Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Q: Why can’t I put 4 people in one hotel room
A:  Most hotels and other accommodations allow only 2 to 3 people per single room. If you this does not suit you (for example, if you are a family of four, with younger children), please advise and I will attempt to find “family” sized rooms wherever possible.

Q:  Do we have to stick to a rigorous schedule every day?   How flexible are our plans?
A:  There is some flexibility within each day, depending on the distance between towns (and length of drives) where you will be staying.  I will advise the practical program for each day in advance, and where you will have some free or flex time.
Remember, it can be very warm during the middle of the day, so it is always a good idea to start your day as early as you can to beat the heat.

Q: Do I have to pay for my guide to enter various sites and parks?
A: in many cases, guides are provided entry to sites for free however this is not always the case. I will gladly accompany you if would still like me to join. (I am very familiar with all sites and parks).

Q: Am I able to take a train for some parts of my journey?
A:  it is possible to arrange for some sections to be done by train if you prefer.  Depending on your journey, I can suggest some options for you to enjoy that experience.
Normally I would see you on to the train, then drive on to meet you at your destination. However, due to driving times this needs to be coordinated with you in advance.

Q: What is the food like?
Sri Lankan dishes are based on rice, with a large variety of vegetables, fish & fruits. Sri Lankan food has been influenced by many other countries and cultures such – India, Arabia, Malaysia, Portugal, the Netherlands and England.

Sri Lankan food is very good, and while it can be spicy, that’s not always the case.  Sri Lankan food served in hotels is usually toned down to meet the needs of most tourists, but remains delicious.  If you are worried, make sure you ask and advise your server to go easy on the spice.

There are also numerous other international cuisines available throughout the country.

Coastal towns will have excellent seafood, and not nearly as expensive as other countries.
And of course, the variety of tropical fruit is wonderful.  Try a variety of coconuts, bananas or plantains, mangoes, papaya, wood apple, melons, passion fruit, guavas, rambutans and more!

What if I am vegetarian?

Most large hotels and restaurants will have a vegetarian options for you (you can ask your guide for help).   Be aware that in some cases, local restaurants may say the food is vegetarian but the dish (eg “rice and curry” may include a fried fish or anchovies.   However, a  ‘South Indian’ vegetarian restaurant will be 100% vegetarian.

Q: How do we choose where to eat?  Do you eat with us at meals?
A:  There are so many excellent dining options for you. I can make recommendations As you wish, I will gladly join you (and help order meals if you would like) but this is up to you.

In some places, driver’s or guide’s meals are often complimentary.  I can advise you if this is not the case.

Q: what kind of vehicle should we have?  Can you arrange this?
A: Yes, indeed, I can arrange the vehicle of your choice.   For two people, I recommended a car. For 3 or more (ie families) I recommend a van. Vans are very popular as they have plenty of room for luggage and lots of space to spread out (ie sleep).   All makes and models of vehicles are generally available. 
See the ‘Your Personal Holiday’ section of the website.

All vehicles will have air-conditioning and DC power to charge your mobile devices. However, to ensure compatibility with your own devices, you may wish to bring your own car charging plugs or adapters and (long) cables.  And spare USB battery packs are always a good idea.

Q: Are credit cards widely accepted?
Credit Cards are widely used and accepted by local establishments (even in small towns). The most widely used card types are Visa and MasterCard, with Amex to a lesser extent. It would be a convenient option to use your Credit Card (valid for international use) whenever possible.

Currency regulations in Sri Lanka mean that credit card charges will only be made in Sri Lankan currency.  Hotels and establishments will apply the daily exchange rate on the day of your purchase. 

Q: Are ATM machines widely available and do they issue cash against my debit/ creditcard?
ATM’s are available in most main cities. You can usually also make cash withdrawals on your Visa / Mastercard in most ATM’S. Look for the Maestro or Cirrus logo!

However, it is always a good idea to contact your local bank beforehand to ensure your card will be valid for use in Sri Lanka, and to advise the dates of your holiday, so they don’t automatically block your card from use. 

Q: Can I buy a SIM card for mobile phone service in Sri Lanka? Where do I do this?
A: Yes, of course. The simplest thing to do is purchase a Sri Lanka SIM card from one of the local service providers who all have kiosks in the Arrivals Terminal of the Columbo Airport.  The cost of a start card is low, and you can then recharge it while travelling thereafter.
I also have my own mobile so you can contact me at any time, if we are apart.

Q:  Can I use my mobile phone in in Sri Lanka?
All mobile operators support the GSM technology on GSM 900/ 1800 bands. WAP & GPRS is widely supported. Service is generally 3G and wireless broadband is available in Colombo.  Wifi zones are available in selected spots in major towns and some regional hotels.

Q: Can I purchase a local mobile SIM card while on holiday?
Yes, you can buy a local SIM for your own mobile. Be sure that your phone is `dual band’ and unlocked (and takes removable SIM cards). 
The mobile call rates are relatively cheap for both local and international direct dial phone calls. There are a number of mobile service providers in the country (e.g. Dialog, Mobitel, Etisalat, Hutch).   You will find a few kiosks in the arrivals terminal at the Colombo Airport, where you can buy a local SIM.  A Dialog SIM  will cost about Rupees 1500.  Top up cards are freely available island-wide.  You can buy top-up cards for denominations of Rupees 100, 400 & 1000.  Some may allow auto-top ups with a credit card.

Q: is there free internet access available?

Most hotels provide internet facilities. There are usually internet cafes in most towns with an ADSL connection. Connections in smaller towns will be slow. The average cost is quite low.  Many large hotels provide free Wifi facilities. 

Q: What should I wear while there.
A: This depends on where you wish to travel and in what season. I suggest you have loose fitting clothes of natural fibres, or modern ‘breathable’ polyesters (moisture wicking base-layers).  Long sleeve and hats will protect you from the sun.  The hills can surprise with cool weather in the evenings so having some warm layers is the best option for changing temperatures.

Remember to dress modestly at religious sites (or you may be barred from entering) and remove your shoes, and any hats.

Q: Do I need to bring my own medicines and first aid
A: Sri Lanka is well equipped with pharmacies and medical centres. However, it is always a good idea to bring enough medicines to last your trip, and it is never a bad idea to bring along a few essentials such as band-aids, lip balm, sunscreen and insect repellent.

Q are mosquitoes a problem? Are there other pests?
Most hotels provide you with a plug-in mosquito repellent which will usually be switched in the evening. You can also buy your own tablets (made of repellent, which are inserted in to the plug-in unit), from most local supermarkets. Mosquito nets in hotels are a rarity, and mosquitoes are not fond of air-conditioned rooms.   Mosquito coils and citronella candles are available at the supermarket. If dining outside, it is a good idea to use an insect spray or lotion.

Q: Is the water safe to drink?
A: water quality varies throughout the country so it is recommended that you rely on bottled water for drinking, which is generally available everywhere.

Q: What if I forget or lose something?
A: no problem, I am a master at this kind of problem solving!  I will help you find what you need, and assist with translations if required.

Q: Is it true that liquor is not served on Full Moon days?
Yes, there is a ban on the sale of Liquor on Full Moon Days.

Full Moon days (known as Poya days), are of religious significance to Buddhists and devoted to prayer and meditation.  As a result, abstinence is practiced. Places that sell liquor (including hotel bars) will be closed.  Cinemas, discos and casinos are closed as well.

Q: Can I smoke in public places?
No. Smoking and consuming liquor in public areas is banned in Sri Lanka. The smoking ban includes enclosed public places such as restaurants and social clubs. Smoking is not allowed inside vehicles while on tour; however, regular comfort stops will be provided.

Q: Is it okay to take pictures of people sites?
It is always better to ask permission before taking photographs of people, and please respect their wishes if they refuse.
Avoid paying for the right to take a photo as this has been found to encourage a begging mentality in the locals.
If you take photos, try to send back copies so that the people can receive copies (many will have emails).

While video cameras are welcome, there are some places where filming is not allowed.In small villages, at home-stays or while trekking, we generally do not permit the use of videos as local people have requested this. At all times, use courtesy and discretion with cameras.
Ask permission before taking pictures either of people or inside temples or other sacred places.

For example, it is forbidden to take photographs inside the cave temple complex of Dambulla. Never use flash on murals inside temples and other places; it can damage them. You are not allowed to use flash at the frescoes at Sigiriya, but where ever there is no ban, please behave responsibly.
Never pose beside or in front of a Buddha statue (i.e. with your back to the statue). Such conduct is considered extremely disrespectful. Never take a photo of a monk without asking permission. Tourists are sometimes asked for money for taking photos. Always ask before you shoot whether payment is expected. Never take photos of dams, airports, roadblocks or anything to do with the military.

Q: What is the electricity voltage and plug type used in Sri Lanka?
The voltage is Sri Lanka is 220/ 240 volts
Sri Lankan hotels usually have two types of plug bases available; either the UK (Type G) or India (Type D). Sometimes you will see the same as used in parts of Europe (Type C). 

Plug type



Plug base compatibility

UK (Type G)

3 rectangular pins

13 Amps

Accepts Type C (by tricking Earth socket). Need an adapter to accept Type D

Euro plug (Type C)

2 round pins

5 Amps

Compatible with Type G and Type D (by tricking Earth socket).

India (Type D)

3 round pins*

5 Amps

Accepts Type C (by tricking Earth socket). Need an adapter to accept Type G

It is always a good idea to bring your own adapter, and a multi-outlet power bar, from home (then you only need one adapter!). You may ask if your hotel has an adapter.  And adapters are generally available in supermarkets/ hardware shops.

The Type I plug (two slanted pins) used in countries such as South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and parts of China is not compatible with Sri Lankan plug base and need an adapter. Again, it isstrongly advised that you bring a ‘Universal Adapter’ from home if you have this type of plug, as it will be more difficult to find this type of adapter in Sri Lanka.

And never plug in a 110 -120volt appliance (eg. A hairdryer), as it might catch fire in your hands!

Q:  What about tipping?
Tipping is widely accepted and generally expected.  Tipping is a customary way of showing your appreciation for services rendered. A general rule of thumb for tipping;

Tour Guide – Your chauffeur-guide will expect something between US$ 10 to 15 a day (depending on your level of satisfaction with his service).
Restaurant Staff – A 10% service charge is usually included in bills for food in more established restaurants. However the waiter/ waitress will expect a small tip.  If a 10% service charge is included in the bill, a tip of $1 or $2 will be sufficient. If you receive exceptional service, add another 5% – 10%.
Housekeeping, bell desk & maintenance staff – A tip of $0.50 cents or $2 for the porter/ bell boy per bag (depending on distance to your room). Airport porters usually have the rate marked on their vests – about Rs. 50 per bag – this is not really a tip but more like a ‘service charge’. The room boy/ maid & pool boy will expect about $4 – $5 per week. On occasion you may see a tip included in your room bill.

Temples & places of interest – The person who looks after your shoes at temples will usually require a small tip. The resident monks in some smaller temples will show you around and expect a ‘donation’ – in such cases you can buy a ‘ticket’ from a layperson or place the tip in the ‘donation box’. If you visit Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage and want to take photo or bottle feed a baby elephant – you’ll need to cough up a ‘tip’.  Always check with your guide before snapping a picture.

Transport – taxi cabs &tuktuks run on a fixed price, so tipping is not required.
Don’t get overwhelmed by all the tipping advice. Do your best, and remember, for the most part it is up to you.

Q: What are some local customs I should know?
The Right Hand rule – Always gives and receives and eats with your right hand. It is extremely bad mannered to use your left hand for eating.
Respect cultural differences – Some things are done differently in Asia.

Please make sure in your dealings with local people you accept these differences and not try to change them for your own benefit or comfort. The traveler who wishes to have a happy and successful trip in Sri Lanka should keep as calm, cheerful and friendly as humanly possible. Patience and courtesy are virtues that open many doors. Demanding tourists do not get smiles, service or respect.

Environmental responsibility – Pollution and waste management is a huge problem throughout the world. Unfortunately in many parts of Asia, disposal systems are inadequate and recycling of plastics is limited. We suggest avoiding plastic packaging where possible and take along your own bag when shopping. Plastic bags will be offered for everything! Collect and dispose in the next town.

The law protects certain endangered species of flora & fauna. Export & in even possession of these species as well as of wild animals, birds, reptiles etc., is illegal. The production and sale of items made from wild animals and reptiles, e.g.: Leopard skins, crocodile skins, elephant tusks etc., is also illegal.

Never break coral, or brush against it. Coral is basically a colony of living organisms and damaging them, might kill them. If you go out in a Glass-bottom Boat, encourage the pilot to steer well clear from the coral itself. Boats scraping over the top of the reef are doing damage especially at Hikkaduwa. Never buy coral if it’s offered for sale. Similarly don’t buy sea shells or turtle shells (or eggs). All of Sri Lanka’s five species of Turtle are endangered. If you happen to spot a turtle, when being take out on a boat, discourage the driver from circling it; this sort of harassment is very stressful to the turtle

Q: Are you an expert at watersports 
A: As a matter of fact the sport that I love most , I am ! For part of my career in the Hilton , I happened to be the Sports & Recreation Manager , so if you are especially keen on water sports , then I can definitely recommend something and then look after you for this part of your stay .