Sri Lanka. Travel and vacation in Sri Lanka.

Self-drive to Sri Lanka in 2022 – step-by-step instructions

The rules of entry to many countries are getting easier and easier and Sri Lanka is one of those countries that literally every month reduces the requirements for tourists. For a vacation in Sri Lanka you will need a passport, airline tickets from Sri Lanka, processed online or on arrival visa plus one of the “covid” documents (or vaccination, or PCR test, or antigen test). Such simple rules for entering the country make Sri Lanka an attractive destination for seaside holidays and independent travel around the island, where there is definitely something to see.

Independent travel to Sri Lanka in 2022 - step-by-step guide | Travel with

This article contains instructions for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers on how to travel to Sri Lanka under the current Sri Lanka rules and conditions of entry.

If you have read the Sri Lanka Rules of Entry, you should note that all tourists, whether vaccinated or not, are free to travel in Sri Lanka, stay at any hotel or guesthouse, there are no quarantines, and no tests should they arrive to Sri Lanka.

An independent trip to Sri Lanka must be organized in stages, as some steps are not possible without following the previous ones:

1. Obtain an official document of complete vaccination against COVID-19 (for those who have been vaccinated)

Vaccination document requirements:

  • Original COVID-19 vaccination certificate confirming that the tourist is fully vaccinated at least 2 weeks prior to departure to Sri Lanka (if less than 14 days, the tourist is considered unvaccinated);
  • Sri Lanka accepts all vaccines registered and recognized by the country issuing the official vaccination document,
  • COVID-19 vaccination certificate must be in English or there must be a certified copy of translation into English.

Unusual excursions from locals

2. Choose a travel itinerary and appropriate transportation

Sri Lanka delights with a variety of wildlife, impressive historical and cultural sites, wide sandy beaches and incredibly beautiful sunsets.

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To travel independently in Sri Lanka it is important to choose the right time:

  • the time of the trip – so as not to get in the rainy season (the article When it is better to go to Sri Lanka – weather and climate will help),
  • the route of the trip according to your preferences – some people want to see the ancient cities and impressive temples, others prefer to drive on all the beaches (the tourist map of Sri Lanka can help).
  • suitable transport (article Transport for traveling in Sri Lanka).

If you want to freely move around the sights and beaches of Sri Lanka, and not depend on unpredictable public transport, it is worth choosing one of the options:

3. Buy airline tickets.

Do not chase the cheapest airline tickets to Sri Lanka – you can lose money due to flight cancellations. It’s safer to choose an airline that already flies to Sri Lanka.

  • If you want to find the best options for flights Aviasales and – I advise you to use filters and a handy application to track prices (save time and money),
  • Currently, Sri Lanka is flown by Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul), Emirates and FlyDubai (via Dubai), Qatar (via Doha), Etihad (via Abu Dhabi), Airarabia (via Sharjah) and Srilankan Airlines.
  • Air tickets from Sri Lanka should be printed out and must be taken with you on the trip.

4. Book a Hotel

To get an online visa for Sri Lanka (it’s called ETA) and to pass pass passport control, you need to provide a hotel reservation for the first hotel in your travel itinerary.

You can book your hotel on any of the hotel reservation services – booking com, or To determine which site is the best to book a hotel, you can compare prices using hotelook.

If your bank card is not accepted for prepayment for the room, book a hotel with the payment on the spot.

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If you decide to vacation in a small resort, I advise to book a room with meals, at least with breakfast and dinner. Paying for food on the spot is usually more expensive.

Hotel in Hikkaduwa on the beach | Sri Lanka | Travel with

One of the best hotels on Hikkaduwa Beach is Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon.

5. Fill out the online visa application (ETA)

  • In the Adress in SriLanka field enter the name and address of the hotel you booked,
  • Pay for visa (ETA) – 35$ plus approx. 2$ fee,
  • After you receive the visa by e-mail, print the text of the received letter.

If you have trouble paying for the visa, you can get a Visa on arrival in Sri Lanka at the Colombo airport, but this option is available only to fully vaccinated tourists.

6. Buy Travel Insurance

The Sri Lankan government strongly recommends that all tourists buy travel insurance and I agree with them. Twice I had to seek medical care in Sri Lanka. I can say the following:

  • Government medicine in Sri Lanka is long and chaotic (for example, my child with a fever forgot to take his temperature),
  • Private medicine – it is expensive (call a doctor – about $ 100, plus the cost of medicines).

You can buy insurance quickly and easily at Cherehapa (for Russia) or Hotline (for Ukraine).

7. Book a transfer from the airport to the hotel

Think about how you will get from the airport to the hotel. The most convenient way is to book a transfer.

8. Get a negative PCR test for COVID-19 or Antigen test (for the unvaccinated) before you fly to Sri Lanka

As of April 2022, Sri Lanka has given travelers a choice – before flying to Sri Lanka you can present:

  1. Either a certificate of vaccination,
  2. or a negative PCR test done no more than 72 hours before departure for Sri Lanka (the time counts from the time of donation),
  3. or a negative Antigen test done no more than 48 hours before the flight to Sri Lanka (time counts from the time of submission of the material).
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Requirements for test results:

  • The document with the result of PCR test or Antigen test must be in English , name and surname must match the passport,
  • The test results must be in printed form,
  • Negative PCR/Antigen test must be submitted by all unvaccinated travelers older than 12 years (for more details – see Sri Lanka Entry Regulations).

9. Upon arrival, exchange currency and get a SIM card

At the airport you will be able to exchange euros, dollars and many other currencies for local money – rupees. Remember that the cash rubles and hryvnia in Sri Lanka is almost impossible to change.

The exchange rate at the airport is not profitable – today it is much more profitable to change dollars and euros in jewelry stores or in exchange offices in the resort villages on the coast of Sri Lanka (remember that almost always worth bargaining).

Cash in local currency you will need, because in Sri Lanka is not everywhere you can pay with a bank card, and ATMs (in Sri Lanka they are called “A.T.M.” – ATM) are much rarer than one would want.

A SIM card with 7 GB Internet from the local mobile operator will help to stay in touch – have access to your mailbox, mesedzhemeram, social networks, news, and calls. You can refill your account in almost any store.

Currency exchange at Colombo airport | Travel to Sri Lanka on your own

Currency exchange at the airport, in the background, transfer drivers are waiting for customers

10. Travel and enjoy your vacation in Sri Lanka

As with any trip, it is important not to build too high expectations about the trip ahead. Therefore, I recommend reading the article 7 ways to ruin your vacation in Sri Lanka.

Undoubtedly, many of the sights and interesting places in Sri Lanka can be seen on your own, but sometimes you still want to hear a good guide. Before ordering an excursion, I advise you to read the reviews:

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It is very encouraging that Sri Lanka is opening up more and more to tourists and if you want, you can afford to travel independently on this incredibly beautiful island. Article that may be useful to you – What to see in Sri Lanka – an overview of the most interesting places on the island.

Tours in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka or Ceylon in other words – is the green tea plantations, the buzz of the Indian Ocean, the wisdom of ayurveda and the silence of the ancient Buddhist monasteries. Here no one and nowhere in a hurry, except that surfers chase the waves, and divers – for another round of underwater extreme.

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Cities and resorts of Sri Lanka

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  • The full name of the state is the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
  • The capital is Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
  • The state language is Tamil, Sinhala .
  • Currency is Lankan rupee (LKR).
  • Russian and CIS nationals may obtain a visa for a maximum 30-day stay in Sri Lanka.

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Why Sri Lanka?

  • Beautiful! Hotels and high-rise buildings neighbor colonial buildings, souvenir shops, street markets and temples.
  • Lots of fun bars, fish markets and restaurants.
  • World famous ayurvedic and spa centers.
  • Any kind of hotels: from ghettos to high class five star hotels.
  • Excellent conditions for surfing, snorkeling and diving.
  • Secluded beaches at Mount Lavinia and Tangalle.
  • Bolgoda – Sri Lanka’s largest natural freshwater reservoir, home to 45 species of fish and 160 species of birds.
  • National Zoological Gardens, where the concept of open space applies, meaning that animals and people can walk side by side

What to do in Sri Lanka?

  • Treat yourself to fresh lobster or giant jumbo shrimp at Hikkaduwa Fish Market.
  • Go surfing or diving in a coral sanctuary.
  • Heal your body and mind with Ayurveda.
  • Go to Sri Lanka’s largest water sports center and diving club, Confifi Marina.
  • Take a yacht cruise.
  • See the cities abandoned by people 15 centuries ago.
  • Visit a sea turtle nursery, an ancient Buddhist temple and the Museum of Masks, staging performances with the participation of shamans.
  • Mount Sigiriya or “Lion Rock”.
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Holidays in Sri Lanka

Tourist information

  • Buddhist or Hindu temples should not be visited in shorts or in clothing with exposed shoulders and back. Shoes and headgear must be removed upon entering the temple. Some hotels prohibit entry into the restaurant in shorts and bathing suits.
  • Look carefully at the prices, keep track of hidden fees and count the change.

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