The Sri Lankan currency is the rupee (Rs), divided into 100 cents, although these days pricing in cents is rare. Rupee coins come in de- nominations of one, two, five and 10 rupees. Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 rupees.
ATMs are common in Colombo and other cities such as Galle. Larger towns will have at least one and often more. ATMs often issue Rs 500 and 1000 notes. Try and break them as soon as possible as small vendors may not accept large notes - you can usually do this inside the bank that operates the ATM.
In Galle we recommend the Sampath Bank just near to the Bus Station. There is an ATM and also the bank is open 7 days.
Any bank or exchange bureau will change major currencies in cash, including US dollars, euros and British pounds. Change rupees back into hard currency at the airport (before security) prior to leaving, as even nearby countries may not exchange Sri Lankan currency.
MasterCard and Visa are the most commonly accepted credit cards. Amex and Diners Club are also accepted. Cards are generally accepted at some midrange and most top-end hotels and restaurants.
Moneychangers can be found in Colombo and major tourist centres. They generally don’t charge commission and their rates are competitive. Unlicensed moneychangers trade currency at slightly better rates than officially licensed moneychangers. They’re not worth the very real risk in getting ripped off. ATMs are safer and more reliable.
Although a 10% service charge is added to food and accommodation bills, this usually goes straight to the owner rather than the worker. Drivers expect a tip, as do people who ‘guide’ you through a site (in these cases you should make certain that a fee is discussed in ad- vance). A rule of thumb is to tip 10% of the total amount due. Also appropriate is Rs 20 for the person who minds your shoes at temples, and Rs 50 for a hotel porter.