Fact file: Sri Lanka

Did you know?
Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient, was born and raised in Sri Lanka.
Language
Sinhala, Tamil, English.
Visas
None required. Automatic entry for between 30 and 90 days is given on arrival.
Getting there
Direct flights from UK to the capital Colombo from Gatwick or Manchester.
Flying time from London
11 and a half hours.
Getting around
Buses are cheap, plentiful and always overcrowded. Trains are slower but more comfortable. Local transport includes buses, taxis and autorickshaws. Agree on a fare before you get in for the latter two. Be aware that there is extensive damage to buildings and other infrastructure along the country's eastern and southern coasts, and to the south-western coast south of Kalutara following last December's tidal waves.
Currency
Sri Lankan rupee.
Costs
Prices vary but as a guide: bottle of beer 50p; moderate restaurant meal £2 (local), £8-10 (top-end); roll of film £2; four-mile taxi ride, £1p; litre of petrol 50p.
Weather
There are two monsoons in Sri Lanka: April to June in the south-west and October to January in the north-east. Temperatures are high all year in the coastal regions and cooler in the central highlands. Colombo averages 85-90F (29-32C).
Time difference
Six hours ahead of GMT.
International dialling code from the UK
00 94.
Voltage
230-40V, 50 Hz.
Opening hours
Most businesses, museums and some shops open 9am-5pm Monday-Thursday. On Friday museums tend to close, as do some Muslim shops/areas/businesses.
Health — before you go
Hepatitis A, polio, typhoid immunisations are recommended, as are anti-malarials. Make sure you have adequate insurance and take a basic travel medical kit with you. Be aware there is a real risk of disease in those areas affected by last December's tidal waves - along the eastern and southern coasts, and to the south-western coast south of Kalutara.
Health — when you are there
Cholera, hepatitis and malaria are all risks. Mosquito nets, boiled drinking water, well-cooked food and other sensible measures reduce the risk.
Warnings
An uneasy ceasefire between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels exists in the north and east of the country, where random acts of terrorism may still occur. Most western governments advise against all but essential travel to the region. Check with the Foreign Office on 020 7238 4503 or visit fco.gov.uk. Avoid crowded public areas and political gatherings, which can turn violent. Take care when swimming in the sea as there are dangerous undercurrents and strong riptides. See Foreign Office advice before you book your trip following last December's tidal waves which has caused damage along the eastern and southern coasts, and to the south-western coast south of Kalutara.
Emergency
Police national emergency 433333. British High Commission, 190 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, (PO Box 1433), Colombo 3. Tel (1) 437336/43
Customs
Prices are very negotiable, but be reasonable. Thankfully, the breakdowns, snarled traffic and power cuts that characterise Sri Lanka under its troubled state are received with a shrug and a smile.
Pets
Pets will spend six months in quarantine on return to Britain.
Tipping
Ten per cent service charge is added to accommodation and restaurant bills in the middle to top-grade establishments, so there is no need to tip. Taxi drivers do not need tipping.
Tourist office
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Tourist Board, 22 Regent Street, London SW1Y 4QD. Tel 020 7930 2627.


Telephone

+44 (0) 203 696 2870

Mon – Fri 8:30am – 5:30pm

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