Style in Sri Lanka – at least in its coastal south, where I stayed – was all about simple comfort. Think floaty, boho pieces. It’s no real surprise, given the tropical island’s endless humidity and dripping, sluggish heat.

Batik (a unique dying method where wax is dipped on fabric, then the fabric dipped in colour) was big. Bikinis were too.


Batik design in action. A local Sri Lankan fisherman stopped me when he saw it. “Batik! That’s our alphabet on there.” From Pras & Danties.

In Galle, the cultural city with Dutch and Portuguese charm, everyone made more of a fashion effort. Hipsters sat at open-air cafes in old colonial buildings while expats, dressed in white linen, roamed the streets.

A few companiesĀ (and nope, not paid to say this) caught my eye.

L’Atelier Touche, a boutique in Colombo with global shipping, had pretty off-the-shoulder dresses and tulle skirts. Fashion Market featured similar styles with more saris and sarongs thrown in.



Fashion Market cover-up. Messy hair, model’s own.

Pras & Danties was all aboutĀ Batik lingerie and bikinis. The off-the-shoulder numbers (see a trend here? Cold shoulder every day) fit surprisingly well; they also worked with high-waisted skirts as a complete beach-to-life outfit.

For fashion mixed with Urban Outfitters-esque interior decorations, check out TheThreeByTPV in Galle. This boutique had a mix of three designers (hence the name) as well as Instagram-friendly furnishings.


TheThreeByTPV. Gorgeous when sitting down, a bit butterfly when standing up, and not the most comfortable number ever. But such is fashion?

And there we go. Bits of style in Sri Lanka. These are just a few of the companies that were recommended to me after I accosted a poor travel agent for his tips (“I called my sister and mom,” he told me later). The clothes were fun, feminine, floaty. And it’s hard to find flaws in that.

Safaris can feel a dime a dozen in Sri Lanka. There are elephant-spotting safaris. Leopard-spotting safaris. Bird-spotting safaris. And while they’re all magical, they can feel mass produced.

That’s where this river safari comes in. It’s a ‘one man and his family’ operation. The process is simple: he collects you in a tuk-tuk; you are taken down small, winding roads to the back end of someone’s house, which just happens to open out onto Hambantota’s massive river; you hop on a tiny tarp-draped boat; and the adventure begins.

During my month in Sri Lanka, the river safari was one of the most magical things I experienced. Huge trees were filled with birds and monkeys, while the river itself was entirely empty of other tourists. Water buffalo, being taken for their daily swim, paddled past, their owner behind.

“It’s only a matter of time before other folks pick up on this idea,” I murmured to my friend. When that happens, some of the magic will drop away.

But here I am, sharing the tip anyways. If you get out to Sri Lanka’s south, and if you stay at Shangri-La Hambantota (the only larger group that seems to have partnered with this tiny family operation), book it. Just book it.

Before everyone else does.