Sri Lanka Cricket Tour Information
Welcome to Sri Lanka
Many thanks for choosing to ACT in Sri Lanka, on the most disappointing test schedule we've had in 23 years of touring here. As always we do what we can with what we've been given and trust we will make your time with us as unique and enjoyable as we make every tour.
This information is just tid bits to help you prepare and know what to expect and what to do when you arrive at Colombo's Bandaranaike Airport and then Hikkaduwa on the south-west coast.
We will be in Sri Lanka next June 15 and will update any of this information as we learn more in the 2 months since we were in Sri Lanka.
LAST UPDATED: June 16 - Sri Lanka Tourist Visa | Duty Free | What To Bring | Arrival Pick Up | Money In Sri Lanka | Communications
On This Page:
- Sri Lanka Tourist Visa
- What To Bring To Sri Lanka
- Money In Sri Lanka
- Communication In Sri Lanka
- Airport Transfers In Sri Lanka
- Hotels In Sri Lanka
- Tour Dinners In Sri Lanka
- Match Days In Sri Lanka
- Getting About Sri Lanka
- Day Trips In Sri Lanka
- Safety In Sri Lanka
If there is anything else you need to know that we haven't covered, please ask
Australian Passports require a tourist visa (ETA) to enter Sri Lanka for up to 30 days, bought on the Sri Lanka Government Visa Website. This is US$35 + 4.1% card fees. The application takes all of 5 mins to complete however even easier is a 'Visa On Arrival'.
The VOA counter is straight ahead as you exit the concourse, pretty much behind the statue of Buddha. No forms to fill, you just need US$40 cash.
The ETA allows you to enter into Sri Lanka for the purpose stated on your application. You may be asked to produce a return air ticket and proof of funds, though we have never been asked for either.
30 days count from when you are stamped in and out of Sri Lanka. If you are flying Sri Lankan to Melbourne or Sydney departing at 0020am (or later), you will be stamped out the day before you depart, so keep that in mind if your time is tight.
DUTY FREE: You are allowed to carry into Sri Lanka two regular-size bottles of wine and one and a half liters of spirits. There are large duty-free shops after immigration where you can buy everything from Arrack (Sri Lanka distilled coconut water (33%), which is awesome on ice) to Amarula, Toblerones to tumble dryers. Spirits US$18 - US$45 for one litre.
Face Mask: Though the stance has softened since April, it is still expected (mandatory) to wear face masks everywhere unless you are seated in a restaurant & bar
Aussie Flag: We will have a pole of flags to use at the cricket, but are boomerangs at the end of the day. If you have your own, please bring it along.
Travel Plug: Hilton Colombo has a multi plug power board in the room. Hikka-Tranz Resort uses 3-prong square UK sockets.
Power Board: There may only be one UK plug in your room in Hikkaduwa so pack a power board so you can use your hairdryer & curling wand whilst charging your phone
Sunscreen: Diabolically expensive in Sri Lanka
Wet Wipes: Do not underestimate the value in wipes to keep you refreshed on a smoking hot day at the cricket
Personal Medication: Paracetamol, ibuprofen and off-the-shelf medicines are stupidly cheap in Sri Lanka and available pill-by-pill. Prescription medication may not be available so bring what you need to cover your time. There's a pharmacy opposite the hotel in Hikkaduwa.
Reusable Shopping Bag: Single-use plastic bags are still rife across Sri Lanka so if you plan to shop, albeit for fruit or snacks from the market, beer or arrack from the wine-shop, consider bringing your own 'bag for life' to help cut back on plastic. Bags are not given when buying alcohol.
Old Sneakers or Reef Shoes: The beach at our resort (above) is beautifully soft however the sand under the water is heavily littered with rocks and coral so we suggest you bring some old clogs if you intend to dip in the Indian. Bring a pair of goggles too if you want to do laps.
Gifts: Gift giving is not as prevalent here as it is in Pakistan however under the current economic climate, consider bringing small and useful gifts to use as tips for hotel or restaurant staff, taxi and tuk tuk drivers. I'm sure they will appreciate any gesture.
On our recent visit I noticed gardeners, street sweepers, tradies, never wore gloves. They don't use them because they simply don't have them. I will bring a few dozen gardening gloves as there is no shortage of workers that could use them.
Trinkets such as 'Aussie' lapel pins, fridge magnets, chocolates and biscuits, stickers, school pens and whatnots, for the kiddies especially, keep the smiles long and broad. Otherwise, buy gifts and knick-knacks in Sri Lanka so for a double-joy, the shop gets your money and someone gets your gift.
With Sri Lanka's current economic crisis, a nation that was already very affordable to travel, is now exceptionally cheaper. You get twice as much for your Aussie Dollar than you did 4 months ago.
Sri Lankan Rupee is displayed as LKR or Rs in notes: Rs20 | Rs50 | Rs100 | Rs500 | Rs1000 | Rs5000
When you leave the customs and baggage hall, there are several banks in front of you, pretty much offering the same rate. The first two as you enter the arrivals hall offered Rs238 for A$1 on June 16.
There are two foreign exchange shops around the corner from each other on Chatham & York Sts. in Colombo Fort, 4-mins walk from Hilton Colombo where we live for the ODI's. On June 16, 2022 I received Rs268 for A$1 at Colombo Money Exchange in Chatham St. City Exchange in York Street was the same.
If you have time in Colombo, don't change money at the airport, you get 10% more in Colombo. There are several foreign exchange shops, and a Sampath Banka near the hotel in Hikkaduwa.
Depending on how much you exchange, try to refuse Rs5000 notes as these are difficult to offload in a nation that perennially has 'no change'.
Expect to pay:
- Rs900 for 660ml Lion bottle at hotel
- Rs350 for 660ml Lion bottle at shop
- Rs330 for 500ml Lion can at shop
- Rs2000 for 700ml Arrack at shop
- Rs2400 for fish/shellfish main course
- Rs2200 for a burger
- Rs1400 for fish curry
- Rs400-Rs700 for barista coffee
- Rs35 for post card stamp
- Rs80 for vegetable roti (snack)
ATM's are plentiful across the country. Though connected to the CIRRUS and PLUS networks, your withdrawal may still come off your credit card even after selecting Current or Savings. There are 4 ATM's at Galle International Cricket Stadium, though outside the ground.
The maximum you can withdraw from an ATM is Rs50,000 (A$200)
Credit cards are widely accepted at restaurants, cafes, shops, bars, souvenir stores, supermarkets and wine-shops. You need cash for your rickshaw and public bus, buying street food, eating at greasy spoons, coconuts on the beach, food at the cricket, or lounging at small beach bars.
When you pass through the banks at the airport, Dialog is in front of you. There are several networks with booths open 24hrs. Dialog has 10GB of data for just Rs1299 (A$5.40 on 16/06/22) valid for 30 days. All networks roughly offer the same thing, so shop around if there is a queue.
If you are staying at Hilton Colombo, Dialog is next door in the World Trade Centre, where you can get connected to save Mr Jude waiting.
If you need more data, from convenience stores, the magic word in Sri Lanka is 'reload'. Don't ask for mobile credit or top-up, the shopkeep may not understand what you want. If you are staying in Sri Lanka for longer than 30 days, when you reload, your 30 days resets.
We will be contactable in Sri Lanka via Whatsapp ONLY so it is imperative that you have data on your phone, if not connected to WiFi, and Whatsapp installed.
For those that don't know, you do not need your Australian SIM to use your Australian Whatsapp number. With Whatsapp installed on your phone, any internet connection can be used.
Our Whatsapp Number:
Please send us a message (letting us know who you are!), as we may not yet have your number in our phone. We'll confirm any date or time changes via Whatsapp.
Once you have your rupees and SIM card, if you are enjoying our hotel tours, our transport gurus will meet, greet, and drive you to Colombo or Hikkaduwa, whichever is relevant. Mr Jude & Mr Walker can now meet you inside the arrivals hall. In April they were outside. Look for the ACT cricket field:
Once you leave the arrivals hall there is a SPAR Express and cafe if you want to top up with water or caffeine before the 2 hours journey to Hikkaduwa.
You have Mr Jude's and Mr Walker's mobile numbers if you cannot find them. It happens. If you don't have a local mobile number, or cannot connect to the free airport WiFi, any Sri Lankan will kindly let you use their phone to call the driver.
If making your own way from the airport, all travel agents within the arrivals hall offer the same 'fixed price' fares. Prices vary by how many are travelling and if you use Tolls. With fuel shortages and economic price hikes, prices change weekly.
- To Colombo Rs7000 (approx)
- To Hikkaduwa Rs20000 (approx)
We are staying at these fine hotels:
- June 18 - 26 Colombo
- June 26 - July 13 Hikkaduwa
- July 13 - Hambantota
- July 14 & 15 - Arugam Bay
- July 16 & 17 - Trincomalee
- July 18 & 19 - Jaffna
- July 20 - Kalpitiya
- July 21 - Negombo
- July 22 - Depart Sri Lanka
Your name is on the reservation so family or friends can call the hotel if they can't reach your mobile. On your ETA you need only the name of the hotel & city, not the address or phone.
For the 3 ODI's in Colombo, dinner before each game will be confirmed in Colombo.
In Hikkaduwa, on the night before both test matches we will meet at the pool bar of Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon at 6pm with dinner to follow at 7pm. You will receive your match tickets, apparel and transfer information before dinner.
- 1st Test Dinner June 28
- 2nd Test Dinner June 7
A bus will drive us to Galle International Cricket Stadium each day at these times:
- Day 1 - 0830am
- Toss 0930am | 1st Ball 1000am
- Day 2, 3, 4, 5 - 0900am
- 1st Ball 1000am
We'll remind you before dinner, but must stress that we won't wait until 0831 and you won't be the first person we've left behind. You do not have to take the bus, this is an included service if you want it. Otherwise, see below about making your own way to Galle, where we're under cover in Galle Cricket Club Member's Pavilion (TBC), on the western side.
The ground is opposite the markets so you can nip out to buy lunch, go to the bank, have a miserable beer at Sydney Hotel, and be back before play resumes. The bus leaves straight after play to Hikkaduwa so please don't wait until then to run an errand as you will need to follow the below instructions to get home.
The most crucial piece of information is the cost of an auto-rickshaw / tuk-tuk.
It's Rs70 for the 1st kilometre and Rs75 per kilometre thereafter. Many rickshaws now have digital meters, which they use, or apps on their phone, which they use.
Speaking of mobile phones, if you do a maps search of where you are to where you want to go, you will know how far the journey, and how much to pay if the driver doesn't use the meter.
During our last visit we paid Rs100/km, or rounded up the meter price considering everything in Sri Lanka right now is half the regular price per A$1.
- Hikkaduwa to Galle by rickshaw Rs1275+ on a meter
- Hikkaduwa to Galle by bus Rs70 (don't expect change from Rs100)
- The bus stop to/from Galle is at Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon
- Buses to Hikkaduwa from stand numbers 1 - 4 at Galle Bus Station
Uber is in Sri Lanka along with the local app Pick Me for rickshaws and taxis, if you wish to register your journey.
Sri Lanka Railways
If you want to train to/from Colombo or Hikkaduwa / Galle, nine daily trains run each way for Rs250 for the 2.5 hours to Galle. There's only one reserved seat train per day between Colombo - Galle. All others are unreserved.
Colombo to Kandy to the Hill Country has 7 reserved seat trains per day
To reserve seats on any available train, our man Ajith at Colombo Fort Railway Station is the man to Whatsapp (+94714978510). You need to be in Colombo to collect tickets, so a bit of planning is required but it beats lining up in the ticket office.
If you're staying for both tests, staying after the 2nd Test, or if either test ends early, there are many tour agents opposite our hotel to book your preferred day trip.
If either test ends early, we will organise optional day trip to Yala National Park or other unique places, which are payable at the time. Expect to pay A$200 for one person on a private tour (by car) to Yala.
- Visit: Sri Lanka Tourism
Sri Lanka is sublimely safe, random acts of terrorism aside such as Easter Sunday 2019. We can't control random. So we go to the cricket as planned.
Over years of touring and preparing to tour Sri Lanka we've not experienced anything that would cause us to reconsider. The political and social unrest we see in the media today is not directed toward tourists or the tourism industry, and any curfews do not apply to tourists.
I know of no-one in our 23 years of visiting Sri Lanka that needed police or consular assistance, but we respect the decision of the many that decided not to tour because of current unrest.
We've not needed consular assitance but in 2011 an Aussie drowned at Unawatuna. As such, we remind you that the open waters of Sri Lanka's south-west coast are treacherous and suggest you only swim at our resort at Hikkaduwa Beach, to the right of the pool bar. A Tourist Police office is on the beach, and life guards for protection in the water.
- TOURIST POLICE: +94.11.2421052
We have been contacted by the Australian High Commission to register our touring numbers. In a worse case scenario, they will contact me to share any impending greater risk or danger.
All will be good, but visit Smartraveller and register to receive Sri Lanka updates:
Thank you again for touring with us!