What to Wear on Your Solo Trip to Sri Lanka?

Over the last few years, Sri Lanka has gained a lot of popularity as a tourist destination. Many travellers have this country on the top of their bucket list. And there is not one but many reasons for this recent rise in popularity. The stunning beaches, fantastic tourist attractions, affordable hotels, delicious food, precious gemstones, rich history, and culture are some of the reasons to love the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

We are great at planning itineraries, booking tickets, finding the best restaurants, and exploring famous places. But when it comes to packing clothes for the country, most of us fail. We are confused regarding what we should pack and what we shouldn’t. What is acceptable in a particular place and what is not. Is it too conservative, or is it too flashy? Is it too bright, or is it too dull? There are way too many questions in our heads. 

They say, ‘the first impression is the best impression .’ Sometimes, it is true! You create your first impression by how you present yourself. 

Sri Lanka is known to be an orthodox country. But during my stay, I realised that it isn’t as conventional as it is made to look.

Take it easy

I had researched a lot about what I should wear in Sri Lanka and what I shouldn’t before my solo trip to the country. But after visiting, I noticed that it wasn’t much like what I had read on the internet. Yes, you cannot wear clothes that show a lot of skin without turning a few heads, and it isn’t even allowed in temples. Other than that, things were great. If you are reading this blog, I assume that you are visiting Sri Lanka for the first time. To make your trip a seamless one, here are some tips for you.

I would like to pass on the knowledge I have gained through my solo trip to Sri Lanka regarding what you can wear, what you should wear, and what you shouldn’t. All of that said, do not forget to wear what makes you comfortable while respecting their culture. Here are some of the best outfit ideas that you should totally rock in the country.

1. Go simple with jeans and tops

Most locals wear a pair of jeans and short-sleeved tops in many cities of Sri Lanka. Once you reach Colombo, Kandy, Galle, or any other major city, you can see a lot of young locals and tourists rocking this combo. Not only that, if you aren’t sure about the clothing guidelines of a particular tourist attraction, this is the safest combo to wear! You can also keep a scarf in your backpack, and it can be helpful to cover yourself up during many unexpected situations.

2. Skirts and tops are a great alternative

If a pair of jeans get monotonous, you can change things up by substituting them with a knee-length skirt. It is as comfortable as a pair of jeans, if not more comfortable. You can go out for a dinner date with yourself (self-love is important, y’all!) in a skirt. And I must say it is SO comfortable on hot and sunny days! If you are planning to visit places around a beach, this is one of your best options as well. However, if you plan to visit temples or sacred sites, make sure you wear the “less-revealing types” to respect the country’s traditions. 

3. Long/midi maxi skirt

If you are heading out in the evening or on slightly cold days, a midi maxi skirt should be your choice. You can pair it with an airy top or a blouse, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. You can also wear it while visiting temples and sacred places, tourist attractions, or any place, for that matter! Due to its comfort, it will soon become your favourite, and you will not want to go back to your basic pair of jeans!

4. Don’t ignore kurtas

Kurtas are an excellent option for places where you need to dress a little more modestly. It is a long top and comes in many types and colours. You can purchase them online or even in one of the local markets in Sri Lanka to wear them with a pair of jeans, or palazzo pants, or leggings. What I love about the ‘kurta and a pair of jeans’ combo is, it elevates your height by a couple of inches. If you visit temples or sacred sites, you should consider wearing a kurta with your favourite pants.

5. Jumpsuits are a must

Who doesn’t take a jumpsuit on their trip? They are great for Sri Lanka’s tropical climate and one of the most comfortable pieces of clothing ever made! You can carry a couple of full-length jumpsuits and wear them while visiting a tourist attraction or going for dinner. Also, you can throw on a scarf to add a layer to your otherwise dull outfit. If you wish to take it to the next level, you can wear a neckpiece to complete the look.

But the one drawback that I find in wearing jumpsuits during long day tours is it’s difficult to pee, especially in a country like Sri Lanka with super hot summers! Yeah, that’s right! You NEED to keep yourself hydrated during day tours, which means you’ll have to take several trips to the loo. And that’s not very pleasant if you’re wearing a jumpsuit!

6. Cargo pants and airy tops

Once you get away from the major cities and visit the lesser-known places to explore the country to its fullest, a bit of modesty doesn’t hurt. I know you will miss your shorts a lot, but remember to follow the local traditions. Any pair of long pants or cargo pants are your best options, and you can pair them with a loose-fitting short-sleeved top. Again, if you visit sacred sites, you can use the scarf you have got in your backpack!

7. Try out the street style look

If nothing works out, or it is a casual day on your trip, you can step out in a pair of joggers combined with a top or a hoodie, depending on the weather. Be it for going to a park or taking a walk outside your hotel – this is the go-to combo! You can also go out for dinner at a restaurant if you do not wish to dress up on any particular day. Also, it is one less problem if you don’t have to worry about what to wear. 

8. Wear a saree like a local

Sri Lankan women love their sarees. Once you visit a tea plantation or two, you can see many working women wearing sarees. This proves how comfortable a saree is if worn correctly. Not only is it comfortable, but it also looks elegant on any woman. It is available in different fabrics like cotton and silk, and you can choose whichever you like. Also, a saree is a great souvenir to take back home!

9. Trek pants make a huge difference

Do note that there are many beautiful hiking trails in Sri Lanka, and your trip is incomplete without exploring at least a few. Remember that you cannot go on a hike or trek in a pair of jeans. And that is where trek pants come to your rescue! They are very comfortable, and you can wear them all day long. You can also carry all the essential things like your mobile phone, keys, and chewing gums in one of the many zipped pockets that your trek pants have.

10. Loosen up near beaches

While you need to be cautious about your outfit choices on many occasions in Sri Lanka, you can relax at the beaches! It is okay to wear anything, from shorts and sundresses to swimwear and tank tops near the beaches. 

But, once you go further away from the beaches and reach the main road, try and cover up a bit with a cardigan or a light jacket. However, dresses and shorts aren’t an issue around famous beaches.

If you wish to indulge in water sports, make sure that you carry waterproof jackets and a waterproof pouch for your phone. Include these items with an extra pair of clothes like shorts and a t-shirt, and you should be good to go!

11. Try out sarongs too

You can spot some local men in sarongs getting their errands done. And that should be enough to explain its comfort! While it is mainly worn by men, you can spot many women wear it too. You can wear it over your outfit near a beach, just like a local. The best part is that it can help cover yourself up too, and you wouldn’t need to wear a cardigan or a jacket while stepping away from a beach.

12. Do not forget the accessories

Remember that the Sri Lankan heat is ruthless! Packing a hat is necessary, and it will save you from the scorching heat. Also, sunscreen is a MUST whenever you step out in the sun. Additionally, a pair of sunglasses are not only stylish but also protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun.

Coming to footwear, a pair of no-slip shoes is crucial. While climbing Sigiriya and Pidurangala, you will know how important they are. In my opinion, trainers are a comfortable option that you should consider. Also, carrying a pair of flip-flops is important while visiting beaches.

Talking about bags, you can carry a compact backpack with your daytime essentials whenever you are stepping out. It comes in handy, and you can keep things like your mobile phone, power bank, lip balm, earphones, identification documents, among many other things. Ensure that you carry your own water bottle as you should not be drinking tap water in Sri Lanka.

General tips

what to wear in Sri Lanka

Always remember to pack lightweight clothes made of cotton, silk, or linen. These are good for the summer season and also save some space in your luggage. Another advantage of carrying lightweight garments is that they are much easier to wash (during a long solo trip), and they dry quickly too. If possible, pack some light colours as they are great at reflecting the heat.

Ensure that you keep your swimwear strictly for the beaches and change before you leave, or at least cover up with a cardigan or a sarong, just like the local people.

If you aren’t sure about what to wear on a particular day, just pair loose-fitting pants with a short-sleeved top, and you are good to go. You can add some simple dainty jewellery like a bracelet or a necklace to dress up your outfit.

A quick checklist

Even though I have mentioned everything that you can wear on your solo trip to Sri Lanka, here’s a comprehensive list of all the items that you need to pack for your trip. You can use it as a checklist, and be rest assured that you aren’t going to miss out on packing any item. Do note that you can carry whatever you want from the list and need not carry everything mentioned here. Make sure to keep in mind the looks you are going for and pack accordingly.

  • A couple of scarfs (it is a must)
  • A pair of light and dark coloured denim each
  • A couple of short-sleeved tops
  • A couple of long-sleeved tops
  • kurtas
  • Jumpsuits
  • Skirts
  • A long/midi maxi skirts
  • A pair of trek pants
  • At least one airy top
  • A couple of swimwears/sundresses for beaches
  • Shorts/tank tops for beaches
  • A hat to save yourself from the heat
  • Loungewear/sleepwear
  • Cardigan/light jacket/sarong (whatever you like)
  • A pair of non-slip shoes (preferably trainers)
  • A pair of flip flops
  • Your favourite everyday shoes
  • A small backpack
  • A hoodie (for the winters only)
  • A pair of joggers (optional)
  • Cargo pants (optional)

You might think that deciding on what to wear in Sri Lanka is a huge task. But trust me, it really is not. All you need to do is just stay true to your style and keep in mind the culture and tradition of the country. Also, take into consideration the weather conditions and pack your clothing items accordingly. It is as simple as that! So, start packing, book your tickets and get ready to explore beautiful Sri Lanka!


An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.

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