Skip to navigation Skip to content
Here’s the low-down on Adam’s bolt-hole…

Formerly known as Ceylon, the captivating jewel-shaped ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ offers golden beaches, tropical jungles and mountain peaks – and arguably the finest cuppa in the world.


Sinhala, Sinhalese -

There are two official languages in Sri Lanka, Sinhala and Tamil. However, you’ll usually be able to find someone who speaks English.


Tipping is part of life in Sri Lanka and most people offering a service will expect a gratuity.

Many hotels and restaurants will automatically add a service charge but it is worth bearing in mind that this will not necessarily find its way to the person who served you.

When visiting temples, you will normally be shown around by a resident monk or priest, who will expect a dollar or two at the end of the tour. Drivers will expect a tip of around $5-10 per day.

Population and size

More than 20 million people live on Sri Lanka, just three million less than the population of Australia.

Around the same size as Ireland, you could fit Sri Lanka into Australia an incredible 117 times.


Rupee -

The rupee is the currency in Sri Lanka but you will not be able to obtain any until you arrive and will not be able to take any home.

We therefore suggest you don’t change too much money at one time and also beware of confusing the 500 rupee note with the rather similar 100 rupee one – it could be a costly mistake!


According to Muslim and Christians folklore, Adam took refuge on Sri Lanka when God booted him and Eve out of the Garden of Eden (hence the mountain in the centre of the island being named ‘Adam’s Peak’).

Around 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhist with Hinduism as the second most prevalent religion, largely in the northern Tamil region.

The Sri Lankans are important producers of coffee, gemstones, coconut, rubber, a range of spices including the native cinnamon and, of course, tea, which is considered to be the ‘cleanest’ in the world.

Traditional drum-based is music performed in outlandish costumes and the colourful Kandyan dancers are an emblem of ‘the nation of smiling people’.

Although the national sport in volleyball, by far the most popular game in the country is cricket and Sri Lanka won the World T20 in 2014 for the third time in five years.


Impress the locals with a few words of Sinhala and Tamil…


Yes – ow

No – naa

Hello – ayubowan

Thank you – istuti

OK/very good – hari hondai

Do you speak English? – ingirisi dannevada?


Yes – amam

No – Illai

Hello – vanakkam

Thank you – nandri

That is very expensive – anda vilai mikavum adikum


Sri Lanka is five-and-a-half hours ahead of GMT.


Mains sockets are generally the British-style 13-amp with three square holes, so you shouldn’t need an adaptor. Mains voltage is 230-250 volts, 50 cycles.


The high temperatures and humidity that come with a tropical climate are tempered by afternoon breezes on the coast and by altitude in the central highlands.

The south-western coast and mountains receive the greatest rainfall, especially from April to June and October to November.


Tap water is not safe to drink so stick to bottled mineral water. Fruit bought in local markets should be peeled or rinsed well in boiled water before eating.

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre – see, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad at

Passports and visas

It’s a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport with you on holiday.

You will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka which can be applied for online before departure at the Electronic Travel Authority. If you wait until your arrival to apply, you will face a delay at the airport.


Smoking is banned in all public places but many hotels and restaurants allocate separate areas for those who like a puff.

Flight time

You’ll have time to take in a couple of films and a snooze – it takes around eleven-and-a-half hours to fly from London to Colombo.