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Weather

Sri Lanka has a tropical climate, the average annual temperature is about 32C (about 90F) in the lowlands and about 21C (about 70F) in the higher mountainous regions. Upland areas are cooler and more temperate and coastal areas are cooled by sea breezes. There are two monsoons, which occur May to July and December to January.

Language

Sri Lanka's languages are Sinhala and Tamil. Sinhala is spoken by 74 per cent of the population but overall English, is still widely spoken.

Time Difference

Sri Lanka is GMT + 5.30

Currency

Roughly USD 1 = 120 Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) Notes are in denominations of LKR 5000, 2000, 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, and 10. Coins are in denominations of LKR 5, 2, 1, and, 50 and 25 cents.

Currency Exchange

Foreign currency must be changed only at authorized exchanges, banks and hotels,and these establishments must endorse such exchanges on the visitor's Exchange Control D form which is issued on arrival and must usually be returned at time of departure.

Credit Cards

American Express, Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. Diners Club has more limited acceptance.

Travellers Cheques

The rate of exchange for travellers cheques is better than the rate of exchange for cash. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars.

Social Conventions

Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. Punctuality is appreciated but timing remains casual. A small token of appreciation, such as a souvenir from home or company, is always welcomed. Visitors should be decently clothed when visiting any place of worship.

Shopping

Sri Lanka is indeed a shopper's paradise with a wide range of handicrafts at very reasonable prices. The country is also famous for gems and silverware. Many hotels have their own shopping arcades. Goods purchased at the Duty-Free Complex in the Airport have to be paid in foreign currency. Tea here is arguably the best in the World. Gift packs can be purchased.

What to Wear

Light cotton clothes and light weight suits. It is recommended to stick to comfortable shoes and sandals. In the hill country, light to medium sweaters will be necessary. Visitors should be decently clad when visiting any place of worship. Beachwear is NOT suitable for temples and shrines. All visitors to Buddhist and Hindu temples are expected to take off their shoes. Topless sunbathing is prohibited.

Getting Around

By Air:
The major domestic airport is Ratmalana at Colombo. There are daily flights to smaller airports around the country.

By Rail:
Trains connect Colombo with all tourist towns.

By Road:
Traffic drives on the left. Most roads are tarred, with a 56kph (35mph) speed limit in built-up areas and 75kph (45mph) Outside towns.

a.Bus:An extensive network of services of reasonable quality is provided by the Sri Lanka Central Transport Board.

b.Taxi:These are available in most towns but can be slightly expensive.

c.Car Rental:This is available from several international agencies. Driving Permit should be obtained before departure. The minimum age for driving is 18.

d.Tuk Tuks (3 wheelers):These are available on almost every street corner and can be picked from the road. It is advised to catch one with a meter as the fare would be cheaper.

Must Haves:

Mosquito repellent Map of the city - Very good for travelling on your own. Added bonus is even if you have trouble communicating where you would like to go you would still be able show them.