1. Help Centre
  2. Sri Lanka Travel Information

Eating and Drinking (Sri Lanka)


Sri Lanka is home to a melting pot of cuisine. Throughout years of colonisation and influence from other countries and a history of spice trading, Sri Lanka has cultivated its own distinct flavour. Please be aware that dishes selected for your meals reflect the cooking styles and signature dishes of the local area you are in.

Rice forms the staple base of most meals while coconut (in various forms) is a ubiquitous ingredient. One of the highlights of Sri Lankan cuisine is its variety of sambols, which are fiery condiments made with ingredients like chili, coconut, and lime. Hoppers, which are bowl-shaped pancakes made from fermented rice flour, are a popular breakfast choice, while string hoppers (a nest of steamed rice noodles) are often enjoyed with curries. As Sri Lanka is an island, seafood also features prominently in many dishes, offering an abundance of prawns, crab, and a myriad of fish varieties. 

Meal Inclusions

The cost of all meals is included in our Classic group tours. You may like to drink beer, soft drinks, fruit juice or bottled water with your meals – please note drinks are not included in your tour price so payment for these is to be made directly to the restaurant staff.

On Go Beyond tours, private tours and group tour independent extensions, meal inclusions are listed in your itinerary.

Breakfast is served in the hotel and usually includes western dishes. Dishes served in restaurants on our tours are varied. Some will be vegetable-based and some meat-based. Our restaurants are aware of the western palate – there are plenty of non-spiced options. Dishes will usually be served either as a set menu with a few choices, or in a buffet style to allow you to sample many different options. 

We recommend that when it comes to Sri Lankan food, you stay open-minded and try to be adventurous! 

You may also prefer to bring comforts like cereal, biscuits, muesli bars and tea/coffee from home.

Drinks will be at each tour member’s own expense. Beer is widely available and cheap. Wine lovers should remember that western style wine is very expensive to import into Sri Lanka, so is not widely stocked except by upmarket restaurants. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks and fruit juices are also widely available – remember that you should only have ice or fruit juices from a trusted restaurant; where they will use boiled or bottled water to prepare ice and drinks. Hotels will usually serve tea and instant coffee at breakfast or other meals.

Packed meals

On some days, your National Escort/Local Guide may arrange for a simple, packed meal for your group. It may be a matter of schedule (on long driving days), hygiene (on train journeys), or your location (in remote areas) and we ask you to bear this in mind. Although this is not a full meal, most of our passengers seem to enjoy this change from the large portions and more elaborate banquets enjoyed most days.

Food allergies/dietary requests

Any food allergies and dietary requests MUST be specified at the time of booking and should be reiterated to the National Escort/Guide when you meet them. They will do their utmost to cater for any special requests, such as vegetarian meals or food to be avoided in case of allergies.

People on restricted diets should expect complications in Sri Lanka and unfortunately we can give no guarantee that special requirements can be met. 

Please be aware that on some days where a lot of sights are covered, dinner times may be early (around 5.30pm) and your tour group may head directly to the restaurant after sightseeing.
Additionally, long driving distances or flight times, for example, may delay/alter your mealtime.

Whilst travelling away from major cities, it is highly recommended that those passengers with food intolerances take additional food items with them as not all dietary requests will be met due to the limited foods available.


Avoid drinking tap water in Sri Lanka. We always recommend bottled water as a first option when in a foreign country. Some hotels provide free bottled water in your room. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks and beer are widely available and affordable.