How to Get Around Sri Lanka

By | May 19, 2022

By plane

There are no direct flights from Russia to Sri Lanka due to the huge distance between us. The only way is to fly on two or even three aircraft of Asian Airlines, which cooperate with the airports of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk. The most acceptable option is to connect either in Qatar or at any of the international terminals in India. In this case, the flight time will be a little more than 9 hours without waiting. The so-called “direct” flights offered by Aeroflot, in fact, also have a transfer, but already in the Maldives, and this is possible only in the winter months. It is not recommended to fly through Singapore due to many conflict situations at border control. The authorities of Sri Lanka are regularly “caught” in ignorance of international agreements, as a result of which the Russian tourist, who has the full right to visa-free transit, must prove his case by contacting the police and calling the consulate. Colombo airport may close up to 3 hours before check-in due to overbooking – selling more tickets than there are on the plane. This is the harsh reality of a region with a high population density, but there is a way out – to arrive 4-5 hours in advance.

  • Jibin123: Provides information for visa application to enter Sri Lanka, as well customs regulations and import restrictions.

On water

Offers to get from India by sea on private yachts are best rejected immediately. Tourists are regularly deceived in this way, providing a cabin almost in the hold, while the price will be the same as for the upper deck. There are no ferries between the mainland and Sri Lanka – they were canceled during the wars.


What can really overshadow a holiday in Sri Lanka is the quality of local transportation. The region inherited a developed network of railways from the British governors-general, which means that the trains are in an appropriate condition. Therefore, buses and rented cars are considered the best means of transportation.

With buses, the situation is relatively clear, here they are of two types: municipal and minibuses. The first type is large shuttles strictly red or yellow, sometimes even with air conditioning and comfortable chairs. The second type can be anything that counts as public transport, including windowless vans.

It is better to call a taxi in advance, while at the hotel, so that the driver is guaranteed to arrive with a working meter, and not a conditional rate of 30 rupees per kilometer. If you want to ride “with the breeze”, take a tuk-tuk – a traditional Asian auto rickshaw with a covered rear cradle and seats for 2-4 passengers.

But car rental in the island republic is a risky business. The essence of the problem is non-compliance with the rules by the majority of local drivers, and the local version of the “traffic cop” instantly calculates a foreigner driving, writing out painful fines. Add to this signs and signs in only Sinhala and the terrible state of roads outside the city limits, and any guest will transfer to the bus.


The official currency is the Sri Lankan rupee, there are 100 cents in one rupee. De facto, the second currency in most resort areas is the US dollar, but outside of hotels, restaurants and entertainment areas there is nothing to do without “native” money.

You can legally change banknotes only at official bank branches, as well as at the airport. They work strictly from 10:00 to 15:00, from Monday to Friday. During all religious and public holidays, financial institutions are closed, sometimes for several days, about which tourists are warned in advance.

Street exchange, although banned by the authorities, is flourishing everywhere. In no case can you trust money changers, since foreigners are regularly cheated here, using the unstable rupee exchange rate.

Cashless payment on most of the island is useless – outside the resorts, except for banks, you can not find a single terminal for payment, so banknotes should always be with you, especially for hiking in the markets.


A real gastronomic holiday in Sri Lanka will suit only those foreign tourists whose stomachs are accustomed to truly spicy, spicy and specifically cooked food. Everyone else should keep in mind that some of the specialties of restaurants and cafes can be safely compared with the delights of Mexico or South China.

  • Kiribat is rice steamed in coconut milk. Once the poor inhabitants of the island could afford such a dish only on major holidays, but now it is hardly included in the daily diet of a Sri Lankan.
  • Kottu is a very cheap street food that is considered an Asian burger. Unlike the American counterpart, this is a finely chopped unleavened barn, which is carefully, but until crispy, fried in palm oil, after which it is sprinkled with a whole bunch of hot spices.
  • Pol-sambol is the most popular addition to rice in the country. In fact, there are several dozen sambols, just the floor is the most accustomed recipe. Its base is dried coconut flakes, finely ground tuna meat and chili powder as the main seasoning. Complemented to taste with spicy onions and lemon slices.
  • Mallum is a vegetable salad, and at the same time the most expensive snack. It does not have a strict recipe, but the main ingredient is finely chopped young centella leaves, in Sinhala – gotukola. The plant has a number of medicinal properties, so even if you like the salad, you should not eat a lot of it – the stomach will not be ready for this.
  • Parippu is a lentil sauce that goes with most side dishes. It differs from the Russian tradition, firstly, by the lentil itself, and secondly, by the abundant fat content of the broth, which is extremely unusual for most Europeans.
  • Tosai – Sri Lankan samsa, but not with meat, but with fenugreek, cumin and onion fried in sesame oil. It is not recommended to eat such pies “dry bread”, they will always be offered a bowl with some kind of sauce to choose from.
  • Elabatu – this is the name of the common eggplant. Only now they cook it in curry sauce so unusual in its spiciness that not every tourist can withstand even one serving of such a delicacy. If desired, the role of the “icing on the cake” is played by some kind of fish fillet, but this is not necessary.
  • Kavum is Sri Lanka’s most popular and inexpensive dessert. You can compare it with our pancakes, only rolled into a tube of rice flour. For sweetness, molasses is added, although the filling can be any, which affects the final price of the delicacy.

How to Get Around Sri Lanka