Don’t take the local buses. They are completely packed and often don’t really have any air ventilation. We saw people literally hanging out the sides of the buses because they were so packed.
We found so much value in hiring a driver. We learned a great deal about the culture, and were able to stop along the way whenever we wanted to. (I have a great recommendation for one if you want to message me.)
Always make sure your shoulders and knees are covered before going in to temples.
Take stretchy pants because you will probably eat a lot!!!!
There is a pretty big climate change from the mountains to the beach so if you are doing both make sure to bring a light jacket with you.
There aren’t any money changers except for the airport so plan on using your debit card to get cash.
Almost no one takes credit cards so have cash on hand.
There aren’t a lot of restaurants in most of Sri Lanka so make sure to read the reviews on your hotels food. (We found more restaurants at the beach and Ella than anywhere.)
Take toilet paper and handy wipes and don’t drink much before your journeys. Toilets are not easy to come by.
Embrace the culture. The people are amazing, the food is delicious and their culture is really enchanting. Take the time to talk to the locals and really learn and experience all Sri Lanka has to offer. We felt completely safe here and never found anyone to be rude or bothered by talking to us.
Most people speak English, even if it is just enough to get by, and most signs are in English and Sinhala so it is easy to get around and explore.