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Travelling in Sri Lanka during Covid

Sri Lanka, 5500 miles from home, and the furthest we’ve traveled since 2019. It was quite daunting travelling this far from home during a pandemic that was scaring the world for a third time with a third peak, especially across Europe. Is it ever going to be the right time to travel? Below we will tell you exactly what we thought about travelling Sri Lanka during Covid.

We began our amazing adventure to Sri Lanka and Maldives in November 2021. Truthfully, visiting Sri Lanka was a decision made based on the ability to freely move around the country without too many Covid restrictions. It was the best decision we made!

Did we feel safe?

100%. We could not believe how many local people wore masks. You know what, it was inspiring! When people complain about wearing masks to go to the shops in the UK, it really puts it into perspective how the Sri Lankan community just want to protect each other and their families. That’s the truth of it. Simply by wearing a mask. We’re not preaching for you to wear a mask but if you do visit Sri Lanka please follow suit, be respectful and wear a mask in all public places. Yes, it does get hot! On that note, maybe 2 masks and a face shield on a scooter is a little bit overkill like you will see everywhere. It is admirable though!

In many hotels we had our temperature checked and the services provided throughout our accommodation stays were hygienic and safe. 

Sadly, the only people we felt unsafe around were other tourists! Others who felt the rules didn’t apply to them. This absolutely infuriated us! Please don’t be like those and just do what is expected of you and mirror what the Sri Lankan people do to protect yourselves and others.

Public Transport

Time to be honest. If you’re going to be travelling around Sri Lanka stopping at various destinations, maybe avoid public buses. As much as this is a unique experience and one of the cheapest methods of transport, they are not covid friendly. We were on a bus, Dambulla to Negombo, and it was absolutely rammed with people, definitely over capacity. Everyone wears face masks but the close proximity to several other people unfortunately means it’s a perfect place for the virus to spread. We were practically sitting on top of each other on this bus. If necessary, try and get a seat by the window!

When we visited in November 2021 – January 2022 public buses were still hit and miss. No timetable was correct and therefore our transport arrangements had to be something more secure.

Our transport recommendation:

Train – There are many train lines throughout Sri Lanka and it is super cheap. We travelled from Colombo to Galle Fort by train and it was brilliant. First class cost us only 1200LKR (€5.21/£4.37/$5.93) for 2 tickets.

There was plenty of space and we sat by an open window for ventilation and were accompanied by beautiful views as we traveled South alongside the coast. For longer journey’s, train is a great option. Great for your wallet as well as being relatively safe. Whilst we’re talking about trains, you have to take the train from Ella to Kandy if you get the chance. The most beautiful journey we have ever taken!

Covid train journey

Tuk Tuk – This was our main mode of transport throughout Sri Lanka. Our record journey was just over 140km from Udawalawe to Nalathanni (a small village at the base of Adam’s Peak). Not going to lie, this did get uncomfortable! But, what a way to see the country. 

  • It was more comfortable than a bus in our opinion
  • Constant ventilation
  • Limited contact with others
  • Amazing views
  • Relatively cheap for a private trip
  • You can stop along the way making it more of a tour like experience
  • More expensive than public transport
  • Long rides with big backpacks get slightly uncomfortable

As you can see, our pros outweigh the cons. We loved travelling by Tuk Tuk and found it to be the safest way to travel during Covid.

Covid tuk tuk

Taxi – Sometimes a taxi was the only option for us. It is probably the most comfortable way to travel around Sri Lanka, depending on the car, but also the most expensive by quite a margin. Again, safer than any public transport, unless your driver has Covid. Sorry to sound morbid! It is also usually faster unless you get stuck in traffic…

The flight to Sri Lanka

Flights are notorious for being a key transmittable place for any virus. This unfortunately does include Covid. If a flight is full you can be in close proximity with quite a few people. We recommend the following:

  • Try and book the 2 seats closest to the window if travelling as a couple. 
  • Wear a mask unless eating and drinking to protect yourself and others.
  • Wait until others around you have eaten to eat or drink.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask others to wear their mask properly. If you’re not confident with this, ask the cabin crew! 

Covid masks

What requirements are needed to enter Sri Lanka?

 – Last updated February 2022 – 

Truthfully we can’t explain what is needed better than the official Sri Lanka Travel page so if you’re seriously considering visiting Sri Lanka check out this website – If you are unvaccinated, travelling will be more difficult but take the same link and read the guidelines from the government as to what is required –

If you want to stay with us then we’ve got your back below!

Vaccination Records & Status

Including vaccinations, boosters or a recovery certificate if you have had Covid in the last 180 days. We got ours through the NHS in the UK online as this is where we were vaccinated.

covid vaccination records

Visa/ETA Requirements

We applied for an ETA and were approved one month prior to arrival. Visitors can apply for an ETA on the ETA website. We made the decision to extend our Visa, and as we weren’t able to apply online we completed a copy for when we visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration. If you’re looking to do the same we explain everything in our guide “Everything you need to know about Sri Lanka’s ETA, Visa and Visa Extension”.

On arrival visa facilities are available, however applying for an ETA before travel is advised for ease of travel and to prevent delays on arrival.

Health Declaration Forms/Passenger Locator Forms

These are usually the same thing but labelled as different forms. These can usually be found through your airline booking. It’s just as easy to type “Health Declaration Form (Country you’re visiting)” online and get the official form. You usually submit this form but remember to also print this and take it with you! The airport will stamp this along with your passport on arrival.

Covid documents

You can find the required form by following our link here – Sri Lanka Health Declaration Form.

Travel Insurance with Covid Cover

Ensure you have the mandatory Covid 19 Insurance to enter Sri Lanka. It costs 12USD and covers you for a month with up to 75,000USD in Covid cover. This is mandatory for all travellers (whether fully vaccinated or unvaccinated). You can pay through this portal. 

Negative Test Result

Before 1st of March 2022: Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, will need to show proof of a negative PCR test (taken no more than 72 hours before entry) or a Rapid Antigen test (taken no more than 48 hours prior to embarkation) when entering Sri Lanka. Children under 12 years old are exempt.

After 1st of March 2022: Fully vaccinated travellers do NOT need proof of a negative PCR or Rapid Antigen test anymore to travel to Sri Lanka. You are considered fully vaccinated if you have received a one-dose vaccine (e.g. Janssen/ Johnson & Johnson’s) or both vaccinations of a two-dose vaccine (e.g. Pfizer or Moderna or a combination). Travellers under 18 are considered fully vaccinated if they have received at least one dose of any recognized vaccine. If you have a recovery certificate dating between 7 days and 6 months of your departure date, AND you have received at least one dose of any recognized vaccine you also DON’T need proof of a negative test for entering Sri Lanka.

NOTE: Some airlines or countries where you transit through might require you to have a negative test result. Always check this beforehand.

Covid documents

You will need to print the QR code as well as the travel certificate clearly stating your negative test result. You can buy these tests online for home testing. Please note that walking to your local test center will not be approved. You have to buy these tests and receive a Fit to Fly/Travel certificate with QR Code. Check with your airline if they have discount codes for certain test providers. We get ours through Randox.

Return Flight Information

Although we were never asked for this information the government website states you must show this evidence. Just be prepared…

Now, time to get excited!! Where to go, what to do? Read more of our blogs to get some inspiration on your visit to Sri Lanka!

Travelling Translated

Travelling Translated

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