Information about Sri Lanka

Comparison of temperatures

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Colombo262626272727262727252525
London68911152021201915107

Location:

Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, south of India.

Form of government:

unitary presidential republic with a parliamentary democracy. The head of state is Maithripala Sirisena. He was directly elected as executive president (as head of both government and state) for 6 years at the early presidential elections on 8 January 2015. He started his term on 9 January 2015. The prime minister (also a representative of the head of state) is Ranil Wickremesinghe (UNP).

Capital city:

Official: Sri Jayewardenepura – Kotte (on the outskirts of Colombo, approx. 110,000 inhabitants) de facto: Colombo (Population 2011: City 752,993, District 2.32 million)

Religion:

70.2% Buddhist (Theravada – Buddhism), 12.6% Hindus, 9.7% Muslims, 7.4% Christians, 1.3% others

Language:

official languages are Singhalese and Tamil; English is the lingua franca.

Climate:

tropical, hot and humid. Milder in higher altitudes and closer to the coast.

Electricity:

230 V, 50 Hz. Three-pole circular plug. An adapter is required.

Local time:

The difference between local time and GMT is +5:30 in relation to standard time (during the winter). As there is no changeover to summer time, the time difference during the summer is +4:30 hours.

Phone calls:

the dialing code 0044 (+44) needs to be added to make calls to the UK. The dialing code 0094 (+94) needs to be added when calling Sri Lanka from the UK.

Country and people:

Conduct that could be deemed to be irreverent will be punished by the police, for example, by several days of incarceration. To avoid offending the religious sensitivities of the Buddhist community, religious sites, objects and symbols should be treated with respect and caution. This is particularly pertinent in relation to taking photographs. For example, visitors have been banned from taking photos with their backs to a Buddha statue or to climb upon a Buddha statue. Appropriate clothing is to be observed when entering a Buddhist temple (temples may only be entered with covered shoulders and with trousers and skirts that extend beyond the knees). Items of clothing or tattoos with Buddhist motifs should not be display publicly under any circumstances as they can be regarded as a disparagement of Buddhism. Complaints relating to cases of fraud when purchasing goods such as jewellery are becoming more frequent. Furthermore, there are complaints time and again from tourists that herbs, spices and cosmetic products in spice and herbal gardens are sold for exorbitant prices. In the main tourist regions along the southwest coast, Sri Lanka has specific tourist police stations where incidents can be reported.

Entry requirements for British citizens:

British citizens require a visa to travel to Sri Lanka. This can be requested online via the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/. The visa can also be requested from the British High Commission of Sri Lanka in London. Tourist visas are limited to 30 days from the date of arrival. Although it is possible to obtain a visa upon arrival in Sri Lanka, we do not advise this since it can delay the arrival process. For the latest visa requirements, visit http://www.srilankanhighcommission.co.uk. We recommend taking a copy of the ETA approval with you when you travel. Please note that staying in the country without a valid visa is a criminal offence and punishment varies from fines to prison and deportation. Your passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of your arrival in Sri Lanka. Citizens of other countries are requested to contact the British High Commission in London to find out the entry requirements applicable to them. Whilst we endeavour to provide guidance where necessary, we can not be responsible for any problems encountered (whether at any point of entry or elsewhere) in the event that passport and visa requirements are not satisfied.

Tour guides:

Your expert tour guides will be able to provide you with detailed information about the country, people, history, culture, etc., and offer advice and assistance for organising your trip. They can also help with room allocation and look forward to welcoming you with initial information. Here you will find out all you need to know and useful information about the trip. We have put together a varied programme including numerous highlights, enabling you to experience the culture and diversity of landscape that Sri Lanka has to offer, and learn all about the country and its people.

Additional packages:

Although your trip already includes a comprehensive package, you also have the option of choosing added extras. We recommend booking the following packages:
Gourmet package: The package includes comfortable half board, i.e. delicious evening meals featuring traditional and international dishes: only £ 179 per person.
Cultural package: The package includes the three excursions to the „World Heritage site of Polonnaruwa“, „Panoramic train journey through the highlands of Sri Lanka“ and the „Safari in Udawalawe National Park“: only £ 169 per person.

Currency/banks/credit cards:

Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). Exchange rate (July 2019): 1 GBP = 223,17 LKR; 1 LKR = 0,0045 GBP.
Banks/credit cards: ATMs that accept British credit cards with PIN are widely available. It is however advisable to notify your bank in advance about your intended trip to prevent transactions being blocked in principle due to suspicion of card misuse. To prepay for potential hospital or doctor costs, it is often necessary to present a credit card even if valid overseas health insurance exists. You should therefore always carry your credit card with you. V-Pay cards cannot be used in Sri Lanka. There are ofte difficulties when redeeming American Express Traveller Cheques as many banks refuse to accept them. In Sri Lanka, there are often cases of credit card fraud. It is therefore advisable to use cash for the majority of your purchases.

Customs regulations:

It is not permitted to import foreign tobacco goods. It is forbidden to import goods that are manufactured from protected animal and plant species. The export of antique goods (all objects older than 50 years) requires official authorization. It is strictly forbidden to import and export weapons and drugs. More extensive customs information about importing goods can be obtained from the embassy of the country you wish to enter. Only the embassy can provide you with legally binding information. You can view the customs regulations for the UK at the following website: www.gov.uk/duty-free-goods.

Specific provisions pertaining to criminal law:

the law of Sri Lanka, particularly the criminal law, is also to be observed by foreign tourists in its entirety. Express attention is to be drawn to the provisions for the import and export of foreign currencies, impermissible possession of drugs and weapons as well as sexual offences. Sexual abuse of children (Sexual Offences Act 2003 Section 9) can also be punished in the UK even if the offence was committed abroad. It is forbidden to be photographed with your back to a Buddha statue. Disrespectful photos of religious motifs may result in severe penalties or even imprisonment. It is also forbidden to take photographs of military sites. The practice of male and female homosexuality is punishable in Sri Lanka. In practice, cases of homosexuality among adults almost never results in criminal proceedings.

Medical information:

Vaccination: persons aged over one year must provide evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination if they have stayed in a country with an increased yellow fever risk within 9 days of entering the country (www.who.int). No vaccination provisions exist for travellers who have only stayed in the UK prior to their trip. However, the Foreign Office recommends having standard vaccinations checked and completed in accordance with the current vaccination schedule recommended by the NHS (see https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/) if a trip is to be made. With regard to adults, this includes vaccination against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough); if necessary, vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and against influenza (flu) and pneumococci. Prior to a trip, seek advice from a tropical medicine advisory body, a tropical medicine expert or from a doctor specialising in travel medicine and adapt your vaccinations even if you already have experience of travelling in the tropics (see for example http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Travel-immunisation/Pages/Introduction.aspx).
Diarrhoea and intestinal disorders: Diarrhoea-related illnesses are frequent all year in all areas of the country. Tap water, even in the cities, is not of drinking water quality. It is recommended that only originally packaged drinks in bottles or cans be consumed or that water be boiled thoroughly, filtered or chemically disinfected prior to consumption. Outside of the cities, only drinking water should be used to wash fruit and vegetables or to brush teeth. Raw and unpeeled products should not be consumed. Meat, fish and seafood should also only be consumed if it is properly cooked through. There is an infection risk for salmonella, shigellosis and typhoid, amoebas, lambliasis and echinococcosis throughout the country. General hygiene measures such as regular hand washing or hand disinfection after visiting the toilet and prior to eating as well as keeping flies away from food can reduce the risk of infection.
Geographic and climate-related illnesses: Due to proximity to the equator, it is imperative to ensure good sun protection and sufficient consumption of fluids particularly in relation to children and older people. Dangerous currents lead to tragic cases of drowning time and again: relevant warnings are to be adhered to on the beaches. Alcohol should not be consumed when bathing or swimming. Children should never be allowed to play on the beaches without supervision.
Ayurveda: Specialist medical literature regularly makes references to arsenic and heavy metal poisoning caused by ayurvedic medicine. The media also reports on isolated cases from Sri Lanka. It is strongly advised, as a matter of urgency, that no uncertified ayurvedic medicine be taken during any ayurvedic treatment and it is to be ensured that no arsenic or heavy metals are present as active agents.

Medical care:

Medical care in the big cities and tourist centres is adequate to good but does not meet European standards in all areas. In Colombo, medical care in specific fields is by all means of a high to a very high standard. It is strongly advisable to have adequate and valid health insurance coverage including provision for repatriation. It is recommended to those who are chronically ill and in need of treatment that they have a consultation with a doctor experienced in travel medicine well before their scheduled departure (https://www.uclh.nhs.uk/OurServices/ServiceA-Z/HTD/Pages/Home.aspx or http://www.thehtd.org/). Travellers who take medicine on a regular basis should take a sufficient amount with them to Sri Lanka and have a doctor attest to the necessity of such medicine in English for immigration purposes. The British Embassy in Colombo has a list of addresses for doctors and hospitals in the city in the event of an emergency.

Please observe that the excursions are accessible by foot only and that the buses used for the roundtrip are not customised to transport wheelchairs or similar devices. The customer is to ensure that his/her physical and mental state is reconcilable with the selected trip. He/she is to find out about the physical mobility and mental autonomy associated with this trip.

All information is subject to change / Last updated: June 2020


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