Photo Credit: Shanaka Aravinda

As of January 2012, new visa regulations have been implemented. Travelers are no longer permitted to receive visas on arrival. Instead, all visitors are required to apply for an online visa before entering Sri Lanka. Online visa applications can be made via: This new process allows US travelers to obtain a tourist visa which is valid for a period of three months. All visitors are required to be in possession of a passport which is valid for no less than six months after the holder’s date of arrival.

Health and Safety

Private healthcare in Sri Lanka is of a high standard. Some of the large hotels have in-house doctors who are on call to attend to guests. However, it is advisable that travelers take out travel or medical insurance in the event of an emergency. Visitors who are in need of specialized medications should also take a large enough prescription with them in case such medication is not available in the country.

Food in Sri Lanka is generally safe to eat but caution should be taken with regards to food bought on the street. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be washed and peeled before being eaten. Water is not safe to drink and bottled or filtered water should be used for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, and making ice. Most milk is unpasteurized and should be boiled before drinking.

All travelers to Sri Lanka should obtain the following immunizations before departure: hepatitis A and B, tetanus, typhus, diphtheria, and Japanese encephalitis. Dengue fever is prolific in the region but there is no vaccination against it so travelers need to take precautions against mosquito bites and visit their nearest hospital if they suspect infection. Yellow fever certificates are required only by travelers coming from yellow fever affected areas.

There are no longer any political threats in Sri Lanka, but the usual tourism-related crimes can be expected. Recently there has been a rise in violent crimes involving tourists so visitors should make sure to travel in large groups, especially at night. Female travelers should take extra precautions, especially when traveling alone as sexual assaults against women are on the rise.

Another issue which tourists should be aware is that of con artistry and financial scams. Such scams generally occur when using the services of local touts who promote accommodation and tours.

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