What are your Covid-19 precautions?
Crystal Holidays’ teams’ response to Covid-19 has been swift and professional. We have 30 years’ experience in providing Sri Lanka holidays and have built our reputation during good times and bad. We constantly evaluate health and safety measures for our staff and all those we work with, including our tour crew, recommended properties and activity service providers.
Where is Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is in the Indian Ocean, you can get there in almost a rowboat distance from the southeast tip of India. It is located just a little southwest of the Bay of Bengal.
Immigration / Visa
Please visit Department of Immigration website ( www.eta.gov.lk )
Customs restrictions on arrival
Official Customs form has to be filled in. You may bring into the country 2 litres spirits, 2 bottles of wine, small quantities of perfume, still/ video camera, films for personal use. Make sure that you declare all valuables, gems and jewellery on arrival. You are not allowed to bring goods in commercial quantities.
Nothing to declare – You may choose the ‘Green Channel’ for clearance.
Professional photography or filming equipment must be declared, and subject to clearance on providing a valid carnet, bank guarantee or refundable deposit of the duty payable. Please visit Sri Lanka Customs website (www.customs.gov.lk) for more information.
Note: Please note that with effect from April 2006, there is no longer a duty-free allowance for tobacco products. Any passenger arriving into Colombo and clearing customs, having any cigarettes in their possession will be charged for on per carton basis. (A few packets for personal use only maybe allowed.)
(i) Only two members of the same family traveling together are entitled to free import allowances.
(ii) Valuable personal effects (including jewelry), must be declared on arrival in Sri Lanka.
(iii) There is no gift allowance.
(iv) Unused Sri Lankan currency should be reconverted to foreign currency upon departure. You are not permitted to leave Sri Lanka with currency in excess of LKR.250.
Firearms, explosives and dangerous weapons; antiques; animals, birds, reptiles (dead or alive) and parts; tea; rubber; coconut plants; dangerous drugs; pornographic materials.
Customs regulations at departure
Anything you declare upon entering can be taken out. You can also take back valuable items such as gems and jewellery purchased in Sri Lanka (please keep receipts) from the funds brought in to the country.
Up to 3 Kg of tea may be exported duty free.
Please reconvert your unused Sri Lanka currency to foreign currency at departure.
Please ensure that you take back with you any/all cameras, photographic equipment, transistor radios, recorders, sound equipment declared on arrival.
You are not permitted to take any currency in excess of which you declared on arrival; gems, jewellery or valuable equipment not declared on arrival or not purchased in Sri Lanka, including gold (crude, bullion or coins). Also prohibited are export of firearms, explosives and dangerous weapons, antiques, statues, treasures, old books, etc., (antiques are items over 50 years old); animals birds or reptiles (dead or alive) and their parts, tea, rubber, coconut plants and dangerous drugs.
Liquor sales on full moon days/other religiously significant days/days of national importance
Places selling liquor (including hotel bars) will be closed on full moon days (known as Poya days) – religiously significant to Buddhists/other religiously significant days/days of national importance. Meat shops and places of entertainment such as cinemas, discos & casinos will be closed as well on these days.
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.
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.
Working hours / days
Public sector – works Monday to Friday from 0830 to 1600 hrs
Private sector – generally works Monday to Friday from 0900 to 1700 hrs, with some companies like travel, airlines etc working from 0900 to 1300 hrs on Saturdays
Banks – work Monday to Friday from 0900 to 1500 hrs, with special branches open from 0900 – 1300 hrs on Saturdays
Ask permission before taking photographs of people and respect their wishes if they refuse. Travellers should avoid paying for the right to take a photo. If photos are taken please send back copies so that the people receive copies.
While travellers are welcome to pack their video cameras, there are some places where filming is not allowed.
Videoing is not allowed as local people have requested this and we ask for courtesy and discretion with still cameras.
Always ask permission before taking pictures either of people or inside temples or other sacred places. 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 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 therefore always ask before you shoot if any payment is expected.
Never take photos of dams, airports, roadblocks or anything to do with the military.
Don’t tote the camera around Colombo Fort.
Processing digital photos
There are many franchised photo shops with advanced digital imaging services in major towns. Almost all types of digital data storage devices are accepted. It’s always advisable to keep a backup of your pictures before handing over for processing. It’s always advisable to bring a USB cable (camera to PC) so you transfer the pictures to a PC.
Digital camera accessories such as memory cards and batteries are available in Colombo, Kandy and a few major towns.
Sri Lanka has a wide variety of very attractive handicrafts on sale. Sri Lankan masks are a very popular collector’s item. Other recommendations are batiks, wood carvings, gemstones, semi- precious stones, lacquer-ware, handmade Silver- and Brass objects and of course the famous ‘Ceylon Tea’.
Please avoid ornaments made from tortoise shells & ivory. Never buy turtle shell, we even request you not to purchase any woodcarving made from ebony, in order to preserve this scarce hardwood.
Sri Lanka is a major garment manufacturer and exporter of all kinds of clothing. There is an excellent selection of children’s and casual clothing for men & women, beach wear and even warm padded jackets at extremely attractive prices. Colombo is fast becoming an attraction for garment hunters.
In the heat of the low country regions, cottons and light natural fabrics such as linen are ideal. Please remember that in a conservative culture like SL, skimpy skirts and brief shorts are not the norm or considered respectable. Loose cotton skirts or trousers and tops and a long dress or skirt for women and cotton trousers or shorts and t-shirts or even the traditional sarong and shirts for men would be ideal. Some warm clothes are recommended if you are heading for the hilly regions, where the evenings tend to get chilly.
Evening wear – advisable to bring one set, as star class hotels insist on ‘long attire’ for men during dinner (no shorts and no sandals). Ladies could come in dresses, skirts or long shorts, but not in any beach/swimwear.
Dress modestly at religious sites. Women should wear long skirts, dresses or loose trousers and modest blouses. Men should wear long trousers. Ancient temples are considered sacred, and should be treated as such. You should remove your shoes when entering a Buddhist or Hindu temple and hats at all religious places, if carrying an umbrella unfurl it. Your legs & shoulders should be covered; never enter a temple or any religious place in beach wear (i.e. shorts or singlet).
Nudity is absolutely not allowed anywhere. This includes at the beach. Topless sunbathing is prohibited too.
Some do’s and don’ts when interacting with locals
- Always give and receive and eat with your right hand. It is considered bad mannered to use your left hand for eating
- When handing objects to another person, either the right hand or both hands should be used.
- Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. It is customary to be offered tea when visiting and it is considered impolite to refuse.
- Respect cultural differences – Things are done differently in Asia, and Sri Lanka is no exception. 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 traveller 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 major 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 & 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.