Sri Lanka known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean is a part of South Asia. Lying amidst the sun-soaked waters of the Indian Ocean, this idyllic island has attracted visitors for thousands of years. The nation Sri Lanka has a history dating back to the birth of time. It is a place where nature's beauty remains abundant and unspoilt.
Sri Lanka is one of the few blessed places in the world that can offer the traveler such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within a compact location. This mere area of 65, 610 kilometers holds 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometers of coastline, 15 national parks showcasing an abundance of wildlife, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens, 25,350 aquatic life, and a culture that extends back over 2,500 years. There are impromptu games of cricket on the beach or in the street to join in with, the wonderfully atmospheric Victorian-era tea factories and plantations of the highlands to explore; the bustling bazaars of Colombo; some of the most spectacular hotels; not to mention the island's unique and mouth-watering spicy cuisine. One of the Asia's best-kept culinary secrets.
Bernard Tours designs customized luxury travel experiencesfor you to discover Sri Lanka. Because of our relationships with the world’s leading travel hotels and resorts, Best experiences and excursions, you get insider access to special rates and deals you won’t find on the web. Bernard Tours offers a wealth of natural variety at every turn.Discover More
Sri Lanka is one of the few blessed places in the world that can offer the traveler such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within a compact location. This mere area of 65, 610 kilometers holds 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometers of coastline, 15 national parks showcasing an abundance of wildlife, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens, 25,350 aquatic life, and a culture that extends back over 2,500 years.
Exceptional travelers require exceptional service. At Bernard Tours our hospitality and care starts as you exit from the aircraft. Bernard Tours is perhaps the only travel agent who arranges Airport Concierge, a personal assistance service designed to ease your journey at the Sri Lanka's International airports. Our Airport Concierge ensures a smooth journey on arrival
Whether you are planning a destination wedding, want a reservation at a top restaurant, a private dinner, spa appointment, a particular vehicle for your transfers etc, our dedicated and expert Travel team are here to handle every detail to your complete satisfaction. Our staff will take time to get to know your travel preferences, explore alternatives in depth, and create truly customized itineraries. Let us take care of all of the special details of your vacation so you can relax and enjoy every minute.
It is easy to obtain a tourist/business visa. The ETA can be obtained On-Line by logging on to www.eta.gov.lk and following the instructions. The cost is US$20 as a standard for all countries for processing the visa prior to arrival. For South Asian (SAARC) countries the cost is US$10. For children under the age of 12 there is no charge. Those who arrive at the airport without a prior visa will also be able to obtain a visa at the port of arrival. The cost will be US$25 for all countries and US$15 for South Asian (SAARC) countries. You can also obtain visas at Sri Lankan embassies abroad.
Transit visa good for 48 hours » Free Tourist visa good for 3-7 days » US$10 Standard 30-day tourist visa » US$20 You can pay in rupiah, Euros, UK pounds and Australian dollars in addition to US dollars.
On leaving the country you are allowed to export up to 10kg of tea duty free. No antiques. Antique, defined as anything more than 50-years-old - rare books, palm-leaf manuscripts and anthropological material can be exported without permission from the Director, National Archives, 7 Reid Avenue, Colombo 7. Tel: +94-11-2694523, +94-11-2696917 www.archives.gov.lk and the Director General, Department of Archaeology, Sir Marcus Fernando Mw, Colombo +94 11 2692840/1 Tel. +94-11-2694727, +94-11-2667155(www.archaeology.gov.lk). Purchase and export without licence of any wild animal, bird or reptile, dead or alive . also the export of parts of animals, birds or reptiles, such as skins, horns, scales and feathers is prohibited. Occasional exports are, however, permitted exclusively for bona fide scientific purposes. It is prohibited to export of 450 plant species without special permits. The export of coral, shells or other protected marine products is also strictly prohibited. Applications for special permission to export fauna should be made to the Director, Department of Wildlife Conservation, 382 New Kandy Road, Malabe (+9411 25060380 www.dwlc.lk ) and flora should be made to the Director, Forest Department, 82 Rajamalwatta Road, Battaramulla,( +011 94 28666 16/ 2866632www.environmentlanka.com).
You are allowed to bring into the country duty free 1.5 liters of spirits, two bottles of wine and a small quantity of perfume and souvenirs with a value not exceeding US $250. Cameras and camera equipment for commercial purposes must be declared on arrival. The import of non-prescription drugs, any weapons and pornography of any form is an offence and will be liable to severe penalty. For additional details please log on to Sri Lanka Customs: www.customs.gov.lk.
On leaving the country you are allowed take your purchases of gems & jewellery, spice, woodcarvings etc. However, you must be prepared to show your receipts of purchases if inquired by customs. Please inform the team at Bernard Tours as we will ensure that you purchase gems & jewellery from reliable merchants and advice & assist you with proper permit certificates. Assuring you of our reliable services. No antiques are permitted out of the airport. Antique, defined as anything more than 50-years-old - rare books, palm-leaf manuscripts and anthropological material can not be exported without permission from the Director, National Archives - www.archives.gov.lk and the Director General, Department of Archaeology - www.archaeology.gov.lk Purchase and export without license of any wild animal, bird or reptile, dead or alive and also the export of parts of animals, birds or reptiles, such as skins, horns, scales and feathers is prohibited. Occasional exports are, however, permitted exclusively for bona fide scientific purposes. It is prohibited to export of 450 plant species without special permits. The export of coral, shells or other protected marine products is also strictly prohibited. Applications for special permission to export fauna should be made to the Director, Department of Wildlife Conservation - www.dwlc.lk and flora should be made to the Director, Forest Department - www.environmentlanka.com. By informing the team at Bernard Tours we will do our best to assist you with the permits and other necessary clearances.
No inoculations are compulsory unless you are coming from a yellow fever or cholera area. (Cholera is very occasionally reported in Sri Lanka, so is not considered a serious risk.) However, the following vaccinations are recommended, particularly if you plan a long trip or intend visiting remote areas:typhoid (monovalent), polio, tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies Children should, in addition, be protected against: diphtheria, whooping cough, mumps, measles, rubella Remember to plan well ahead with vaccinations. Allow up to six weeks to receive the full course, for some vaccinations require more than one dose, and some should not be given together. The risk of malaria exists throughout the whole country apart from the districts of Colombo, Kalutara and Nuwara Eliya. Medication has to start one week prior to travel, continue during the trip, and finish four weeks after your return. Once again, planning is essential, as well as care to ensure the course is followed.
Upset stomach As most stomach upsets are due to the unsanitary preparation of food, it is useful to know what to watch out for. Under-cooked fish (especially shellfish) and meat (especially pork and mince) can be hazardous. Salads can be risky unless purified water has been used to wash the various vegetables. Fruit that has already been peeled should be avoided. Be careful of ice cream, in particular the varieties sold by street vendors and served at cheap restaurants. Sometimes there are power outages Sri Lanka, especially away from urban centres, so it pays to be suspicious of all refrigerated foods if you know there has been a recent outage in your area. Water Tap water is not safe to drink, and boiling and filtering is sometimes done too hastily in some hotels and restaurants, so the best solution is to drink bottled water. There are now many brands available, mostly using spring water from the highlands of the island. Make sure that the bottle carries an SLS certification and that the seal is broken only in your presence. Beware of ice unless you are satisfied it has not been made from tap water, and remember the tap water you may be tempted to use to rinse out your mouth after brushing your teeth is unsafe. Keep a bottle of water in your bathroom for this purpose. Sunburn When you flop onto the beach or poolside lounger for a spot of sunbathing, always remember to apply a sunscreen product with a sun protection factor of at least 15. Remember you are just 600km from the equator: even with sunscreen, your sunbathing should be limited in time. If you don't apply sunscreen you are liable to become so sunburnt that it will be painful to move, your skin will peel, you will. Heatstroke Sometimes those who have spent too long in the sun suffer what is termed heatstroke, the most common form being caused by dehydration. This condition can occur if the body.s heat-regulating mechanism becomes weakened and the body temperature rises to unsafe levels. The symptoms are a high temperature - yet a lack of sweat - a flushed skin, severe headache, and impaired coordination. In addition, the sufferer may become confused. If you think someone has heatstroke, take that person out of the sun, cover their body with a wet sheet or towel, and seek medical advice. To avoid heatstroke, take plenty of bottled water to the beach, or buy a thambili (king coconut) from an itinerant seller. Prickly heat Prickly heat rash occurs when your sweat glands become clogged after being out in the heat for too long or from excessive perspiration. The rash appears as small red bumps or blisters on elbow creases, groin, upper chest or neck. To treat it, take a cold shower, clean the rash with mild soap, dry yourself, apply hydrocortisone cream, and, if possible, a product that contains salicylic acid. Repeat every three hours.
Clothes Cotton garments are ideal as Sri Lanka is a tropical island. However, viscose/cotton mixed garments are commonly worn. Light clothing is recommended in the lowland areas and light woolen clothing is suitable in the hill country. A sun hat and sunglasses may help you to escape the heat during daytime. A good thing to keep in mind is, despite the tropical weather, some hotels have a 'no shorts' policy at dinnertime. So bring comfortable alternatives. Footwear If you plan to spend most of your time on the beach, bring comfortable sandals. If you intend to hike or do most of your sightseeing on foot, then bring comfortable walking shoes that are easy to pack and clean. Also, if you plan to visit some of the nicer restaurants or nightspots in the city of Colombo, you will need to bring shoes with you as most of these places have "no sandals" policies.
Please let us know if you are a Traveler with special needs, especially if you are visiting Sri Lanka without a companion, the country has relatively few facilities for disabled people, although greater awareness and improvements are evolving. There is no need to worry at Colombo's Airport as wheelchairs and assistance in boarding and disembarking are available. By letting the team at Bernard Tours know in advance, we will arrange special assistance from wheel chairs, to extra facilities during your drive to enroute journey breaks to ensure your stay is pleasant. We are only too eager to assist in ensuring you have an enjoyable & lifetime experience.
Banks Banks are open from 0900 hrs to 1300 hours Monday to Friday. Some city banks close at 1500 hrs, while some are open on Saturday mornings. It’s easy to withdraw money across the island at ATMs using international credit cards or debit cards.
Master card and visa are the most commonly accepted cards. American Express is also accepted, though. All leading hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, supermarkets and other outlets accept credit cards.
Sri Lanka is five and a half hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Electricity is 230-240 volts/ 50 cycles.
Sri Lanka is a photographer's delight. However, permits are required before you can take photos or video at certain sites. Entrance tickets to individual sites are available only from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. These tickets sometimes may include charges for photography, recording and parking. Rates are quoted in US Dollars and rupee parities are subject to fluctuation. There are some important restrictions that apply to photography regarding Buddhist imagery. When you visit a temple or other religious site, remember that photography should not be carried out in a manner causing disrespect. For instance, it is strictly forbidden to be photographed in front of or beside any statues and murals. Note that flash photography can damage old murals.
Sri Lanka is a year round destination. Visitors who seek sun and sea the best time to visit the West coast of the island is from November to April. The Southwestern coastal area, where most of the beach resorts are located is popular for beach vacations. During the rest of the year from May till November, visitors could enjoy a beautiful golden sand beach in the North Western areas. Kalpitiya, located in the western ( North Western)coast has been declared a new tourist attraction. The central highlands are pleasantly cool and relatively dry from January to April. Month of August is a beautiful month to visit the cultural heritage site of Kandy as the famous Pereraha festival with over 100 elephants on parade takes place during the month of August.
Cotton clothes are useful at any time of the year due to heat and humidity. Daytime coastal temperatures generally range from 27-32 °C, slightly cooler in the hill country, especially Nuwara Eliya and Hatton, where a light sweater is frequently required at night. Topless sunbathing is officially illegal. The use of bikinis is generally considered acceptable while on the beach. When swimming inland, in rivers or lakes, ask for local advice regarding swimwear as covering with a sarong may be necessary. Away from the beach, be aware that dress standards are comparatively conservative and it is respectful to wear loose, long and lightweight clothing. Shorts should always be knee-length. Be especially careful about modest dress when visiting religious sites – knees and shoulders must be covered. If you are planning to trek and climb come prepared with suitable gear. Water sports enthusiasts would do well to take their snorkels and diving equipment along.
You may sometimes be overwhelmed by crowds of people in public places (railway stations, markets, bus stands, temples or simply busy streets). "Touts" and hawkers may jostle and push and clamour to show you a hotel and sell you things. Tuk Tuks are often there when you do not need them. Always ask for assistance from the team at Bernard Tours, as your safety is our concern.
In general the threats to personal security for travelers in Sri Lanka are remarkably small. It is more pleasant to travel with a companion as it is advised not to travel alone especially after dark. The island including the North and East is safe to visit. If you have anything stolen, report it to the tourist Police, a special tourist police set up to look after the needs of the tourists. Contact Tel Number is + 94 11 2382209
While Sri Lanka is a beautiful destination for entertainment, tourists are warned to refrain from any form of pedophile activities which will have severe punishments. Please be warned to reject any approaches of this nature by tuk tuk drivers, beach boys and any walking guides in cities. We strictly advices you to refrain from such people. It is always best to obtain advice from the team at Bernard Tours as we will have your best interest in ensuring that your stay will be pleasant and memorable throughout. Every month the sighting of the full poon referred to as "Poya" is a public holiday and has religious observances. As such on a Poya holiday restaurants, hotels, clubs etc are prohibited from the sale of alcohol. However, you may consume liquor within your room. Though smoking is permitted in Sri Lanka, smoking at certain public areas and inside the vehicle could be subject to a fine.
Sri Lank Offers visitors an excellent range of accommodation facilities to suit all budgets from luxury hotels to low budget accommodations. In the peak season (mid-January and during Easter) bookings can be heavy so it is best to reserve accommodation well in advance through Tour operators/ travel agents, booking online and through our tour planning page.
Sri Lankan ‘Ceylon’ tea is prepared as in the West and coffee too. There are a huge variety of bottled soft drinks, including well-known international brands. Thambili ( king coconut water is a safe and refreshing option. Local beer and spirits are widely available. Bottled mineral water is available in most of the local shops. Please note: Alcohol is not sold on Poya (full-moon day of the month) days.
Mobile phones have been made so affordable in Sri Lanka that almost everybody has one, and coverage has extended beyond the major cities. There are four main network operators on the island; Dialog GSM , Mobitel, Etisalat, Airtel and Hutch. If you'd rather not use your own mobile phone on roaming but still want to be contactable, the cheapest alternative is to get a mobile phone connection with one of these major companies. All these phone companies have a pay-as-you-go plan where you can buy a local SIM card for around Rs.300 (that will work in GSM phones from Europe, the Middle East and Australasia) and keep adding money to the connection as you require it. You will find recharge cards at any corner store throughout the island.
Vaccinations are recommended for Polio, Tetanus and Hepatitis A & B. Also, the Typhus vaccination is recommended if you plan to venture outside of tourist areas, especially in the wet season Dengue fever is common on the island, especially during the rainy season when mosquitoes are in abundance as they transmit dengue. Use mosquito repellent whenever you are outdoors or visiting rural areas Gampaha, Colombo, Kalutara, Galle, and Nuwara Eliya districts are considered malaria free, as well as the city of Kandy. In the dry season, use mosquito repellent whenever you are outdoors or in rural areas. Especially after sunset when the mosquitoes are in abundance. Malaria pills are warranted for trips to the north but are not available locally A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers over 1 year of age coming from infected areas
When visiting a Buddhist or Hindu temple you should remove your footwear and headgear. Your legs and shoulders should be covered as a sign of respect. Some Hindu temples even ask men to go shirtless in order to enter the inner sanctum. In most temples, you will be asked for a donation. However, the traditional practice is that you make a donation only if you wish to. Any money you decide to donate should be placed in the donation box.
Public Nudity, including females being topless, is not only unacceptable but also illegal in Sri Lanka, although a few German-owned hotels may make an exception in designated areas. Ask your hotel on their policy about this.
Vaccination is important. You are required to produce your health card for yellow fever vaccination, if you are entering the country from a yellow fever infected point of departure. You will also have to update Hepatitis A, Polio and Tetanus dose. You are also advised to take anti- malarial precaution, if you plan to travel off the beaten track.test
Consider buying a Sri Lankan SIM card and top-up cards for your mobile phone. Sri Lankan mobile phone call rates are relatively cheap, both for local and international calls. There is a Dialog GSM shop outside airport arrivals. Bernard Tours can pre-purchase a SIM card for you if you wish, just let us know in advance. Most hotels now have WIFI – either free or you have to pay for a scratch card.
Sri Lanka’s genuine hospitality to tourists is renowned. People are usually friendly and helpful. However, take care to avoid religious offence. Do not touch a holy man, do not pose for photographs in front of religious statues and remove shoes and socks when entering temples. Sri Lankan culture includes a lot of customs and rituals, which date to more than 2000 years and handed down from generation to generation. The most prominent feature of the Sri Lankan is its colourful festivals , which is one of the main tourist attractions.
No, not really. For those who are more adventurous and don't mind the delicious spicy flavours of traditional Sri Lankan cooking go ahead and try it! It's an experience. But you can always order food that is less spicy or not spicy at all. There's always a good choice of both local and foreign culinary delights and beverages available on request.
Chartered helicopters, trains, buses, private cars, taxies, tuk tuks and bicycles! It's really not difficult to get around the island. But you can enjoy the comforts of a Bernard Tours Private Tourist Coach during your stay. If you want to experience the local Tuk Tuk, check if it is meter taxi and ensure the meter is one and enjoy an exciting short drive in traffic!
Freely available! Just ask your hotel for assistance.
There isn't a set value. Some cultures tip very generously while others feel rather awkward and uncomfortable deciding on how much to tip and would prefer a service to be all inclusive. At Bernard Tours, our chauffer’s and our guides are paid well, and we pay them on-time which is far more than can be said about some of our competitors. To us our drivers and guides are important element of a trip.It is true that in Sri Lanka chauffeurs and guides expect to be tipped for good service. However they will accept whatever tip you choose to give them with gratitude. If you hire a car and driver, please also consider tipping your driver for good service. A good tip is anything between 20 USD and 40 USD per day of service. If you prefer that we INCLUDE the tip in the quotation so that you do not have to be involved in the act of tipping as such we can do so.With regards to accommodation please remember that 10% service charge has been included on all your accommodation in Sri Lanka and will be charged for all food and beverages you consume on site. The hotel staff in Sri Lanka receive a share of the Service Charge at the end of each month. In the smaller boutique hotels/villas if you wish to leave something extra we would suggest at the end of your stay you pass this to the General Manager of the hotel/Manager of the villa who will pass it on to the staff – generally this is also equally shared among staff. In the larger hotels it is easier to pass individual staff tips for carrying your bags; etc but really not necessary in the boutique hotels and villas.
Police: 011-2433333. Fire: 011-2422222. Hospital: 2691111. Colombo Tourist Information – 011 225 2411 Kandy Tourist Information – 081 222 2661 Department of Motor Traffic – 011 269 4331 Automobile Association – 011 242 1528-9 Department of Immigration – 011 250 3629
Sri Lanka is complex and unpredictable in many ways and therein lies its beauty. Someone who knows will help you avoid many potential pitfalls. The navigation system only works if at all in certain main cities whilst your resorts and best sites are most often located interior among scenic locations not available in the navigation systems. If you are a light sleeper you may find yourself wondering why you stayed in a certain place at 5 am when the monks from the local temple start chanting. You may find they gave you a room with no view. You may find your hotel/resort staff recommending a poor quality shop with a personal link in the interested of making a commission than your overall experiences and impressions of the country. Your rooms turned out to be adjoining and not interconnecting.… Need we go on? On the flip side booking with a reputable & experienced travel company can be an interesting and pleasurable experience and need not be expensive. Our local knowledge will prevent the pitfalls, show you the best of Sri Lanka and give you peace of mind. Bernard Tours takes care of all of the special details of your vacation so you can relax and enjoy every minute.
Yes, it is the same country. Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka after it gained independence in the year 1948. In ancient times, Sri Lanka was known by a variety of names: ancient Greek geographers called it Taprobane and Arabs referred to it as Serendib (the origin of the word ‘serendipity’). Ceilão was the name given to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese when they arrived in 1505, which was transliterated into English as Ceylon. As a British crown colony, the island was known as Ceylon, and achieved independence under the name Dominion of Ceylon in 1948. In Sinhala the country is known as ශ්රීලංකා Sri Lanka. The name derives from the Sanskrit श्रीलंका śrī (venerable) and lankā (island).