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.
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:
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.
Sri Lanka is, on the whole, a safe country to visit. It hasn’t always been, thanks to a long civil war and sporadic terrorist attacks, but government travel advisories have relaxed their travel warnings and Sri Lanka is once again increasing in popularity.
All foreign nationals need to apply for an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) to visit Sri Lanka.
Tipping is expected from tourists while travelling through 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.
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.
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.
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.
There are ATMs located in most Sri Lankan towns and there should be no problem finding one in any of the cities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.