs from December to March
In the north and eastern coastal regions of the country, the weather is influenced by the north-eastern monsoon, which brings wind and rain between October and January, and drier weather between May and September.
There is also an inter-monsoonal period during October and the first half of November,when rain and thunderstorms can occur across the island.
The period from December to mid-April is considered the peak season for the best weather and therefore larger numbers of visitors and higher prices. You are still likely to experience great weather at any other time of year and also avoid the crowds and get better value for money.
When it does rain, it's unusual for this to last all day, with downpours often being short and sharp, with a number of inches falling in just a matter of minutes. In extremes this can lead to localised flooding and landslides which, when severe, may require alterations to your travel plans.
Humidity in Sri Lanka is high-typically ranging from 60% to 90% depending on location
Temperatures throughout the year hover around 30C (86F) Travelling to the hill country-for example to Nuwara Eliya you will find temperatures lower and in the evening can be distinctly chilly and you will need to think about having some warmer clothing
On the coast high winds can stir up the Indian Ocean and during these times the strong advice is not to swim as there are many drownings each year
In the main towns you will find small and medium sized supermarkets stocking many international food and non-food brands. Some, but not all, sell alcohol
In Colombo there are large malls and department stores and the usual designer names.
At local markets an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables can be found. In Negombo a visit to the daily fish market is unmissable.
For souvenirs there is a great selection of Sri Lankan crafts to choose from including wood carvings, spectacular batik and of course tea!
Your driver/guide can assist you to find anything in particular that you want to purchase.
Kulansa Tours can arrange accommodation tailored to meet your requirements and budget.
This will normally be in hotels and guest houses that we have used and are happy to recommend based on the experience of our clients.
Places to stay range from basic hostels to 5 star luxury hotels and even luxury tents/cabanas on exotic golden sandy beaches or in the deepest jungle.
Please note that many hotels provide accommodation and food for your driver/guide and this is reflected in the room rate that you will pay. Air conditioned rooms can be charged for at a higher rate.
The Sri Lankan staple is rice and curry and at breakfast, lunch and dinner lots of hotels and restaurants lay on reasonably priced self-service buffets
In tourist areas hotels and restaurants cater for western/international tastes. Menus are often written in English
Fish and shellfish dishes are highly recommended and excellent value for money
For a snack try out some street food-deep fried prawns, egg hoppas, roti, hot corn on the cob or mango chunks with chilli pepper!
As for drink you will find varying types and quality of tea, coffee and fruit juices as well as soft drinks with brands such as Coca Cola, Sprite and Seven Up widely available. You are recommended only to use bottled water for drinking and be wary of ice
You will find a wide range of reasonably priced local beers and spirits. Arak is popular and after a hard day sightseeing it's great to relax with a freezing glass of Lion beer
The adventurous may get the chance to try out some local homemade toddy!
International wines are available but expensive to purchase
For touring the ancient and religious sights please dress modestly. Men's legs and ladies' shoulders should be covered. Avoid wearing any type of revealing clothing. Remember that you will have to remove your shoes and stockings before entering temples-so, for ease, a pair of flip flops or sandals is best. At some Hindu temples men should be prepared to strip to the waist before entering
If you are going on an early morning safari wear something that will keep you warm. This is also the case for evenings in the hill country
At beachside resorts and hotels casual dress and swimwear is acceptable-but always be aware of the sun
In the evening smart casual wear is acceptable in hotels and restaurants
At the current time we are not aware of any naturist beaches or resorts in Sri Lanka
You will need to consider budgeting for the following:
Professional Guides-To get the most out of a safari or a visit to any of the historical or religious sights we can arrange for you to meet a local guide with specialist knowledge who will accompany you and provide you with a comprehensive tour. You can agree a price in advance and if you are satisfied with the service you might want to add a tip
Entrance Fees-These may be included in the price quoted for your tour. Where not these will have to be paid for separately. Note: the entrance fees for foreigners are usually substantially higher than the price for Sri Lankan nationals
Food and Drink-Breakfast is normally included in the room rate for hotels. All other snacks, meals and drinks must be paid for separately (to include your driver/guide)
Spa Treatments-During your stay we can arrange for you to experience luxurious ayurvedic spa treatments ranging from a basic one hour body massage to a full day of pampering
Tipping-Sri Lanka has a low wage economy and payment of a gratuity for good service is always appreciated (and expected)
If you require more detailed information about the current costs of everyday items in Sri Lanka we have a fact sheet which can be purchased for US$5.00 or will be sent to you free of charge on confirmation of a tour booking
If you wear spectacles the chances are that they will steam up when you emerge from your air conditioned vehicle! You should note that this can also happen to the lens on your camera which can result in some disappointing photos. Take care not to cause offence when taking photos at religious sites or of people
Take plenty of drinking water wherever you go
Subject to any timetabling constraints ask your driver/guide to stop anywhere that you like during your tour
Get to know what's happening in Sri Lanka and purchase a daily newspaper. English language versions are available and the Times on Sunday is great value
Travel out of season for uncrowded resorts and better value for money
Make sure you have some relaxation time either before, after or during your tour-maybe at one of the many spectacular beach resorts
Expect the unexpected and you will be delighted-Sri Lankans hate to disappoint-anything you ask for will be "no problem"
To quote "Everything will be alright in the end and if it is not, then trust me, it is not yet the end!"
If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact us