Some clothing is indispensable when going to Sri Lanka. Most regions are dominated by tropical heat; light clothing made of linen or cotton, a hat and sandals are essential under these humid conditions. For women, dresses, skirts and shorts that reach down to the knees are recommended. Shirts with a moderate neckline are appropriate when being out and about. Bikinis and other swimwear are perfectly suitable when at the beach though going for a swim and sunbathing topless is strictly forbidden.

Mayn of the temples you can only enter fully clothed, means that arms and legs need to be covered. Some temples require white or light coloured clothing. A long sleeved blouse, cotton trousers or a long skirt are ideal for a temple visit. On top this kind of clothes protect you from the sun and are comfortable to wear in the heat.

A pullover or light cardigan as well as an all-weather jacket should be in your bag if you e.g. plan to travel to the mountains in the central highlands. Here, it can get pretty cold during the nights and mornings and once in a while it as well might rain.

Shoes for any occasion

Flip-flops and sandals are always a good choice, but when going on a hike or for a long walk through nature, hiking shoes, sneakers or similar footwear is essential. Women who like to go out wearing high-heels will have to face some inconveniences because not all streets and paths are made for this kind of footwear. In some city areas as well as in hotels wearing high-heels is fine. If you want to try wearing a colourful sari (the service staff in the local beauty salons will love helping you coping with the wrapping technique), wedged heels go perfectly with these traditional dresses.


Apart from adequate clothing, it’s always a good idea to pack some practical things you might need on your journey like a socket adapter, sunscreen, wipes, washing powder and extra make-up in case your preferred brands are not available in Sri Lanka. Women should pack enough sanitary products such as tampons because they are really hard to find in Sri Lankan drug stores. Depending on the hotel you have booked it is recommended having packed extra towels, mosquito nets and a light linen or sleeping bag. Don’t forget to bring your camera and batteries. It’s advisable to bring a second mobile phone you can use with a local SIM card. How this works we explain in our section All about.

Suitcase or backpack? The choice of luggage depends on the kind of journey you plan to go for. If you like to travel a lot by train, bus and tuk tuk, rucksacks or smaller suitcases are always the better choice as you might need to carry them up and down the platforms. They as well are more convenient for being kept in crowded trains with only small luggage racks or in a tuk tuk, where there’s not much space anyway if you, your luggage and your travel partner like to reasonably fit in comfortably.