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General Information


Public Holidays


Sri Lanka has four main religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, and so every religious festival becomes a public holiday. The result is a total of around 30 odd holidays, including National Day (February 4), the Kandy Perahera, Thai Pongal, Easter, National Heroes’ Day, Wesak, Deepawali and Christmas. Most Islamic holidays follow the lunar calendar, and therefore shift from one year to the next.


Health & Safety


Sri Lankan authorities require you to have yellow fever and cholera vaccination certificates only if you are coming from an infected area; other than these, there are no mandatory vaccinations. It is, however, advised that you get medical insurance, and take adequate precautions against malaria, dehydration and food poisoning, the most common health problems encountered by travellers in the tropics. More important, keep clean, be careful about the food you eat and the water you drink and drink enough liquid to keep from getting dehydrated. It is a good idea to carry along a compact first aid kit to handle minor ailments.


Most towns and cities in Sri Lanka are pretty well equipped with pharmacies, although at times drugs may be sold under local brand names. Besides Western medicine, another branch of medicine popular in Sri Lanka is an indigenous form known as Ayurveda, based on herbs and natural medication. As in any other country, there are good doctors and bad, but most would be able to treat minor illnesses fairly effectively. In case of serious illness or emergencies, if you do not have a reliable friend or your hotel to help out, the best policy would be to contact your country’s diplomatic mission.


Parts of Sri Lanka – particularly in the north, including towns like Jaffna and its surrounding areas – are the battleground for the LTTE and the government troops. These areas have been declared off limits, and are best not approached. Although other parts of Sri Lanka are relatively safe, there have been instances of terrorism and bombings in Colombo and elsewhere.


Sri Lanka has its fair share of thieves and pickpockets, but taking proper precautions – such as not openly flaunting your wealth – can help keep you safe. Also, sleep with doors locked (if you’re on the ground floor, keep the windows closed too), and when moving around, always an eye on your belongings – unattended stuff disappears very fast.

Sri Lanka General Information




Most middle- or upper-range eating establishments in Sri Lanka levy a 10% service charge on the bill, which makes it unnecessary to leave a tip; if there isn’t a service charge, use your discretion. Between 5 and 10% of the bill is okay as a tip if you think the service is worth it. Porters will generally expect around Rs 10 per heavy bag.

Tipping for taxis or three-wheelers is not necessary.


Business Guide


Business Hours: Generally 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, though some offices may work on Saturday as well, till around 1. Shops stay open till about 7pm between Monday and Friday, and till about 3pm on Saturdays. Banks open between 9 and 1 or 3pm, Monday to Friday.


Business Guide: Business dress can be formal or casual. Light weight suits and shirts and trousers do fine for the warmer months.  Language isn’t a problem as English is widely spoken in business circles. Appointments are necessary and it is considered polite to arrive punctually. It is usual to exchange visiting cards on first meetings.