Sri Lanka’s dazzling and diverse scenery, welcoming residents, mouth-watering cuisine and fascinating history are enough to draw many travellers to this South Asian country every year. This island nation, located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of India, has much more to offer visitors than pristine palm-fringed beaches. But you may be wondering what it’s like to visit solo as a female here.
If you’re considering visiting this beautiful island and you’re asking questions such as ‘Is it safe for solo female travellers?’, ‘How do I journey in and around the country?’ and ‘What are some of the top things to do?’, then you’ve come to the right place!
From the best time to visit, to getting around the island, and tips for solo female travellers, we’ve got all the answers to all your questions. Read our guide to Sri Lanka below to find out more.
- 1 Is Sri Lanka Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
- 2 All About Travel to Sri Lanka
- 3 When Is the Best Time to Travel to Sri Lanka?
- 4 What Are the Best Places to Travel to in Sri Lanka?
- 5 Top Sri Lanka Travel Destinations and Highlights
- 6 Sri Lanka 3 Week Travel Itinerary
- 7 Sri Lanka Travel Tips and Useful Information
- 8 How to Travel in and Around Sri Lanka
- 9 What’s the Budget + Cost of Travel in Sri Lanka
- 10 What Sri Lanka Travel Vaccinations Do I Need?
- 11 What Sri Lanka Travel Plug or Adapter Do I Need?
Is Sri Lanka Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
Generally, this is a safe country to visit for solo female travellers. While there are cultural factors to consider and certain precautions that solo female travellers should take, the country is largely secure.
Being predominantly Buddhist, the country and its locals are welcoming to visitors and well-known for being friendly and accommodating. However, it is important to remember that it is a conservative country with certain rules and customs to adhere to. Exercise the same caution and awareness as you would in other new destinations and there’s no reason your trip can’t be thoroughly enjoyable.
Travel in Sri Lanka Safety Tips for Solo Females
Sri Lanka is a conservative nation which requires travellers to be mindful of general behaviour and to dress modestly.
For women, it’s important to take the same precautions that you might take in other conservative countries around the world, such as avoiding walking alone at night, keeping an eye on any drinks you’ve ordered and taking extra care with your belongings. In general, it’s a good idea to exercise caution and awareness of your surroundings and to use good judgement when talking to strangers.
In terms of clothing, avoid strappy tops which reveal the shoulders. Tight-fitting tops, dresses, skirts and even trousers are likely to draw attention, so avoid these too. In more conservative areas and when visiting temples, opt for clothing below the knees and ensure to cover up your shoulders.
Introduction to Travel Insurance for Sri Lanka for Solo Females
To ensure you’re adequately covered for your trip here, it can be worthwhile to purchase holiday insurance. Depending on your policy needs and cover type, holiday insurance provides peace of mind for a wide range of circumstances from medical emergencies to delayed or cancelled flights and adventure sports.
All About Travel to Sri Lanka
An up-and-coming international destination, this nation is earning itself a reputation as a rising tourist hot spot. More and more visitors come each year to discover the riches of this gorgeous country.
The tourist boom is happening in the country right now, and as such, it is important to bear in mind that outside of the capital Colombo you will encounter a still-developing country. Roads can be unpaved and pavements less frequent, with fewer available amenities and less English spoken the further you go from large cities. Of course, this is part of the adventure!
If you’re heading off to explore and stay outside of the tourist hotspots, remember to pack medicine, toiletries, food, water and any other essentials, as these can be harder to come by outside of the bustling cities and towns. In short, take your rucksack and get well-equipped.
Why Travel to Sri Lanka
This is a country that’s remained largely under the tourist radar in recent years, perhaps eclipsed by other South Asian destinations. Fortunately, though, now the country is being recognised for its outstanding qualities as a holiday destination and what it has to offer travellers.
With backpacker hostels popping up in sleepy coastal towns and more amenities available for travellers, development is happening at an increasing pace. It could be a good idea to plan your visit soon before the country’s popularity really takes off, so you beat the crowds!
This island nation packs a lot into its small size, offering travellers a surprising range of possibilities. There’s the option to have a relaxed beach holiday on the coast, an active-adventure trip in the island’s mountainous jungle interior or to experience wildlife close-up in its natural habitat. The rich combination of options means this island has something to offer every traveller.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Sri Lanka?
This country is a year-round destination, thanks to consistent average temperatures of 25-30°C in coastal regions and lowland areas, and 15-18°C in the highlands. However, if you wish to avoid the island’s 2 monsoon seasons, you’ll want to time your visit for when the climate is dry and sunny.
The country’s 2 monsoon seasons arrive at the island at different times of the year. Most holidays take place in the south-west of the island, and the rains come here between May-July. As is the case in most of South Asia, the best time to visit is between December-April when the skies are at their sunniest.
However, there are some fantastic sights to check out on the east coast and north of the island too. If this side of the island is your preferred option, then the best time to visit and when rainfall is at its lowest is between April-September.
What Are the Best Places to Travel to in Sri Lanka?
Head to the north of the island to journey off the beaten path and away from crowds, resort hotels and other developments. The country’s northern territory was once previously off-limits but is now an attractive option for travellers seeking deserted golden beaches, remote temples and small port towns.
Elsewhere, safari experiences and incredible wild and remote landscapes can be found in the country’s large elephant-filled national parks Yala and Udawalawe, based in the south of the island. It is here that you will also find a beautiful necklace of beaches framing the island.
A visit to the country’s largest cities Colombo and Kandy is not to be missed and will provide a fascinating overview of the country’s history, spanning from ancient times to the colonial period and present day. You can also experience the country’s mouth-watering culinary delights, visit glittering temples and experience the varied city architecture.
Top Sri Lanka Travel Destinations and Highlights
A trip to this country holds many amazing highlights, from discovering ancient archaeological wonders to exploring rich national parks and endless coastline.
Here are a few unmissable travel highlights:
- Spot wildlife in a visit to one of the national parks. Elephants can be seen throughout the country, but a visit to Udawalawe National Park offers the chance to see them roam free. Meanwhile, Yala National Park is the island’s number one leopard sanctuary.
- Climb Sigiriya, a rock-top fortress also known as ‘Lion Rock’. This UNESCO World Heritage site is thousands of years old and was once the site of the Royal Palace.
- Visit the walled city of Galle and discover Dutch colonial buildings, museums, ancient mosques and churches.
- Visit temples in the capital city, Colombo. There are many to choose from, but visitors shouldn’t miss Gangaramaya Temple located next to the serene Lake Beira.
- Explore Kandy, the last capital of the ancient kings. Situated in the country’s central highlands next to a lake, many visitors appreciate the calm, meditative atmosphere.
- Relax on some of the best beaches at Arugam Bay on the south-east coast.
About Adventure Travel in Sri Lanka
This nation’s vast network of quiet roads wind alongside tea plantations, paddy fields and coconut groves, meaning that getting around by bike is an excellent way to explore. Water sports are also in abundance with white water rafting, surfing, scuba diving, sea kayaking and kite surfing all popular options for travellers. Hiking opportunities are plentiful thanks to lush jungle and mountainous landscape.
About Wilderness Travel in Sri Lanka
The healthy mix of forests, national parks, rugged mountains and thriving jungle provide nature-lovers with an array of options when it comes to wilderness travel. The north of the island is where you will find the most remote landscapes, though due to the country’s small size you won’t have to journey too far to find wilderness.
About Luxury Travel in Sri Lanka
The unspoilt sandy beaches, enticing jungle landscapes and rich culture all contribute to a fine and luxurious travel experience. If you’re seeking heritage hotels, luxurious beach resorts, your own private villa or a boutique guesthouse, there are many accommodation options. Tours, excursions and trips can be arranged through your hotel or through a separate provider.
Sri Lanka 3 Week Travel Itinerary
Here is a 3-week itinerary for your trip, which extensively covers the south, central and northern areas:
- Day 1: arrive at Colombo and explore the capital city.
- Days 2 – 3: head south by train to Galle Fort.
- Days 4 – 5: take a short taxi ride to explore the beachside town of Unawantuna and the surrounding area.
- Days 6 – 7: splurge on a stay at the Tri Lanka 5-star sustainable luxury resort hotel.
- Days 8 – 9: catch some waves at surf paradise and relaxed beach town Hiriketiya.
- Day 10: book a safari for leopard spotting at Yala National Park.
- Days 11 – 13: head north towards the hill country and the town of Ella.
- Day 14 – 15: explore the cultural ancient city of Kandy.
- Day 16: check out impressive historical artwork at the rock cave temple complex of Dambulla.
- Days 17 – 18: head to Sigiriya for accommodation and organise a day trip to the summit of the ancient palace and fortress Sigiriya.
- Day 19 – 20: explore the northern city Jaffna.
- Day 21: catch an early train from Jaffna to Colombo and take your departing flight.
How Long Should I Travel Sri Lanka as a Tourist?
Ideally, we recommend spending 3 weeks here to get the full experience, though 2 full weeks (if you’re travelling fast) will provide a good overview.
Highlights of Travel to Sri Lanka in December
December is peak time for tourism in the south-west of the island. Visitors can expect to enjoy temperatures of 30°C in the day and 22°C at night.
The south of the island offers visitors top experiences such as wildlife safaris in national parks, the option to visit tea plantations, top cities such as Colombo and Kandy and climbing the rock fortress Sigiriya. The south of the island is also known for its vast stretches of golden beaches, and visitors can enjoy them while experiencing the island’s best weather.
Highlights of Travel to Sri Lanka in July
Due to the 2 monsoon seasons, July is a wet month in the south-west area of the island, but it’s dry in the northeast.
It’s a good time to explore the many national parks here and wander along deserted beaches. Visit cities in the north and east such as Jaffna and Trincomalee. Pay a visit to the Cultural Triangle, which stretches between Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla.
Gay Sri Lanka Travel as a Solo Female
Homosexuality is illegal here, with little sign of a repeal to anti-gay laws anytime soon. Attitudes are changing gradually with reports of LGBTQ+ friendly bars and restaurants appearing in places, though at present don’t expect much of a gay scene here.
As homosexuality is kept under the radar and not commonly seen, open displays of public affection are not really accepted.
Sri Lanka Travel Tips and Useful Information
Here are a few general travel tips for your trip here:
- Drinking and driving is not strictly regulated, so when flagging down a rickshaw or taxi, make sure your driver is professional and sober(!)
- Tap water is not safe to drink, so ensure you only drink bottled water.
- This country is known for its delicious, cheap local food. Western food (foods like burgers, pizza and pasta) is more expensive as the ingredients are harder to come by, so embrace the culture and save money in the process.
- Driving here requires a special permit, so it is unlikely that you’ll be able to hire a car for a self-guided holiday. Driving is often hectic here, so this is not necessarily a bad thing! It is more common to hire a car with a driver.
- Travellers from most countries are required to obtain a visa. Find out more about the Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) by visiting our dedicated page.
How to Travel in and Around Sri Lanka
Budgeting travellers can rejoice as, in this country, there are many cost-saving transport options to consider! The island is well provided for in terms of both train and bus links to even some of the more remote places. Within large towns and cities, travellers can get around via taxi and rickshaw.
However, with almost all public transport, be prepared to go at a slower pace. Although infrastructure is improving and bus drivers are known for their somewhat hectic approach to driving, winding roads and steep inclines are common, so delays to timetables are possible.
If time is a factor, hiring a car with a driver may be a good alternative for some travellers.
What’s the Best Way to Travel in Sri Lanka?
Travelling by train is one of the best ways to travel. Although they are slow, a train ride is almost always more relaxed and comfortable than a bus ride. Plus, the cost of a train ride is often not much higher than travelling the same route by bus.
About Air Travel to Sri Lanka
Officially, this country has 2 international airports: Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport and Bandaranaike International Airport. However, almost all airlines fly into Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake, 30 km north of Colombo. Direct flights are available from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
About Train Travel in Sri Lanka
Cheap and a great way to see the landscape, train travel here offers more than just a way to get from A to B. This country is well-known for its range of thrilling train journeys which take you through rich green landscape, thickets of lush rainforest and weaving through green tea gardens. Plus, you can reserve your seat on the route of your choice in advance – which is a bonus because spots often book up fast!
About Rickshaw Travel in Sri Lanka
Tuk-tuks are a popular and convenient choice for shorter distances and when you need to zip from A to B. They are found within most large towns and cities. It’s important to either try and secure a metered tuk-tuk or agree on a fixed price before getting in. Use the Pick Me app to book or hire one off the street.
About Bus Travel in Sri Lanka
As a staple mode of transport in this country, bus travel is the cheapest way of getting around and can work out as the more convenient option. The flipside to bus travel is that it can sometimes be a hair-raising and stop-start experience. That said, if you’re looking for an interesting and varied way of reaching your destination and a chance to interact with the locals, this may be your preferred option.
The island is served by 2 types of bus service: CTB (Central Transport Board) and private buses run by independent bus companies. CTB is the main bus company and as such is more commonly seen on the road. Both serve both long-distance and local routes.
About Taxi Travel in Sri Lanka
Taxis are easily available in large towns and cities, though not all are metered and so it’s important to negotiate on a price before you get in the car.
In Colombo, it’s possible to use the Uber Intercity app and the PickMe app to order a taxi, which allows you to see the cost upfront and can be an easier way of arranging your taxi. Most hotels will arrange a taxi for you.
What’s the Budget + Cost of Travel in Sri Lanka
Price here are comparable to those of other countries in South Asia. It’s perfectly doable to travel within the country on a budget, so long as you stick to using local transport, eat meals in budget restaurants and stay at inexpensive guest houses or hostels.
Roughly, travel by bus from one side of the island to another will cost around 25 USD, getting a filling meal at a local café is roughly 2/3 USD and a moderate double room will cost roughly 25 USD per night.
Of course, layering in additional costs like taking a guided tour, entrance fees for archaeological sites, upgraded accommodation such as hiring a private villa or splurging on an expensive meal can bump up the overall cost.
What Sri Lanka Travel Vaccinations Do I Need?
It is recommended that travellers have the following vaccinations up-to-date: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies and Polio.
It is also recommended that travellers protect against mosquito bites. Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya are present here.
What Sri Lanka Travel Plug or Adapter Do I Need?
There are two types of plugs in use here: D and G.
Plug type D (mainly used in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and some African countries) is the plug which has 3 round pins in a triangular pattern. Plug type G (mainly used in the United Kingdom) is the plug which has 3 rectangular pins in a triangular pattern.
As there is a mix of travel plugs in use, it is best to check with your individual accommodation which plug they take so you can purchase the correct travel adapter.
The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 H, which means you can use your electric appliances if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 – 240 V (as is the case in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). If the standard voltage in your country is outside of this range, you will need to consider a voltage adapter/travel adapter combo.