Travel tips: Sri Lanka

Heading away from home? We’ve gathered some tips to make sure your trip is the smoothest it can be.

About Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka (UK: /sri ˈlæŋkə, ʃriː -/; Sinhala: ශ්‍රී ලංකා Śrī Laṃkā; Tamil: இலங்கை Ilaṅkai), officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital while Colombo is the largest city and center of commerce.

Using your debit and credit card

Do I need cash in Sri Lanka, or can I use my card everywhere?

Sri Lanka is a cash driven society. Be sure to withdraw enough cash ahead of time.

What currency do they use here?

The currency here is Sri Lankan Rupee. The symbol is ₨ or LKR.

Which ATM’s can I use for free?

Free withdrawals at these ATMs.

  • Bank Nations Trust 
  • Peoples Bank
  • BOC Bank of Ceylon

If I want cash, how much should I take out of an ATM?

40 000 LKR should be enough for a few days.

Should I choose local currency or Euros when paying?

If you’re asked to choose between local currency and Euros, always choose local currency.

Staying connected

Can I roam, or should I get a local SIM?

Most EU mobile plans will charge you for roaming in Sri Lanka.

Wifi is readily available in Sri Lanka, especially in coffee shops, but do not expect great speeds.

If you want to get a local SIM card, you can learn about your options here.

Useful things to know

How does tipping work?

Tips are not expected, but you can always round the bill up to the nearest Rs 150.

How much does a 0.5L beer cost?

€ 1,60

How much does an average meal cost?

€ 1,40

What’s the emergency number?

There are different numbers for the different services here.

  • Police: 119
  • Ambulance: 110
  • Fire: 110

What type of plug do they use?

This one! It’s the standard British plug.

What side of the road do they drive on?

They drive on the left side of the road here.

How do I navigate my way around?

Google and Apple Maps both work well in Sri Lanka.

Otherwise, we recommend Rome2Rio as the best way to find out how to get anywhere. It even tells you the cost of each option.

Any other good tips?

Bargaining is a big part of commerce in Sri Lanka. Make sure to bargain respectfully for the best price, expecially with tuk tuks and when you’re shopping in markets.


If you’ve been to Sri Lanka share your experience! The following would be really useful for others to know:

  • Which ATMs are free to use? 
  • What card should I use and where?
  • Any other info you think may be useful.

Share your experience with us in the comments below!

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