What tourists need to know about Sri Lanka
It doesn’t matter whether you go to Sri Lanka on your own or on a package tour, there are things that you should definitely know about. For example, in public toilets and low-cost hotels there is no toilet paper, there is almost no lighting on the streets, and alcohol can only be purchased in special stores. The following helpful tips for Sri Lanka will make your stay safer and more comfortable:
What you need to know about Sri Lanka
Duty free upon arrival. Duty free shops operate at Colombo Airport immediately after passing through passport control and before receiving baggage and passing customs. The prices there are quite reasonable, you can pay with currency and plastic cards. So it’s not necessary to bring a bottle of alcohol bought in a “dyutik” at home across half the world. Just do not forget that goods purchased at these stores are subject to customs restrictions (see the Sri Lanka customs rules here …)
Mains voltage, electricity. The voltage in the network in Sri Lanka is the same as we have 220 volts, but the sockets are three-pin. To connect “our” two-pin plugs, you need an adapter, which you can buy on the spot or ask at the hotel reception. If there is no adapter, then you need to insert a pin, such as a pencil, into the upper hole on the outlet, and then you can safely plug the plug.
Holiday Poya. According to Buddhist rules, each full moon is considered a holiday and a nationwide day off (Poya – belt). At this time, banks, many shops and government agencies do not work. Be sure to consider this moment when planning a trip. These days, the sale and drinking of alcohol in public places, including restaurants and hotel bars, is prohibited. Drinking is only possible in the hotel room. View the calendar of Poya here.
Where to buy tea. The famous branded Ceylon tea is best bought during excursions to tea plantations, in specialized stores or in shops. The cost of tea in duty free is much higher. If you are not a fan of beautiful branded travel packages, you can buy tea at the supermarket: it is cheaper, and almost the same in quality.
Take a flashlight. Even in the popular resorts of Sri Lanka and in Colombo, there are problems with street lighting, or rather, it is practically absent. Take a flashlight on your trip and on vacation, it is best to have a headlamp, it will come in handy.
Alcohol in Sri Lanka. Alcoholic beverages, even beer, are sold only in special stores, of which there are units in resorts and cities. Finding alcohol in supermarkets is unrealistic (except for the largest, where there are special departments), in restaurants and cafes, too, not everywhere. And do not confuse a drink called “Gigner Beer” with an alcoholic one. Gigner Beer is just a local ginger lemonade. Read more about alcohol in Sri Lanka and where to buy it here …
Price tags. There are no price tags for goods in Sri Lanka stores, but the price of the goods is always indicated. It is printed in small letters on bottles, bags, packaging. This is the maximum price at which the product is sold. The price may be lower (shares in the store), but not higher. And in most serious stores it happens. Only small private stores sometimes sell goods at their own price, but this is rather rare.
Visit to the temples. When examining the temples, you need to remember that at the entrance you must take off your shoes and headgear, and also do not go in too open clothes (shorts, T-shirts). You need to go around the central sanctuary in Hindu temples, in which the main deity is installed, in the clockwise direction (from left to right). With rare exceptions, almost everywhere you can take pictures without problems, otherwise, you can ask permission or pay (usually no more than 250 rupees per shoot).
Unexpected surcharges. Sri Lankans are very fond of including in the final cost of any service or product all sorts of unexpected fees and taxes, no warning in advance. Therefore, it makes sense, wherever possible (hotel accommodation, rental) to pay everything in advance. If you refuse to accept money in advance, expect surprises in the form of surcharges upon departure.
Raincoats. For some strange reason, it’s not so easy to find raincoats in Sri Lanka. Therefore, if you prefer raincoats to umbrellas, it is better to purchase them at home.
Insect protection. Repellents purchased in Russia are not very effective on local insects, while finding local repellents in Sri Lanka is almost impossible. Alternatively, buy the most expensive and “thermonuclear” repellents at home. Locals offer coconut oil as a protective agent. But, firstly, its effectiveness is doubtful, and secondly, you will almost certainly be palm off on it for unreasonable speculative prices.
Signboards Hotel. Not every “Hotel” sign in Sri Lanka really means a hotel. Small restaurants also work under such signs, so do not be surprised if you ask for a room, but they will look at you uncomprehendingly.