Pristine rainforest. Ancient rock fortresses. Wildlife aplenty. And some of the most perfect beaches on the planet. There are so many reasons to visit Sri Lanka.

One day you could be hiking the Knuckles Mountain Range, high in Sri Lanka’s hill country; the next, travelling by train through tea plantations and into the mountains. And when you start each morning with curry, hoppers and a cup of the local tea, you know it’s going to be a good day. Climb Lion Rock, a dramatic carved-rock fortress in Sigiriya, and explore Jaffna in the island’s north, previously off-limits to travellers. The only struggle you’ll have in Sri Lanka is knowing where to start.

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Transport in Sri Lanka

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Sri Lanka, you may find yourself travelling by:

Group cycling past ancient stupa in Sri Lanka


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Smiling traveller on train in Sri Lankan hill country


Experience some of the world's most beautiful train journeys in the hill country of Sri Lanka.

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Traveller standing next to tuk tuk on the street in Sri Lanka

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Group in jeep on safari in Udawalawe National Park


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At a glance
Best time to visit Sri Lanka
Culture and customs
Eating and drinking
Geography and environment
History and government
Top 10 Spiritual Spots in Sri Lanka
Festivals and Events in Sri Lanka
Health and Safety
Further reading

Sri Lanka travel FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises). However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid's COVID-19 policy

What Sri Lanka lacks in size it makes up for with a climate that can’t be forced into a box. On any given day in Sri Lanka, from the north to the south and the east to the west, you’ll encounter biblical rains, idyllic sunshine and everything in between.

Read our regional breakdown

Usually, Sri Lanka is a safe country to visit, however, recent developments have seen the capital of Colombo and surrounding regions subject to often violent protests and civil unrest. While travel to Sri Lanka hasn't been banned for international travellers at this stage, it is advised to be alert and on guard when moving through the country and steer clear of any congregating crowds or potential demonstration areas. 

Intrepid is working with our team on the ground in Sri Lanka to closely monitor the situation for travellers currently on trips and those looking to depart in the future.

Read more about Sri Lanka safety

All foreign nationals need to apply for an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) to visit Sri Lanka.

Read more about Sri Lanka visas

Tipping is expected from tourists while travelling through Sri Lanka.

Read about tipping in Sri Lanka

Wi-fi is common in hotels, hostels, restaurants and cafes across the touristed areas of Sri Lanka. Travellers can also purchase a tourist SIM card for the duration of their Sri Lanka tour if they wish to stay connected.

Read about internet in Sri Lanka

Mobile/cell phone reception in Sri Lanka is generally very good in cities and towns, though coverage may be patchy in rural areas. Travellers can either purchase a local SIM or use their own, but they must have activated global roaming before leaving their home country.

Read about mobiles in Sri Lanka

Squat toilets are the most common toilets in Sri Lanka. Always carry your own toilet paper and soap as they are usually not provided. Flushable, Western-style toilets can be found in upmarket restaurants, newer hotels and in some tourist areas.

Sri Lanka’s unit of currency is the Sri Lankan rupee (LKR). Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.

  • Beer in a bar = USD 3
  • Lunch in a local restaurant = USD 2–4
  • Short tuk-tuk trip = USD 1–2
  • Western-style lunch = USD 6–8
  • Classy seafood dinner = USD 10–15

We do not recommend drinking the water in Sri Lanka. Filtered water is a better option; try to use a refillable canteen or water bottle rather than buying bottled water. Remember to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit before eating.

Credit cards are widely accepted in Sri Lanka, particularly Visa and Mastercard.

More about cards in Sri Lanka

There are ATMs located in most Sri Lankan towns and there should be no problem finding one in any of the cities.

Read more about Sri Lanka ATMs

Like anywhere, the weather in Sri Lanka will depend on where you are and what time of year you are travelling. This is especially true of Sri Lanka, which experiences two separate monsoon seasons.

Read our regional breakdown

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

Sri Lanka has many public holidays that change dates every year. If only the month is listed, it means that the holiday falls on a moveable date.

  • Jan Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day
  • Jan Tamil Thai Pongal Day
  • 4 Feb National Day
  • Feb Navam Full Moon Poya Day
  • Feb/Mar Maha Shivaratri Day
  • Mar Madin Full Moon Poya Day
  • Mar/Apr Good Friday
  • Apr Bak Full Moon Poya Day
  • Apr Sinhala and Tamil New Year’s Eve
  • Apr Sinhala and Tamil New Year’s Day
  • 1 May May Day
  • May Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
  • May Day after Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
  • Jun Poson Full Moon Poya Day
  • Jul Esala Full Moon Poya Day
  • Aug Nikini Full Moon Poya Day
  • Sep Binara Full Moon Poya Day
  • Oct Adhi Vap Full Moon Poya Day
  • Nov Vap Full Moon Poya Day
  • Dec Il Full Moon Poya Day
  • 25 Dec Christmas Day
  • Dec Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day

For a current list of public holidays in Sri Lanka, including the movable dates noted above, go to:

While travelling through Sri Lanka as an LGBTQIA+ is not necessarily dangerous, same-sex sexual activity is still illegal, and we advise that travellers are discreet in public.

Read more about LGBT Sri Lanka

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Travellers with disabilities will likely find it difficult to travel around Sri Lanka. Public transport has not been adapted for those with mobility, visual or auditory limitations, and pavements and roads are often in poor condition. Accommodation, too, is unlikely to be accessible for those in wheelchairs, except perhaps in top-end hotels.

If you do live with a visual, hearing or other impairment, let your booking agent or group leader know early on so they’re aware and suitable arrangements can be made. As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.

Learn more about Accessible Travel

Sri Lanka is warm. Sri Lanka is very warm. Sri Lanka will have you sweating, unless you’re up visiting the tea plantations in the hills, so light, breathable clothing is essential. Whatever you do, don’t wear any clothing depicting the Buddha – this can you get arrested, as can having a Buddha tattoo.

Read what to wear in Sri Lanka

Responsible Travel

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Elephants with their trunks entwined

How we're giving back

The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. Each year large areas of existing elephant habitats are destroyed and converted to agricultural land in Sri Lanka, meaning elephants seek out different food and damage farmers’ crops and livelihoods. Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society encourages farmers to cultivate oranges, a crop that elephants are not attracted to, creating a sustainable income while keeping both their families and wild elephants safe.

Learn more about Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society

Similar Destinations

We have a variety of similar destinations, trips and routes that you could consider! Tie another trip into your holiday, or, see how we can help you get from A to B. We have tours departing from a variety of locations around Sri Lanka. The options below may be of interest:

Tours from Negombo
Tours to Colombo
Negombo to Colombo