Sri Lanka is a country of exceptional natural beauty; some which people say has been hiding in plain sight from us all this time. So many travelers say that they have indeed visited Sri Lanka, when what they meant was they were actually just passing through – which is something that is rapidly changing these days.
It is fair to say that natural and political challenges have kept many a traveler from hanging back for a second glance, and things are on the up and up. The tumultuous war is over, and tourism is picking up as rapidly as a runaway train, the destination fast becoming one of the premier travelling hotspots – not bad for region whose strife and struggle only came to an end in May 2009.
Because it has not been a popular consideration for travelers, people don’t know much about where to visit, what to take with them or when the best time of the year is to go. It has to be said though, that apart from two serious rainy seasons; Sri Lanka is the perfect year round destination.
And as far as safety is concerned, car accidents – as in many other parts of the world – are more of a hazard than any other threat of violence, terrorism or war is in Sri Lanka. Obviously one should take the general precautions while visiting Sir Lanka, as they would at home, and apart from the average swindler hoping to make a quick buck off a traveler, Sri Lanka is quite safe.
What to keep in mind when travel to Sri Lanka
Most visited time
High season in Sri Lanka is from November to April and up on the hills, sweeping far down to the south western coastline – it is also the driest season of the year, hence its popularity. The south west coast is the favorite location for visitors and tourists; there are some of the best beaches here, lots of interesting sights, ancient sites, fortified cities and historical ariefacts to be seen.
The area of Galle is a popular tourist area on the southwest coast with the most incredible beaches and back to back people during the dry season. The rainy season actually moves around the country, so there are some areas of Sri Lanka that will be dry during the year, like the east coast, which is best seen during the months from May to September.
The weather is another reason to consider your time of year to visit Sir Lanka. Although the country is known for is heavy humidity and balmy weather, having a tropical climate, the temperatures are different in all the various regions of the country. The hilly mountainous regions in the area central to Sir Lanka are actually much colder than the rest of the country – up to a 15 C difference in temperature than everywhere else – right throughout the year. So if you are really not fond of the heat, then you may want to consider heading out to the central region. Kandy especially is a superb destination high in the hills – indeed it was where the British colonials used to escape the heat of the coast and cities.
Hottest area of Sri Lanka
The north eastern region of the country is the hottest area of Sri Lanka, and no matter what time of year you visit you can expect an average temperature of around 30 C. Visiting Colombo, the main port city on the south western coastline, the average temperature is around 27 C degrees all year round – so there are many factors one can take into account when choosing which time of the year to go.
Monsoon seasons in Sri Lanka
There are two definitive monsoon seasons in Sri Lanka- the Maha monsoon and the Yala monsoon.
The rainy season is brought by the winds of the Yala monsoon, which blows in during the Month of May and stays in the south western area of the country all the way until July.
The Maha monsoon brings the rainy season in October to the north eastern half of Sri Lanka and lasts until January. There should actually be two different ‘’seasons’’ in Sri Lanka – as the beaches in the eastern region are dry and in season while the south beaches are not and visa versa.
Inter monsoon period
But there is another season during the year, called the inter monsoon period, where it is relatively dry throughout the country, but it is also seriously hot. There are some short but sweet thunder showers that are very much welcomed after the heat of the day, and provide just enough of a reprieve to wash the heat of the day away in the early evening.
But the monsoons are becoming more and more difficult to define and it is not unusual to have torrential rain all day the ‘’dry season’’ – so it is impossible to say that you could enjoy a completely dry visit at any time of the year here.
Right time for swimmers
If you would like to swim in Sri Lanka, then you will want to head out to the south west during the months of the January, February and March. The beaches have great, calm and flat seas on the south coast as well as the western coasts. And this is perfect time of the year for whale watching as well. It is a good idea to get some advice from the locals before heading out into the water, including the secluded bays, as they will know the fickle weather and swells the best.
Argugum Bay on the eastern coast is the place to go for swimming during the months of May to September.
Conclusion about the right time to visit Sri Lanka
But for visitors looking for great value for money, in terms of accommodation, food and sites in Sri Lanka, the period from May to November is the time to go. There are substantially less people due to the rain and monsoons, but it’s the best time to visit in retrospect.
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Take the time to read up on some local customs practiced by the local Sri Lankans, and you will get the most out of your trip. Tour guide books like Lonely Planet guide books and the local people will be able to give you the best up to date travel advice while you are there.