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When is the Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka?

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Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

The weather is a major factor in deciding the best time to visit Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a tropical country, the climate in Sri Lanka can be described as summer climate throughout the year. The main factors that are shaping the Sri Lanka weather are identified as temperature, rainfall and wind. While being located in the tropic, the influence of Indian Ocean, proximity to Indian mainland and central mountain range are the minor factors.

The climate is under the influence of Monsoon of the Indian subcontinent. Seasonal monsoon wind is the main contributor of the island’s rainfall that has six months changing the pattern, Summer monsoon (from April to November) and winter monsoon (November to April). The central part of the island, which is mainly comprised of mountains, shows a totally different climate than rest of the country. Summer monsoon or North-East monsoon brings the rain from April to November and soaks the North, East, Southern and some parts of the Island’s central region.

Sri Lanka is located between the 5 and 9.5 of north latitudes hence Sri Lanka weather can be described as warm and humid like in most of the tropical countries. The average temperature of South-West part of the country records around 28C. Northern and eastern part of the country experiences warmer climate, which measured to be around 30C.

Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

Temperature

There is a large difference between the temperature along the coastal belt and the mountains in the central part of the country. Every hundred meters above the sea level resulted in a reduction of temperature by 1 C˚ Since the island is surrounded by the Indian Ocean temperature on the land is moderated by the sea wind. Even the high temperature is moderated by the sea wind. The rainfall is considered as a major factor in deciding the weather of Sri Lanka. The country is divided into three climatic zones depending on the rainfall namely dry zone, wet zone and arid zone.

The monsoon rain that soaks the island throughout the year is a major factor in deciding the best time to visit Sri Lanka.  The temperature of South-West Sri Lanka considerably drops during the South-West monsoon and the North-East monsoon reduces the temperature of North-East parts of the country.

Being an island close to the equator temperature of Sri Lanka estimated to be between 29 to 33 ˚C in the lower elevations, such as beach areas. The temperature in the island greatly differs in some parts of the country depending on the elevation. The central mountain records the highest variation of temperature. The temperature fluctuates from 20°C to -2°C resulting in frost in the evening and night. Temperature fluctuation is comparatively low in the low-altitudes, where the temperature lies between from about 35°C to 28°C. Day and night temperature variation in the low altitudes mostly recorded as 4°C.

May to June, is the hottest period of the year and February records the minimum rainfall in the island, making it the best time to visit Sri Lanka. Yearly rainfall of the country is influenced by the monsoon wind, which occurs from Nov to April (North-East monsoon) and from April to Nov (South-West monsoon). Summer monsoon wind enters the island from South-West borders of the country and goes up upon encountering the Central Highland. Different parts of the country are soaked by the monsoon rain in the different periods of the year, making it rain somewhere in the country at any given time. Also, the monsoon pattern is very generous and giving the opportunity to travellers to have a holiday at any time of the year either in North-East Sri Lanka or South-West Sri Lanka. 

Rising wind forms the clouds and uploads heavy rains in South-West part of the country. Average rainfall in the region, where the summer monsoon occurs (wet zone) measured between 2500 mm – 5000 mm and nearly 30% of the island is coming under the wet zone. Rest of the country records half of the yearly rainfall as the wet zone. Where the rainfall is measured between 1250 mm to 2500 mm. dry zone mainly benefits from the winter monsoon that occurs from Nov-Apr.

Best time to travel sri lanka

Humidity

High humidity is recorded in South-West part of the country, where the moisture accumulates due to the constant wind from the Indian Ocean. The humidity of the South-West part of the country measured as high as 95% especially during the monsoon, while the average humidity is recorded as 85%. The humidity of the lower elevation measured around 85% making it adding some discomfort for the existing high temperature.

Constant wind of the beaches makes it more comfortable to live around the coastal best than the cities that are away from the coast. At the higher elevation of the island, is the more comfortable climate with low temperatures around 25˚C. Nuwara Eliya the highest elevated city in the island records the lowest temperature in the island. The temperature of Nuwara Eliya can fall up to -2 ˚C after the sunset in the months of November and December. The highest temperature of the island recorded in the North and Eastern parts of the island between 35 to 37 ˚C average temperatures.

North-East Sri Lanka records low humidity percentage compared to the wet zone due to the low percentage of moisture in the winds that enters the country from North-East border of the country. When the winds come from Indian mainland it comes across a land thereby contains the low amount of moisture. In the mountains at the elevation of 500m above the sea level average humidity ranges between 70% and 79%. Dry zone regions such as Anuradhapura shows less humidity compared to the wet zone and measured between 60% – 79%.

Rainfall

More than half of the island’s land area is covered by the North-East monsoon and the area is categorized under the dry zone. Estimated yearly rainfall in the dry zone areas of the island including Jaffna peninsula is 1500 to 2500 mm. The months of November, December and January considered being the main rain period of the year for the dry zone.  Yala and the surrounding of Katagarama are categorized under the arid zone with the minimum yearly rainfall in the island.  As the name suggests the area is dry for the most of the year and the yearly rainfall estimated to be less than 1500 mm. The temperature of the dry zone is very high compared to rest of the island and unlike other climate zones, most of the green cover is comprised of throne bushes.

West, South and South-West parts of the island are recording the highest rainfall in the island, which is between 2500 to 5000 mm. wet zone of the island mainly comprised of low land of western Sri Lanka and western side of the central mountain range. Winter monsoon is the main contributor of yearly rainfall of wet zone. The monsoon wind enters the island from South-West part of the island and soaks the Western parts of the central mountains; the leeward side of the mountain range remains dry owing to the dry wind that resulted from the rain in the western part of the mountain range. The wind which passes in the direction of Eastern slope of the mountain range is called “Kachchan wind” and that increases the oppressive heat of the North and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka.

The unique pattern of the monsoon wind which changes in every six months makes Sri Lanka an ideal holiday destination in the region. Some parts of the island stay dry and show the best climate for holiday at any given time of the year. When the North-East monsoon soaks the North and Eastern Sri Lanka west coast experience the dry weather while the South and Western Sri Lanka experience the rainy season from April to November, North and Eastern parts of the island experience the dry climate.

Effect of inter-monsoon

Sri Lankan weather is under the influence of North-East monsoon which occurs in January to March and South-West monsoon from May to October. The time in-between the two monsoons is known as inter-monsoon. During the intermonsoon, the island experiences the wet weather owing to inter-monsoon shower.

During the inter-monsoon mostly the rain occurred in the afternoon while the morning and mid-day stay dry and warm. According to the information of Meteorology Department inter-monsoon rain period of inter-monsoon is widened in the recent time, due to the activation of Inter Tropical Conversion Zone.

Lightning is very often with heavy rain during the inter-monsoon and Meteorology Department issues warning the public to take safety measures to avert the damages caused by lightning. The lightning is common on the island during inter-monsoon, especially in the month of April and which is called Bakmaha akunu. This weather pattern prevails in the island throughout the month of April and comes to end mid-MayMay, ahead of the South-West monsoon rain.

Around October is not the best time to visit Sri Lanka

Usually, Sri Lanka experiencing extreme weather conditions covering most parts of the country in the month of October, therefore October categorized as a month that is not the best time to travel in Sri Lanka. With the intermonsoon in full force, heavy rain is occurs covering most parts of the island. The rain accompanies the heavy wind and lightning. Generally, October is a month that brings a lot of rain every year. Apart from the heavy rain on the land, the sea around the country is also very rough and met-department urging the people to keep away from the sea. Therefore the sea is not suitable for sea bath or any other recreation activities. Under-water current and gallant waves cripple the fishing industry during the month of October. Torrential rain in the mountainous area (west and southern Sri Lanka) comes under the landslide while some of the lower elevated areas are under the flood water.

Every year, several areas in Colombo including Dematagoda, Armour Street, Kalubowila, Narahenpita, Pettah, Thummulla, Rajagiriya and Town Hall are also experiencing some difficulties due to the heavy rain. In some instances northern Sri Lanka, the eastern part of the island, as well as southern SriLanka, also comes under the water making many hardships for civilians.

The east coast of Sri Lanka is an emerging holiday destination in the country the bad weather in October makes some unfavourable conditions for holidaymakers on the east coast. There were instances in which devastated effects due to the cyclone recorded in the east coast in the month of October. Usually, these cyclones are originated due to the changes in the atmosphere in the bay of Bengal.

Best Time to visit Sri Lanka

Best time to visit Sri Lanka is largely dependent on the region where you choose for the beach holiday. Because of the monsoon effect mostly make an impact for the people who look for a sunbath. The effect of monsoon is very minimal for sightseeing tours because the travellers can visit the important sites in the morning hours and during the days before the monsoon rain hammer the area in the evening. The rain is the largest fact that deciding the best time to visit in Sri Lanka because of the temperature, humidity, wind etc more or less throughout the island in the whole year.  If you look for the best time to visit Sri Lanka you will not be able to find a specific period and make it the best time to visit Sri Lanka because Sri Lanka has the suitable dry weather for travellers at any time of the year.

Beach holiday in South-west Sri Lanka

South-west Sri Lanka attracts a large number of beach holiday lovers every year. Most of this tourist traffic arrive here during the north-east monsoon from November to April. From November to April north-east coast of Sri Lanka is soaked up with the torrential rain of monsoon wind. But the opposite side of the country is dry and warm making the best settings for beach holidays. Beaches such as Negombo, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Weligama and other south coast areas attract a large number of tourist during this p[eriod. NOVEMBER TO APRIL IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SRI LANKA WEST AND SOUTHERN COAST.

Beach holiday in North-East Sri Lanka

Exactly the opposite what we have written above. APRIL TO NOVEMBER IS THE BEST TIME  TO TRAVEL TO SRI LANKA NORTH AND EAST COAST. If you plan to visit Sri Lanka from April to November choose north and east coast beach resorts such as arugambe, kalkudah and pasikudh for your beach holiday. During this time the west and southern coast areas are battered by the monsoon and there are instances that travellers can’t escape from beach hotels for many days due to the rain.

Dry Weather Sri Lanka holiday calendar

January

West coast is experiencing good weather conditions most of the days of the month with sunny warm holiday friendly climate. This is a month with low rainfall in the island.  While the climate is dry in the west coast east coast experiencing a heavy rain during the month. This is the main rainy season of the east coast and frequent heavy rain as usual.

February

February is the driest month of the year. Dry weather is very prominent in the whole country other than the east coast.  This is a month with highest tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka. The island has a very suitable setup for beach holidays and the ocean is calm and safe for sea bathing.

March

Another dry month of the year and a large number of foreign travellers know it already. It is very warm during the month due to the closeness of the sun. Very high humidity also prevails throughout the sweaty month.

April

April is another very warm month while the sun is orbiting directly above the country. Warm conditions prevail during the daytime as well as night. Casual rain may occur during the month and these rains called “Bakmaha akunu”. These rains accompany the lightning and mostly occurred in the late evening or at night. The ocean may not suitable for a bath on some occasions due to the rough sea and underwater current.

May

May is the month of the beginning of rainy season or monsoon.  Frequent rain occurs during the month and they are known as “intermonsoon rain”. It is advisable to carry umbrella or raincoat if you stay considerable of time outside. Earlier mentioned weather prevails on the west coast while east coast enjoys a very sunny, warm and rain-free climate. Set off to the east coast if you like to have a holiday in Sri Lanka.

June

June can be described as a rainy month with rough sea conditions on the west coast. Heavy rain is usual during the month and this is not the time for beach holidays on the west coast. The still east coast is very suitable for beach holidays.

July

Monsoon is starting g to batter west coast in full force during the month. Heavy rain is usually in the western province including west, south and central mountain range. But east coast the weather can be described as dry during the month.

August

August is a typical rainy month of the year and sea conditions of the west coast are not favourable for sea bath, snorkelling or diving. Guests in the west coast are severely warned against bathing in the sea during the month.

September

September is a rainy month with heavy rainfall in the west coast. The oppressive heat of the sun is subdued by the frequent rain.

October

The south-west monsoon starts to lessen its effect on the coastal belt along the south and west Sri Lanka. Unexpected rains occur often and sea conditions are still not favourable for a sea bath. During the latter half of the month, you see more sunny days than rainy days due to the changing of rainy weather conditions.

November

November is a relatively dry month and west coast is suitable for holidays by now. The weather conditions on land as well as in the sea are very suitable for leisure activities. This is the start of tourist season in the west-coast, which lasts until April.

December

December is another month with dry weather on the west coast. Most travellers are heading to west and southern coast during the month and enjoy a very suitable atmosphere for holidays.

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