Packing is a pursuit to be tackled with the guts of someone going into battle. Weather, activities, trip duration and season all play a vital role in the decision-making process. Luckily, Sri Lanka makes things slightly easier for you. The country can lay genuine claim to being a year-round holiday destination – the trick is in knowing which side of the island to visit during specific months, and how to pack accordingly. So put your panic aside and read on to help clear those confusing thoughts of what to pack for Sri Lanka.


General Clothing

  • Waterproof Raincoat: from December through to April, the whole of Sri Lanka experiences its most sunny months. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be the odd shower or two, so it’s always handy to have a raincoat stashed in your bag. Monsoons drench the south-west of the island in May to June, and the north-east in October to November. So, if you’re planning on visiting these areas at these times, a waterproof raincoat is essential.
  • Light coloured and lightweight fabrics: Sri Lanka boasts an average temperature of 27/28°C year-round, and light colours will reflect the sun’s rays and keep you cool. Light fabric such as cotton and linen will also be your best friend in the hot and humid climate.
  • Modest clothes: due to Sri Lanka’s religious culture, you’ll find wearing modest clothing that covers upper thighs and cleavage the most respectful way to dress. Tank tops, t-shirts, loose trousers, skirts and dresses are all perfect.
  • Sarong: these may be forgotten when thinking of what to pack for Sri Lanka, but can be utilised in multiple situations. They can be used as a cover-up when entering temples (avoid black – this is not permitted in temples in places such as Anuradhapura), and also as a beach towel, skirt or blanket.
  • Hiking Shoes: although Sri Lanka is doable in just sandals, make sure to find some room for a pair of sturdy hiking shoes if you’re eager to hike up somewhere such as Pidurangala Rock.


Travel Essentials

  • Passport, travel documents, ID, travel money: don’t laugh – we all know someone who has forgotten at least one of these, so they’re going on the list.
  • Camera, memory cards and charger or spare batteries: there is no end to the photographic opportunities in Sri Lanka. Although a phone camera may suffice for some, a professional camera will provide the best shots. Decent photography supplies are hard to come by, so make sure to bring spare memory cards and batteries.
  • Suncream: suncream in Sri Lanka tends to come with a hefty price tag and a low SPF, so stocking up before you arrive is the best way to stay safe (and avoid that lobster glow).
  • Insect repellent: any insect repellent containing DEET will help keep those pesky mosquitoes away. Our top tip is to also buy some citronella oil from a Sri Lanken pharmacy – it tends to work better than any repellent bought overseas as the mosquitoes can’t stand the citrus scent.
  • Bite cream: in case the above plan fails.
  • Hydro flask: to be on the safe side, we recommend avoiding the tap water in Sri Lanka. Bottled water is the best option and decanting it into an insulated hydro flask will keep it ice-cold all day long.
  • Sunglasses with polarisation: we’d hate for you to fall victim to squinting you way around Sri Lanka, so a good pair of UV protected sunglasses should be firmly glued to your head.
  • Power bank: Sri Lanka, just like any country you’re unfamiliar with, can be a little tricky to navigate. Make sure to have a power bank to hand in case following directions on your phone drains your battery.
  • Extra toilet paper: many public toilets don’t provide toilet paper, so a backup supply wouldn’t go amiss. Better to be safe than sorry!


What to Pack for Specific Locations

Sri Lanka Temples

The temples in Sri Lanka are among the most beautiful in the world, so it’s important to pack correctly to avoid missing out. As mentioned, the religious culture means there are strict requirements for entering temples. Knees and shoulders must be covered, so sarongs, long skirts, baggy trousers and t-shirts will prove invaluable when considering what to pack for Sri Lanka. Hats and shoes must also be removed.

Sri Lanka Beach Towns

The attitude towards clothing is more relaxed in these areas, and it is acceptable to wear bikinis and swimming trunks on the beaches. But make sure to throw on a cover up when leaving the beach and entering the towns, as you’ll soon learn that the locals tend to be modest in these areas.

Sri Lanka Mountains

The mountainous regions such as Adam’s Peak and Horton Plains will likely bring your adventurous side out, so make sure you’re packing for active days. Shorts or leggings will allow for movement, and sturdy shoes are a must for the sometimes uneven terrain. The weather can also vary up in the mountains, so bring extra layers for warmth and a coat for the rain.

Rainy Season

Despite there always being a part of Sri Lanka that isn’t in rainy season, it isn’t unheard of for people to travel during one. It spans from May to June in the south-west, and October to November in the north-east. Here are some things to consider packing if you opt to travel when the heavens are open:

  • Waterproof raincoat
  • Waterproof backpack cover
  • Dry bags to keep your belongings extra safe
  • Extra socks (soggy feet are never welcome)
  • Small travel umbrella
  • Waterproof shoes such as water sandals, rubber Birkenstocks or anything with good traction
Contact one of our Sri Lanka specialists