Before Arrival

Night-time temperatures do not drop significantly from those during the day.

It is useful to have an umbrella for both sun and rain protection. These can easily be purchased in Mannar at a cheap price.

Chocolates and small items from your own country. 

Arriving in Sri Lanka


Legally you do need a Sri Lankan driving license to hire cars, motorbikes or tuk tuks. You can pre-order this in advance of your arrival in Sri Lanka and pick it up from the office of the Automobile Association of Ceylon. It costs around $30US


People do not bargain, but be aware that you may be charged more than local people. Mostly the price is written on a pre-packed item. If you feel you are being overcharged you can simply go to another shop.

Sri Lanka has three main languages. In the South of the country, including Colombo, the majority of people speak Sinhalese. In the North, where Bridging Lanka is based in Mannar, the principal language is Tamil. English is commonly a second language in cities and the majority of staff at Bridging Lanka speak good English. In more rural areas, the locals have a much more basic grasp of English and a translator will likely be required.

In Mannar

Guesthouses provide a range of accommodation from basic to rooms with facilities such as a fan, or air-conditioning, and ensuite. Room rates range from $15 to $30.

The guesthouse will provide a towel and soap. A laundry service is provided at a very reasonable rate. Most guesthouses do not have coathangers and provide some hooks on the wall for clothes. 

Many guesthouses are located within an easy walk from Bridging Lanka. Some guesthouses will have pushbikes and scooters available for hire. Pushbikes, scooters and motorbikes are used by local people more commonly than cars.

Local buses and tuk-tuks are available. Tuk-tuks in Mannar do not have meters like they do in Colombo. We recommend you agree a price with the driver before departing.

Bridging Lanka has a very dynamic and flexible approach to work to suit the changing environment of our projects. You will find the team very friendly and accommodating and happy to help you find your feet in what is probably a very different environment to what you are used to at home. 

Volunteers are expected to work 9-5 Monday to Friday and 9-12 on Fridays.

The charity does work 7 days a week so we are flexible with regards to days and timings.

Guesthouses can provide meals and there are cafes and street stalls. Food is inexpensive; a meal of curry, rice and accompaniments will around $3 US

The quality of water in Mannar is good, but most non-locals drink bottled water. Most guesthouses and the office in Bridging Lanka provide filtered water for you to use. 

There is a wifi network available at the Bridging Lanka office. Additionally, some guesthouses have their own network available to guests. We recommend you get your own data plan on a Sri Lankan sim card. This way you can still have access to the internet if there is no wifi at your guesthouse, or if the power goes out at the office. 

Most peope eat curry for three meals a day. Tropical fruit, bread, butter, jam, curd and ice-cream are easily available. Fast food is not available. If you have a food you enjoy such as museli, chocolate, a particular sandwich bread, you should bring it with you.

People eat with their hands – one hand only – therefore it is useful to carry hand santizer.  

Western toilets are available in guesthouses and at Bridging Lanka, and they are supplied with toilet paper. Squat toilets are also used, with a hose. There are no public toilets. 

If you take regular medication, ensure you have an adequate supply for your needs. There is a pharmacy in Mannar where you can buy a range of the usual pharmacy items. 

Town area: When you arrive you’ll be given a map of the town. After you explore the town you may wish to do the 4km walk along the causeway between Mannar Island and the mainland. 

Outside Mannar: There are a variety of tourist attractions within easy reach of Mannar. A day trip in an air-conditioned van can be arranged for you at a cost of approximately $90AUD. The van can be shared by up to 7 people. 

Got here