Our destination specialists have travelled extensively within the beautiful island of Sri Lanka and can offer advice on the best time to go, what to pack and more:

WEATHER IN SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka is a year-round holiday destination. The weather is typically tropical, with a northeast monsoon from December to March, and a southwest monsoon from June to October. The central highlands are pleasantly cool and relatively dry from January to April. The peak season is mid-December to mid-January and March to April, during Easter, with a mini peak season in July and August when Sri Lankan festivals and pageants are held throughout the country.

 
Sri Lanka weather chart

MAP OF SRI LANKA

A map of Sri Lanka

WHAT TO PACK FOR SRI LANKA

Lightweight summer clothing in cottons or blends is ideal for most of the year in Sri Lanka. Sweaters, a light jacket or a shawl may be needed for the cooler evenings, and jumpers will definitely be required if you are staying overnight up in the hills. Local people dress conservatively and sleeveless vests and short shorts are seen as disrespectful on both ladies and gentlemen, so do cover your shoulders and thighs. For ladies, a pashmina is especially useful for covering heads and shoulders when entering religious sites. Remember, shoes need to be removed prior to entering a temple, so packing footwear that is easy to slip on and off is advisable. If you are planning to trek and climb in Sri Lanka, ensure you bring with you suitable sturdy footwear.
 

MEDICATIONS & VACCINATIONS IN SRI LANKA

We recommend you consult your doctor or local travel clinic before setting off for your holiday to Sri Lanka. Aside from ensuring you are supplied with any regular medications you may need for the duration of your stay, your health practitioner may wish to discuss with you the benefits of a Tetanus vaccination or booster shot. Sri Lanka has a very low risk of Malaria, but its mosquitoes do spread Dengue fever, a virus that cannot be vaccinated against. Also known as "breakbone fever", this is an illness that while not fatal, is best avoided, and therefore vigilance should be practiced against mosquito bites. This includes bringing high quality insect repellent as well as cool, loose clothes to cover exposed skin when mosquitoes are out. You may wish to discuss your fitness level with your GP if planning to travel to high altitude areas of Sri Lanka. For more travel health information about Sri Lanka you will find the NHS's Fit for Travel website very useful, as well as that of The Center for Disease Control & Prevention. 

TIPPING IN SRI LANKA

Tipping is not expected in Sri Lanka but rather earned, and it is entirely discretionary as to whether you give a gratuity to those at your service. If you find a certain person has been of exceptional standard, they would be very grateful to receive any individual tip as you please. A chauffeur-guide will expect in the region of 1500/2000 Rupees (£7-10/$10-15) per couple for a day's guiding. For other services such as those rendered by porters, 100 Rupees per bag should be sufficient. At larger hotels and in homestays it is customary to leave a tip of 500 Rupees per day which will be distributed amongst all the staff. There is no tipping culture with taxis but feel free to round up the fare to the nearest 150 or 200 Rupees. At upscale restaurants, leaving a gratuity of around 200 Rupees is the norm. At smaller, more casual cafe venues small change less than 100 Rupees will suffice. 

You will see evidence of poverty throughout urban and rural areas of Sri Lanka, often in the form of street begging, and only the hardest of hearts can inure itself totally. You are strongly advised not to respond as this will inevitably bring hordes towards you. On occasion the persistent can be persuaded to leave you alone and seek another victim with the offer of a 20 Rupee note. A supply of small notes will prove very useful, particularly around major sites such as temples.

GET CONNECTED

ELECTRICAL SUPPLY
The Sri Lankan electrical system is based on 230 volts and 50 Hz. If you travel with a laptop computer you will need to bring a stabilizer. Sockets here are compatible with either the plug type which has three round pins in a triangular pattern, or the plug type which has three rectangular pins, also in a triangular pattern (as used in the UK). 

Plug diagram Plug diagram

MOBILE / INTERNET CONNECTIVITY
Generally speaking, mobile phone coverage throughout Sri Lanka is good. Charges are another matter however, and you would do well to speak to your network service provider before travelling here to see if there are any data roaming packages for Sri Lanka that would bring your call costs down. 

Most hotels in Sri Lanka have decent WiFi, as you will find to be the case at many restaurants and bars as well. Always check what charges will be incurred before using these services, as in some cases the internet access will be complimentary whilst in others it will be chargeable.

RECOMMENDED READING

  • Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C Clarke 
  • Mosquito by Roma Tearne 
  • Serendib: My Sri Lankan Kitchen by Peter Kuruvita 
  • Colombo: A Novel by Carl Muller 
  • Spit and Polish by Carl Muller 
  • Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
  • Travel Specialist Rachel Cooper

    RACHEL COOPER

    Tailor-Made Travel Specialist

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