Luggage and bags:
If you are planning on using public transport (busses and trains) between cities, don’t travel with massive suitcases. There are limited space on trains and busses for luggage. On the intercity busses, you will have to pay for an extra seat for your luggage.
So, try to travel as light as possible.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: It was very hot and humid around the coast, but the Hill Country gets cool at night, with gog and drizzle.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Mosquitoes are very common all over Sri Lanka. Although most of the hotels I stayed at provided some sort of protection (eg mosquito nets) or repellent (coils), I suggest you take some repellent.
Taking malaria prophylaxis is most probably recommended – and it is very important to take it as prescribed (eg to start taking before entering the country and to continue taking it after leaving the area).
Photo Equipment: Sri Lanka is photogenic!
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: You will have time to visit the beach, I hope
My battered and travel-stained Insight Flexi Map of Sri Lanka has joined me on thirteen trips to the island so far and has proved to be an admirable and trustworthy travelling companion. In addition to getting me from A to B, the map has been worn as a hat, used as a fan, dropped in rivers and survived the tsunami but it is as durable as it is accurate and has never let me down.
The laminated map is easy to fold, light enough to carry in your pocket and will not get soggy or tear. The map shows beaches, major and minor roads, rest houses, temples, gas stations etc and beats any other map of Sri Lanka I have seen hands down. Available just about everywhere, I would be honestly lost without it.
Some people insist on dressing like either Saunders of the River or Bart Simpson when they go on holiday but most of us just want to blend-in so why not simply dress like local people; they live here so they know from experience what is practical.
The sarong and the sari look fantastic on people from South Asia but wearing these really is an art and us Europeans should think twice before going outside in either, worn the wrong way they can look rather silly. In Sri Lanka people generally dress very similar to Europeans, the sort of things we might wear during a hot summer, so there really is no need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. Smart loose fitting cotton clothes (or some of the breathable modern fabrics you get from outdoor shops) are the order of the day. Long sleeves will keep you from the sun and a hat is essential for the same reason.
Miscellaneous: It is not regarded as particularly rude to stare in Sri Lanka and when you meet people they will often look you up and down as a matter of course. Sri Lankan people know good clothes and what you are wearing will make an impression about who you are. If you are invited to a Sri Lankan home any effort you have made to look smart will be appreciated.
Miscellaneous: In any tropical country a large linen or cotton cloth (a good quality table napkin or tea-towel will do) is invaluable when you are out and about, chiefly to wipe away the sweat which is going to run off you making you feel and look uncomfortable. It weighs next to nothing and can double an emergency sun shade or bandage or you can stick it between your clean clothes and a dirty bus seat etc etc. You can wash it out regularly, stick it in the sun and it?s dry in minutes, believe me you will wonder how you ever managed with out it.
Luggage and bags:
A small back pack is a must to hold your valubles, the type you could wear in the front of your body. Just in case if you forgot, try Barefoot ( fabric travel bags) or Sunil's ( leather) in Colombo for a good selection.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Lots of soft thin cotton comfortable clothes. Long pants and long sleeve shirts to wear at night and for going to temples and such. Very comfy walking shoes. Really good cotton socks and underware. Cotton hats for the sun. Just in case if you forgot any of these items do stop by Barefoot, Odel or Majestic city shopping center in Colombo for supplies.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Strong itch medication for mosquito bites. Super strong mosquito repellent. Strong deoderent, it is very hot there. Very good sun screen. For ladies bring sanitery napkins and tampons that you are use to, the variety is not that great in all areas.
Photo Equipment: Disks for your digital camera, it is available there but can be very costly and may not be the real thing.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Bring a few good bathing suits, ladies choices are very limited out side of Colombo.
Miscellaneous: Pack light, the clothes you wear in your country during the hottest day of the year ( 85c or over) would be the most suitable for Sri Lanka. Most hotels carry batik and cotton clothes that is fairly priced. Ladies please be modest in your clothing choices, this will make you and everyone else around you more at ease.
It is easy to get around in Sri Lanka and even if you are on a package deal you might be tempted to hit the road for a little independent travel. Never go anywhere, even for a long walk, without your own water supply. Take water with you on train and bus trips too, travel by public transport often takes a lot longer than you thought. Its hot here and dehydration is dangerous, you need to drink several litres of water each day.
Taking your own light-weight water bottle is a good idea, they are durable, a shoulder strap makes it easy to carry and leaves your hands free. Having your bottle with you helps you keep the water situation in mind. If you get one with its own thermal jacket you can ask your hosts to stick it in the freezer overnight so you have a supply of iced water during the heat of the day (don't over fill it or leave the top on because the expansion will split your bottle) keep it topped-up from your reserve supply.
Miscellaneous: You can of course buy bottled water in tourist areas and in towns and villages of any size but I have learned from experience that it is not always available off the beaten track so it pays to think ahead. Where bottle drinking water is not available, soft drinks (including soda water) often is and you can usually get a king coconut to drink, which will put you on. Mains tap water is a no-no and local well water varies in quality, have it boiled if necessary. It does not need to be boiled for long, once it is bubbling the nasty things are dead.
Luggage and bags:
Take as little as possible specially if you decide to tour around taking buses. Space there is limited, you might find yoursef standing for hours among sweating passenger. If you decide to rent a car witha driver then you can take along anything you want as long as it fits the car baggage
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Light, cotton clothes are the best for the hot humid climate. Long trousers are adviced when visiting holy shrines
Photo Equipment: A joke.... Nowadays with memory cards???
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Your swimming trunk. Topless or nudity is unknown in Sri Lanka. Also a suntan cream as you wouldn;t like to get sunburned from the first days you expose yourself to the sun.
Miscellaneous: If you tour around without a guide , then get a good guidebook. In our fellowship we had a Rough guide, a Footprint and a Lonely Planet. I found Rough guide the best when it came to sightseeing information. Accurate and very informative. Coming to accommodation options Footprint had a more extend list. Lonely planet was hardly used....
Casual for daily use and colorful for pictures. Long pants or dressed shoes? depends on your characters, your culture and the image you want to portray.
For me, a practical clothing and shoes such as sandals are important to ensure my journey in car or buses or walking are comfortable. After all, just be yourself instead dress up for other people.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: All types as the local pharmacy may not carry the types of medication you want. I did have experience in getting some pain relief pills. It took me a while to analyse which one is most suitable as they local salesperson may not understand what you really need. I guess you dont want to take the wrong medication, do you?
Miscellaneous: Mosquito repellent in all forms which I carried included shower gel with anti-mosquito ingredients - Citronella oil, mosquito repellent spray, liquid electronic mosquito repellent burner (with extension cord), and mosquito coil. These are crucial as you need to back up and for different circumstances, be it bathroom, bedroom or outdoor.
Luggage and bags:
I would say pack light.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Again i would say take light cotton clothing,the humidity in sri lanka is very high,
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Mozzie repellent is a must i got bitten a few times,also you will need a high factor sun cream,we swear by a product called p20 you can by it at any airport,its a bit expensive but really good.You only put it on once a day in the morning it bonds to your skin and is waterproof and you dont burn at all,my young son used it on the sahara desert and hes really fair skinned and he didnt burn at all.
Luggage and bags:
I brought one small rucksack (for clothes) and one large Bum Bag that held my camera gear and note books etc.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: I bought Sandals and a pair of walking boots, and a couple of sets of cotton clothes. One Jumper for chilly nights in the Hill Country.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: I bought everything I needed in Sri Lanka (but then I am a male) save insect repellant.
Photo Equipment: A small Canon IXUS 4200 for portability and snaps.
Canon EOS 3 with a 28-300 lense and some Filters.
Miscellaneous: I brought light cotton clothes with me. I bought a Lungi (Sarong) for the beach in Trincomalee (it triples as a towel and an extra blanket). For the Hill Country you need Long pants and a Jersey as nights get chilly.
Sri Lanka is a Hot country... PACK LIGHT!
Bring comfortable clothes and shoes for walking and visiting places. Try nto to wear too skimpy clothes
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Bring a swuimsuit even if you're not planning on going to the beach: some hotels have a swimsuit... and even without this: you are sometimes required to wear it for an ayurvedic massage
Miscellaneous: you from the rain, it can protect you from the sun... and especially it can ürotect you from people's eyes. This is what I liked best in town - the sweetest sight of all... dozen and dozen of young couples at Galle Green, chilling out and kissing, hidden behind that useful umbrella.
It's always good to read about a place before going and Sri Lanka has some good literature. Here are some of my personal opinions:
Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje is an excellent chilling tale set against the war. Romesh Gunesekera's Monkfish Moon (a book of short stories) and Reef are other interesting reads on modern Sri Lanka. Carl Muller's books about the upper class Burger society are highly acclaimed and sexually explicit but personally I'm not a fan.
Only Man is Vile, by William McGowan is a fascinating account of the 'troubles' by a foreign journalist, as is Island of Blood by Anita Pratap. An Historical Relation of Ceylon, by Robert Knox, an Englishman held captive by the King of Kandy, is considered the best outside account of the Sinhalese people and culture, even though it was written several hundred years ago. Sri Lanka's most famous foreign resident is probably Arthur C. Clarke (author of 2001: A Space Odyssey) who has written lots on his experiences here.
Bring loose, cool clothing, even in the cooler season it is still warm & humid
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Mosquito Repellent & a net are a must.
Photo Equipment: We found sometimes it was so hot & humid our video camera clouded up & stopped working, luckily it was only temporary
Miscellaneous: A very warm & sweaty me! Taken at Confifi Beach Hotel on our balcony
You don't need to bring a lot of clothes. It's better to buy them in Colombo. In the shoping malls like Odel you have a huge choice of branded clothes or shoes. And all is much cheaper then in Europe or States.
Except for mountain areas the sensation of cold is something quite unknown in SL.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: You need a mosquito repellent. Even if there is no malaria threat on Sri Lanka you need to protect yourself from the mosquitos. There is a risk of dengue fever. You can read more about this disease in my "warning or danger tip".
Most of the hotels and guesthouses provides the mosquito nets, so you don't have to bring your own one.
On other hand, if you're not used to asian cuisine it's good to bring some stomach pills...
Photo Equipment: Even in small villages you can find films or batteries for camera. But I'am not quite sure about the quality of those films. Because of the high temperatures...
Luggage and bags:
Extra bags for your shopping, if you're of that inclination.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Anything that dries quickly. Good walking sandals.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Condoms, unless you want to ask for them at the pharmacy (they're not right out on the shelves).
Photo Equipment: Some sort of mini-tripod.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Mosquito "mat"?
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