Sri Lanka

Quick Overview

Capital: Colombo
Population: 21.44 million
Official languages: Sinhala, Tamil, English
Time zone: Indian Standard Time (IST)
Emergency #: 110
Vaccinations required: Yes
Risk of malaria: No
Climate Info

Sri Lanka: Travel Health Information

Sri Lanka is known for its diverse natural landscapes, including highlands, waterfalls, sandy beaches, and mountain caves. Travellers can also visit ancient ruins in Sri Lanka’s ‘cultural triangle’, such as Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa.


The standards for patient care and medical services in Sri Lanka may differ from your home country. Sri Lanka has both public and private health sectors. Healthcare in Colombo typically meets international standards but may be inadequate throughout the rest of the country. Traditional Indian forms of medicine and homeopathy are common. Sri Lanka has a shortage of physicians and an insufficient number of hospitals and medical clinics, so healthcare access may be limited in some areas.

In the event of a medical emergency, contact your travel health insurance company immediately. Hospitals in Sri Lanka typically require upfront payment in cash or credit card, regardless if you have travel health insurance. For complex medical emergencies, evacuation to Thailand or Singapore may be required. Ensure that you have accessible funds to cover upfront fees and adequate travel health insurance, including evacuation. Before you depart, check with your insurer about the extent of their coverage in Sri Lanka.

Pharmacies and medications

Pharmacies are often integrated into grocery stores and markets, but are not widespread and may be difficult to find in some rural areas. Most medicines require a prescription from a doctor. Pharmacists are trained, but the level of training required to work as a pharmacist in Sri Lanka is generally below international standards. Fake and counterfeit drugs are common, so ensure you only buy medication from licensed and reputable pharmacies.

If you are travelling with medication, check with Sri Lanka’s embassy, consulate, or Ministry of Health for details on medication allowances and restrictions. If your medication is a psychotropic or narcotic, you can review Sri Lanka’s regulations on the International Narcotics Control Board. Note that these sources may provide incomplete or out-of-date information.

Road safety

Road conditions in Sri Lanka can vary by region and may be in poor condition. Seat belts are required for front seat passengers only but all occupants of a vehicle should wear a seat belt at all times. Motorcycles are a common method of transportation and helmets are mandatory for riders.

  • Consilda Reginoald-Prasad. Pharmacy Retail in Sri Lanka compared to Norway. UMEA Universitet. (2014).
  • Dulitha Fernando. Healthcare systems in transition: An Overview of Sri Lanka’s Healthcare System. Journal of Public Health Medicine. (1999).
  • World Bank. 10 Years of Better Road in Sri Lanka. The World Bank. (2016).
  • World Health Organization. Road Traffic Injuries. World Health Organization.
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