When Can We Travel To Sri Lanka In 2021?
LAST UPDATE: MAY 12, 2021
Disclaimer: This information is collated from official sources but general in nature. Entry requirements are subject to change at any time. Keep checking for the latest advice from your local government, embassy, or consulate to confirm any visa or entry requirements before travel.
Restrictions around the world are gradually starting to ease as the global vaccine rollout gains momentum. While there is no exact date for the resumption of international travel just yet, we at INTRO are monitoring the situation closely. So, can we travel to Sri Lanka? Read on for the latest updates.
AM I ALLOWED TO TRAVEL TO SRI LANKA?
Currently most governments are advising against all but essential international travel.
ENTERING SRI LANKA
Travel is currently allowed to Sri Lanka.
Travellers who have completed the recommended doses of a covid vaccination and arrive after two weeks of the final vaccine will be considered fully vaccinated, and can freely travel in Sri Lanka after a negative covid test result. Any vaccination accepted by the country of origin is acceptable. An original copy of the vaccination certificate in English must be produced on arrival. *UPDATE 12 MAY - Due to a spike in cases Sri Lanka has temporarily re-imposed the 14 day mandatory quarantine for all travellers, irrespective of vaccination status.
Unvaccinated travellers can enter Sri Lanka, with restrictions.
Commercial passenger flights to Sri Lanka have recommenced but are limited, capped at 75 people.
For additional details, view the official government source (Sri Lanka Tourism).
All travellers to Sri Lanka must apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) visa online before arriving. This is delivered electronically and tied directly to your passport, valid for up to a 30-day visit.
NEGATIVE COVID RESULT
Vaccinated or not, all arrivals in Sri Lanka must present a negative covid (PCR) test report in English when checking in. This test must be done within 96 hours of departure.
On arrival, all travellers must also submit a completed health declaration form.
DO I NEED A VACCINE?
A covid vaccine is not mandatory to enter Sri Lanka under the current restrictions.
PROOF OF INSURANCE
When applying for the visa, travellers are required to pre-purchase PCR tests and a mandatory COVID-19 insurance cover for travel in Sri Lanka. Tests cost $40 USD each and insurance can be arranged at $12 USD to cover one month.
Fully vaccinated travellers must stay at a certified ‘Safe & Secure’ Level 1 hotel for 24-48 hours until the on-arrival covid test is performed. Travellers will be permitted to use all the facilities. On receipt of a negative covid test, travellers will able to freely move around Sri Lanka. *UPDATE 12 MAY - Due to a spike in cases Sri Lanka has temporarily re-imposed the 14 day mandatory quarantine for all travellers, irrespective of vaccination status.
Travellers who are not fully vaccinated must have a booking at a certified ‘Safe & Secure’ Level 1 hotel for the first 13 nights/14 days of their stay. All travellers must undergo a covid test on arrival and before leaving quarantine. All facilities of the hotel are made available to the guests and they can visit approved tourist sites under the safety of a bio-bubble.
The Sri Lankan Stay Safe COVID programme is designed to contain virus spread through QR code tracking. The app is not mandatory to download, but anyone with a smartphone will be able to check in to businesses by scanning QR codes on display.
RESTRICTIONS & OPEN TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Travellers must wear masks in public places such as on flights, public transport, businesses and public buildings.
Many hotels and guesthouses around Sri Lanka are opening up to travellers. Restaurants and cafés are open in areas that are not under quarantine curfew, but this can change at short notice. Public gatherings such as exhibitions, conferences, parties, indoor and outdoor events, carnivals, musical shows, and processions are currently banned. Physical distancing, respiratory etiquette and venue capacity limits are encouraged. You can find the full list of approved tourist sites and attractions open in Sri Lanka here.
Each country has different restrictions for travellers arriving from abroad.
UK travellers are not allowed to travel internationally from the United Kingdom until May 17th unless they have a reasonable excuse to leave. After the this date travellers can refer to the ‘traffic light’ system to determine where they can visit without quarantining on return. The green list is currently limited and doesn’t include Sri Lanka, but countries can move at short notice when conditions change. Find out more about UK travel restrictions via this link.
For information relevant to your situation, keep up to date with local government announcements.
The good news is that Sri Lanka is making moves to welcome tourists once again. Opening up travel for vaccinated travellers is a huge step forward, and INTRO is closely monitoring the worldwide vaccination rates to determine when Sri Lanka group tours will recommence.
NOTE: This information is general and restrictions are subject to change, so keep in touch with the latest official advice from your local government and Sri Lankan authorities.
WHEN WILL SRI LANKA FULLY REOPEN TO TOURISM?
Due to the groundbreaking work of scientists around the globe, the distribution of vaccines has ramped up at incredible speed. Vaccines will hopefully see a return to 'regular' life in the not-too-distant future.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO TRAVEL IN SRI LANKA?
It may sound cliche, but Sri Lanka is genuinely a year-round holiday destination. If you're after a bit of sun and surf, you're able to go in any month! The seasons vary quite a lot across the country, with the chance of rain across certain areas at any time of the year. On our Sri Lanka group tours we cover a large part of the country, so you’re sure to get beautiful sunshine with some chance of rain all year round. For more detailed information, check out our Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Sri Lanka here!
WHY VISIT SRI LANKA?
From the bustle of the cities to the palm-fringed coastline, Sri Lanka is a nation of kind-hearted people, curries to set your soul (and tongue) on fire, misty mountain towns, inspiring heritage, and breathtaking natural beauty. While beach bums will love the island's coast, hip cafes and pumping surf, the ancient towns and rolling hills of the centre will have nature lovers and history buffs absolutely charmed. This island gem packs a punch!
SEE SIGRIYA FORTRESS
Right in the heart of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya, aka Lion Rock, is an ancient palace and fortress built in 480AD atop a rock island that rises from the jungle. It is one of the country’s most visited cultural heritage sites, and the hike up is tough but awe-inspiring. The Fortress will reward you with abandoned gardens, waterways and frescoes depicted the island’s turbulent history. However, there is a steep entrance fee, so we recommend instead hiking Pidurangla Rock, an adjacent site that offers similarly spectacular views. We recommend going early to be the first ones up, or late afternoon in time for sunset.
GET THE ULTIMATE 'GRAM ON A ROPE SWING
The southern beaches of Sri Lanka have become a haven for instagrammers due to their stunning tropical settings and rope swings. The best swings can be found at Dalawella and Mihiripenna beaches, but many can be found all the way along the coast. Sure, they’re a little gimmicky, but loads of fun. Find out more about our best insta-spots in Sri Lanka here and do it for the 'gram. You know you want to.
Up in the idyllic Sri Lankan highlands sits Ella, a charming town with great hiking opportunities such as Little Adam’s Peak. It’s one of the most popular spots for backpackers inland, with a great atmosphere, lots of bars, pubs, and coffee shops. Plus, the train ride from Kandy to Ella is perhaps the best thing you’ll do in Sri Lanka. Winding through the misty jungle, rolling tea plantations and gushing waterfalls, the scenery and vibe of this train journey make it one of the best in the world.
GO ON SAFARI
Safari... in Sri Lanka? You heard right! With herds of Asian elephants, wild buffalo and plenty of other animals roaming, Udawalawe is one of Asia's finest national parks. Sprawling across the southern lowlands, this park actually surpasses many of the famous African parks in terms of elephant spotting. For more info on this enchanting corner of the world, check out our article about why Udawalawe is a must-visit.
VISIT TEA PLANTATIONS
Sri Lanka’s most famous export, you should definitely visit a tea plantation to learn how this famous beverage is made when backpacking Sri Lanka. The highlands have the perfect climate for brewing top-notch tea, and many famous brands like Dilmah and Lipton source their goods here.
LEARN TO SURF
The whole southern coast of Sri Lanka is a surfer’s paradise and is an especially great place to learn. Cheap boards, easy waves, warm waters, and enthusiastic local instructors ensure you’ll be shredding like a pro in no time. If surfing ain't your style, how about bodyboarding? Or simply work on your tan and sip a cocktail by the sea, we won't judge. For more Sri Lanka travel tips, check out our Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Sri Lanka here!
Restrictions for travel in Sri Lanka have significantly eased, and the country is eager to welcome back vaccinated tourists. We will update this article, our socials and our COVID page as we make decisions concerning future Sri Lanka group tours.
If the land of Buddha and beaches sounds like your next adventure, click through to check out our Sri Lanka Experience small group tour. With an expertly crafted itinerary, the guidance of a knowledgable group leader, full end-to-end support, and a new group of friends to make memories with, our Sri Lanka trips are the ultimate way to discover this wonderful country! Oh, and did we mention that all of the activities are included? You heard right - everything we mention is included in the tour - no extra payments required. Travel with a group and enjoy the best of Sri Lanka, stress- free.
With flexible booking policies and complete support during this uncertain time, you can be confident when booking with INTRO.