It’s always a bit nerve racking coming to a new place for the first time, and knowing exactly what you need to sort out in advance can be really helpful, so here’s a brief list of the stuff you definitely will need, and the other stuff you might want to think about!
First and foremost, you’ll most likely need to get a visa to visit Sri Lanka, luckily for a tourist visa the process is very straightforward, simply fill in the online form, make the payment and you should get your an electronic confirmation within 24 hours. Obviously make sure this is possible for your particular country, but on the website it’s all very clear and otherwise it’ll be a trip to an embassy to sort yours out. There are some Websites which offer ‘premium services’ but they’re a total rip off, the government site works fine and doesn’t cost you any unnecessary charges!
There are a lot of ATMs on the island but they can sometimes be frustratingly unhelpful, miles apart or not working, and cash really is king in Sri Lanka. Make sure you have some cash on hand as most little places won’t accept cards, and especially any transport you might need you’re definitely going to need some Rupees. It’s starting to change in the more touristy areas and card payments are becoming more easy, but in those places there are ATMs nearby anyway. Here at KSL we accept Rupees, Euros or US Dollars, but most places will only take Sri Lankan Rupees, so make sure you have some before you come or visit the ATM before you leave the airport.
We always get people showing up without sun cream, without sunglasses, hats etc and then seeming surprised at the horrified looks on our faces. Sri Lanka is in the tropics, and for those who aren’t aware that means the sun is intensely strong, like REALLY INTENSE! Even those of us who spend long periods of time here use factor 30 or higher every day, all through the season, and waterproof is essential, anything non waterproof just disappears in seconds if you want to do any kitesurfing. It doesn’t matter where you come from, sun cream is a smart idea here, and a decent pair of sunglasses goes a long way to protecting your eyes, believe us when we tell you having sunburn in your eyes is extremely unpleasant. Also if you want to wear them on the water make sure you have something to secure them onto your head or round your neck, we’ve lost count of the number of pairs of sunglasses that have been lost in the lagoon! We do sell all of these in our shop so feel free to leave everything at home and buy it all with us instead…
Get yourself insured before any travels, it’s just the smart thing to do! Make sure your insurance covers kitesurfing, it’s normally in grade 2 sports or something like that so just check what you’re buying before you commit.
It should go without saying but if you have medicine you need to take bring it with you, Sri Lanka has a fairly lax attitude to pharmaceuticals and you can buy a surprising amount over the counter, but you never know if you’ll find exactly what you’re after.
For the ladies, if you use tampons you’ll find them sadly lacking in Sri Lanka, things are starting to change especially around the touristy areas, but better to bring a little supply with you rather than assume you’ll find them here easily!
NON ESSENTIAL BUT NICE TO HAVE
LIGHTWEIGHT LONG CLOTHES
At any religious sites you’ll be expected to dress appropriately, for guys this means shorts must at least cover the knee, and wear a top with sleeves even if it’s just a t-shirt. For the ladies make sure you have your shoulders and legs covered, whether it’s leggings, a skirt, or just a sarong or something wrapped round is up to you. Basically just be smart, man or woman, don’t show up at a religious site in your underwear and you should be fine! If you do happen to forget there are normally friendly locals happy to loan you sarongs for extortionate prices, so better to bring your own if you can.
We generally don’t get much rain at KSL during the kite seasons, but the rest of the country can be wet so if you plan to do some travelling having a half decent rain coat can be a great help
We have a well stocked bar at KSL so here you won’t go thirsty, but outside the camp it can be a different story. Sri Lanka has plenty of alcohol so no worries if you’re happy to drink local, but if you prefer something a little more refined grab a bottle from duty free on the way through. Imported alcohol is expensive in Sri Lanka and the selection is lacking, so if you have a favourite tipple it’s best to bring it yourself.
Sri Lankans love their sweet stuff but for whatever reason they don´t seem to understand how to make good chocolate…if you’re a bit of a chocoholic then definitely bring some with you!
So there you go, a very brief overview of what you might want or need to sort out before you come to Sri Lanka. If you think we missed anything let us know!