First days in Sri Lanka
If you’re going to Sri Lanka, you’re most likely going by a plane to Colombo Bandaranaike international airport. Bandaranaike is the only international airport of Sri Lanka.
Before entering the country you are given a form for foreigners in the plane, which you need to fill in and return to the immigration desk at the airport. The form contains details such as, name/accommodation in Sri Lanka/ passport number, etc. Sri Lanka requires a visa for visiting the country. You can get a tourist visa online or on arrival at the airport. We already got ours online, therefor only needed to show the form together with the visa. Do note that they may ask additionally for a return ticket and prove of sufficient funds.
Some things you might want to do at the airport are: get an internet sim-card and exchange money. For the internet, you can find 4/5 providers at the arrival gate before you go out the airport, (after passport control). We bought 5GB for 800 LKR (this is 5.22 USD). We exchanged 50 USD at the airport. For 50 USD we received 7.590 LKR. So the rate was 151.8 at the airport. The current rate is 1 USD = 153.303 LKR. This means the rate at the airport is not too bad. Do be careful of banknotes that are partly ripped, because you probably won’t be able to use it outside. We received one of these banknotes and have been warned by the sim-card sales guy and changed the banknote immediately. Also ask for the exchange bill.
There are a lot of taxi drivers and tour operators at the airport who are trying to convince you. It won’t work if you try to explain that you want to go by bus or you already have a place to stay. Simply say no or just ignore them.
Just outside the arrival gate, there are busses that go to the central bus station in Colombo: bus nr. 187 (Fort Colombo). There is absolutely no need for a taxi or Tuk Tuk, the bus price to Colombo is only 130 LKR per person. After arriving at the Fort station you can take the second bus for your final destination. For us this was the bus to Mount Lavinia nr 101 for 30 LKR per person).
The bus station is a bit overwhelming due to all the noise and busses trying to get first in line. We couldn’t find our bus to Mount Lavinia at first and we asked some people. They were very friendly. We needed to cross the road and there another man helped us by walking s to our bus.
Food (Prices and kinds)
If you didn’t go to many Asian countries, you will love all the new fruits and vegetables you will find in Sri Lanka. papaya, mango, coconut are just a few from many. The prices are relatively cheap.
For example papaya is 80 LKR, coconuts are 70 LKR, avocado is 60 LKR, (100 LKR = 0.65 USD).
As for meals, we noticed that it is mostly cheaper to eat outside than cook for yourself. There are small little restaurants where you can enjoy the local cuisine. Do not expect much of these restaurants, mostly these are not fancy looking places but more cheap functional eating places. A filling rice and curry dish with chicken for example is 140 LKR. Another dish we tried on our first days is ‘’kottu’’. This includes mixed vegetables with bread crumbs and a taste you can choose. We had the roasted chicken with cream cheese option. Other flavors are beef, egg or veggie.
Our first impression of the people in Sri Lanka is very positive. People are friendly and willing to help when you ask them a question.
The day we went to the beach for the first time at Mount Lavinia, it was a public holiday (Vap full moon Poya). So it was a little bit crowded. One group wanted to take a selfie with us. They asked politely and we felt no pressure or anything. We think there were people coming from other places to the seaside to enjoy their Holliday. The local people of Mount Lavinia are more used to tourist or foreigners. In short all good vibes.