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Experience Sri Lanka

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What You Need to Know

Rich in history, modern day Sri Lanka blends the strong influences of the Portuguese, Dutch and British settlers who occupied the island. Today it relishes the freedom which the end to the thirty year civil war has brought in the past two years. Sri Lanka gained its independence from the British in February 1948 and today is setting out on a path to becoming a more developed and prosperous country.


About Sri Lanka

Capital Colombo
Population 20.1 million
Total area 25,332 sq miles
Airport Bandaranaike Int. Airport
Currency Sri Lankan Rupee (Rs)
Time Zone Winter - 5 ½ hours ahead of GMT
Summer - 4 ½ hours ahead of GMT
Languages The main language spoken in the country and in the southern regions is Sinhala. To the north of the country, Tamil is more widely spoken by the locals. However all over the country English is well spoken in the tourist areas and in all of the hotels.



The Weather

7° north of the equator, Sri Lanka enjoys a tropical climate with temperatures in Colombo and on the beach between 26°c to 32°c.

However, the rainfall varies considerably during the year and it is important to know when the Monsoon affects the different parts of the island. The chart features Colombo and we will be happy to discuss the weather in the East Coast and elsewhere in more detail with you

Northeast monsoon: November to February
Southeast monsoon: April to June & October / November

With the hill country rising to over 8,000 feet, the dry arid plains of north central Sri Lanka and the rainforests of the south, variety of climate is considerable providing for an all year destination. For those travelling to the Tea Estates and Hill Country, a light jumper or cardigan is always a good idea, especially for the cool winter evenings, when the temperature can drop below 10°c.


Getting around

Distances in Sri Lanka can be deceptive and take much longer than would be the equivalent journey in the UK. Today most main roads are well surfaced, but the volume of traffic and congested small towns makes journeys slow.

All of our tours are based upon having your own private vehicle and a driver guide. Our driver guides have been trained to drive safely, are all licensed and have a good knowledge of the history and culture of Sri Lanka. In addition, at some tourist attractions, such as Sigiriya local guides, with enhanced knowledge are available.

We also offer the services of professional guides, in addition to your driver. With a higher degree of historical knowledge, for those clients seeking a real expert, we will be happy to quote for a professional guide.


Accommodation

We tend to favour the smaller, boutique style properties, but equally Sri Lanka has some large hotels which offer good value for money. In the sample itineraries we have suggested places to stay, but are equally happy to recommend alternative properties and each of the destination guides includes our favourite places to stay.

For many years the larger hotels in Sri Lanka have lived with low occupancy levels and as a result have not invested in their infrastructure and interiors, undergoing minor soft furnishing makeovers. 2011 is a land mark year of change with many hotels undergoing extensive refurbishment. In the mean time, our own assessment of the star rating of the hotels is based upon international comparison and generally we consider hotels to be rated below their official rating category. Boutique hotels, by their very nature are more personal; however, we tend to feature those hotels which offer a high standard of accommodation and service many of which we have personally stayed in.


Meals & restaurants

With the exception of Colombo, where there is a great choice of international restaurants, to suit all tastes, we normally recommend guests to eat in their or other recommended hotels when touring or at the beach. In some resorts such as Hikkaduwa and Negombo there are local restaurant which offer good value for money for simple meals. Many of the boutique hotels we recommend have excellent chefs and offer a combination on Sri Lankan & Western cuisine.


Visas

In 2011 the Sri Lankan government are introducing a requirement for many nationalities, including Europeans, to apply for a visa before they travel, with an online application process. The timing of this requirement has not yet been confirmed. We therefore recommend that you check with us or with the Sri Lankan High Commission for the latest up to date information.