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How to Plan (And What To Pack) For Your Trip to Sri Lanka

Travel May 1, 2017

Hey guys! As many if you know a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get to spend a week in Sri Lanka with two of my good friends.

It was so amazing to be able to be able to introduce them to so many lovely places that I’ve been to before with my family and with Ben. If you’re new here you may not know that my father is of Sri Lanka heritage and we lived there for a year when I was 12 when my parents decided to introduce us to the real world (that’s a story for another time), so going back with friends is so fun because I can share so much of myself with them (they probably wanted me to shut up after a while hahaha). Before I launch into a couple of guides that I’ve put together for you, I wanted to share some tips about planning your trip to Sri Lanka.

Wearing: Bridgett – Grana Cullottes and Silk Shell Top, A Pair & A Spare Sandals, Sri Lankan Bag. Geneva – Grana Silk Dress, A Pair & A Spare Sandals, hat from Bali, Sri Lankan Bag.

Tips for Planning Your Trip

When To Go

For such a small island, the weather in Sri Lanka can seem a little complicated. Whilst it;s hot all year round, the monsoon brings rain to the west and southwest coasts and hill country from May to September and hits the east coast from November to March.  Basically, the best time to visit the west and south coasts and hill country is from December to March, while the best weather on the east coast is from April/May to September. However, that also means that no matter when you go, there will be part of the country where it’s dry, you just need to choose where you go currently. From a personal perspective, I’ve always visited around Christmas or Easter. That said I’ll be going later this year in October for fingers crossed.

What To See

There are so many incredible things to do in Sri Lanka, but some of the main things you will want to consider are:

  • Colombo – city with bustling markets, temples and restuarants.
  • Galle Fort – a gorgeous colonial fort on the ocean.
  • South West Coast – relaxed costal areas with lots of sand and sun.
  • Yala Safari Park – elephants, leopards and beautiful scenery.
  • Tea Country – Hatton, Ella, Nuwara Eliya and Kandy are towns high in the hills surrounded by lush tea farms.
  • Cultural triangle – To the north, visit ancient cities and beautiful temples around Dambulla, Anuradhapura and Sigirya.


Although Sri Lanka is small, distances take a long time to drive due to the condition of most of the roads, so it’s wise not to overcommit to your itinerary. Many a holiday has been ruined by sitting in the car for 8 hours a day! Here’s my advice:

  • Less than 4 Days: Galle Fort and surrounding beaches only (the highway to Galle makes it easy to get there from the airport).
  • Around 8 days: Galle Fort & Tea Country
  • Around 10 Days: Galle Fort & Tea Country & Cultural triangle.


You should absolutely hire a driver when you are in Sri Lanka, particularly if you plan to move around a bit, and they’re not that expensive (usually around $50 per day). We used Piumal from Dee Lanka tours (my dad and his friends had used him previously) and he was great.


We have put together a map below for you to bookmark for your next trip. Enjoy!

I’ve annotated some key places on this map, can’t wait to head back later this year!

What To Pack

Packing for Sri Lanka is really dependent on where you are going, both in terms of weather and in terms of appropriate/expected clothing in various area because some are more traditional than others. For this trip Maddie and Bridgett and I only had 6 nights, so we stayed in and around Galle and on the beaches, which meant we were pretty relaxed in terms of what we packed, mainly opting for comfortable, breathable items. Our friends over at Grana were kind enough to give us a few pieces of their new collection to test out – simple styles in silk, cotton and linen that were perfect travel essentials and so easy to throw on. To avoid ironing we just hang anything we wanted to wear in the bathroom while we showered, worked a charm!


For The Beach/Beach Towns 

Like most beaches and beach towns, you can wear normal beach and holiday attire. You’ll want to do that because it will be super hot! Because these are the only areas we had time to go to we went for silk dresses, tanks and culottes – all nice and billowy so the air could close to our skin in the humidity. A nice big sun hat and a straw tote bag is essential too! We added a light jacket or light weight scarf when we were out and about in the evenings or in more local areas.

For The Hills

Up in the hills you’ll find that temperatures can dip much lower than any other area so you will need to bring a few warmer items. It’s useful also to note that in the hills women dress more traditionally , either in saris or mid length skirts and t-shirts so it is often good to reflect that in your outfits too. A nice pair of linen trousers and a boyfriend shirt is a great option, as well as a light weight scarf to wrap around yourself if you’re out and about or in the evenings. A silk blazer would be perfect too!

For Inland/Temples

On the inland plains you’ll find that it can get stifling in the heat and as the heat rises you might want to shed clothes but you’ll note that most women are wearing modest outfits (not including the midriff top that is standard with a sari) so it’s best to opt for longer lengths and tops with move coverage. In the temples you’ll need to cover your knees and shoulders as standard. To beat the beat, you’ll want to reach for light weight, natural fabrics and not too dark colours. A pair of silk ankle pants and a linen t-shirt is a nice option! Or a pretty light coloured maxi dress in a natural fabric so you can get some breeze.

I’ll be heading to the Hills and Inland in October so will definitely share packing details then too.

Wearing: Grana silk ankle pants, A Pair & A Spare Sandals, bag and hat from Bali.

Those colours!

Doorways done right. Wearing: Grana Cullottes and Silk Shell Top, A Pair & A Spare Sandals, Sri Lankan Bag

Beating the heat in all white.

Church Cross Street, the old fort town of Galle has the best street signs!

Maddie wears Grana Linen dress, and Sri Lankan Bag. Bridgett wears Grana Cullottes and Silk Shell Top, and The East Earrings.

Essentials… The simple sandals taking use where we need to go.

The buildings in Sri Lanka are so beautiful, without even trying. Bridget is wearing the Grana silk camisole dress, A Pair & A Spare sandals, The East Earrings and Sri Lankan Bag.

A very simple outfit in breathable, natural fabrics. Wearing Grana silk camisole and silk ankle pants, The East Earrings, A Pair & A Spare nude sandals, and hat and bag from Bali.

We got the nude sandal memo :).

Photos by Maddie, Bridgett and Myself. Thanks for such a fun holiday

Tags Asia Guide Packing Packing Guide Packing List Sri Lanka Travel Guide

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