• Lonely Planet ( Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.
  • Ceylon Today ( News, sports, entertainment and a handy ticker with exchange rates.
  • Yamu ( Excellent restaurant reviews, sights listings and more.
  • Hiru News ( Excellent news aggregation site.
  • Meteo ( Weather forecasts nationwide.
  • The Man in Seat 61 ( Encyclopaedic and inspiring information about Sri Lankan train travel.

Top Tips

  • Explore the beaches, especially in the north and east, where there are vast, deserted and beautiful swaths of sand. If you see a road heading towards the coast, take it and see what you find.
  • Ride the trains: you'll enjoy the scenery, have comfort greater than buses and travel with a cross-section of locals.
  • Hit the markets. Even if you don't want 100 green bananas, you'll see the country's bounty, meet people and get caught up in the bargaining frenzy.
  • Eat with the locals. A busy 'hotel' (cafe) in a town centre or near a bus terminal will serve rice and curry that's properly spicy, something impossible to find at any place catering to tourists.
  • Watch the calendar: poya (full moon) nights are when celebrations take place across the country.

What to Take

  • A good pair of earplugs.
  • Effective mosquito repellent – hard to find in Sri Lanka (unlike mosquitoes).
  • Sunscreen – another surprisingly hard-to-find item.
  • Tampons – nearly impossible to find outside Colombo.
  • Extra phone-charging cables – difficult to find in remote areas.

What to Wear

Shorts and a T-shirt will work most of the time, but bathing suits and bikinis are never proper off tourist beaches. Bring a cover-up for shoulders and arms, and a long skirt, sarong or light pants for visiting temples. Sandals are always fine and are good for slipping off quickly when visiting temples. Something slightly dressy is required only for the very best restaurants in Colombo. For the elements, a super-lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho is useful in case of sudden downpours, and a warm layer if spending time high up in the temperate mountains.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date.
  • Check on the need for vaccinations.
  • Arrange for appropriate travel insurance.
  • Check the airline baggage restrictions.
  • Inform your debit-/credit-card company.
  • Arrange your visa online about one week before you depart.