WHEN TO VISIT SRI LANKA
Thanks to Sri Lanka’s distinct monsoon seasons, the weather is always good in some part of the island. If you want to explore the Hill Country and the south (the route mostly followed in our Big Trip itinerary), then the best time to visit Sri Lanka is between December and April, when the weather tends to be dry and sunny and the sea is usually calm. This, naturally, coincides with Sri Lanka’s high season, which runs from December to March; visiting over the Christmas holidays is expensive, and you’ll need to book everything well in advance. The north of Sri Lanka’s and its east coast are hit by the northeast (or maha) monsoon (November to March), so are places to avoid at this time of year.
April is arguably the best month to visit Sri Lanka, especially if you plan on coming here towards the beginning of the month. April (along with September) is Sri Lanka’s brief shoulder season, so prices are generally lower, though you’ll still be able to enjoy the beaches of the south and catch the end of the whale-watching season in Mirissa; as such, Easter is a popular time to visit. April is Sri Lanka’s hottest month (temperatures are fairly steady throughout the year, so it’s not a massive spike), but whilst the Cultural Triangle can be sizzling, it also means that wildlife sightings are at their best in Yala at this time of year (the Hill Country, on the other hand, is lovely and cool). As the month progresses, the likelihood of showers in the south increases and the sea gets rougher. Sinhalese and Tamil New Year (a public holiday) falls around mid-April.
By the beginning of May, the southwest (or yala) monsoon (May to September) is lashing Galle and the south, and the rain will not usually abate until September. This is the best time to visit the Cultural Triangle, the north and the east coast. The Hill Country also receives showers into June (and again in October, Sri Lanka’s wettest month by far, and November), but it’s much less affected. Despite this being low season for Sri Lanka’s most popular areas, places are still busy and prices high over the summer holidays. Kandy hosts the Esala Perahera in July or August, an extravaganza of elephant processions and drumming.