ESSENTIALS Getting there
SriLankan Airlines flies from London to Colombo in 11 hours (from £560; srilankan.com). It’s often cheaper to fly via one of the Gulf hubs, on airlines including Emirates, Etihad, Oman Air and Qatar Airways (from £460; emirates.com).
For the kind of itinerary covered in this feature, it’s best to go by road and hire a driver if you aren’t already booking through a tour company. Expect to pay around £45–£60 per day, with fuel extra. Domestic flights are few in Sri Lanka, and usually pricey (from £180 for a one-way Trincomalee to Colombo flight). Trains can be a scenic way to get around: a trip from Colombo to Jaffna should take six to eight hours (from £1.60).
When to go
Temperatures in Sri Lanka are generally warm to hot, and don’t vary greatly year-round. Instead, the seasons are distinguished more by rainfall. Climate patterns are shifting, but the country experiences two main rainy periods: the Yala monsoon, which usually peaks around May and affects the southwest and Colombo; and the stronger Maha monsoon, which covers the whole country and is mostly at its height from mid-October to mid-December. For trips to northern Sri Lanka, it’s best to come outside the second monsoon season; mid-April to mid-May can also be a little blustery.
Our Sri Lanka guide (£15.99) covers all parts of the country; you can download chapters on individual regions for £2.99 each (shop.lonelyplanet.com).