Do not pre-order the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) in your own country as the exchange rate will be poor compared to the exchange rate in Sri Lanka. You can carry and exchange any major currency without any problem such as AUD, GBP, CAD, EUR, NZD, JPY, SGD, CHF, USD, AED and CNY.
Where to Exchange
The airport banks are open 24 hours a day and will offer a slightly lower exchange rate than the banks in the city. All bank exchange rates are required by law to closely follow the exchange rate of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka:
Licensed money changers will often offer a better exchange rate than the bank although more care should be taken during the transaction including carefully counting the money before leaving the premises.
Hotels will often take a commission for any currency exchange after applying the Central Bank buying exchange rate.
What Currency to Use to Pay
Most hotels in Sri Lanka advertise their prices in USD but stipulate in the small print that you must pay in LKR. However, some hotels will happily accept USD or other major currencies so it is worth asking beforehand what they will accept and what exchange rate they will use. This can be a way to avoid losing money in a “double exchange”.
Currency Import/Export Limits
If you do go against the general advice and take Sri Lankan Rupees be aware that the limit is 5000LKR. Any amount of foreign currency (except the Indian and Pakistani currencies) can be imported without declaration up to the amount of 15,000USD. However, if you plan to export any amount over 5000USD this must be declared when entering the country.