Preparing For Sri Lanka – What Surprised Us

What to bring and how to get different visas for Sri Lanka
Posted on Feb 25, 2017 In Sri Lanka

Get your tourist visa! 

If you also want to travel to beautiful Sri Lanka, there is a few things we will recommend you to prepare before you go. You’ll need a tourist visa to enter the country, and the easiest way to apply for your visa is online before you travel. It is also possible to get the visa when you arrive at the airport, it’s just a bit more difficult and the price is the same, you’re only using more of your precious holiday time. You can apply for a maximum of 30 days visa online before entering Sri Lanka. The website for the visa application is and its very convenient. You’ll need your passport and flight ticket information to Sri Lanka when you fill out the online form. You will receive the visa on your email within 24 hours and the price is 30 USD per person.


How to extend your time here

If you want to stay more than 30 days, then you’ll have the opportunity to apply for a visa extension for up to 6 months stay in total after your arrival. You’ll have to go to the office of immigration in Colombo (We plotted this article right where the immigration office is on our map!). We will recommend you to do this before you leave Colombo, so you don’t have to go back to the busy concrete jungle.

We will just give you a quick heads up. The process of getting your visa extension is very confusing. You will jump from one line to another and the organisation of the whole process is a bit tiring. It can take quite a long time, some people wait up to 8-10 hours before they get their visa extension. You can’t just leave the place while you wait, because they take your passport, which you’ll get back as soon as the application and payment is done. You also need to be ready whenever they call your number, which happens in an old fashioned and random way.

So prepare yourself and bring some snacks, maybe a book or something to kill the time and an extra shirt because the aircondition is very cold here. The office opens at 8.30, so try to be there when they open or even before and you will safe a lot of waiting time! They also require an extra passport picture of you, so remember to bring one, so you dont have to stand in line again and pay for a new passport picture.

We arrived at the office before 8 o´ clock, and were able to fill out the form and be ready when the counter opens to get our number. The whole process took for us around 5 hours. We applied for a visa extension of 3 months in total.

The price for the visa extension depends on which country you’re from. As a danish citizen the price was 27 USD per person. For some countries the price is very high, for example if you’re a U.S citizen the price will be 100 USD per person!

It isn’t possible to find any information about the prices online, so we took a picture of the price scheme at the office, so you can check out your price and be prepared.


Do you need a return ticket?

Another thing you have to be aware of before you travel, is if you need a return ticket to enter Sri Lanka. It’s been very difficult to find an answer on the internet whether you’ll need a flight ticket out of the country or not. After a lot of searching, we mostly read that you do need a return ticket, so we ended up buying a flexible ticket to Kuala Lumpur, just to be sure. When we then entered the airport in Colombo, nobody asked for it, not even in the application form. So you apparently dont need any return ticket or proof of that you’re leaving the country again. We also got this confirmed by other travellers and locals in the country.


What to bring when you go

The prices in Sri Lanka has in general gone up the last couple of years, after the new government started ruling the country. Prices on food and everyday things has almost doubled in less than two years. Many locals are complaining about that prices on for example petrol and rice, which they use everyday, is so expensive now and the salery doesn’t follow. For tourists, food and accommodation is still quite cheap. What will surprise you here to buy though is alcohol and cigarettes. These prices has gone up seriously.

 - A packet of cigarettes is minimum 7 USD

- A big normal beer is minimum 2 USD

- A 70cl bottle of local hard liquor is 15 USD

Therefore we would recommend you to bring as much as allowed from your country, when you’re travelling to Sri Lanka. We would still recommend you to bring this even if you dont smoke or drink. Selling it instead is quite easy and can maybe give you an extra night or two.

Other things we would recommend you to bring plenty of is things like sunscreen and hygiene products in general. It can be difficult to find the brands you know, and to be sure what it contains. If you are a coffee lover, it can be a good idea to bring your own coffee too. It is possible to find coffee here, but it is mostly instant. Sri Lanka is a fantastic tea country though.

If you prepare yourself with these few things, then you’ll have a great start for travelling Sri Lanka.

Written by Mikkel & Cecilie