Frequently Asked Questions
The local climate is tropical and humid, but mild. Temperatures range from 26 – 31 degrees most of the year. July’s average temperature is 29. The hill country can be cool at night so an extra layer is sometimes needed. The rest of the time, light casual clothing is recommended. Travel lite.
Local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupiah, which is approx. 120 Rs to one Australian dollar. There are ATMs available and all banks provide a currency exchange but SL notes are not exchangable outside of the country.
Tipping is not compulsory in Sri Lanka but within the travel and tourism industry it is being encouraged. For many hospitality employees and staff it is a necessary adjunct to their income. Gratuities will be covered by the tour, in general, but guests can add extra for quality personal service.
Many airlines fly to Colombo. Air Lanka is good and reliable and flies from most major international hubs. It has a daily flight from Melbourne.
For a budget airline, Air Asia is convenient and has a busy schedule. The current schedule, however, does not have connecting flights to Colombo and a layover may be required. Scoot is also a good budget airline that flys direct to Singapore and often has a convenient connection with Air Lanka on to Colombo. For national airlines, Air Singapore and Malaysian Airlines also fly from all Australian capital cities to Colombo, but not direct.
Please contact your guide, Michael Murray, direct for more flight suggestions to suit you.
Best Of Sri Lanka Tours recommends Belinda Lopez of travel Managers. Phone 0451 638 844 or email Belinda.Lopez@travelmanagers.com.au
Daily breakfast is included on the tour. A selection of meals will be taken together as a group and the tour will pay for these. All other meals will be at the guests choosing and expense either within the hotels or outside. Tour guides will provide suggestions, recommendations and directions to local restaurants.
Food quality and hygiene levels in Sri Lanka are usually very good. Concerns and precautions against infections and bugs need only occur when eating uncooked street food. Equally, water quality is very good but the bus will be equipped with complimentary bottled water at all time.
A Tourist Visa for Sri Lanka is required if travelling on an Australian Passport.
It is not a difficult process. It can either be done on arrival at Colombo airport but BOSL Tour request that all guests attain a visa online at least one week prior to departure. Purchasing a visa ($25 USD) at arrival can be time consuming as often there are long lines. Please visit this site for your online visa: www.eta.gov.lk
Travel insurance is a requirement for all guests on Best Of Sri Lanka Tours. Your policy number will need to be registered with Best Of Sri Lanka Tours when making your booking. Some travellers will have travel insurance aligned with their credit card. Please contact the bank or credit card facility and ask for a copy of the policy.
Anyone wishing to enquire about travel insurance can also contact our affiliated travel agent, Belinda Lopez, who is offering 10% discount to all Best Of Sri Lanka travellers. Please contact information under Flight Information.
If you have any more questions please contact us (Best Of Sri Lanka Tours).
Michael Murray, your guide, will also be available to answer any questions or concerns.
Historical and interesting Buildings:
If you want to get a good idea of Galle’s history and see some old buildings aare worth a look. Close to each other in the middle of town.
Dutch Reformed Church, Cnr Church and Middle Streets, and the Marine Archaeological Museum in Church Street.
10 Church Street
This is the old governors mansion of Galle and then became the hotel for first class passengers on the ship voyages from Europe to the East. It was almost lost to disinterest but was them massively renovated by the Aman Hotel Group and is now a five star hotel. Worth a look as the quality of the rebuild is excellent.
Galle Fort Hotel
28 Church Street
This hotel is also worth a look is inside. The courtyard has an internal pool and is quite beautiful. It was renovated by a couple of gay Australian guys in the early naughties and I watched it go through its transformation. It has since been sold by them and not as interesting stay at. But a great place for afternnon tea on he veranda and do some people watching.
Lots of interesting restaurants and places to eat. No one place has ever stood out for me to recommend so serendipity can lead you as well.
One Minute by Tuk Tuk
Dutch Hospital, Hospital St.
This is a funky little restaurant in a great location. The whole building is worth exploring. Has a veranda that overlooks the harbour.
The Tuna and the Crab
Also, in the same building – Old Dutch Hospital – is this terrific seafood restaurant by the same people who do the Ministry of Crab in Colombo.
Fort Printers, 39 Pedlar St
The renovation on this old warehouse is fabulous. The restaurant is around an internal courtyard and serves excellent food.
Isle of Gelato, 60a Pedlar St
This is traditional and delicious gelato made by a local who learnt her skills in Italy. Great for a cool down on a hot day.
The Rampart Hotel
This is a great place for an afternoon beer and watch the sunset over the fort walls. Food is fine but nothing fancy.
Premadasa’s Gems and Jewellery
24 Hospital Street Galle
BoSL has an arrangement with this jeweller. If you buy something from here and have it valued back home and does not measure up, is faulty or not genuine, we will bring it back next trip and get a full refund.
This is a smaller branch than the main Barefoot store in Colombo. It still has an excellent range of clothing and homewares in their distinctive bright colours.
The dishes you really should try while in Colombo are kottu and hoppers. Kottu is fried up combo of roti flat bread, vegetables and meat. Hoppers are a kind of pancake bowl made from egg and a spicy dipping sauce. Good for breakfast. Outside the Galle Face Hotel is the long beachfront park (the Galle Face Green) and it has many food stalls pop up at night. If you are keen on street food and want to try it all, you can hire this convertible Tuk Tuk, which takes you on a tour of good street food locations. – tuktuksafarisrilanka.com, $US50 per person includes food and takes about 4 hours.
Barefoot is now an icon of Sri Lanka and deservedly so. Their materials, knits, weaves, table and bed linen is excellent quality, with distinctive colours and patterns that are truly unique. If you are thinking of restoring an old armchair or covering a daybed mattress, taking the measurements first and shopping the material here is a great idea. There is a smaller shop in Colombo and another in Galle, but the flagship premise is about a 10 minute Tuk Tuk ride south of Galle Face Hotel. It also has a nice café and bookshop and you could lose a whole morning or afternoon here without any trouble.
704 Galle Rd, Colombo 00300
This is an interesting mall on many different levels. It was the outlet for many of the good labels that were being manufactured in SL. Unfortunately, it has since been sold and become fairly corporate but a few interesting items at reasonable prices can still be found. It also has a few food outlets, sushi and coffee shops that are easy and accessible for westerners.
No 5, Alexandra Place, Colombo, Sri Lanka
+94 11 4 625800
HOUSE OF FASHIONS
This multi-story shopping outlet is nothing to write home about but has a wide selection of goods under one roof. It’s a place where locals shop so is local prices for daily items. Good for picking up things you may have forgotten like sandals, shoes, sarongs, hats, etc.
101 D. S. Senanayake Mawatha, Colombo 00800, Sri Lanka
PETTA FLOATING MARKET
This market and food outlet is a little bit touristy but can be worth a visit. It is not really floating but hangs out over a lake. It is OK for a light simple lunch or dinner and a walk around the lake for exercise is a good way to spend an hour.
Bastian Mawatha, Colombo, about a ten-minute tuk tuk ride from the Galle Face.
Sri Lanka is known for its gems. However, it is easy to get ripped off and fraudulent gems are sometimes palmed off to the unsuspecting. Sapphires, rubies and garnets are common and can be bought as singles or in settings. Many of the bigger shops offer a government certificate of authenticity and this does provide some level of certainty.
Ratnapura is the capital for gem buying but we are not going there. Kandy is also good for gems and we will be visiting a shop there. If, however you want to shop something sparkly in Colombo, Salies at 151 Galle Road has a good reputation.
Geoffrey Bawa House
One of our themes will be the architecture of Sri Lanka’s premium architect, Geoffrey Bawa. South of the business district in Colombo 3, this house is where he lived part of his early life and exemplifies traditional forms of SL architecture. Admission is 1000 rupiah, which is around $10. Tours are on at 10, noon, 2 Pm and 4 PM.
11 33rd lane Colombo 3
This very large temple in the heart of Colombo neatly represents what Sri Lankan Buddhism is like: bustling, hectic, chaotic and confusing. But also interesting, lively and well loved by the local people. It includes a library, a museum, and gift room. Stay away on full moon night (Poya) as the celebration is overwhelming for foreigners. More on this later, admission by donation.
Sri Jinaratana Road, Colombo 2
Tea at the Galle Face Hotel
The Galle Face Hotel is one of Asia’s classic colonial era hotels. It is of the same grandeur to Raffles in Singapore or the Orient in Bangkok. The veranda overlooks the Indian Ocean and the liveried staff and menu takes you back to another time. Drinks at sunset are also fun, G&T of course. Watch the flag piped down by bagpipe blowing, kilt wearing Sri Lankan. Remember to go in to the Travellers Bar and take a selfie beside the portrait of your favourite previous guest: Oscar Wilde, Gregory Peck, Richard Nixon, Mark Twain and lots of others. After you finish that the walk along the Galle Face Green and watch Sri Lankans at rest.
2 Galle Road, Colombo