Top 10 Things to Know Before travelling to Sri Lanka

Top 10 Things to Know Before travelling to Sri Lanka

Travelling to Sri Lanka, often called the "Pearl of the Indian Ocean," offers an array of unforgettable experiences, including beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, lush hill stations, and a vibrant culture. Here's a detailed guide with essential tips to ensure your Sri Lankan adventure is epic.

Best Times to Visit: Embrace the Island's Rhythm

Due to its tropical climate, Sri Lanka experiences distinct monsoon seasons that impact the island at different times.

  1. West Coast (November - April): Ideal for beach enthusiasts with sunny skies and calm seas.
  2. East Coast (May - October): The best time to visit as the west coast undergoes its monsoon season.

  • Insider Tip: The shoulder seasons (April-May and October-November) are excellent for those interested in wildlife and adventure. They offer fewer crowds and vibrant national parks.

What to Pack: Gear Up for the Adventure

Making the right packing decisions is essential to enjoying your trip:

  1. Clothing: Opt for lightweight, breathable attire like cotton shirts and comfortable dresses.
  2. Footwear: Bring durable walking shoes for exploration.
  3. Rain Gear: A light rain jacket is essential for unexpected showers.
  4. Sun Protection: Include sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect against the intense sun.
  5. Modesty for Religious Sites: Pack apparel to cover shoulders and knees.
  6. Electrical Adapters: Sri Lanka uses specific plug types; an adapter is necessary.
  • Bonus Tip: A reusable water bottle helps you stay hydrated and minimise plastic use.

Temple Etiquette: Respect and Reflect

Being respectful in religious spaces is essential:

  1. Dress Code: Wear modest clothing and remove shoes and hats before entering.
  2. Behaviour: Maintain quiet and avoid pointing feet at sacred statues or individuals. This respect underscores your reverence for Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage.

Savour the Flavors: Dive Into Sri Lankan Cuisine

The local cuisine is a delicious blend of influences and a highlight of any visit:

  1. Rice & Curry: A staple enjoyed in many delightful variations.
  2. Kottu Roti: Shredded flatbread mixed with veggies, meat, or seafood.
  3. Hoppers: Pancake-like bowls with savoury or sweet fillings.
  4. Seafood: Fresh and abundantly available along the coast.

  • Vegetarian/Vegan Tip: The cuisine offers many plant-based options rich in lentils and vegetables.

Navigating Sri Lanka: Transportation Insights

Exploring the island can be an adventure in itself:

  1. Taxis and Tuk Tuks: These are widely available in cities; always agree on fares beforehand.
  2. Buses: An economical option for longer distances.
  3. Trains: Scenic routes like from Kandy to Ella offer unforgettable views.
  4. Car Rentals: Provide flexibility, though be prepared for busy roads.

  • Local Tip: Hiring a driver can be a stress-free way to see the sights.

Currency Essentials: Handling Money in Sri Lanka

Understanding the local currency, the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR), is essential:

  1. ATMs: Widely accessible in urban areas.
  2. Currency Exchange: Best rates are typically found at banks and authorised changes.
  3. Tipping: Appreciated but optional, suitable for good service.

  • Money-Saving Tip: Carrying smaller denominations can be handy for tips and small purchases.

Stay Connected: Internet and Mobile Data

Keep in touch efficiently:

  1. Wi-Fi: Generally available in most accommodations and cafes, though speeds can vary.
  2. Mobile Data: Affordable local SIM cards provide extensive coverage.

  • Stay Connected Tip: Inform your provider about your travels to manage roaming charges.

Promoting Responsible Tourism: Travel with Awareness

Your travel choices impact the local environment and community:

  1. Environmental Respect: Use less plastic and manage waste responsibly.
  2. Support Locals: Opt for local accommodations and eateries.
  3. Fair Bargaining: Engage in respectful negotiation in markets and with service providers.

Unwind and Recharge: Embrace Sri Lankan Relaxation

Sri Lanka offers numerous opportunities for relaxation:

  1. Beaches: Unwind on pristine sandy shores.
  2. Nature Walks: Explore the green highlands and lush parks.
  3. Ayurveda Treatments: Indulge in traditional wellness practices.
  4. Yoga and Meditation: Find tranquillity in serene settings.

  • Relaxation Tip: Savor a local Ceylon tea as part of your downtime.

Embrace the Unexpected: Discover Sri Lanka's Magic

Be open to spontaneous experiences:

  1. Local Festivals: Immerse yourself in colorful cultural celebrations.
  2. Tea with Locals: Engage with locals over a cup of traditional tea.
  3. Wildlife Encounters: Experience safaris to meet elephants and other native wildlife.
  • Hidden Gems: Seek out secluded waterfalls and quaint villages.

With these pointers in hand, you are prepared to set out on an unforgettable adventure that perfectly encapsulates Sri Lanka's alluring allure.


Sri Lanka provides travellers with an array of attractions, from its rich wildlife and scenic landscapes to its cultural heritage and distinct seasons. By obtaining the necessary permits, being mindful of local laws such as alcohol restrictions, and planning your travel around the monsoon seasons, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit. 

With must-see destinations ranging from ancient cities to stunning beaches, Sri Lanka promises an unforgettable journey filled with adventure and discovery.


  • What are some things I can do to be a responsible tourist in Sri Lanka?

    Minimise plastic use, dispose of waste responsibly, support local businesses, bargain fairly, dress modestly at religious sites, and observe wildlife safely to be mindful of them.

  • What are some unexpected experiences I might have in Sri Lanka?

    You might stumble upon a vibrant cultural festival, sip tea with a local family, encounter wild elephants on a safari, or discover hidden waterfalls! Be open to surprises.

  • What kind of accommodation options are available in Sri Lanka?

    Sri Lanka offers a variety of options, from budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels to luxurious beach resorts and boutique hotels. Choose based on your budget and travel style.

  • How much does a trip to Sri Lanka typically cost?

    Costs vary depending on travel style, accommodation, and activities. Budget travellers can get by on $50-75 per day, while luxury travellers can spend significantly more.

  • Are there any health precautions I should take before travelling to Sri Lanka?

    For advice on recommended immunisations and drugs, speak with your doctor. Be aware of mosquitos and consider using insect repellent.

  • What are some souvenirs I can buy in Sri Lanka?

    Look for Ceylon tea, traditional Sri Lankan handicrafts like batik fabrics and wood carvings, gemstones, spices, and locally-made clothing.

  • Are there any wildlife viewing opportunities in Sri Lanka?

    Yes, Sri Lanka is renowned for its diverse wildlife. Key spots include Yala National Park for leopard sightings, Minneriya National Park for elephant gatherings, and Sinharaja Forest Reserve for endemic bird species.

  • What should I know about alcohol restrictions in Sri Lanka?

    Alcohol sales are banned on Poya days (full moon days), which occur once a month and on major Buddhist holidays. These days, alcohol is not available in shops, bars, or restaurants, although tourists can still access alcohol in their hotel minibars.

  • How do I navigate monsoon seasons when planning my travel in Sri Lanka?

    Plan your visit according to the two main monsoon seasons. The southwest monsoon (May to September) affects the south and west coasts, while the northeast monsoon (November to March) impacts the north and east. Travel during the shoulder seasons (just before or after monsoons) for milder weather and fewer tourists.

  • What are the must-visit places in Sri Lanka?

    Must-visit places in Sri Lanka include the ancient city of Sigiriya, the sacred city of Kandy, the beautiful beaches of Mirissa, the historical Galle Fort, and the scenic train ride between Kandy and Ella. Also, experience the cultural and natural wealth of the Central Highlands.