The "YaY" and "NaY" in our little Island

Pearl of the Indian Ocean

A pearl drop suspended in the glistening Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is a tapestry of culture and nature to captivate all. With its rich heritage of past colonization and its spiritual roots, Sri Lanka is a digestible gem of adventure. “the finest island of its size in all the world” – Marco Polo.

Sri Lanka’s 833 mile coastline is full of delightful beaches, which range from fun and sociable to quiet and undeveloped. Its wildlife is gobsmacking, too - you can encounter hundreds of species both on land and underwater, thanks to world-renowned National Parks and excellent diving all around the coast. The island also has a startlingly rich cultural heritage, with dozens of impressive ancient sites open to the public. Add to this a warmly welcoming people, irresistible cuisine, year round tropical sunshine (the island has a dual monsoon system - read more about Sri Lanka’s weather here), and a calendar of lively festivals, and you have one tempting offer. It’s all relatively close together, too - Sri Lanka is only nine hours drive from tip to tip. Those in the know insist on a number of choice stops in their itinerary. Beautiful Galle, the fortified Colonial capital of the Southern Province, should be on any first time visitor's list. Six other World Heritage sites include some seriously eyebrow-raising ancient engineering, and some of the largest Buddhist temples ever built. Wildlife enthusiasts will revel in National Parks like Yala and Uda Walawe, with their populations of leopards, Asian elephants, langurs and lorises, amongst a huge list of species. There's even a small rainforest biosphere, now protected by UNESCO. When the lowlands get too hot, you can wander up into the moist green hills to explore picturesque tea estates, mountain ranges, Buddhist pilgrim sites, and the jungle-clad city of Kandy, where you can enjoy the old antique shops and a great selection of restaurants.

Straight up

Acts of homosexuality are illegal in Sri Lanka. Outdated Victorian era laws S365 (unnatural offences) and S365a (gross indecency) are in place. However, prosecutions are very rare. You can go to most big pubs and restaurants and be yourself. Still, some basic rules apply and we will share a detailed list of do’s and don’ts with our clients from the time of the initial conversation. The team at Pinky Swear is geared to make sure you have a holiday of a lifetime and our assurance remains in such a manner where we build our suggested routes and hideouts to avoid such issues.

Not So Straight up

Sure, the Sri Lankan constitution says homosexuality is illegal in the island. But the country’s people have had no problem embracing the expression of love in all forms. This is more evident in the major cities than the rural suburbs but things are certainly looking up! Gay parades have become the latest trend in areas like Mount Lavinia and it is no longer uncommon to see same sex couples enjoying each other’s company openly in restaurants and hotels. But please do keep in mind that kissing and physical embracing in public is still likely to draw some unnecessary attention, whether you are gay or straight, so this is best left to be enjoyed in private! Having said that, holding hands in public is absolutely fine!

It is also worth mentioning that Sri Lankans in general are an inquisitive bunch of people. When you meet Sri Lankans anywhere you go, it is very likely that they would show interest to know things about you – things like where you are from, your profession, who are you travelling with, where else have you travelled etc. Whilst they would not intend to intrude, they would surely love to start up a conversation!

Bargaining

Bargaining is very common in Sri Lanka. Many people feel burdened with bargaining, but here the negotiation really belongs to the culture. You can haggle at markets, souvenir shops and local transport. There are no real guidelines for bargaining. Decide in advance what you want to spend on a product before you start bargaining. You will get farthest with a friendly smile!

Drinking water

The tap water is not drinkable and we therefore advise you to drink water from sealed bottles.

Electricity

The voltage in Sri Lanka is 230 or 240 volts. The sockets are generally suitable for the so-called three-pole English plugs. We therefore recommend that you take a universal travel plug with you so that you can still use your chargers.

Tipping

Giving tips is not mandatory, but very common in Sri Lanka. In fact, tipping is an important part of the income for people working in tourism. The amount is entirely free of obligation, but we are happy to give you a guideline! For a guide or driver you can use LKR 2,000 per day and for a bell boy LKR 100 per suitcase or bag. In the better hotels and restaurants, 10% service charge is often included in the bill. However, it is common to add a small tip (5 to 10%) on top of that.

Photography

Sri Lanka is a wonderful destination for taking beautiful photos. The versatility of landscapes, the flora and fauna, the beautiful beaches, colonial buildings and religious wonders seem almost to ask for to be recorded on the sensitive plate. Taking photos is no problem in most places in Sri Lanka. However, it is advisable to request permission when you want to photograph people or religious places or events.

Health

Talisman is not a medical institution and therefore may not give official advice. You are advised to contact the GGD, which will receive up-to-date information from the World Health Organization. Vaccinations against hepatitis A and DTP are generally recommended. Depending on your travel time and the areas you visit, additional vaccinations are sometimes recommended. If you are completely off the beaten track, then the use of malaria tablets can also be recommended.

Clothing

In general it is wise to pack both airy and warm clothing and to take a poncho with you. The Sri Lankans dress fairly conservatively; shorts and a top are not obvious and sometimes even inappropriate. In addition, special clothing regulations apply when you visit religious occasions. It is a requirement to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.

Currency

The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). You are not allowed to enter Sri Lankan rupees on arrival. You can pin these at the airport and at banks in the cities. Sometimes also in more rural places, but by no means everywhere. You can change money at the airport, at banks and in hotels, but pay attention to the exchange rate. Save the receipts when changing in case you have money left and want to exchange it again. Rupees cannot be exchanged outside Sri Lanka. In many large hotels and stores you can pay with a credit card without any problems. Except with American Express; this is not accepted in almost any hotel. Regarding your payment card; most banks 'turn off' their bank cards for use outside Europe as standard to prevent skimmers from abusing them. Ask your bank (or check it online with internet banking) if this applies to your card so that you can have it (temporarily) adjusted to 'World'.

Security

Sri Lanka is a safe country to travel. Of course it is wise to always be vigilant about your personal belongings. Traveling to the northern province around Jaffna is not recommended; this is not a tourist part of the peninsula.

Visa / travel documents

A valid international passport and visa for Sri Lanka are required. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after returning home. You can obtain your visa in several ways. Login into eta.gov would be the easiest. If you travel in the period 1 August 2019 up to and including 31 January 2020, your visa for Sri Lanka is free. The government of Sri Lanka is testing during this period whether the possible abolition of the visa will lead to a larger influx of tourists. It is still necessary to apply for the visa online, but there are no costs involved during this period. It is also possible to purchase the visa at the airport, but in this case you have to take into account a longer waiting time on arrival.

Sri Lanka: weather & when to go

When is the best time of year to visit Sri Lanka?

It may sound cliched but Sri Lanka is genuinely a year-round holiday destination, although December to mid-April is considered to be the peak season. Temperatures are fairly constant year round, with coastal regions enjoying average temperatures of 25-30°C and the highlands 15-18°C on average. If you’re travelling during the summer months (May to September) you’ll want to head towards the east coast and northern regions for dry, sunny weather, as the west and south west coasts experience rain at this time. On the flip side, the west and south west enjoy favourable weather conditions during the winter months (October to February) when the monsoon season hits the east and north.

Weather overview

Unlike many other Asian destinations, Sri Lanka can lay genuine claim to being a year-round holiday destination. You just have to know which side of the island to focus on in any given month, and this is never more important than when planning your beach destination. Unquestionably, the starting point when planning your trip in Sri Lanka is understanding the two monsoon seasons. 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. This clears up as December nears, with conditions getting balmier by the day during the second half of November. As with many South-East Asian destinations, the period from December to mid-April is considered the peak season for overall weather and therefore overall visitor numbers. Whilst there is good reason for this, there are equal benefits to travelling outside of this period, with the shoulder season often providing the best of both worlds; namely great weather and a lower visitor numbers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Phone accessibility in Sri Lanka?

If you also want to have access to your mobile phone and internet during your trip, you can do this at various places. Check in advance with your provider if your telephone is suitable for the network and the costs that are charged. In the larger cities, the telephone network is excellent. Today, many hotels offer excellent Wi-Fi facilities, which you can often use for free.

What clothes do I bring to Sri Lanka?

A warm climate prevails in the low-lying areas of Sri Lanka. Clothing made from light, airy fabrics, such as cotton, are the most comfortable to wear. The Sri Lankans dress fairly conservatively. Short pants and a top are not obvious and sometimes even inappropriate. When you visit religious occasions, we recommend that you dress covered in respect for the culture. For example, think about trousers over the knees or a sarong and a shirt that covers the shoulders. While visiting a temple, it is common to take off your shoes and socks. In the higher areas it is a little cooler than in the lowlands. If you are traveling to this area, long pants and a sweater or cardigan will come in handy. Finally, we recommend that you take a poncho with you when you travel; After all, you are in the tropics and there can always be a shower. If you go on adventurous hikes during your trip, it is advisable to pack a good pair of walking shoes and socks. For the summer months we recommend that you bring long trousers, for walks through the jungle or the tea area, in connection with leeches.

When is the best time of year to visit Sri Lanka?

It may sound cliched but Sri Lanka is genuinely a year-round holiday destination, although December to mid-April is considered to be the peak season. Temperatures are fairly constant year round, with coastal regions enjoying average temperatures of 25-30°C and the highlands 15-18°C on average. If you’re travelling during the summer months (May to September) you’ll want to head towards the east coast and northern regions for dry, sunny weather, as the west and south west coasts experience rain at this time. On the flip side, the west and south west enjoy favourable weather conditions during the winter months (October to February) when the monsoon season hits the east and north.

I would like to give something to the local children. Is that possible?

t is best not to give anything to begging children, because of this they are encouraged in their begging behavior. If you want to do something for the local children, it is best to donate directly to an orphanage or school. In this way you know for sure that your donation will go well. Give rather no money, but for example pens or fruit. Feel free to ask the driver if he wants to make a stop at an orphanage or school on the way.

Do you have a reading tip for Sri Lanka?

Do you want to get in the mood for your trip to Sri Lanka, or do you just want to read a good book, then we recommend The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies. This book tells the story of a young woman who emigrated from England to Sri Lanka around 1925.

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