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In just under two weeks, Sri Lanka will test providing free visas to citizens of 36 countries starting May 1. Americans, Brits and more will save $35 in visa fees thanks to this decision. Even better, you don’t have to apply online prior to travel. You can just show up in Sri Lanka ready to explore an amazing country.

We’re all for making travel easier so count us as big fans of this decision.

Why Is Sri Lanka Doing This?sri lanka bnb

Sri Lanka has experienced tremendous growth in tourism in the last decade. In fact, we listed it as one of our top 10 destinations to visit for 2018 and noted that it’s becoming a tourist hot spot. Sri Lankan’s government knows this and is looking to keep the tourism growth going strong. This is where free visas come into play.

With the monsoon season approaching (May-August), this was the perfect time to test free visas on arrival. Tourism will be at its low point but Sri Lanka might be able to boost its numbers with free visas. As Lonely Planet noted, if you want to visit during this time, head north or east to stay dry and enjoy the beach life.

Countries Included In The Free Visa Trial

During this six-month trial period starting May 1, citizens of the US and the UK will get visa-free entry. Other countries that will also get visa-free entry include:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • European Union member countries
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Thailand

Hopefully, this trial will be successful and visa-free travel will be extended long-term and to the citizens of other countries.

Why Visit Sri Lanka?


The Maldives might get all the media attention but you shouldn’t overlook Sri Lanka. As we mentioned above, it’s a great place to visit if you want to relax on the beach but, unlike some destinations, the crowds will be much smaller. If that’s not enough, the natural beauty of the country should do it. Top it off with wonderful hospitality and it’s hard to justify not visiting.

How To Get There With Points


While not the most convenient destination for those in the US — similar to the Maldives, there are some great ways to fly to Sri Lanka with points and miles. If you haven’t tried Qatar Airways Qsuites, this could be a great opportunity to use 70,000 American miles to book a one-way ticket to Colombo (CMB) with a connection in Doha (DOH). Alternatively, you could fly Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong (HKG) for the same number of American miles.

Make sure you check out our in-depth guide on using American AAdvantage miles.


However, if you do decide to fly Cathay Pacific, you might want to use Alaska miles to book the ticket. In doing so, you’ll be allowed to include a stopover in Hong Kong to break up the trip and explore another amazing destination. For 62,500 miles in business class all the way to Colombo, it’s a great way to book. If you’d like to fly first class from the US to Hong Kong before picking up a business class flight to Colombo, you can book with 70,000 Alaska miles.

Use our complete guide to redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan miles to make sure you get the most out of your miles.

Final Thoughts

Sri Lanka has come a long way since the civil war that long divided it. In the ten years since its end, the tourism industry has boomed and isn’t showing any signs of stopping. With visa-free entry, we can only expect more people will want to visit.

If you want a quick primer on Sri Lanka before visiting, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unkown visited the country in 2017 for season 10, episode 5.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
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