When is the Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka?

Avoiding the Humidity and Mossies

I was reading an article on TripAdvisor about the Humidity & Mosquitos and the best time to visit Sri Lanka.

Clearly these are 2 things that visitors to this Paradise Island would like to avoid.

The Humidity does take some time to get adjusted to however, I have never got used to Mossies biting me!

Mosquito bites are quite annoying however fortunate Malaria from Mosquitos has mainly been eradicated from Sri Lanka.

The most concerning matter regarding Mosquitos is the risk of contracting Dengue.

I have been living in Sri Lanka for 6 years and feel quite lucky that I have not contracted Dengue.

The number of Dengue cases have been rising in Sri Lanka and there are efforts to reduce the breeding grounds by ensuring that places where there is standing water are removed. There are regular checks in urban areas by the health department to try to educate the population and reduce the breeding grounds.

The Sri Lankan Hill Country

We live at GlenMyu Estate Hotel, Beragala, Haputale which is located in the Sri Lankan Hill Country. The estate is at an elevation of around 900-1000 metres and is a little cooler than other parts of the country. Average temperatures during the day are between 23 and 26 degrees Celsius.

We have found that, although there are some Mosquitos, they are manageable compared to when we lived in Colombo. We also understand that there is no Dengue in the area.

The Humidity is also substantially lower than other parts of Sri Lanka. We have had plenty of guests from countries such as Denmark, Germany, France, UK, Netherlands and also Sri Lanka who arrive and you can see that there is a visible sense of relief to get back to a more comfortable climate.

It’s one of the reasons why we decided that we would be located permanently in the Hill Country. We just love it here!

So, when is the best time to visit the Sri Lankan Hill Country?

Well, it appears that climate change has reached here as well so it is a little more difficult to advise when the rains will come. We have inter monsoon rains so, in the main, it is not as severe as when the main monsoons hit the other parts of the island.

We originally canvassed our neighbours who had resided in the Hill Country for many more years than us to get an insight into when the rains come. In part it is important for us as it determines when we should be planting crops and trees on the estate.

From our conversations historically rains are normally expected from the 15th September to the 15th December and also 15th March to the 15th June. Our experience has not been so and we have prepared lands for planting and the rains have not come. We then take the hoses out and prepare the sprinklers in readiness for a dry spell and we have showers!

Our guests have arrived in heavy rain in mid November and it is sunny the next days enabling them to do their hike around Horton Plains National Park, visit Ella or spend time at Upper Diyaluma Pools and Waterfall.

It’s not as much help as I would like to give but nature doesn’t appear to give any guarantees in the Hill Country!

Why is Sri Lanka so Humid?

The climate in Sri Lanka is tropical (and relatively wet) due to its location slightly North (6-10o) of the Equator in the Indian Ocean.

There are 2 wet (monsoon) seasons. 

During May – October, the winds over Sri-Lanka are Westerly to North-Westerly 

From December – March, the winds over Sri-Lanka are North-Easterly. 

Wind speeds rise in the land surfaces during the months of June – September and also from December – February. 

Regionally the average wind speeds are high in the South-Eastern and North-Western extremes of the island and also in the mountain passes

The island is humid all over Sri-Lanka with the relative humidity normally being around and over 65%. 

On the coast the humidity can rise to 90% in the wetter seasons. 

There are dry dehydrating effects on the levels of humidity due to mountain effects in the windier months. The humidity drops in the eastern region from June to September.

There is a weaker dehydrating effect on the western mountain slopes of the Sri Lanka.

Rainfall

Sri Lanka receives around 1,800 mm of rainfall on average annually distributed unevenly ranging from 500 to 5000 mm/year. 

Rainfall follows a bimodal climatology. 

Main rains are from September – December.

Subsidiary rains are from April – June.

The Eastern and Western Hill Slopes garner orographic (mountain induced) rainfall from December – March (North-Easterly winds) and May to October (Westerly wind) respectively.

The North-East receives cyclonic rainfall from November to December from the storms and cyclonic systems that are steered from the Bay of Bengal by the North-Easterly winds towards Sri-Lanka. Once they make landfall, these systems can dissipate quickly unless they are particularly strong.

Temperature

The mean annual temperature of the country is 27 oC with lower temperatures in the mountains that rise to 2500M. 

The temperature drops during December and January and increases from April to September. 

The mean daily range is approximately 6 oC. 

These temperatures are more moderate than what is typical for such latitudes during the Northern Hemisphere summer from June – August. This can be attributed to the cooling effect of the oceans during the warmest months.

You can find more detailed information about weather patterns and the climate in Sri Lanka at the Climate Change Knowledge Portal.

Climate for Travel is another good website providing more detailed information.

The Sri Lankan Department of Meteorology also provides moree details for those who want to delve deeper.

So, when its the Best Time to visit Sri Lanka?

Well, it depends on where you want to go and what time of the year you want to come.

The weather and best time will be major fact to consider before planning your Sri Lanka travel.

Sri Lanka’s position between 5 and 10 north latitudes results in an Island with a year-round warm tropical climate.

Seasons

There aren’t any prominent seasons like winter, spring, summer, or autumn that many countries experience around the globe.

But there are monsoons!

2 monsoons, 2 parts of the Island

There are 2 separate monsoons in different regions at different timing in Sri Lanka.

Therefore, you need to avoid the monsoon and select the best time to visit Sri Lanka. The good news is that there is usually good weather somewhere on the island most of the time of year. 

When are the Monsoons?

The South Western Monsoon

May – September

Intermittent rains in the wet zone

Frequent showers in Colombo, Kandy, Galle, or Nuwara Eliya

Best time to visit Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya or Dambulla

An ideal to visit north and eastern beaches

Best time to visit Trincomalee, Jaffna, Mannar, Arugam Bay

August-September elephant gathering at Minneriya and Kaudulla

The North Eastern Monsoon

December to February

Rainy season in the dry zone

Frequent showers in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee or Jaffna

An ideal to visit the south and western beaches

Best time to visit Colombo, Kandy, Galle or Nuwara Eliya

Whale watching season at Mirissa

See the amazing wildlife in Udawalawe or Yala National Park

Horton Plains National Park and Knuckles Mountain range

Pilgrimage season of holy Adam’s Peak

In Summary - The Best time to visit Sri Lanka.

If you are visiting Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, or Galle on the South and western side, the best period is December to April. Catch some waves and chill out on splendid beaches in southern coastal areas including Weligama, Tangalle, Hiriketiya, Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, or Unawatuna Bay.

If you are visiting Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee, or Jaffna on the North and Eastern coast, the period between May to September is best. Enjoy the pristine beaches of the north, northwest, and eastern coast and ride the waves at Arugam bay or Kalpitiya.

Overall, January, February, March, and April are the best time to visit Sri Lanka when most of the parts of the island are not affected by monsoons. This period is the peak season of tourism, while the months from May to October are the low season of tourism.

The unique feature of totally different weather in different parts of the country attracts a lot of visitors to Sri Lanka as a year-round destination. Whatever time of the year you travel, you can arrange a satisfying itinerary to enjoy the best weather. 

So we would recommend….

Choose your destination to avoid monsoons to have an incredible holiday in Sri Lanka. 

GlenMyu Estate
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