Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka
Folks, let’s be straightforward with you first of all. To be very honest, there is no single time of the year which is unarguably the best time to visit Sri Lanka. Why? First off, Sri Lanka’s climate is a little more complex than many other countries. It’s not like a specified interval is for hot weather, while another interval for rainy days. In fact, rain is highly unpredictable all around the island. Since Sri Lanka is an island near the Equator (hottest region on the planet Earth), the temperatures remain fairly consistent throughout the year. But of course, what temperatures you experience also depends on where you go. If you go to the beaches, you’ll find it pleasant. If you go to inner lowland areas, it’ll get hotter and uncomfortable, while highlands and hilly areas will be chilly and might even be freezing at night times. Nonetheless, we’ll try to educate you about what are generally considered the best times to visit different parts of Sri Lanka. But be warned, when you are in Sri Lanka, always be ready for imminent showers. Sometimes though, you might not experience any rains at all.
Sri Lanka Weather by Month
First of all, you’ll have to bear with us through the ‘technical’ details of the climatic pattern of Sri Lanka. After reading through this first section, you’ll be better equipped to understand the when and where of Sri Lanka. We’ll try to keep the complicated jargon to the minimum.
a) Yala Monsoon (April to Sept – Mid Year)
Also known as the West and South Monsoon, the Yala Monsoon is the gentler of the two major monsoons. It occurs from April to September. During this season, heavy rainfalls can be expected, though intermittently, on the southern and western coasts. That means that the popular beaches of the West are a no-no (unless of course if you enjoy torrential rains and the beach water). If you’ve read our blog on the beaches of Sri Lanka, you could recall that the south-western beaches include Bentota, Galle and Mirissa, among others.
b) Maha Monsoon (Dec to March – Year end & start)
The harsher of the two monsoons is the North and East Monsoon, the Maha Monsoon. It mostly affects, as the name implies, northern and eastern areas. The rains are heavier and hilly areas can get very chilly. You had better avoid the eastern coasts during this season and stick to inner and western parts of Sri Lanka if you happen to visit during this time of the year.
c) The Inter-Monsoon
Lastly, you should know that there is also a less predictable and less defined period of rainfalls known as the Inter Monsoon period. You can guess from the name that it occurs between October and November. The period is categorized with pleasant, sporadic rains in different parts of the countries. However, note the emphasis on the word ‘unpredictable’ here; in some years and in some parts, the Inter-Monsoon doesn’t witness any rainfalls at all, while at other times, the rains may become… less pleasant.
Temperature and Humidity
As for the temperature changes, there is not much to be said about them. As mentioned already, dur to Sri Lanka’s proximity to the Equatorial Region (hottest region on Earth), the temperatures usually do not go to very extremes. They remain around 25-30oC. Of course, temperatures rise higher during the afternoon and in central areas, while go down during the night and in hilly areas.
As for humidity, you don’t have much options there. Being an island surrounded by the sea, Sri Lanka is a humid country, with generally 70-90% humidity throughout the year. So it wouldn’t be much use trying to find a time of year when the humidity index is low.
Now that you are aware of the climatic patterns of Sri Lanka, we hope you’ll better understand the best seasons for different beaches in Sri Lanka. It is pretty clear though. If you wish to visit the popular northern and eastern beaches, like the Arugam Bay, Passikuda or Marble Beach, you would probably want to avoid going in the months of December to March, but can visit pretty much any other time of the year, except perhaps the October-November inter-monsoon season. On the other hand, visiting the western and southern beaches like those in Colombo (Crow Island, Mount Lavina), Bentota or Galle et cetera, should preferably be done in the months of November to March. However, since the Yala Monsoon is less harsh, you could move around even in the mid-year months of April to September as well.
The Annual Esala Pareherea
Okay, having mentioned the times of the year in terms of months, we must mention another time of the year when it is awesome to be in Sri Lanka. Specifically, in the well-known Sri Lankan city of Kandy. Kandy is home to the world-famous Temple of the Tooth (locally known as Sri Dalada Maligawa). If you’ve read our blog on “Things to do in Kandy”, you’ll remember about the Annual Festival of the Tooth, or the Esala Parehera, which is held in July to August. The tooth in question is in fact a relic of the ancient Lord Buddha, founder of the Buddhist Creed. Since the major religion of Sri Lanka is Buddhism, the annual Festival marks an important festival for the Buddhist community of Sri Lanka as well as of other countries. Its pretty much like Christmas for Christians and Eid-ul-Fitr or Eid-ul-Azha for Muslims. You can find out more details about the fun and activities involved with the Esala Pareherea in our blog dedicated to Kandy.
Christmas and New Year
Before signing out, we must mention the Christmas and New Year time in Sri Lanka. This is also a very expensive time of the year, with lots of shopping to do and partying as well. You might even find great discounts and sales in the markets. Of course, since it’ll be December or January, you’ll avoid the Northern and Eastern coasts because of, you guessed it, the Maha Monsoon.
We hope you enjoyed reading our blog about Sri Lanka and benefitted from it. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.