The rupee will be a familiar currency name for many people around the world. However did you know Sri Lanka has its own version of the currency that is used on a daily basis?

If you are thinking of going to this country in the near future for business or for pleasure, you will have a chance to use this currency for yourself.

What coins and notes are available for this currency?

The rupee is a decimal currency and is therefore subdivided into 100 parts. These are called cents, as is the case with many dollar systems around the world. Normally when you see the amount written down you will see Rs written ahead of the figure, such as Rs50 if something costs 50 rupees.

There are lots of coins and banknotes in circulation for this currency, although not all of them are used all the time. For example, as far as the coins are concerned you will see four that are regularly used. These are the Rs1, Rs2, Rs5 and Rs10. While you can also get the Rs25 and Rs50 cent coins you won’t often see them.

Moving on to the banknotes, one of these is rarely seen in circulation although it is still legal tender. This is the Rs200 note. Aside from this there are several other banknotes you probably will see. These are the Rs20, Rs50, Rs100, Rs500, Rs1,000 and Rs5,000 notes.

From past to present – the history of the Sri Lankan rupee

You may know that Sri Lanka was originally known as Ceylon. This was the case up until 1972 when the name was changed to Sri Lanka. The country had used the Indian rupee as its official currency for a long time, ever since 1836. It had also used the British pound before this, starting in 1925.

The Sri Lankan rupee then came into being and by 1963 it was decided that this would be the only official currency the country would use. It has been in use ever since.

How to get hold of the Sri Lankan rupee

The best way to get the rupees you want for your holiday is to wait until you get there. Sri Lanka has strict laws regarding the import and export of the rupee. For instance you can only bring in a maximum of Rs5,000 when you arrive in Sri Lanka. Similarly this is the only amount you can take back out with you. However they don’t put a limit on the amount of foreign currency you can take in or out of the country. If you are intending to take more than $15,000 in US dollars in with you you’ll need to let customs know on your arrival, but this won’t apply to most people. Similarly US dollars amounting to more than $5,000 must also be notified to customs when returning to your own country.

This means you will need to get your Sri Lankan rupees once you arrive in the country. The main airport is in Colombo and you will see bank counters there at which you can exchange your cash. This is easy to do so make sure you change some before you leave the airport to begin your holiday.

Elsewhere in the country you will find many areas that have easy to use cash machines. Sri Lanka attracts a lot of tourists so if you are in the main tourist areas you’ll easily be able to get the cash you need. You can use your bank card at a cash machine but remember you are likely to be charged more for doing so if you use a credit card rather than a debit card. Ensure the cards you intend to take to Sri Lanka can be used in their machines, and notify all card providers when and where you are going so they know it is you using the cards.

You can also use cards to make payments for goods and services, but do check prior to buying anything that your specific card is good to be accepted. Credit card fraud is fairly common here so make sure your card never leaves your sight in order to minimise the risk.

How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Sri Lankan rupee

It is exceptionally easy to find the latest information on how well the Sri Lankan rupee is standing up against your own home currency. Just find your favourite online currency converter, choose your own currency first and then opt to convert the exchange rate to the rupee. This will give you the up to date information you need. Be aware that some currency converters only update once a day, whereas other ones update a lot more often. If you are able to get the most frequently updated one the information will be a lot more accurate. One other point to remember is that the exchange rates offered by bureaux de change will not be as beneficial to you – they will either have a transaction fee included or they will add one on top.

If you are thinking about going to Sri Lanka and you want to learn more about the country and whether you need a visa or not, the best place to go to is the Sri Lanka High Commission. There is an official website for the UK which can be found at

Travelling safely with Sri Lankan rupees

Sri Lanka provides a reasonably safe place to go if you are looking for a foreign holiday destination, although recent years have seen a rise in the potential for terrorism. Always check the latest information before leaving home to ensure the area you are travelling to will be okay to visit.

We have already mentioned the prevalence of credit card fraud and indeed this is the most likely crime you might be subjected to. If you have any doubts at all about using cash machines don’t use them. The safest ones are those operated by banks and inside or outside the bank itself. Some people decide to stick with cash transactions for the duration of their time in Sri Lanka.

The usual rules about taking care of your money and valuables apply just as much here as they do in other countries. For example you can make sure you store everything you don’t need to have with you in the hotel safe if there is one. Furthermore keep your valuables out of plain sight and don’t leave any of your belongings unattended at any time. Pickpockets and petty thieves will always choose the easiest targets and ensuring you can minimise the risks will help ensure your holiday goes without any problems at all.

Be particularly alert in tourist areas as many thieves operate in these areas, looking for people to rob and pickpocket. This should not deter you from going to the country, but it should help you realise how important it is to stay safe while you are there.

Where to spend your rupees in Sri Lanka – and what to spend them on

Sri Lanka is an island country just off the south eastern coastline of India. The administrative capital is Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, but the biggest city and the so-called commercial capital is the much better known Colombo. As such many people often assume Colombo is the proper capital of the country.

Colombo is certainly well worth visiting when you are in the country. It has many sights and attractions to see, including Galle Face Green. This is a well-known promenade that makes the most of the coastal location of the city. You can enjoy spectacular views of the Indian Ocean on one side and the city on the other. If it is greenery you want you can also visit Viharamahadevi Park, which is close by the National Museum (another good place to visit for a few hours). The museum is a grand white building which offers a chance to learn more about the extensive history of the country.

Of course Sri Lanka is about far more than just Colombo. You also have an opportunity to get close to the wild, perhaps by visiting Yala National Park for example. You will find it on the south eastern coastline of the country, where it was originally given the status of a wildlife sanctuary. Sri Lankan elephants reside here and there are many different habitats enjoyed by countless different animals and birds. Elsewhere you may also wish to see the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. The people who work here care for dozens of elephants and also provide a safe place for them to breed.

There are many stunning natural sights in Sri Lanka, not least of which is Sri Pada. This translates into Adam’s Peak and it is a mountain in the middle of the island. It has an impressive elevation of more than 7,000 feet and stands out as the only mountain in the area. If you are into hiking and you go prepared there are several trails that can take you up the mountain. These are generally regarded to be excellent trails: they are even lit at night so you don’t have to worry if it gets dark! This provides you with the opportunity to climb the mountain in time to see the sunrise.


Sri Lanka has gone through numerous changes over the years. While it may not be the safest island to visit in present times, thousands of people still enjoy wonderful holidays there every year. If you wish to do the same you can consider booking a trip there now. Just remember not to worry about getting your rupees prior to arriving in Sri Lanka. It is much easier to do it when you arrive.

Sri Lanka Rupee – LKR

2 thoughts on “Sri Lanka Rupee – LKR

  • August 31, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Wow I never realised Sri Lanka used a version of the rupee. I know someone who has visited Sri Lanka and they said it was beautiful, but this was a few years ago now – probably a decade or more. I wonder how safe it is to go there now; it sounds rather dicey to me. It’s a shame that such a lovely country has to experience such problems. I hope things are resolved soon.

  • January 13, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    I returned from sri lanka a few days ago.
    everything about my holiday was good.
    changed currency at a bank terminal in Magestic city shopping centre, did my shopping there and at Roma court. it was all seamless and good.
    highly recommend as a holiday destination, the shopping was good as well


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.