We hope that these Sri Lanka travel tips prove useful for your clients, but do not hesitate to contact your TFG consultant with any questions.
What to wear
Sri Lanka has a hot tropical climate year-round, with daytime temperatures averaging around 30 degrees centigrade. Even in the heart of the hills, days are pleasant and evenings are only slightly cool. April is usually the hottest month of the year in the run up to the May/June monsoon.
For general excursions around Sri Lanka, it is recommended that you wear light, loose clothing in cool materials such as cotton. It is respectful to limit the amount of skin shown, although shorts and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable garb for tourists, particularly in popular tourist locations. Sunhats and sunglasses are advised for protection from the sun’s rays.
There are certain clothing restrictions and/or requirements at cultural sites in Sri Lanka. At Buddhist temples, you must be covered from your shoulders to your knees and you must remove your shoes. Going barefoot is also required at some of the other religious temples in the island. Hats should not be worn inside temples.
At the Beach
At the beach, swimwear and light cover-ups are perfectly fine. Be aware that nudity on the beach is not allowed, including topless sunbathing.
It is advisable to make your clients aware of the cultural customs in Sri Lanka in advance of their trip. Sri Lankans are renowned for their friendliness and good nature, but tourists should be mindful of showing respect as they explore the island.
Speed of service
One of the most charming things about Sri Lanka is the laidback atmosphere of the island. Life is unhurried here, and tourists are invited to slow down and unwind during their stay. With this in mind, service – particularly in restaurants independent of hotels – can be slow, so be prepared and plan ahead.
Before taking pictures of locals, it is best to request permission, particularly if photographing those connected with religion such as Buddhist monks. When visiting Buddhist temples, be aware that it is extremely disrespectful to pose with your back to a statue or painting of Lord Buddha.
Sri Lanka honours a number of religious holidays throughout the year, including monthly Poya (full moon) days and Boxing Day. Religious holidays are a day off for many locals, although restaurants and shops in popular tourist areas often stay open. Meat and alcohol are not sold on religious holidays, so tourists will need to buy liquor in advance if they want to enjoy a private tipple on these dates.
During a holiday in Sri Lanka, there are several steps tourists should take to safeguard their health.
It is not recommended to drink tap water in Sri Lanka. Stick to filtered or bottled water, even for brushing your teeth. When buying bottled water from small roadside shops, be sure to check the seal.
The sun in Sri Lanka is strong! In addition to wearing a sunhat and sunglasses, make sure to use suncream to protect your skin. It is inadvisable to be outside in the sunlight between midday and 3pm, including being in the swimming pool or when you are hiking in the cooler hills.
Mosquitos are prevalent in Sri Lanka. While the country has been officially malaria-free since 2016, mosquito bites can be aggravating and tropical diseases such as dengue fever are still present (although infection is rare). Use insect repellent when outside, especially in the early morning and at dusk. Long sleeves and trousers/skirts are recommended in the evenings to minimize exposed skin.
In all countries, resources are precious. Water shortages can be a real issue in Sri Lanka, and there are sometimes periods of power cuts to preserve electricity. While these measures do not usually effect hotels, tourists can still play their part in helping to conserve Sri Lanka’s resources. Recommend shorter showers instead of baths and advise a limited use of air-conditioning if possible. Switching to overhead fans overnight or raising the temperature by a couple of degrees can make all the difference.
The Sri Lankan rupee is a closed currency, meaning that you cannot acquire it before arrival into Sri Lanka. We recommend bringing cash and exchanging this for rupees at the airport upon arrival – the booths can be found in the Arrivals Hall and each bank charges the same rate. All major currencies are accepted.
Card payments are increasingly accepted in Sri Lanka, especially at hotels and tourist hotspots. However, rural areas still mostly operate using cash and it is always best to not rely totally on cards. ATMs are widespread throughout the island but give your chauffeur-guide advanced warning if you wish to withdraw cash during your journey.