The monsoon season runs from December to February.
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.
It will be appreciated if you email us with an offer to bring items. We regularly require restocking of small items such as peanut paste, and also larger items. In addition, volunteers can sometimes bring in laptops that are no longer in use, or other electronic items, to donate.
An offer to bring/transport needed items is always appreciated.
It is a hot and humid climate. The temperature does not change much between day and night. Bring clothes suitable for such a climate.It is useful to bring clothes that are fast drying.
Women need to dress according to local standards. If in doubt go for the more modest option.
insude the office and when outside representing Bridging Lanka women should wear short sleeved shirts or loose fitting T shirts. Pants or skirts should cover the knee.
Outside of the office
it is recommended that women wear shirts that cover the shoulder. Shorts that go to the knee.
Men need to wear long pants to work in the office. Men should wear collared shirts or collared T shirts in the office.
Outside of the office
Shorts and T shirts are acceptable outside of the office and work times.
Both at the office and outside the office males and females wear thongs/flip flops. It is sensible to wear shoes, sandals or thongs that are easy to remove as shoes are not worn inside. You will remove shoes at the door.
There is a fixed fee of $300AUD for waged volunteers and $200AUD for unwaged/ student volunteers.
Volunteers are also required to cover their own travel and living costs throughout the project. This includes the cost of return air travel to Sri Lanka, travel insurance, any necessary medical vaccines, the cost of domestic travel in Sri Lanka, and accommodation food and living expenses.
Sri Lanka primarily uses old and new UK power sockets. The old variety (Type D) has three round pins, and the new variety (Type G) has three square pins. There is a mix of these sockets in Mannar. The power voltage in Sri Lanka is 230V.
Chocolates and small items from your own country.
There is a large choice of accommodation in Colombo and using sites such as booking.com and airbnb will give you plenty of options.
There is a growing number of high end hotels being built if you want a few days of luxury before heading North.
The Fort area is most convenient for public transport as it is close to Colombo Fort Station and the Bus station.
Bambalapitya is further South of the centre of town and is an easy tuk tuk ride to the transport hubs however has more choice of Mall shopping and restaurants.
Pettah is a busy market area which is great to explore but may be a little overwhelming to stay in for some on their first visit to Sri Lanka or Asia.
There are many boroughs of Colombo so take the time to find what’s best for you.
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
There is currently 1 train per day to Mannar from Colombo. It leaves Colombo Fort at 09:35 (But please check this before you travel as times often change). It is supposed to take around 8 hours however can sometime be up to 10 as the track after Anuradhapura is not very good and quite bumpy. Also, the train often has to stop for animals on the line. On the plus side, it costs around 520 rupees (US $2.5) so is the cheapest option. The “Trains – Sri Lanka” app is good for train timetables.
There is an air conditioned night bus available from Colombo to Mannar. It leaves at 9pm and currently costs 1000 rupees (US $5)
A car and driver can be hired
If you are travelling from elsewhere in Sri Lanka, trains and buses are likely to be available but you will need to check online for times and durations.
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.
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.