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Sri Lanka Travel Tips

Visa
Sri Lanka has canceled visa upon arrival policy from 2012 and required foreigners to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) online. ETA will grant a traveler a stay of up to 30 days in Sri Lanka. The period of stay can be extended to at most 6 months at the local Immigration Bureau. Tourists of Singapore, Maldives and Seychelles are exempted from ETA if their stay period is less than 30 days.
 
Steps of applying for an ETA Step 1. Log in the official website;
Step 2. Fill in the application form;
Step 3. Pay by VISA or MASTER;
Step 4. Receive the ETA via email and print it.
Price USD20-40 for tourists of different countries;
Free of charge for children under twelve years old.
Tips Applying for an ETA does not need a passport, finance certificate or photos.
The printed ETA, passport and plane tickets to and out of the country will be checked by the customs.
Expense
1. Local currency: Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)
2. Commodity price:
    A bottle of water, 50RS
    A liter bottle of milk, 165RS
    A simple meal in street stalls, 120-200RS
    A simple meal in normal restaurants, 600-900RS
    A package of cigarettes, 336RS
3. Exchange: The capital Colombo, most scenic spots and airports have exchange facilities.
4. Credit card use: International VISA and Master Card can be used in most shops, supermarkets, fancy hotels, upscale restaurants, cafes and fast-food restaurants in big cities and main scenic spots. Whether other credit cards and debit cards are accepted or not could be known from the logos on their doors or windows.
5. ATMs are pervasive, so too much cash is not necessary.
6. Tip: Please respect tour guides, drivers and waiters, and pay a moderate amount of tip to them. Give 100-500RS or 10% of the total bill to drivers, waiters or waitresses; or 20-50RS for luggage carrying and room cleaning. If the service is from a male, two or three cigarettes are also OK.
Accommodation
1. Hotel
Hotels in Sri Lanka are usually located in big cities and coastal regions. Their prices differ a lot according to facilities. The accommodation fee of five-star hotels is lower than those in other countries, although fancy hotel will add many kinds of taxes on the final bill. It can be booked online or via phone.

2. Inn
Inns are usually at the seaside. One room often costs over 3,000RS or even more if in hot beaches. Most of them can be reserved online or via phone. The inn generally has ten to twenty rooms and its own restaurant. Some are not worse than hotels in terms of the design and service.

3. Guesthouse
Guesthouses, a typical type of accommodation in the country, are in the middle mountain area and near the coast. The price of one room ranges from 120 to 3,500RS, depending on the location and facilities. Some rooms might not have the independent bathroom. It can't be reserved beforehand.

Besides, meals can be served if the guest wants, but the price is sort of higher than the average level. The owner will not lock the door in the evening until everyone is back, so don't go back too late. Give a notice if there is a special plan. The owners can help reserve cars or organize tour groups.

4. Youth Hostel
Youth Hostels are on the coast, but usually not in the hotel gathering area, so it might be difficult to be found. A youth hostel is usually a small villa with a garden and a kitchen, where the environment and atmosphere is great. One berth costs 600 to 1,200RS and can be reserved online.

Tips: In Sri Lank, the cover provided is only a thin and not so clean sheet, so it is necessary to bring your own sheets. Most cheap hotels don't have the air conditioning, and coastal ones don't have hot water due to the weather. The price of rooms in high season and low season differs a lot. In high season, the reservation of well-known hotels and inns should be made as early as possible.
Food
Food in Sri Lanka is mainly rice, curry, meat, and fish mixed with spices. Coconut oil and coconut milk are also used widely. Sri Lankan like chicken, so local curry partner is often chicken, and sometimes beef, pork or mutton.

Recommended restaurants:
Colombo: Ministry of Crab, Cinnamon Grand Hotel;
Nuwara Eliya: Grand Indian, Salmiya;
Galle: Crepeology, Elita Restaurant;
Negombo: Lords Restaurant Complex, Tusker Restaurant;
Kandy:White House Restaurant, Natural Coffee, Kandy Lake Club
Sigiriya: Sheyan Resto
Tips: Do not use the left hand when eating. Try to boil local water before drinking. You'd better have bottled water since some hotels don't have teakettles.
Shopping
Specialties: Ceylon black tea, including Orange Pekoe, Broken Orange Pekoe and Flowery Orange Pekoe; spices; crafts like ceramics, wood carvings and knittings; jewels; sari.

Markets
Colombo: Colombo Odel Shopping Center, Pettah Market, Barefoot;
Negombo: Negombo Central Fish Market, Fish Market Lagoon Bridge, Sun Shine Jewels;
Kandy: Kandy City Center, Selyn;
Galle: Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct;
Mirissa: Mirissa Fish Market.
Nawam
Nawam is the grandest Buddhism ceremony in Sri Lanka during which people first makes sacrifices to God Natha, Vishnu, and Pattini, and then parade. Numerous visitors come to join it hold in July or August every year.
Traditional Dance
Sri Lankan traditional dance is the reflection of this nation's ethnics, culture, religions and customs. Every evening in Colombo and Kandy has traditional song and dance performances for foreign visitors, accompanied by percussion music. Performers in colorful apparel dance Mayura Natuma, display acrobatics, and jump across fire with bare feet.
Dos and Don'ts
Don't make noises when eating and drinking.
Don't kill animals and buy coral, turtles and ivories.
Don't use left hand to eat and deliver things to others.
Don't sit behind the bus driver. The seats are remained for monks.
When visiting temples, keep quiet, take off shoes and hats, don't wear revealing clothes, and don't take photos of and touch Buddharupa.
Lady first and not be too close with ladies in public.
Do protect the local environment.
Electricity and Sockets
Voltage: 230V/50Hz
Outlet: Type D, M and G; a converter or an adapter may be needed.
Internet
The Internet is available by a local SIM card. Some hotels, inns and guesthouses have WIFI that isn't free, while some have computers, the fee for surfing the internet on a computer is usually around 60RS/hour.
Telephone
Visitors can buy SIM cards at the export of airports and many stores on the road side. The operators include Dialog, Mobitel, Aritel, and Etisalat. Among these, Dialog has the best signal and cover regions widely; Aritel is the cheapest; while Etisalat is suitable for customers who call less and surf the internet more.

Emergency call
Police telephone: 118, 119
Fire telephone: 110
First aid telephone: 108
Government information center: 1919
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