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Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Sri Lanka situated?
Sri Lanka is an island located in the Indian Ocean and separated from India.It lies just above the equator between 5° 55'N and 9° 55' N and between the eastern longitudes 79° 42' and 81° 52'. The maximum length and width of Sri Lanka is 435 km and 225 km respectively. Total area of Sri Lanka is 65610 sq km (Land area: 64740 sq km, Water area: 870 sq km).

Are Sri Lanka and Ceylon the same country?
Yes, they are. During British colonial rule the country was called Ceylon. The name was retained after independence in 1948 until 1972, when it was changed to Sri Lanka. The name Ceylon is sometimes applied in certain instances, Ceylon tea for instance.

What is the best time of year to visit the island?
Sri Lanka is a year round destination as it is opportune to have two monsoons that occur in different parts of the island at different times. In case if you wish to enjoy the western and southern coastal resorts when the weather is best, come between December and April.

Is it possible to combine a visit to Sri Lanka with the Maldives?
Yes, this is a popular option for many travelers, who want to experience the diverse settings and unique culture of Sri Lanka, but also would like to experience the world renowned beaches and diving of the Maldives. Flights between Colombo and Male are numerous and take only 1 hour. You can book an itinerary taking in both countries with the agent.

What type of accommodation is available?
Sri Lanka is rich, different and diverse in respect of all tourist expectations to attract a spectrum of tourists from all parts of the world. Wide range of accommodation options includes; ultra luxury five-star hotels, resort hotels, boutique properties, Holiday Apartments, Villas, Bungalows, Guest Houses, Holiday Homes and home stays available in any part of the country.

Is Sri Lanka a suitable destination for children?
Parents will find Sri Lanka a very child-friendly country. People generally make a special effort to entertain children. Children are well catered and looked after in restaurants and hotels and even guest houses often have family rooms. Baby food and nappies and other related requirements are available in supermarkets across the island. It is wise to bring child friendly mosquito repellent and sun cream . Some of the highlights for children are the Dehiwala Zoo in Colombo, the numerous beaches, train journeys into the hill country, and the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela. If you want to allow your children to play safely while you eat or shop in Colombo, there are play areas in Odel, Urban Kitchen, and Cheers Pub, Cinnamon Grand.

Can we visit National Parks and what kind of animals can be seen?There are many National Parks you can visit in Sri Lanka. The National Parks of Sri Lanka are managed by the department of Wild Life and Conservation. National Parks are different from Wild Life sanctuaries which allow free movements. You need to obtain permission and a guide provided by the park.

Sri Lanka has  14 National Parks which offers the chance to see some of the country’s endemic animals.elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambhur, spotted deer, hog, mouse- and barking-deer, wild boar, porcupine, ant-eater, civet cat, , giant squirrel, and monkeys such as the macaque, purple-faced leaf monkey and grey langur are some of the animals you would encounter in these parks.. The largest of the parks is Yala, where jeep safaris provide close encounters with leopards and also abundant bird-life. The best park to see elephants is Uda Walawe.

Is it possible to witness traditional festivals?
Every full moon day is a Buddhist public holiday, a poya. The most important is in May. Vesak Poya is a festival that marks the Buddha.s birth, enlightenment and death. Worth seeing are the illuminated pandals (bamboo frameworks), hung with pictures depicting events in the Buddha.s life. Sri Lanka.s most tourist-oriented traditional festival is the Kandy Esala Perahera, held in Kandy over 10 days in late July to early August. Perahera means procession, and that’s exactly what occurs nightly - a magical passing-by of drummers, dancers, whip-crackers, acrobats and robed elephants. A caparisoned tusker carries the reason for the festival, the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha for the people to venerate.

Is it possible to obtain Ayurvedic treatment?
Yes, Ayurveda, the ancient traditional medicine system of Sri Lanka, is practiced more widely than Western medicine. Many hotels offer Ayurvedic treatment for guests and have qualified practitioners to advise you on how to improve your health, or give various types of baths and massages and also treatments.

How can I stay healthy in Sri Lanka?
With common sense precautions it is easy to stay healthy in Sri Lanka, which has good sanitation and health standards. Hospitals are of very high standards; especially in the capital you can have almost any procedure, including cosmetic surgery. Fever in Sri Lanka should always be considered potentially serious and you should seek medical advice immediately. The first golden rule is never to drink tap water and to avoid ice and juices in places where they don.t use bottled water. Secondly, make sure you keep yourself hydrated by drinking sufficient amounts of safe, clean water, or king coconut juice which is a cheap, healthy alternative. Thirdly, be careful in the sun, which is very strong in Sri Lanka, especially from 10am to 3pm. Fourthly, do not pet or play with stray dogs because it is possible they may have rabies, and maybe most importantly, please ensure you have mosquito repellent with you at all times since prevention of mosquito borne disease is certainly better than cure.
What is the ideal length of stay?
Sri Lanka.s compact size and the accessibility of most major attractions means that even a week will allow you to see a number of different areas. But to experience the island properly, a minimum of two-week stay is advisable.

What are the sites not to be missed?
Sri Lanka.s cultural depth is recognized by UNESCO, which has declared six archaeological World Heritage Sites. The remains of the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa feature enormous dagabas (dome-shaped structures) and statues of the Buddha. Dambulla has an awesome stairway, while Sigiriya is a rock with the remains of a palace on the summit and sensual frescoes. These four World Heritage Sites are situated within a compact area called the Cultural Triangle. In the hill country lies the royal capital of Kandy, home to the Dalada Maligawa, which houses the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. In contrast, experience the colonial heritage of the country by heading south to the mid-17th c. Dutch fort at Galle, the best preserved in Asia. The seventh World Heritage Site is an ecological example, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Similar sites include the Knuckles mountain range, Horton Plains and World.s End, where the hill country comes to an abrupt end, dropping 2,000m to the coastal plains. Sri Pada (Adam.s Peak) is a holy mountain climbed by pilgrims, but if you are fit, join them and appreciate the stunning views of the countryside from the peak.

What aquatic sports are available?
Sea temperature around Sri Lanka remains at 27° C, which makes the island an ideal location for wind-surfing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, surfing, sailing, scuba-diving (including wreck-diving), snorkelling, speed-boating and banana-boating. In addition, there are plentiful freshwater opportunities in rivers and reservoirs, such as kayaking and canoeing, and most adrenaline-pumping of all, white-water rafting.

Are there any other sports to enjoy?
Well, there’s rock-climbing, caving, mountain biking and paragliding for the daring. For those who enjoy a more relaxed sport there is golf: there are three diverse courses across the country . Colombo Golf Club, Nuwara Eliya Golf Club and Victoria Golf Club in Kandy. There are excellent opportunities for trekking. Nature trails of exceptional interest include the Sinharaja rainforest, the cloud-forests of Horton Plains, the Knuckles (mountain range), and Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve.

What clothes should be worn?
Considering the warm temperature of the low country, loose cotton skirts or trousers and tops, and a long sleeved blouse for visiting temples, are ideal for women. Men should wear cotton trousers or shorts and a T-shirt, or even the local sarong. Take a sunhat and sandals slippers or open shoes that are easy to slip on and off.Especially in rural areas and in temples, very short skirts and shorts should be avoided.

If you are to spend time in the hill country pack a light sweater, and if you intend to sample a nature trail, bring along a sturdy pair of walking shoes or trainers. If you are travelling with children, a sunhat, loose cotton shorts and tops, including long-sleeved tops to protect them from mosquito bites, will be needed.

What kind of food is available?
Rice is consumed with curries such as eggplant, potato, green banana, chicken, fish etc, that range from delicately-spiced to very spicy. There are also hoppers (a pancake-like snack), string hoppers (steamed rice noodles) and pittu(flour and coconut mixture). Lamprais - rice and accompaniments baked in plantain leaves - is a legacy of the Dutch.

 Fresh fish, prawns, crab, squid and cuttlefish are readily available. Desserts include buffalo curd topped with palm-honey, and the caramel-like wattalapam. Tasty snacks known as short eats are excellent for trips.

Delectable fruit includes the popular mango, pineapple, banana and papaya, and also the lesser-known but distinctive examples such as sapodilla, mangosteen, rambuttan, woodapple, custard apple and beli. Colombo has an impressive range of restaurants specializing in international cuisine.

What kind of souvenirs can be bought?
Souvenirs often combine traditional designs such as makara (a mythical animal, lion, swan, elephant and lotus) which are most evident in brass work (boxes, trays, lanterns, vases) and silverware (ornately carved and filigree jewellery, tea-sets). In addition, ritual masks, lacquer ware, batik and handloom textiles, lace, and wood carvings are popular.More importantly, Sri Lanka has the widest variety of precious stones among the world.s gem producing countries - blue sapphires, star sapphires, rubies, cat.s eye, garnets, moonstones, aquamarines and topazes

Is tipping a requirement?

Although a 10% service charge is added to food and accommodation bills, this usually goes straight to the owner rather than the worker. So tipping is a customary way of showing your appreciation for services rendered. Drivers expect a tip, as do people who ‘guide’ you through a site. A rule of thumb is to tip 10% of the total amount due. If there’s no money involved use your other thumb for this rule: Rs 10 for the person who minds your shoes at temples, and Rs 20 for a hotel porter.

What should I know about managing money in Srilanka?

The Sri Lankan currency is the rupee (Rs), divided into 100 cents. Coins come in denominations of five, 10, 25 and 50 cents and one, two, five and 10 rupees. Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 1000 and 2000 rupees. Break down larger notes (Rs 500) when you change money as most vendors may nt have change. Dirty or torn notes might not be accepted, except at a bank.

Srilankan banks haves a wide network of ATMs accepting international Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus/Maestro cards. Bank of Ceylon, Nations Trust Bank, People’s Bank, Hatton National Bank, Seylan Bank, Sampath Bank, Commercial and HSBC are some of the options.

Any bank or exchange bureau will change major currencies in cash, including US dollars, euros and pounds sterling. Change rupees back into hard currency before you leave the country for the best rates.

Credit Cards

MasterCard and Visa are the most commonly accepted cards. Other major cards such as Amex and Diners Club are also accepted

Moneychangers can be found in Colombo and the major cities, as well as in tourist centres such as Hikkaduwa. They generally don’t charge commission and their rates are usually competitive.

Travellers cheques
Fewer people use travelers cheques these days, but major banks still change them – Thomas Cook, Visa and Amex are the most widely accepted. Expect a small transaction fee of around Rs 150. Banks in major cities and tourist areas have special counters for foreign exchange.

Even if you’re fit and healthy don’t travel without health insurance, as accidents do happen. You may require extra cover for adventure activities such as rock climbing and scuba diving. If your health insurance doesn’t cover you for medical expenses abroad, consider getting extra insurance
Find out in advance if your insurance company will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas expenditures. If you have to claim later, make sure you keep all documentation. Some policies ask you to call back (reverse charges) to a centre in your home country where an immediate assessment of your problem is made.

What kind of vaccinations do I need to have?
Specialized travel-medicine clinics are your best source of information; they stock all available vaccines and will be able to give specific recommendations for you and your trip. The doctors will take into account factors such as past vaccination history, the length of your trip, activities you may be undertaking and underlying medical conditions, such as pregnancy.

Most vaccines don’t give immunity until at least two weeks after they’re given, so visit a doctor four to eight weeks before departure. Ask your doctor for an International Certificate of Vaccination.

Recommended vaccinations
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following vaccinations for travellers to Sri Lanka (as well as being up to date with measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations).

Adult diphtheria & tetanus, hepatitis A / B, polio, rabies ,varicella ,Japanese B encephalitis, meningitis ,Tuberculosis (TB),are some of the vaccinations that are required.
Special Events
Kandy Perahera is one of the biggest Buddhist celebrations of the year. The festival is held every July / August for 10 nights culminating with the midsummer full moon in the hill capital of Kandy. (Read more)
Srilanka's surf beaches, where first-class waves for all levels of surfing abilities. Peaceful surroundings and un-crowded beaches are some of the assets of the Sri Lankan coast. (Read more)