Sri Lanka currency is a closed currency which makes currency exchange very tricky. It's almost impossible to find Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) outside Sri Lanka. Be sure to use up all your Sri Lankan Rupees before leaving Sri Lanka or exchange back any left Rupees for US dollars before your exit. Even banks in neighboring countries will not exchange back Sri Lankan rupees to your local currency.
Money Importation: The best Currency To Bring To Sri Lanka
You can bring any foreign currency to Sri Lanka except Indian and Pakistani rupees, these are banned in Sri Lanka. US dollars remain the most preferred foreign currency in Sri Lanka. You'll also get good rates with other major currencies including Euros, GBP, AUD, and JPY. If you're traveling to Sri Lanka from India or Pakistan exchange your rupees for dollars before you arrive in Sri Lanka.
The maximum amount of currency to bring to Sri Lanka in Sri Lankan rupees is LKR 20000. There are no restrictions on foreign currency but all amounts above USD 15000 or its equivalent must be declared at customs.
Where to exchange currency in Sri Lanka.
Your first and most convenient place to exchange currency is at Bandaranaike international airport. Here money exchangers and bank outlets are open 24/7. As expected exchanging currency at the airport is slightly more expensive than in Colombo city center.
Money exchangers and ATMs will give you the best rates. ATM withdrawals will give you more money than money exchange inside banking halls. If you need to cash a cheque you can only do so inside banks.
Be cautious about the money exchangers you use. Avoid street exchangers and unauthorized exchangers, they'll always seem to give the best rates but are usually scams.
In Colombo most renowned and trusted money exchangers are located along Galle Road in the inner suburb of Wellawatte near Wellawatte mosque and the public market. Check out the top money exchangers along Galle Road.
Royal money exchange, next to Prasanna money exchange.
Swiss money exchange. They are located opposite the Wellawatte mosque.
Maruthi money exchange. They are located next to Wellawatte police station.
Other streets with top money exchangers in Colombo are Mudalige Mawatha road and Sea street. Sea street is home to top gold and jewelry shops. Most jewelry dealers also offer currency exchange services.
Avoid exchanging currency in hotels and paying in US dollars. This will give you the worst rates.