Best Time to Go
Despite generally being a small country, the weather patterns in Sri Lanka are pretty complex as it always has two monsoons. The low season (May-Aug) is called the Yala monsoon and brings rain to the South and West coast. During this time, places in the North and the East have the best weather but generally speaking, the prices are a lot lower during this period. The shoulder season runs from (April-September) and is generally a good time to visit as the temperatures are not too hot. Peak season runs from (Dec-March) and is when the southern coast is the busiest.
So in a nutshell, the best time to visit the west and south coasts and hill country is from December to March, while the best weather on the east coast is from April/May to September.
Generally speaking, Sri Lanka is a pretty affordable country to travel around in. Transportation and food are ridiculously cheap that often times, a short tuk-tuk ride from the bus stop to your hotel would cost you more than the 4-hour bus you took to get to a place.
A 7-hour train ride can set you back around $1.50 (2nd class tickets) taking you through some of the most scenic parts of the country. The main expense in Sri Lanka would be accommodations, although there are lots to choose from. A good budget would be $25-30 a day (with $30 being pretty generous already). Listed below is a rough breakdown of expenses. For transportation, Uber is widely used in the main cities and local transport apps like Fair Taxi and Pick Me are great to have.
What to Pack for Traveling Sri Lanka
As with most places that you will go to, what to pack will largely depend on what you will be doing in that country. Due to the fact that Sri Lanka is located near the equator, the general climate is warm. However, once you go up to the highlights like Nuwara Eliya Ella or Ella, the climate begins cooling down a bit so taking a light rain jacket with you is definitely advisable. During my last trip there, I had a small hand-carry sized luggage with a few quick-dry t-shirts, one pair of trekking pants, some leggings, and some loose elephant pants. I would also recommend bringing a light sarong to take with you in case you see any temples or places of worship that you would like to visit.
It is also ideal to remember that although Sri Lanka gets a lot of tourists, the people are still fairly conservative so you have to make sure that you cover up and that you don’t offend anybody. For a more detailed account of what to bring, check out our Asia Packing list guide. After spending almost 3 years traveling around this region, we’ve got the packing business pat down.