What to wear on a winter escape to Sri Lanka

If the frosty mornings and cold, wintery days are getting you down, there’s no place better than sunny Sri Lanka to escape to. Situated near the equator and surrounded by the tepid waters of the Indian Ocean, you’ll be whisked away to a tropical paradise to enjoy the neverending sunshine of this year-round holiday destination. With incredible biodiversity and a strong Buddhist culture, there are plenty of rainforests and cultural delights to explore as well as the golden coastlines.

But what should you wear on a winter escape to Sri Lanka? Whilst the weather is sure to be warm and humid on the coastal regions, no matter which time of year you visit, the highlands can be contrastingly cooler – and there are also the monsoon seasons to consider. To help you pack your suitcase, let’s run through everything you’ll need.


It’s respectful to keep your swimwear reserved solely for the beaches in Sri Lanka. As a Buddhist country, modesty is preferred from everyone when in public, so be sure to pack a sarong and some light, loose fitting clothes to pop on when leaving the beach to find a cafe or restaurant.

Fabrics such as cotton and linen will wick the moisture away from your skin and keep you cooler than plastic fabrics such as polyester, so be sure to invest in some good quality pieces for your travel wardrobe. Of course, don’t forget a high sunscreen – especially if you live in a colder climate usually. A good sunhat is also a must – try a stylish, wide-brimmed piece to keep the sun off your face in style. Flip-flops and sandals are fine for beach-combing, and remember to bring a waterproof bag for your phone and keys so you can enjoy the warm ocean waters.


Sri Lanka is teeming with amazing, once-in-a-lifetime inland excursions, from lush rainforests hiding natural pools and waterfalls, to vast savannahs where rare wildlife roam. To stay cool whilst exploring, pack plenty of loose shirts, pants, dresses and skirts in natural fabrics, as well as some bug-repellent spray.

Be sure to also throw in a light jumper or jacket, as you won’t want to miss out on the chance to hike or cycle through the country’s breathtaking highlands. Tea plantations, soaring mountains and rolling hills of the wilderness await, but temperatures can drop to lows of 15-16°C here. This can be a shock and feel rather cool after spending time in the higher, 25-30°C temperatures of the coast.

You’ll also need a good pair of hiking boots for any trails you undertake, and some thick, cotton-rich socks to avoid blisters. There are many, many temples and religious shrines throughout Sri Lanka, where you’ll be expected to remove your shoes before entering – so look for styles that offer both comfort and practicality in their ease of putting on and off.


In the north, December – March is the monsoon season. But even if you plan to stick solely to the southern regions during your visit, it’s worth packing a light raincoat. A top tip is to download a weather app to check when downpours are expected if you’re exploring away from your resort or hotel. A backpack will be your best friend on any expedition to Sri Lanka – perfect for storing all of your layers and a raincoat as you meander through the island.

Be respectful Finally, it’s important to be mindful of certain cultural rules when visiting Sri Lanka. Although it can almost be a reflex for travellers, avoid taking selfies with any Buddha statues you encounter, as turning your back on the statues is a sign of disrespect. Try to wear white clothing that covers your knees and shoulders when visiting temples, and always follow the specific rules for each (usually found at the entrance). With a little forethought and planning, packing for a winter getaway to this stunning country is a breeze.


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