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What to wear in Sri Lanka

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Sri Lanka and where it is situated on the map, it is bordered by the Indian Ocean and is home to some of the most beautiful wild-life in all of Asia. The capital of Sri Lanka is Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, but as this place can be tricky to pronounce it is often known by tourists as Kotte (pronounced “court-tay”). Kotte is actually a suburb of the largest city in Sri Lanka, Colombo which is without a doubt worth a visit.

If you’re looking to go anywhere during the cooler months ahead, there are many reasons to make Sri Lanka your destination of choice from both a cultural and tourist point of view.

In terms of the Sri Lankan population, the country is dominantly built up of Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils with descendents of Portuguese and Dutch - a multi-ethnic variation of people who actually live here. This diversity brings along other relevant questions for tourists looking to take a trip to the island like ‘what can I wear to blend in?’ Of course nobody wants to be identical when it comes to dressing according to the culture of Sri Lanka and this will not be the case so long as you pack the essential items of clothing. Each and every tourist who visits Sri Lanka will have their own ‘capsule wardrobe’ with them, i.e. wardrobe staples required for everyday wear whilst on vacation. But it’s how you wear these basic pieces and how you accessorize them that will set you apart from your fellow travellers.

What the locals think

According to an article sourced from Trip Advisor, generally the Sri Lankan community are quite liberal when it comes to the types of clothing that are accepted. Much like the Europeans, the same rules of thumb apply when considering suitable attire to wear in the blazing heat: breathable fabrics such as linen and cotton, shirts, jeans and sun-hats which are all appropriate for the high temperatures that Sri Lanka experiences each season. These are all classic examples of clothing that can be easily packed into your suitcase or bought for a reasonable price once you enter the country. The advantages of choosing light-weight and loose-fitted clothing are that you can wear them from day to night and dress your outfit up with jewellery, all the while managing to maintain a cooler body temperature. If you’re in need of some fashion inspiration, why not check out The Style Traveller one of the many informative blogs out there. Or you could even buy a cheap, disposable camera and capture some street style snaps of stylish people strolling around the cities of Sri Lanka during your stay.

Keep it conservative

However be warned, for evening wear try not to wear anything that draws too much unwanted attention to yourself, for example transparent or skimpy dresses that bear a lot of cleavage. Also, keep swim wear strictly to poolside areas to avoid distasteful glances from others. Visual Tourist states that “Sri Lankan people know good clothes and what you are wearing will make an impression about who you are” which is why it is important to wear appropriate clothing. Instead of going for revealing clothes, opt for subtle colours and soft, layered fabrics for an effortless casual look… as the saying goes ‘when in Sri Lanka, do as the Sri Lankans do’ and you won’t go wrong.

Popular hotels in Sri Lanka

Kalutara, West Coast Sri LankaTuryaa Kalutara
Wed, 3rd Nov
7 nights
All Inclusive
from £777.93pp
TripAdvisor rating