Sri Lanka Tips & Tricks: Every FYI You Need To Know

Just in case you’re too lazy to flip through a guidebook.

Sri Lanka is the 4th largest tea producer in the world.
Photo: Wendy Hung

Just in case you’re too lazy to flip through a guidebook, here’s a quick rundown of etiquette, Wifi info, cash exchange, SIM cards…and more!

5 things to avoid:

  1. Don’t raise your voice or point. Be patient, the pace is slow here. Verrrry slooooow.
  2. Don’t order from a western menu. Wait for your homey staples until you head from. Ordering from a Sri Lankan food menu will be much more fresh (and delicious!)
  3. Don’t eat fish that aren’t fresh. Some restaurants in the south will keep their fish on display where you an judge whether they’re fresh or not. If they look outdated or have been kept in room temperature, don’t you dare!
  4. Avoid large chain hotels and restaurants. Some of them have ties with human rights offenders, so opting for smaller or locally-owned hotels and restaurants will ensure that the money goes to the local population.
  5. Avoid travel scams in Colombo, so be street smart. Be sure the meter is on before entering the taxi or tuk tuk, and open up your Google Maps at all times to know where you’re going.


In this tropical land, there are two monsoon seasons occur during October – January and May – July. Climate in different parts of Sri Lanka also vary drastically. In central mountainous area, temperature will be around -5 to 20°C. In dryer areas, the temperature changes to 30 to 35°C throughout the year.


Local time is GMT plus 5:30.

Visa requirements:

Most countries in the world will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka, and each visa is limited to 30 days. You can apply for one here.


Sri Lanka has tw official languages: Sinhala, which is spoken by the majority. Tamil is spoken by the minority Tamil and Muslim groups.

Hello = helō හෙලෝ

Goodbye = āyubōvan ආයුබෝවන්

How are you? = obaṭa kesēda ඔබට කෙසේද

Good = yahapata යහපත

Excuse me = maṭa samāvenna මට සමාවෙන්න

Sorry = samāvanna සමාවන්න

Please = karuṇākara කරුණාකර

Thank you = obaṭa stutiyi ඔබට ස්තුතියි

You are welcome = oyāva sādarayen piḷigannavā ඔයාව සාදරයෙන් පිළිගන්නවා

Yes = ov ඔව්

No = næta නැත

My Name is… = magē nama…මගේ නම

What’s your name? = oyāgē nama kumak da ඔයාගේ නම කුමක් ද

Do you speak English? = oba iṁgrīsi katākaranavāda ඔබ ඉංග්රීසි කතාකරනවාද

I don’t understand = maṭa tērennē nǣ මට තේරෙන්නේ නෑ


When entering temples, wear conservative outfits. So no tank tops, shorts, miniskirts or short dresses. You’ll also be asked to take off your shoes. Must oblige.


You’ll see many symbols of Sri Lankan rupees: Rs, රු, SLR or LKR. Coins are for: 25 cents, 40 cents, 1 rupee, 2 rupees, 5 rupees. Bills are for 10 rupees and above.


You’ll find ATMs in cities and suburbs but not as often in the countryside.

Credit cards:

Since fraud is prevalent in Sri Lanka, try not to use your credit card except for emergency occasions.


You should be your own judge, but in case you needed an idea of where to start: in hotels housekeeping and porters, LKR 100 a day is adequate. In restaurants, LKR 200 is good for a nice restaurant and LKR 100 for smaller restaurants. Drivers and guides will be around LKR 500/day. And there’s no tipping in local taxis, but always round up whatever is shown on the meter.

International calls:

Skype, Google+ Hangouts and FaceTime are still the best options when calling international. The country code for Sri Lanka: 94.

Prepaid Mobile Package:

You’ll need to show: a form of photographic ID, such as a passport or driving license in order to buy one. You can also choose by-the-second or per minute charges. Some packages are enabled with international calls, but some are more expensive on a pay-as-you-go program.

SIM card:

You can easily pick one up at the airport, and the process is pretty painless. After baggage claim area, you’ll see a row of money exchange, phone company and ATM stations.

Choose Mobitel, since it generally has good coverage and pretty reasonable rates. 4G/LTE is available if your phone supports it, if not, 3G/HSPA+. You can buy a tourist package for USD $10 (1200 LKR) for a 2GB SIM card


Most hotels will offer free Wi-Fi, especially in cities like Colombo and Kandy.


Sri Lanka uses the three-prong, same as India and Nepal, which runs at 230V at 50 Hz. Type D/G power sockets.


Don’t drink tap water in Sri Lanka. Getting ice in your drinks is also not recommended. Use bottled water to brush your teeth, or at least after 2-3 days to let you body adjust then you can switch over to tap water.


In Colombo, taxis are the best way to get around, even cheaper than tuk-tuks. You can even book a full day package for USD $40/8 hours.

Budget Taxis: Safer and cost lower than normal taxis but more expensive than tuk-tuks. They’re smaller cars that are operated by credible companies.

Uber: Is available in Sri Lanka.

Pickme: Is a Sri Lankan taxi service app that you can download where you can also order mini cars and tuk-tuks too

Guided tours:

Sammy Tours – Personalized tours around Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Day Tours – Great for excursions.

Blue Lanka Tours – A nice variety of tours.

Wendy Hung


As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and St. Bart's because they were all so different!

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