You can use websites like the Lonely Planet and other such travel guides for general country information.
Also look at our links for Sri Lanka section; Volunteer Sri Lanka has one of the best volunteer tips sections.
Cost of Living
Of course your cost of living will vary according to your standards, tastes and how long you're staying for.
A very low budget would be approximately 500 rupee per day:
food (local): 150
An average budget would allow for between 500 - 1000 rupee per day with accommodation, food, transport and other things like internet etcetera
Standards vary from disgusting to delightful to luxurious in Sri Lanka, take your pick! There are plenty of choices.
If you're staying somewhere for longer than a couple of weeks, check out renting a house. It's generally much cheaper than a hotel and can take just a day to organise. There are some things to consider and look out for such as contracts, mattress quality, leaks, electricity and water supply, security etc, so it's worth taking a little bit of time to make a decision!
Prices for accommodation range from 300 rupee per night for a very basic guesthouse right up to as high as you like! House rentals can be negotiated from around 5,000 rupee per month/per room, with the average being more like 7,500.
Generally, Sri Lanka is a safe country to live, work and travel in. There are the normal exceptions regarding pick-pockets, touts and female travellers.
It is important to keep up to date with the security situation in Sri Lanka. Whilst the country is officially under a ceasefire agreement, there can be sporadic violence, particularly in the North and North East. Whilst foreigners are not targets in the civil conflict, they may be caught in the crossfire. For a conservative report, check out your countries' travel advice, such as:
For other countries, check your government website.
There are some difficulties when working in Sri Lanka. People move at a different pace, meeting at 9am means sometime between that day and 9am a week later, there is always a family occasion that means people can't work, shops are closed and the electricity goes off... Take time and patience to get to know and accept these things!!
One of the first things you need to know about when you get to Sri Lanka will be transport. You will discover very quickly that the roads in Sri Lanka are something to be endured. There is a fixed price taxi service at the airport. You can identify the people working there by the ID tags hanging around their necks, although they act more like touts than a taxi service.
If you are staying in Negambo, the price (last checked) was 700 rupee.
Approximate fares to other destinations:
Hikkaduwa: 4000 - 5000
Galle: 4500 - 5000
Arugam Bay: 6000 - 8000
Hikkaduwa: 50 - 135
Galle: 60 - 135
Arugam Bay: 200 - 600
Arugam Bay: N/A
For buses and trains you need to get to Fort Station in Colombo by three wheeler (tuk tuk), bus or taxi van.
Pubic buses are gruelling, tiring and noisy but cheap and get you closer to the people!
The weather can be gruelling. Be sure to cover up enough, wear sun protection, sunglasses and drink 10 times more water than normal!!
On the other hand, this country can rain!! Be prepared for days with neverending rain, flooding on the streets and very little getting done.
- It is important to note that the conditions of a tourist visa prohibit work, paid or unpaid, in Sri Lanka. This includes volunteering.
- You are, however, allowed to "help" people.
- Coming and going... You will receive a one month tourist visa on arrival. If you leave the country and return, you again recieve a one month tourist visa.
- In January, 2006 many visa regulations changed and things got confusing! Many things that were tried (such as only recieving a 2 week visa on re-entry, not being allowed to stay more than 3 months...) have now been changed back.
- It's important to remember that visas are granted at the discretion of the office. Be nice, smile and flirt!
On entry you recieve a one month tourist visa
After this initial period, you can extend for an additional 2 months, making it a total of 3 months. Fees vary per country pf origin. See visa fees
for your country.
As for three months, but with an additional 10,000 rupee tax.
At the discretion of the office with an additional 15,000 rupee tax.
For more information, have a look at the Department of Emigration and Immigration (that's DIE for short!!).