Before travelling to Sri Lanka

Before travelling to Sri Lanka

Ever thought of visiting the paradise island of Sri Lanka. We would highly recommend! Here is a guide on the important things you will need to do when booking a trip to Sri Lanka. 

When to travel to Sri Lanka

The first thing you need to think about is when you are planning to visit Sri Lanka. The country is a tropical island, yet when the monsoon season comes in, you could get rained out. Having said this, If one area has the monsoon season hitting, the advantage is that you can travel to another area of the country for better weathers. Sri Lanka does have two monsoon seasons which blow through the country at different times of the year.

Watching the leopard cross the road, in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

The best time to travel:

January – April and July to September for the entire country February – September north and east of the country

Monsoon season:

May – July in the southOctober – January in the north east

Beach season:

January – April for the southMay – July for the east

Before travelling to Sri Lanka

From our experiences, we have travelled during October, November and beginning of December before, and the monsoon season is in full force with rain every day. We have been to Sri Lanka during June, and the weather is hot, with showers of rain. The best time we love to travel because of the weather is between January and April, however if you can’t handle the heat then we would advised to skip April as this is the hottest month.

Booking the tickets

Now that you have chosen the dates to travel, the next step is booking your tickets. Srilankan Airlines are the most obvious airline to us, which is a direct flight from London Heathrow to Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport. This airline tends to be a more expensive, but if you are able to play around slightly with the dates you may be able to get a better deal. Alternatively the other airlines available are the middle eastern, or air India. The middle eastern airlines tend to be cheaper, yet it is advised to take into account that you will be stopping somewhere in the middle east.

Temple in Sri Lanka

Our experiences of airlines are Srilankan Airlines, who we would recommend being one of the best airlines around, next would be British Airways, another great airline which we would use time and time again. Sadly British Airways no longer fly to Sri Lanka. Lastly are the middle eastern airlines. Emirates are a great airline and then Qatar. Don’t book the tickets immediately as a better offer may become available. We personally have never paid more than £500.00 per person for our flights only because we shop around before we buy.

You can either book you accommodation with your flights, or book this separately, Airbnb is a great way of booking accommodation, alternatively depending on the budget a hostel, or hotels. We own our own flat in Colombo and use this as the base whilst we go off on our trips around the country.Here are the links to the airlines websites:

Important to have a mosquito net over the bed, to prevent mosquito bites at night

Srilankan Airlines – Link

British Airways – Link

Emirates – Link

Qatar Airways – Link

Health

About 6-8 weeks before you travel, you will need to check with your doctor/nurse if you need any travel vaccinations, alternatively your local travel clinic will also be able to help you with that. There are some branches of Boots around the country who offer the travel vaccinations. The most likely vaccination you might need are, Hep A and B, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, Tetanus, and Typhoid. Please note you may not need to have all of these vaccinations, yet speak with the doctor/nurse or the travel clinic and they will recommend the vaccinations you will require based on your own personal health.

Before travelling to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is low on Malaria, however it is always advised to take precautions. Mosquitos in Sri Lanka can be a big problem for travellers and Sri Lanka does have Dengue Fever, which is contracted via a infected mosquito. Mosquitos carrying Dengue Fever are found in urban areas and during the day.  As already mentioned, take precautions when it comes to Dengue Fever as like Malaria, it is life threatening if not treated. If you are feeling unwell always seek medical attention.

To prevent mosquitos from biting, you can use mosquito repellent with the ingredient Deet. The repellent I spear by is Jungle Formula roll on repellent. When I use this I have never been bitten, if I don’t apply then I am bitten alive. Click here to see the product. You may wish to invest in getting a mosquito net if your accommodation doesn’t have one, alternatively ensure you wear long sleeves and trousers to cover your skin.

Visa

You will require a visa to enter Sri Lanka, this can be obtained online or when you arrive at the airport. This can be done about 1 week before you fly, it normally take a couple of minutes to complete online and costs US$35 per person. As soon as you submit the application, you should get an email confirming your visa has been granted. When we obtained our visa this year, I submitted and paid for the ETA and I got an immediate email confirming the visa is granted. You can also obtain a visa on arrival, prior to immigration there is a toll booth with the sign Visa, this is a little more expensive but also another way to get a visa.

Mother and a baby monkey

Money

You may wish to exchange money into Sri Lankan Rupee before you head off to Sri Lanka, however you can also exchange this whilst in Sri Lanka. Credit and debit cards can be used in most retail shops, restaurants, cafes etc. From our own experience we take cash to Sri Lanka and exchange it whilst we are there, and use our credit card. The use of a credit card is a lot safer, due to the possible cloning of your card. If you plan to use your cards in Sri Lanka, you will need to let your bank know prior to travel.

Packing

Sri Lanka is a tropical island, but having said this, there are areas of the country with cooler climates so bring warmer clothing if you are heading into the hills. You will be surprised with how cold it is.

Bev & Shams at a Temple

Most of the island is hot all year round, and should never see Sri Lanka get cooler that 24 degrees Celsius. So for most of the island you will find yourself wearing shorts, t-shirt, sleeveless, and swim wear. We would also recommend smart attire should you check out some of the bars in the area. The other thing that will be a must to pack, especially if you are planning to visit a religious temple, is long trousers and a white t-shirt or long sleeves. You will be refused entry if you attempt to enter a religious temple with shorts and sleeveless, unless you buy something to cover your body. Please respect the religion and come prepared, we have attended many temples, to see people trying to enter in shorts and sleeveless, and every time turned away. Alternatively if you do go unprepared then purchasing a sarong is a great way to cover your body, but one it is an expense you will have to burden on, and for some it may be added luggage to take back with you. If the trip includes the hill country then packing warm clothing is a must, the weather conditions are similar to England’s weather with the lowest temperatures at about 10 degrees Celsius and highs around 20-26 degrees Celsius. 

You are now ready to head off on your trip to Sri Lanka, all you need to do now is arrange how to get to the airport to catch the flight.

Colombo Sri Lanka

Should you need any help or advise on travelling to Sri Lanka, or even inspiration on where you should go in Sri Lanka, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

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