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Sri Lanka is a year-round destination with the beaches on the west coast being best between October and April, and on the east coast between May and September. Colombo and the interior enjoy a benign climate year-round. However, except in the arid northern part of the country, tropical showers can be expected at any time.
Communication is rarely a problem in Sri Lanka as English is widely spoken in most parts of the country including in hotels, restaurants, commercial establishments and even by private transport providers. Signboards and street signs are generally displayed in English, Sinhala & Tamil.
Foreign currency and traveller’s cheques may be changed at any hotel, although commercial banks offer better rates. Converting Sri Lankan rupees back to foreign currency could be done at the banks at the airport which are open 24/7 (keep exchange receipts in case required).
Hotels, major restaurants and shops, including supermarkets accept most international credit cards but do check first. ATMs are available at the many banks throughout the island where cash advances could be obtained using your credit card. To avoid problems, it is advisable before coming to Sri Lanka to inform your credit card company of your intention to use your credit card here.
All banks are open from 0900 hrs to 1300 hrs from Monday to Friday except on Bank, Mercantile and Public Holidays, while some are open until later and on Saturdays.
Mainstream shops open by 10.00am and generally close at 05.00pm or 06.00pm; however supermarkets and village grocery and greengrocery shops open from 08.00am to late. However, most shops are closed on Sundays and on Public Holidays. Insist on obtaining a receipt especially at gem shops.
Unless a price on the menu is indicated as “nett” there will be a service charge of 10% and government taxes (amounting to some 17%) added to the bill. It is appreciated if you add half the service charge, in cash, to reward your server directly. The average tip is Rs100 per day per person for housekeeping staff, and the bell boy and doorman (of prestigious hotels) should be rewarded with Rs200 per bag or per service.
Men should wear T-shirt or shirt and shorts or trousers to cover their knees (or they might be lent a sarong if wearing short shorts). Ladies should wear respectable attire such as slacks or a skirt to cover the knees and a blouse or T-shirt. It is not be advisable for ladies to wear deep necked or sleeveless tops at cultural sites.
Purchase sealed, bottled water from retail shops or supermarkets. Avoid drinking water from the tap.
Do not leave valuables openly in your hotel room but make use of the safety locker that most hotels provide free of charge.
Do not leave valuables in your vehicle when visiting sites. You will be asked to remove your footwear when visiting temples and other sites; there will be a place to deposit footwear safely.
Most hotels will have a doctor available on call, while some will have a resident nurse. The hotel reception will advise. Medical facilities at private hospitals (don’t forget travel insurance in case of accident or illness) is prompt and of a high standard. Pharmacies exist in every town.
Simply call Walkers Tours on +94 (0) 11 2306306 or send us an email and a representative will discuss your requirements with you. We do not recommend freelance tour operators who tout for customers and do not take any responsibility for service, hygiene or safety issues.