a house on a hill with trees

Sri Lanka is a stunning country with so much untouched. It’s one of the most desirable tourism destinations, thanks to welcoming culture, heavenly food and beaches and hill stations which rival any others. If you’d like to visit in the near future you’re absolutely welcome, you’ll just need to agree to a minimum of three, and perhaps even four covid-19 tests.

Sri Lanka Open To All From August 1st, 2020

Before diving into the numerous covid-19 tests you’ll need, it’s worth noting that Sri Lanka is an incredibly welcoming place, even now. On the country’s official travel guidance, the FAQ of who will be welcome states “all nationalities are welcome” for arrivals from August 1st, 2020 onward.

Contrast that entry policy with many countries which don’t plan to open for months, or even years, and that mandatory testing doesn’t sound all that bad. All guests will enter Sri Lanka by air via Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Colombo Ratmalana Airport (RMA) or Mattala Rajapaksa Hambantota Airport (MRIA).

a house on a hillYou’ll Still Need A Visa To Board A Flight To Sri Lanka, Plus…

Sri Lanka requires an online ETA visa in advance of travel, but fortunately these have been streamlined in recent years for citizens of over 50 countries, at a cost of $100 USD. Going forward, you’ll need confirmation of your accommodation and other trip plans, and you’ll need to stay at least 5 days.

In addition to an electronic visa, visitors to Sri Lanka from August 1st will also need to produce a recent negative covid-19 health screening result before boarding a flight. The result must be recent within the last 72 hours. Once landed in Sri Lanka, another test will immediately be carried out, and results are aimed to be delivered within 4-6 hours, during which time visitors will presumably be kept in a waiting facility.

It may not be ideal, but it certainly beats a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all visitors. If the test results take longer than expected, Sri Lanka will put those waiting on results up in a 4/5 star Colombo hotel. Tourism advice states a third test will be conducted by a mobile testing unit 4/5 days after arrival, in conjunction with your hotel. Anyone staying more than 10 days would be required to undergo a 4th test.

In the case of a positive result, Sri Lankan tourism offers the following…

In case of a positive PCR result, quarantine in a designated hotel or hospitalization will take place depending on the details of the case. Quarantine would usually be 14 to 21 days if symptoms are detected.

Will Sri Lanka Be Open To Explore?

Crucially for many visitors, there’s no restriction on where visitors can move. Working your way down the coast is totally fine, as is visiting gorgeous hill stations and interior lake areas to get a full picture of the country. Basically, you’ll need lots of testing before, on arrival and during, but where you can go, with who and when won’t be limited.

Be sure not to miss out on the incredible interior beauties of Kandy, or the beach bliss of Tangalle. Wherever you go, eat local, because it’s life changing. Sri Lanka may not be quite as convenient to visit as it was once before, but it’s with good reason – and hey – it’ll soon be open. That’s better than most…


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Whtdo bloggers keep parroting emails from tourism boards without saying liudlyand clearly that these testing requirements are not only intrusive and highly inconvenient, but also unrealistic with the 72 hour requirement. Plus the risk of losing thousands of dollars due to false positive test result.

    Tell me this, would YOU go to srilanka with all these rules? If not, why are you writing the post with a glowing positive framing? Start calling these requirements onerous and draconian loudly.

  2. @ Greg It should be pretty clear from the blog post that having to get three, and possibly four or more, tests is inconvenient. It should also be pretty obvious that anyone who wants to travel internationally right now, just as countries are opening up, may have a lot of unexpected procedures and costs to possibly deal with.

    If you’ve been reading the posts on this blog for the last couple months, you should have a pretty good idea that Gilbert’s open to and excited to start traveling the world again. If I didn’t already go to Sri Lanka last year, I would consider going in the Fall. The inconvenience and uncertainty are costs of traveling to another country right now. If it’s too difficult for travelers to comply, they need not go. Look elsewhere or stay home, no need to rant.

    Sri Lanka has gotten very popular with tourists again these past few years, so this summer and fall could be good times to go without the crowds.

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