Looking to decide at what time of the year to travel to Sri Lanka? Or where in Sri Lanka to go during time holiday time that you have already planned?
This article will give you the info you need to choose the best travel time for Sri Lanka.
- 1 High & Low season
- 2 Traveling in monsoon periods
- 3 Best travel times for:
- 4 Festivals:
High & Low season
So, even though there is good weather in Sri Lanka (somewhere at least) almost the whole year, there still is a touristic high season and a low season (with prices to match).
High season in Sri Lanka:
The south and west coast and beaches (like Colombo, Galle, Tangalle,…), as well as the central hills (Kandy) are usually very busy. This is the high season in Sri Lanka. Expect higher prices.
While the south is drenched in rain, the north and east are pleasant places to be. Also, prices are at their lowest in the whole of Sri Lanka during this time of the year.
Also, avoid Kandy in the central hills altogether unless you want to be rained out.
Traveling in monsoon periods
Even during the monsoon times, there can be quite a bit of sunshine, as the rainfalls are usually short and snappy, leaving blue skies in their wake. The rainfall might last a few days, after which you get sunshine for a few days.
There is always something to do or see in Sri Lanka anyway, so, if you don’t mind a bit of rain, visiting Sri Lanka even in monsoon time can be an enriching experience.
The periods in between monsoons can also be good times to travel.
Relative humidity can be high on the island all year round, 60% to 80%. Sometimes even 90% in the south-west (for example, in Colombo during the monsoon in june).
Avoid this period
People usually avoid this specific period altogether: from october until the first half of november. That’s because the north-east monsoon can be unpredictable and may affect the whole country. So it is quite possible for rain and thunderstorms to happen all over Sri Lanka during that time.
Best travel times for:
Going to the beach:
South & west coast: december to march/april. Sea is getting a little rougher in april.
North/east coast: may to september
August – april. For example, for bird watching in the Bundala National Park.
June – september: wildlife spotting in the Yala and Wilpattu National Parks (you might even see leopards), elephant spotting in the Cultural Triangle.
Whales and Dolphins:
Mirissa: november – april
Trincomalee: june – october
Sri Lanka knows a wide variety of festivals during the year. This is a consequence of the many different religions in the country: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim.
Here are a few of the major festivals, so that you could plan your trip accordingly. (You may choose to visit – or avoid! – an area of Sri Lanka where these festivities are happening.)
Most festivals have changing dates (they are based mostly on a lunar calendar), so every year you would need to look up when they fall in that particular year.
Only two Festivals have fixed yearly dates (they always fall on the same days in the year):
Sinhalese and Tamil New Year
also celebrated by Buddhists and Hindus
13 April or 14 April
celebrates the traditional Lunar New Year
Two days celebration, jan 14 & 15. These days fall in the Tamil month called “thai”, and coincides with the rice harvest.
Also called the First Rice festival, it is in essence what Thanksgiving is to other countries of the world. (Thanksgiving = harvest festival.)
It is celebrated in a family setting, by boiling the freshly harvested rice in milk, which is allowed to boil over. A specific meaning is then given to the direction in which the milk spills over the pot.
The other festivals have changing dates:
Esala Perahera ,or the “The Festival of the Tooth”
where the “tooth relic is taken in procession in Kandy
happens in july or august
lasts for 10 days
‘Esala’ is the name of a lunar month. It is quite a lavish festival with many thousands of dancers and hundreds of elephants and elegant garments.
Poyas are Buddhist celebrations.
This day celebrates the Buddha (his life, enlightenment and death).
This happens on the day of the full moon in may.
Cars and buses are decorated. Free food is given away.
Alcohol, meat or fish is not for sale in public restaurants. (But maybe your hotel or guesthouse is able to get around this rule when serving their own guests.)
Hindu of origin
In the city of Kataragama in the south-east of Sri Lanka
Held in july or august, this festival is not about dances, but rather about religious rituals and penance. Self-mutilations are performed, skewers are introduced through the cheeks, arms, backs, …all as an act of devotion to the god Kataragama.
The Deepavali festival of lights
Hindu festival. Celebrated late october or early november. With lots of oil lamps, the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil is celebrated.
At the Raja Maha Vihara temple in Kelaniya, 8km outside of Colombo
Happens in january.
Similar to the Kandy Perahera in spectacle, this perahera commemorates the first visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka over 2,500 years ago. As in Kandy, there is a large amount of elephants,
dancers and drummers.