SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka, often referred to as 'magical magnificence,' is a captivating holiday destination, boasting a blend of enchantment and grandeur. Nestled as a tropical island off the southern tip of India, it has been historically labelled the 'pearl of the Indian Ocean.' Its golden beaches, recorded in ancient texts like the Mahavamsa, still showcase the unchanged natural beauty that earned it the name 'Tambapanni' due to the copper-coloured sea-sand observed by early Indian invaders.

Throughout its history, Sri Lanka evolved into a cultural melting pot, influenced by diverse visitors such as settlers from North and South India, mariners from China, traders from Arabia, Rome, Greece, Africa and colonizers from Portugal, Holland and Britain. This amalgamation of cultures shaped the island's identity, reflected in its various names like Lanka, Taprobane, Serendib, Cellao, Zellan, Ceylon and finally, Sri Lanka. The island's multicultural experience encompasses food, dress, languages, religion and customs.

While the island generally enjoys sunny weather, the influence of trade winds from the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea brings the monsoon, contributing occasional thunderstorms to the holiday experience. Sri Lanka offers diverse accommodation options, ranging from luxurious boutique hotels and private villas to budget resorts and guest houses, ensuring something for every traveller. The country's allure lies in its top-notch cuisine, breathtaking scenery, vibrant culture and welcoming people, promising visitors a once-in-a-lifetime holiday.

For those planning a trip, exploring Sri Lanka's attractions and available holiday deals is crucial. Jetwing Travels, recognizing the importance of tailored vacations, aims to make guests happy while embracing the element of 'serendipity'- emphasizing that a 'happy accident' epitomizes the essence of a Sri Lankan journey. In essence, the magnificence of Sri Lanka awaits, promising an unforgettable holiday experience.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

Access to Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka is directly accessible by all major carriers from their closest hubs. The National Carrier SriLankan operates to all major cities in Europe, Far East and the Middle East. The national carrier also offers easy accesses on its services for travel originating in any point in the United States, Canada, Australasia and South America on code sharing flights via transit points London, Zurich and Paris in Europe, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. SriLankan Airlines also connects Colombo with all major cities of India as well as with Beijing and Guangdong in China.

The following airlines operate direct scheduled flights to and from Colombo: https://www.jetwingtravels.com/about-sri-lanka/travel-information/access-to-sri-lanka/

History:
Sri Lanka, Asia's sole country with a historical record dating back to the 5th century BC, boasts ancient cities like Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, revealing tales to modern visitors. Sigiriya, a medieval marvel, showcases 1500-year-old frescoes and graffiti, capturing the fascination of past visitors. The island's golden sandy beaches and plains, once controlled by the Portuguese and Dutch, tell the story of flourishing ancient kingdoms. After British rule, Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. Overcoming a protracted civil conflict in 2009, the country now stands united with diverse ethnicities, embodying a rich tapestry of history and culture.

Awareness to Health & Safety Issues:
Ensure the safety of your valuables by utilizing hotel safety deposit lockers and avoiding leaving them unattended. If driving in Sri Lanka, familiarize yourself with local formalities, road rules, and potential careless drivers. Practice eco-sensitivity in natural areas, stay silent in forest trails, avoid leaving any traces, and seek trained guides for excursions. Refrain from disturbing wildlife. Health-wise, carry sufficient medication, ensure prescriptions include generic names, and rely on bottled water due to uncertain city water quality. In towns, pharmacies and medical practitioners are accessible. Prioritize your well-being during travel.

Shopping Information:
Sri Lanka remains an enticing hub for gem enthusiasts, offering a modern twist to its historic Silk Route allure. The country showcases a diverse array of treasures, from vibrant blue sapphires to intricate handloom textiles. Traditional craftsmen skilfully create silver jewellery and unique metal pieces reminiscent of their ancestors' artistry. Gems like sapphires, cat's eye, and moonstones stand out as enduring investments, while handcrafted textiles, antique porcelain, and Dutch-era furniture charm visitors. The aromatic spice packs make delightful gifts, while the tea, in various blends and innovative containers, echoes Sri Lanka's rich export legacy. Visitors can easily find these treasures in shops or airports during their Sri Lankan travels.

Climate:
Sri Lanka, nestled near the equator, experiences a tropical climate with two distinct seasons. The island, surrounded by the Indian Ocean, enjoys a constant sea breeze that mitigates the high humidity and warm nights during holidays. Temperatures drop in the central hills, offering a pleasant climate for most of the year. The average temperature ranges from 27°C to 30°C, influenced by the Asiatic monsoon, which brings predictable wind reversals. Rainfall primarily occurs during May to July due to the southwest monsoon, affecting the western, central and southern regions, while December and January bring rain to the northern and eastern areas via the northeast monsoon. Sri Lanka's weather exhibits minimal diversity due to these patterns.

Travel Tips:
While the distances are given in kilometres it is best that you plan your travel in terms of time as well. While roads are being fast upgraded, congestion in some main highways and cities can cause delays. The best time for travel is after an early breakfast or after lunch. The public transport system is dependent on Buses and Trains. Generally, these tend to be crowded during peak hours and before and after weekends on long distance routes.
Buses:

A relatively inexpensive mode of travel. Buses are operated by the state as well as by private operators. On main routes connecting cities such as Galle, Kandy, Kurunegala and Colombo you will find comfortable air-conditioned buses albeit at a premium price. The comfort when on long journeys is well worth the extra charge.

Trains:

Slightly more expensive than travelling in a bus. There is a high possibility of a seat on long distance trains. It is definitely the most interesting way to enjoy the scenic beauty of the island as the Railway lines were intended to connect cities to bring produce to Colombo in the shortest possible time, in an age where packing crates and jute bags were the norm and refrigeration was not easy. The Railway lines run through scenic mountain passes and long tunnels into the hills, and on bridges built on over tranquil lagoons and winding rivers.

Taxis (radio cabs):

Please do inquire with your Hotel Front Desk/ Reception, as many would be happy to provide you with a taxicab. Cars may be hired for your visits to places of interest on a predetermined itinerary at an agreed price, with information being readily available through maps, and guidebooks.

Three-wheelers:

This is an option that many visitors are comfortable with. The drivers of these ‘TUK TUKs’ (an appropriate name resonant with the noise made) are capable of communication no matter which language you speak. The gesticulations and the ingenious expressions they devise to explain a point is a form of entertainment in itself. Most of these now have fare meters and thus spares you the pain of negotiation and are quite reasonable.

Domestic passenger flights:

Those who would like to arrive at a destination faster and see the island with a scenic eye can use chartered flights from the Ratmalana Airport near Colombo. There is also an option to charter a light aircraft or book a private helicopter for transfers or day trips.

Information Service
  • The Tourist Information Center (TIC) run in Colombo by the Ceylon Tourist Board is located at 78, Steuart Place, Galle Road, Colombo 3. Tel:(+94) 112 437059(+94) 112 437060, (+94) 112 437055
  • Kandy TIC – Headman’s Lodge, 3, Deva Veediya, Kandy, 0812 222661. Open 900 hrs. to 1645 hrs. on weekdays. Saturday 0900 to 1300 hrs.
  • Negombo TIC – 12/6, Lewis Place, Negombo. Open 0900 – 1715 hrs.
  • Hikkaduwa TIC – Commercial Bank Bldg., Galle Road, Hikkaduwa. Tel: 09122-223397
  • Airport TIC – Located in the arrivals lounge of the International Airport, Katunayake and open day and night. Tel:11 2 452411
Tourist Police Units
  • Special Tourist Police Units are available to assist our visitors – Hotline +94112421451
  • Regional tourist units can be found – http://www.police.lk/index.php/tourist-police/235|

Entry fees and photographic permit to archaeological sites
Starting from $5 which will go up to $30 (Age Limit 06 – 12 Years – 50 % of above value)

Currency used

Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR)

Time difference

Sri Lanka is 5.30 hours ahead of Greenwich Time (GMT +05.30)

Working hours & days

Normal working hours are from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday. Saturdays are half working days from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm With Sunday being a statutory holiday. These working hours may not be observed by all service providers that you will mostly be in contact with. It is therefore advisable for you to inquire what their working hours are.

Culture: Contemporary Sri Lankan society is evolving into an inclusive and tolerant entity, with reduced caste distinctions and acceptance of diverse ethnic and religious identities. Income disparities, however, create class differences. Both Buddhism and Hinduism significantly influence social and cultural life, with shared cultural practices. Social status holds great importance, and public criticism is seen as an attempt to diminish dignity. Greetings like "Ayubowan" or "Vanakkam" reflect well-wishing traditions. Sri Lankans value hospitality and may offer non-committal responses to avoid displeasing others. The younger generation may shake hands, showcasing a blend of traditional and modern customs in Sri Lanka.

Visas: Sri Lanka offers four visa types for non-Sri Lankans. The Visit Visa includes Tourist and Business categories, requiring Electronic Travel Authorization since January 2012. Residence Visa is granted based on specific criteria, while Transit Visa allows short stays during travel. Gratis Visa, with no fees, is for Diplomatic or Official Passport holders. Regardless of the visa type, extension applications must be submitted to the Department of Immigration and Emigration. Detailed information and applications are available on www.immigration.gov.lk/web/ .

Weather: Sri Lanka, despite its small size, boasts diverse climates ranging from sunny beaches to misty mountains, lush rainforests to desert-like areas. The island experiences two monsoons-the Northeast and Southwest-bringing wet and dry seasons concurrently to different sides. The North-East Monsoon affects the north and east from October to January, creating a dry season from May to September. The South-West Monsoon impacts the southwest from May to August, with a dry season from December to March. Even in the monsoon season, days may start sunny with potential afternoon or evening showers. Sri Lanka features three climate zones with varying temperatures and humidity, maintaining a consistent ocean temperature of 27C year-round. Daylight hours persist from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

What to wear: In Sri Lanka's hot and humid climate, loose-fitting, light cotton clothing is recommended. The Hill Country experiences cooler temperatures, requiring a wool sweater for evenings and a jumper for daytime. Travelers should opt for casual wear, respecting cultural norms. Women can wear bikinis on the beach, but knee-length attire is advised elsewhere. Proper attire is crucial at sacred sites, mandating covered shoulders and legs. Sandals are preferred for temple visits, while hikers should opt for socks and trainers. Essential accessories include sunglasses, hats, or caps for sun protection in the tropical climate.

Geography: Temperatures in the low-lying coastal regions are high year-round but they rapidly fall with altitude as you progress to the central hill country, where it feels like perpetual spring. The highest temperatures are from March through June while November to January is usually the coolest time of the year. Rainfall is heaviest in the south, south west and central highlands; the northern and north-central regions are very dry. The best time to visit the west, south coast and hill country is between December and March. May to September is best on the east coast. Mark Twain described Sri Lanka in his journey to the equator as the “beautiful and most sumptuously tropical island”