Hey guys! As many of you know a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend a week in Sri Lanka with two of my good friends.
It was amazing to be able to introduce Maddie and Bridgett to so many lovely places that I’ve been to before with my family and Ben. If you’re new here you may not know that my father is Sri Lankan and we lived there for a year when I was 12 (that’s a story for another time), so going back with friends is so (so!) fun because I can share so much with them and also get to see it through their eyes. Before I launch into a couple of guides that I’ve put together for you about the places we visited on this trip, I wanted to share some tips about planning your trip to Sri Lanka.
How to Plan (And What To Pack) For Your Trip to Sri Lanka
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 usually be part of the country where it’s dry. From a personal perspective, I’ve always visited around Christmas or Easter. That said I’ll be going again 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 walled town on the ocean.
- South West Coast – relaxed coastal 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, see 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 (other than the freeway between Galle and Colombo), 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 for a medium paced trip:
- Less than 4 Days: Galle and surrounding beaches only.
- Around 8 days: Galle & Tea Country/Yala
- Around 10 Days: Galle & Tea Country/Yala & Cultural triangle.
- More than 10 days: Galle & Tea Country & Yala & 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 good. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org (WhatsApp number: 0094771634634). Another option is Tharanga Silva, which is another driver my family have used before and said he is also good (I haven’t used him before). His email is email@example.com.
We have put together a map below for you to bookmark for your next trip. Enjoy!
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 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 from 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 would 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 get close to our skin in the humidity. A nice big sun hat and a straw tote bag are essential too. We added a light jacket or light weight scarf when we were out and about in the evenings or travelling 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!
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 again wearing traditional or modest outfits so it’s best to opt for longer lengths and tops with more coverage, and in the temples you’ll need to cover your knees and shoulders as standard. To beat the heat, 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.
Doorways done oh so right. Wearing: Grana Cullottes and Silk Shell Top, A Pair & A Spare Sandals, Sri Lankan Bag
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.
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 :).
I’m looking forward to sharing more of my trip to Galle and the South West Beaches. I’ll be heading back in October too to see some of the more traditional areas, stay tuned for that also.
This post is in collaboration with Grana.