FAQs

FAQs

Useful Info

What you need to know before traveling to Sri Lanka.

General FAQs

General FAQs

Do I need a Visa?

Yes, they are available online as an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). Official Website Please check all requirements on http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ . Can be applied 180 days ahead of travel. Kids travel free. Please bring a printed copy to present at the airport in Sri Lanka, on arrival.

What’s the weather like in Sri Lanka?

Most locations at daytime 30 to 33 (0C) with cooler nights. In the hills of Central Highlands: 15 to 19 (0C) with quite cold nights where warm clothing (thick jackets) will be required. During the two monsoons, where thunder showers are experienced there are hot and very humid days. Please see the Discover Sri Lanka page to see where it rains during which monsoon.

When is the best time to travel and what to expect?

There is no actual “best” time to visit. Sri Lanka is really a four season destination with each season having it’s own unique appeal. What you need to be aware of are the monsoon seasons – of which there are two. But one side of our 432 Km coastline is ‘in season’ at any given time of year. So ‘best’ time is largely dependent on your specific interests. Please see the Discover Sri Lanka page for the highlights of each season. Like elsewhere in the world weather has become completely erratic in Sri Lanka but you could take the following as a rough guide;

  • January: Lovely, warm weather. Great beaches on the south and west coasts. Early January (until around the 10th ) is peak tourist season.
  • February to March: Nice warm weather continues but beginning to get rather hot by end March. South and west coast beaches still in season
  • April: The hottest and driest month with temperatures reaching mid 30°Cs. Avoid sightseeing from late morning 11 am till about 3 pm especially in the Cultural Triangle and North Central regions. Many local tourists due to local school vacations and Sri Lankan New Year holidays. Tail end of the beach season in the south and west coasts but the east coast beaches just beginning to look good.
  • May to June: South-West monsoon time with sharp bursts of rain along the south and west coasts including Tangalle, Mirissa, Galle, Weligama and Colombo. Humid nights. Great beaches on the east coast
  • July: A great time to travel especially towards the east and south east coast. Nice hot weather. Early July is not yet the peak tourist season. Cultural Triangle and the North Central Province being extremely dry. Great time to see wildlife across the country.
  • August: Not as hot as April but hot weather across the island. Peak Summer holiday season and local school holidays so a busy period across Sri Lanka. Lovely beaches in the East and south east coast.
  • September: Dry weather with temperatures around 30°Cs. Drought conditions may arise in the deep south, south east and north central regions and some wildlife parks may be closed for visitors. Tail end of the east coast beaches.
  • October to November: North-east monsoon begins to hit the east coast. Inter-monsoon conditions across the island make it a less than ideal time to travel even to the south in terms of weather. Continuous rainfall during the day with thunder and lightning. Cool days and nights. Great rates on offer across the island.
  • December: Monsoons taper off only towards mid December and temperatures can reach mid 20°Cs across the island but and may even be low single digits in the Hill Country. Very comfortable weather to travel. Great beaches in the south.
 

What’s the best time for wildlife?

Check our wildlife calendar

 

Currency, Travelers Cheques, Credit Cards & ATMs

Local currency is Sri Lanka Rupees (LKR). Dollars, Pounds and Euros are widely accepted but rates will vary across different cities and Banks for currency conversions. It is advisable to change currency at the airport for best exchange rates. Travelers Cheques will be accepted at a higher commission. ATMs are available at major cities. Keep sufficient cash-securely, as credit cards may not be accepted at some Eco Lodges but are accepted at all major Hotels.

 

What type of plugs are used?

Electricity – 220 Volts/50 Hz Ac. Sri Lanka has a range of electrical sockets throughout the island and we would advise you to purchase travel adaptors with square pins and round pins. Adaptors are widely available at the airport and at hotels and wayside shops too.

 

How do I get around Sri Lanka?

A combination of transport options are now available and Ayu in the Wild Holidays can advice you on the best options depending on your holiday route.  
  • By Road: Its best to hire a vehicle and a driver (chauffeur) to get around on longer tours. All Ayu in the Wild bespoke holidays include a private chauffeur driven vehicle, airport transfers, fuel, toll costs, decent accommodation and meals for the chauffeur, telephone costs for coordinating any tour details with us and a living allowance. We provide English speaking experienced chauffeurs, some who we have known for decades. A fleet of air conditioned vehicles are at your disposal to choose – from cars (maximum 3 persons), SUVs (maximum 3-4 persons), vans (maximum 6 persons), coaches (for larger tour groups). In the event of a breakdown we will immediately coordinate for a replacement vehicle to continue with your holiday uninterrupted.
  • By Rail: There are some wonderful scenic railway journeys that we can design into each bespoke tour depending on the route. The best ones are from Ell or Haputale to Peradeniya(Kandy), Colombo to Kandy by rail is also a quicker option to travel than by car.
  • By Air: Several internal flight options are now available at varying prices. Some of the best flight connections are on a sea plane from Colombo to the southern coast in Koggala and Dickwella and to Kandy, Sigiriya, Trincomalee and Batticaloa. Small aircraft flights also operate to the south, east and north of the island
 

Mosquitoes, Vaccines & Malaria Tablets

Sri Lanka is malaria free. We do recommend that you consult your usual GP or Travel Clinic for up to date information on vaccinations required. Covering any exposed skin will help prevent mosquito bites

 

Mobile phone network coverage and Wifi

Some of our Eco Lodges have extremely limited network coverage but all hotels and most B&Bs have sufficient network coverage and are wifi enabled. We suggest you purchase a local SIM card at the airport before leaving the arrivals lounge.

 

Luggage on ground & air transportation

For group tours, all ground transportation will be in comfortable air-conditioned vans. For 3 pax or less an air-conditioned Sedan (car) will be used. All ground transportation have generous luggage space. If traveling on a Scenic or Photography Flight on a Light Aircraft or Helicopter, strict weight restrictions will apply to baggage allowed on board. Be prepared to carry only a day-bag of maximum 3 Kg on board (including photography equipment) – rest of the luggage will be transported overland in the Van/Car.

 

What to wear?

You need to pack for all seasons and reasons – culture, seasons and mosquitoes. Cotton clothing is best but be prepared for cooler mornings and evenings than what you would expect in a tropical country! A shawl or zip up jacket would be comfortable especially if traveling to the Hill Country. White, although cooling during humid days is not appropriate jungle-wear on safari as it is conspicuous when out in nature. Cotton light-weight clothing and a hat with a wide brim in browns, greens or khaki would be more appropriate. Long sleeved clothing/shawls are great to avoid mosquitoes and to cover up during cooler nights and when visiting cultural sites. Wear long pants comfortable closed shoes/trainers on walks. Please cover your arms and legs when visiting religious sites and temples and remove shoes when directed to do so.

 

Food & water

Always use bottled water. It’s available cheaply and freely at stores island-wide and is also provided in your vehicle by Ayu in the Wild. Complementary bottles are supplied at each Lodge/Hotel. Food hygiene is very high throughout the tour. Do try the incredible variety of Sri Lankan curries served with rice but a number of international food options will also be available. You will never go hungry!

 

What kind of accommodation is available?

Accommodation throughout the tour can be selected based on your budget. They can be a mix of the world’s best Small Luxury Hotels, Spa Resorts, 3-5 star Luxury Hotels, Boutique Hotels and Villas with the most blissful pampering, Tented Campsites exclusively for your use and some incredibly unique Eco Lodges. Many of the Eco-lodges are jungle-enclosed little gems with all the extra comforts you need on safari. They can also be quite secluded and isolated from any shops. It is advisable to purchase your requirement of toiletries, snacks, food, beverages (including any alcoholic beverages) etc prior to check-in at the Eco Lodges. However, please check with us about the availability of fridge/freezer facilities for storage. An advance payment is construed as acceptance of the accommodation offered. Please see the Discover Sri Lanka page for details of the accommodation.

 

Laundry

Most Hotels/Lodges offer good laundry services with one day delivery. Prices will vary. No laundry will be offered at the Campsites or Eco Lodges.

 

Tipping Guide per traveler

Tipping is an accepted practice in Sri Lanka. An average to good range of tipping is between US$10-20 per day per person. For Housekeeping an average of Rs. 100 per day and at Restaurants a 10% service fee is acceptable. However, for family tours or group tours of over 2 pax please use your discretion in arriving at a suitable tip per group or per family which can fall within or outside the above range in total. Locals will gladly accept your generosity but tipping is entirely at your discretion.

Our network of Chauffeurs, community guides who host our experiences, safari guides, jeep drivers and naturalists may not have crisp uniforms which say ‘Ayu in the Wild’. That’s only because we prefer them to be comfortable in their own local attire – we promote everything local, even the sarong. (Try it, you may like too.) Our network of Sri Lankans may speak to you in faulty and hesitant English. But because of them, your holiday will be something special. Do feel free to be generous to all these Sri Lankans at the end of your bespoke holiday.

 

Arrival

You will arrive at Bandaranaika International Airport in the suburbs of Colombo. Central Colombo is about 20 minutes drive on the Expressway but may take just over an hour depending on traffic if you arrive at mid day or during the peak traffic periods where schools and office open/close.

 

Time-zone

GMT +5 ½ hours

 

Do I need Travel Insurance?

Yes, absolutely recommended.

 

Security of your belongings

Sri Lanka is known as one of the safest tourist destinations in the world. However it is advisable to keep your belongings safe at all times. Please bring lockable bags to keep your personal belongings at Hotels/Lodges/Campsites, while you are out of your room. Please be careful when drawing out your wallet/handbag at crowded place – especially at cultural sites. Ayu in the Wild Holidays will not be held responsible for loss or theft of your belongings.

 

Scarce resources

Water is an essential resource for our island, sustaining our agriculture and producing our power. We kindly request you to conserve water when bathing, brushing your teeth & shaving. Please refrain from wasting drinking water. Please switch off lights, electronic equipment & air-conditioning when not required.

 

Curios and artifacts

Please refrain from purchasing any curios or items made out of endangered species, especially ivory. It is an offense to carry around feathers, fur or other animal parts with you. Please do not purchase ancient artifacts – they are very likely to be fakes and if they are not, it is an offense to sell them commercially.

FAQs about traveling to SL with kids

FAQs about traveling to Sri Lanka with kids

Sri Lanka is great for a holiday with kids but you need to carefully pick what to do and where to go. Ayu in the Wild are specialists for bespoke family tours in Sri Lanka with recommendations for age-appropriate activities and family friendly accommodation. Check out our list of holiday advice before you plan your family holiday in Sri Lanka.

 

Are wildlife safari rides comfortable for kids?

The Jeep rides can be rather bumpy and are usually in open sided jeeps with bar handles for protection. The roof is generally canvas or metal but you will be safe from the sun and rain. Be prepared for a bit of wind, dust and the thrill of being in one of the top destinations outside Africa for Wildlife and you will have the time of your life.

 

Are there Family Rooms in Sri Lanka?

Yes, with separate beds for kids but it is not common. Where Family rooms are not available, you could book a double or triple with an extra bed or an interconnecting room in hotels. In most places fold-away beds will be provided even in Family Suites.

 

Are travel times long between destinations?

With the recently opened Expressways, travel times have been cut down drastically along some routes. However, depending on your itinerary and the time of day you travel in, it can be long but we try to keep it to about 3 hours. If this is not possible, we factor in places for quick stops to stretch your legs.

 

What happens if the kids play up and dont want to do an activity?

Cost of entrance fees can be excluded from your tour cost, so you pay only if you go. Check with us about which activities are included and which ones are ‘optional extras’.

 

My kids are under 6 years, can they handle the local experiences?

We will discuss each activity in detail when crafting your tour including the the duration, what time to wake up and leave (e.g; Sigiriya is best done early am, its about a 1000 steps, very doable, but the last bit of the ascent is windy and steep for young children). There won’t be any unpleasant surprises.

 

Are Railway Journeys in Sri Lanka comfortable for kids?

We book our guests into the luxury Carriages, which offer lunch, snacks, have plush seating, are airconditioned and withh good toilet facilities. Railway travel is at a leisurely places through some stunning scenic routes which kids will love.

Suggested Reading

What are the good books to read before you travel to Sri Lanka

Our suggested reading list for your travel and holiday in Sri Lanka is about taking a deeper look at the people of this island and places that you may tour in Sri Lanka through the eyes of Sri Lankan authors. This list has been personally curated by the owners of Ayu in the Wild Holidays Sri Lanka.

The Road from Elephant Pass – Nihal de Silva

The Road from Elephant Pass

The Road From Elephant Pass won the 2003 Gratiaen Prize for creative writing in English “for its moving story, for its constant feel of real life, for its consistency of narrative momentum, for its descriptive power, for its dramatic use of dialogue to define social context, capture character psychology, and trace the development of a relationship, for its convincing demonstration that resolution of conflict and reconciliation of differences are feasible through mutual experience and regard, and last though not least, for its eminently civilized handling of the last degree of intimacy between a man and a woman.

Man Eater of Punani by Christopher Ondaatje

Man Eater of Punani

The Book: Man Eater of Punani –   A past rediscovered through a remarkable journey to one of the most exotic countries of the world – Sri Lanka. More than a simple tale of adventure of a man-eating leopard that terrorized the tiny village, the story is the revelation of a colourful but troubled past – a charmed life of the author. A quick read for those traveling across Sri Lanka.

The Author : Sir Christopher Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka, educated in England and built a successful career in finance and publishing in Canada. In the early nineties he sold all his business and has broken new ground as a respected book reviewer and a writer of thought-provoking books. He is a life patron of the National Portrait Gallery where the Ondaatje Wing is named after him.  He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in  June 2000, and awarded a Knighthood in the Queen’s honours list, June 2003.

Running in the Family by Micheal Ondaatje

Running in the Family

The Book : Running in the Family – Michael Ondaatje’s portrayal of fact, fiction, a lost Ceylon and a blur of recollections about his family, stories from memory and a vivid imagination! The Author : Michael Ondaatje lives in Toronto and is the author of the internationally celebrated novels In the Skin of a Lion,The English Patient, Anil’s Ghost. His other books include Running in the Family, Coming Through Slaughter, The Cinnamon Peeler, and Handwriting. Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka, and came to Canada in 1962.

Out of the Blue by Howard Martenstyn

Out of the Blue

The Book: Out of the Blue – Although titled as a guide to marine mammals, the book is a personal exploration of the deep seas and and indepth compilation of marine mammal behaviour learnt through hours spent tracking pods of Spinner Dolphins, Dugongs, Ocras and Whales. A must to read for a deeper look at these fascinating creatures of the sea and at least glance through before embarking on a Whale Watching safari in Sri Lanka.

The Author : Howard Martenstyn returned to Sri Lanka following an early retirement in his career in Canada and has since then pursued his passion for the wild seas off Sri Lanka. Currently a Director Director Research at CRIOMM – Centre for Research on Indian Ocean Marine Mammals he was awarded for his ‘Outstanding Contribution’ at the Marine Conservation Conference 2013 for his intensive research on marine mammals as reflected in ‘Out of the Blue’ the most comprehensive publication on the subject to date

Books by non Sri Lankan Authors

Village in the Jungle by John Still

The Village in the Jungle

This novel, set in Ceylon, follows the lives of a handful of villagers hacking out a fragile existence in a jungle where indiscriminate growth, indifferent fate and malevolent neighbours constantly threaten to overwhelm them.

Inner you... Outdoor Sri Lanka

Bespoke experiential holidays that make the inner you connect with outdoor Sri Lanka.

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