Goa? So 70s. Thailand? So 2000s. We know where you can head if you’ve been there done that. And that’s Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka means “resplendent island” in Sanskrit, which could not be more fitting. It’s rare to find a place in the world with such a vast variety of remarkable landscapes - from sunny, sandy beaches, to misty hillsides dotted with hauntingly beautiful ruins to jungle tropics where elephants roam free. This magical destination is for the sophisticated traveler who’s able to go with the flow and dive into a largely untapped culture, even if it means forgoing access to a full gym, Wi-Fi (gasp!), or other high-end amenities many A-list globetrotters have grown accustomed to. Be open! Give your gowns a rest and explore in shorts, tanks, and fleeces instead (we draw the line at crocs though; that should go without saying). You won’t even miss these super-luxuries once you’re immersed in the rich heritage of this raw, astonishing country, sure to skyrocket to the top of every chic traveler’s must-visit list.
Attire is definitely effortless, with just a couple chic pieces for cocktail hours and dinners at your hotel or in the capital needed. That said, with such varying terrain, your packing with depend on the regions you choose to visit. Try to stock up on basics from ASOS and other budget friendly retailers where you can buy bulk and not endanger your designer wardrobe. Ideally you’d be able to hit them all, but it could take a couple weeks to truly enjoy each area to its fullest, so we’ve highlighted a few to help you make your picks.
Set on the southern seaside is Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, which offers the most developed urban culture with a colorful cityscape of colonial architecture smattered with high rises, plus a cultural melting pot of Arab, Dutch, Portuguese, and British influences unlike anywhere else. In Sri Lanka, Colombo has the most prospering restaurant and bar scene, with new hotspots sprouting up each season. For more natural vibes, Balapitiya and Bentota, both a couple hours south, are known for seaside views and lush tropical terrain, and are choice spots for colorful bird sightings. On the southernmost shore overlooking the Indian Ocean, you’ll find the beaches of the Tangalle region, prime for true laidback lounging where you’ll breeze through that beach read and need to pack only a few pareos and suits (go ahead and break out a Mara Hoffman). A lesser-known holiday spot on the southwest coast is Wadduwa, an area patch-worked with historic coconut plantations and serious contender for best beaches. The Galle district is best known for its namesake port city, a prime spot to explore historic cathedrals and museums to get a taste of the city’s heritage. Kandy is a majestic inland city where a mystical mist perpetually hovers over the colorful colonial houses, boutique hotels, and lush greenery. Walking the slippery streets, you’ll be jealous of how good this city looks when it’s raining. North of Kandy you’ll find The Cultural Triangle, filled with relics and ruins of ancient civilizations. From Buddha statues, to haunting forest monasteries and temples, this region oozes culture and mystique. Here you should pack easy cotton separates that can double as sightseeing gear and hotel loungewear. The climate dips a bit amid in the emerald green of Hill Country, a region of rolling highlands laden with tea plantations, herds of elephants, raging rivers and hidden waterfalls (contrary to TLC’s 90’s jam, definitely chase the waterfalls, because they’re spectacular).
Truth be told, no matter where you choose to visit, it’s hard to go wrong with such well-rounded, authentic options of city, beach, culture, history, and vibrant animal life. So now you’re in the know. Be the first of your jetset friends to visit this pearl off the southeastern coast of India. You’ll get the boasting rights as the first, not to mention the vacation of a lifetime.