South African passport holders do require a visa for Sri Lanka. For details please contact our office.
Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo
There is an electricity supply of 240 volts throughout India and 230 volts throughout Sri Lanka so 240-volt appliances will work safely with this supply. There is no universal power point but they generally use the three-pin socket, so you can use the round two-pin (Europe) plug or the round three-pin (India) plug.
You can buy adaptors, also known as conversion plugs, from hardware, department and duty free stores.
In remote areas of India, Sri Lanka & Nepal the electricity supply is uncertain. Many buildings will only have a few hours each day of electricity from either the town’s supply or a diesel generator.
Whenever there is limited electricity supply this will also mean limited hot water supply. Remote and village areas may experience power surges or outages, both of which can make re-charging electrical appliances very difficult. We advise you to bring a supply of batteries (bought in South Africa) with you to allow for days when you cannot recharge.
Suggested Packing List
We recommend that you check the weather forecast prior to your departure so that you can pack accordingly.
Due to the location of Sri Lanka, within the tropics between 5o 55′ to 9o 51′ North latitude and between 79o 42′ to 81o 53′ East longitude, the climate of the island could be characterized as tropical.
The central part of the southern half of the island is mountainous with heights more than 2.5 Km. The core regions of the central highlands contain many complex topographical features such as ridges, peaks, plateaus, basins, valleys and escarpments. The remainder of the island is practically flat except for several small hills that rise abruptly in the lowlands. These topographical features strongly affect the spatial patterns of winds, seasonal rainfall, temperature, relative humidity and other climatic elements, particularly during the monsoon season.
The Climate of Sri Lanka is dominated by the above mentioned topographical features of the country and the Southwest and Northeast monsoons regional scale wind regimes. The Climate experienced during 12 months period in Sri Lanka can be characterized in to 4 climate seasons as follows.
1. First Inter-Monsoon Season – March – April
2. Southwest Monsoon Season – May – September
3. Second Inter-Monsoon Season – October – November
4. Northeast Monsoon Season – December – February
Example packing list:
- Main luggage & luggage padlocks
- ‘Day bag’ – a smaller bag to carry with you during the day
- Money belt to carry passport, cash, credit cards, airline tickets, etc
- Trousers (or long skirts for women)
- Shirts or long-sleeved tops of light cotton material
- Walking shoes and socks – it is important to have sturdy and comfortable shoes for sightseeing every day.
- Sun protection – hat, sunscreen and lip balm
- Personal medical kit including insect repellent
- Antibacterial wipes – wipes such as ‘Wet Ones Anti-bacterial’ to clean hands before eating
- Tracksuit/similar outfit of soft material is recommended for the overnight train journeys
- A water/windproof jacket
- Light jumpers/thermals are great for layering, including gloves and scarf
- A ‘modesty shawl’ or sarong to wear in Muslim or conservative areas (for women)
- Torch, conversion plug and spare batteries – batteries available to buy in India tend to be unreliable
- Scarf or bandana – useful to protect your face against dusty winds at high altitude
- Spare glasses – it is difficult to get any prescription lenses repaired or replaced in Sri Lanka.
- Small bath towel is useful for overnight train journeys
- Toilet paper – not all public toilets will provide this
- Snacks – tea bags/coffee, milk powder or sachets, instant soups or noodles, or anything else you can’t live without!
- Camera and spare film/memory card
The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, divided into 100 cents (you rarely come across scents today). Currency notes are Rs.5,000, Rs2,000, Rs1,000, Rs500, Rs100, Rs50, Rs20 and Rs10. Beware of mistaking the Rs500 note for the somewhat similar Rs100 one. To check whether notes are genuine when not given at a bank, look for a lion watermark. Coins, should you have receive them, will be in denominations up to Rs10.
Make sure you have plenty of lower denomination notes (Rs50, Rs100, Rs500), especially when travelling and you need to buy small items, fruit, and eat cheap meals, because change is often hard to come by apart from at hotels and big shops.
Customs & Duty Free
The following items may be imported into Sri Lanka by persons over 18 years of age without incurring customs duty:
• 2 bottles of wine and 1.5L of spirits.
• A small quantity of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette.
• Souvenirs up to US$250 in value.
There is no duty-free allowance for tobacco products. You must declare valuable items such as cameras and laptops on arrival and must take these out of the country again when you leave.
Keeping In Touch
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. International calls are expensive (from Rs200 per min) and usually incur an additional service charge. There are also telephone booths in most towns and cities displaying the letters ‘ISD’, which can place calls for cheaper rates and have meters so you can keep track of the call rate’s progress.
Mobile phones are very popular in India and Sri Lanka and you will find high quality coverage. India and Sri Lanka have active roaming agreements with most international phone carriers; however SMS and call rates can be expensive. We recommend that you contact your mobile supplier if you intend to use international roaming during your holiday and ensure you investigate all associated costs before you leave South Africa.
Internet & Email
There are internet cafes in cities and small towns alike, where you can access your email or place an internet phone call. Most hotel Business Centres have internet access at slightly higher rates. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to keep in touch.
India and Sri Lanka are 3.5 hours ahead of South Africa.
Food and drink
All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised, whilst bottled water and a variety of mineral waters are available at most hotels. Unpasteurised milk should be boiled, and if possible powdered or tinned milk is advised; these are generally available in Sri Lanka. Pasteurised and sterilised milk is available in some hotels and shops. Avoid dairy products made using unboiled milk. Beware of eating salads – vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled, and all should be washed in sterilised water. Street food in Sri Lanka is ubiquitous but use your judgement wisely and only eat well-cooked meat and fish, that have not been left sitting out.
Vaccinations against Japanese B encephalitis, tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended. There is low incidence malaria throughout Sri Lanka, with the most northern parts being slightly more at risk from outbreaks. Anti-malarials are generally not needed.
Treatment is free at government hospitals and dispensaries whilst 24-hour treatment is available at Colombo National Hospital. Some hotels also have doctors. However the quality of healthcare varies widely across the country, and in the more rural areas, can be rather rudimentary compared to Western standards. Visitors are advised to take out comprehensive travel insurance before travelling. To call an ambulance in an emergency, dial 110.
Personal Medical Kit
Take all pharmaceutical products that you may require on your tour; do not rely on being able to purchase these during your holiday. Consider taking a ‘personal medical kit’ containing any medication or medical equipment you may need during your time in Sri Lanka.
- All prescribed medication (with a cover note from your doctor)/ copy of repeat prescription
- Headache tablets
- Anti-diarrhoea tablets
- Cold and flu tablets
- Travel sickness tablets
- Insect repellent and bite/sting relief
- Antibacterial hand wipes and/or hand wash
- Spare pair of glasses/contact lenses