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The Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka in 2023

The Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka in 2023

Sri Lanka is a riveting destination to visit at any time of year. But to ensure the perfect trip for your needs and preferences, it’s crucial to understand the best and worst times to go.

This beautiful country offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, sightseeing, relaxing, and more, and figuring out the best time to visit Sri Lanka to hit your biggest bucket list items will help guarantee the most memorable experiences!

We’ll dive into the best and worst times depending on what you want to prioritize, whether avoiding crowds, experiencing the best weather, or finding discounted rates on flights and hotels.

Plus, we’ll include a few handy tips and answer related questions to ensure your trip to Sri Lanka is as perfect as can be.

Why You Should Visit Sri Lanka

Herd of elephants, both young and old, bathing in the river during the best time to visit Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is an exotic destination with a beautiful landscape, unique wildlife, and vibrant culture that will enthrall travelers. Home to a few of the oldest and most well-respected rainforests in the world, travelers can explore its diverse wildlife, from elephants to leopards.

Sri Lanka is also renowned for its incredible beaches that stretch for miles, ranging from untouched paradises to bustling resorts. The country is filled with fascinating cultural sites and architectural wonders, such as ancient temples and fortresses, which transport visitors back in time.

Finally, Sri Lanka is known for its delicious cuisine, served at an array of bustling roadside eateries, family-run restaurants, and five-star hotels. Whether you desire to relax by the beach or explore ancient ruins, Sri Lanka can captivate you at every turn.

If you’re not convinced, here’s a quick list of the top sights and attractions in Sri Lanka:

  • Udawalawe National Park Safari. A gigantic safari reserve with native wildlife
  • Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple. An art- and relic-filled cave and temple complex
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress. An ancient fortress, palace, and garden complex
  • Galle Fort. A UNESCO World Heritage Site with classic architecture
  • Kandy Temple of the Tooth. A temple housing a relic of the Lord Buddha
  • Sri Pada/Adam’s Peak. A 2,243-meter mountain peak in central Sri Lanka that’s perfect for climbing
  • Whale-watching boat tours
  • Sunset cruises
  • Golf courses
  • Hot air balloon rides
  • And much more!

Overall Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

Amazing view of the St. Clairs waterfall and landscape with blue skies and green grass during the best time to visit Sri Lanka


The best time to visit Sri Lanka is from December to the middle of April. The weather is mild and dry during this time, making it ideal for sightseeing and tourist activities.

You’ll also be able to catch the country’s colorful festivals, such as Pongal and Vesak. These popular celebrations are a fantastic way to get a feel for the culture and atmosphere of Sri Lanka.

Thai Pongal is Sri Lanka’s harvest festival, celebrating the country’s abundance with traditional music, dance performances, and feasting.

Vesak marks the time when Buddha reached enlightenment and is celebrated throughout Sri Lanka, with processions in all major cities and various vibrant decorations.

The best time to visit Sri Lanka also coincides with the peak tourism season, making it incredibly easy to find transportation, accommodations, and activities. Although prices may be slightly higher than in other months of the year, you’ll have plenty of options.

Cheapest Time to Visit Sri Lanka

Aerial view of the Sigiriya Lion Rock fortress and surrounding forest during the cheapest time to visit Sri Lanka with fog over the forest


The cheapest time to visit Sri Lanka is between May and August because it falls outside peak season. During this time, hotels and flights offer discounted rates as demand is lower.

Additionally, many attractions also reduce their admission fees, making it an ideal time for travelers on a budget. You can score some of the best flight discounts by booking your ticket at least a month in advance.

During this time, you can also find discounted packages and hotel deals, making the trip even more affordable. Fortunately, Sri Lanka is still a beautiful destination year-round, so you won’t be missing out on much in terms of tourism and attractions.

You can expect heavier rainfall during the wet season, especially with the coming Yala monsoon season in May, but it’s still worth checking out for unbeatable prices.

How to Get the Best Deals for Sri Lanka

The best way to get the best deals for Sri Lanka is to book your tickets in advance. This will help you avoid peak season prices and take advantage of the discounts available during the off-peak season.

You can also subscribe to airline newsletters or follow them on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest deals and discounts. Additionally, you can use price comparison sites such as Skyscanner to compare prices across multiple airlines, ensuring you get the best deal.

Finally, if possible, book your accommodation directly with the hotel or resort. This will give you access to exclusive discounts, packages, and other special offers.

Least Busy Time to Visit Sri Lanka

Giant buddha statue at Kande Vihara Temple during the least busy time to visit Sri Lanka


The least busy time to visit Sri Lanka depends on which parts of the country you plan to visit because two different monsoon seasons impact different areas at different times.

Yala Monsoon Season

The Yala monsoon season brings rain to the west and southwest regions between April and September.

Maha Monsoon Season

Maha is less severe but brings rains to the northeast region from November to March and is the heaviest from November to December. The wettest months overall are usually between June and September, so this is the time period you can expect the least crowds.

The west and south are the most impacted by the monsoon season, so if you plan to explore these regions, it’s best to visit in the dry season. However, if your goal is to find affordable flights and avoid crowds at all costs, you can go during this time, but be prepared for rain and higher winds.

Worst Time to Visit Sri Lanka

Huge elephant in the forest during the monsoon season, the overall worst time to visit Sri Lanka, with rain falling down very hard onto the river

Galushko Sergey/Shutterstock

The worst months to visit Sri Lanka in the west and southwest are May and June, and the worst months to visit Sri Lanka in the east and northeast are October and November.

These times are when the Yala and Maha monsoon seasons hit their respective regions. Many activities you may want to do in Sri Lanka, such as beach visits, adventure activities, and sightseeing, can be difficult during these months.

Many tourist attractions may even be closed due to heavy rains and flooding. If you want to visit during these months, it’s best to stick to the drier season of whichever region you are planning on visiting.

Alternatively, if you would still like to go during this time, you can try and stick to the far north or far south, which tend to remain drier during these months.

Things to Consider

Super neat view of the Dambulla cave temples in Sri Lanka, pictured during the best time to visit with little to no visitors in sight

Sean Hsu/Shutterstock

Before heading off on your Sri Lankan adventure, here are a few points to consider when planning your trip:

  • It’s best to stick to one region, as it can be time-consuming and logistically complicated to travel around Sri Lanka, especially outside of peak season.
  • If you do plan to travel to multiple regions, traveling by train is the most convenient and best bang-for-your-buck
  • Check weather forecasts in each region you plan to visit to know what to expect and pack accordingly.
  • Book your flight at least four weeks in advance to try and score the best deal.
  • Research which hotels have the best discounts and packages during your visit.
  • Make sure to factor in additional costs such as tour packages, transport, and entrance fees.
  • If you plan to go during monsoon season, research the region you plan to visit thoroughly to know what activities are still available
  • Bring extra cash for entrance fees to national parks, waterfalls, and other attractions.
  • Be sure to research the Sri Lankan culture and customs to have an enjoyable and respectful travel experience.
  • If you are going to Dambulla Cave Temples, make sure to cover your shoulders and knees.

Things to Do

In addition to things to consider, we wanted to share a list of travel activities and highlights you might want to add to your bucket list!

  • Visit waterfalls
  • Climb Sigiriya rock fortress, a UNESCO world heritage site
  • Relax, surf, or both at one of many Sri Lankan beaches.
  • Go diving to famous shipwrecks.
  • Stroll through the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa
  • Go on a wildlife safari at Udawalawe, Yala, or another Sri Lankan national park.

Frequently Asked Questions

Smiling woman looking out of the window of a blue train wearing a blue jacket while it goes through rice fields in Sri Lanka

Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

You now know much more about the best time to visit Sri Lanka and some exciting activities to do while you’re there. But if you need more info, check out our answers to frequently asked questions about visiting the country:

What is the best month to visit Sri Lanka?

The best month to travel to Sri Lanka is January if you are visiting the west or south and May if you’re visiting the east. During these months, you will get dry, mild weather but avoid too many crowds from people visiting during their summer breaks or during the holiday season.

What is the rainy season?

The rainy season in Sri Lanka varies by region. Generally, the west and south experience a dry season from November to April, while the east and northeast experience a dry season from May to October. Most of the rain falls during the months of November, December, March, April, and October.

What is the tourist season like in Sri Lanka?

The tourist season in Sri Lanka varies depending on which region you’re visiting. In the west, south, and Hill Country, the tourist season is between December and March.

In the east and northeast, the tourist season is from May to October. During these peak times, you can expect higher prices for flights and accommodation, as well as bigger crowds and queues at popular tourist attractions.

Are 7 days enough in Sri Lanka?

Seven days can be enough depending on which regions you plan to visit. Still, it’s usually best to plan for 8-10 days in Sri Lanka, especially if you plan on going to multiple major cities with time to relax in between.

Is it safe to go to Sri Lanka at the moment?

Yes, it is generally safe to visit Sri Lanka at the moment. According to the U.S. Government’s travel advisory, Sri Lanka is listed as Level 2, which means travelers should exercise increased caution.

Make sure to check the latest news and travel advisories before you book your trip, as conditions can change quickly. Furthermore, always be aware of your surroundings and follow local safety guidelines.

Can you swim in Sri Lanka?

Yes, there are plenty of beaches and pools to swim in during your visit to Sri Lanka. The water may be a bit cooler than other beaches in Southeast Asia, but the white sand and clear waters make it worth a visit.

You can find swimming spots all over the country, but if you’re looking for the best beaches, head to the south and east coast. Make sure to beach safely by checking the currents before you jump in, and always swim with a buddy.

Which part of Sri Lanka is the best?

The best part of Sri Lanka is, of course, subjective and depends on what you want to see most. For beach lovers, the south and east coast are perfect for surfing, sunbathing, and swimming in the crystal clear Indian Ocean.

For culture buffs, the Hill Country and ancient cities like Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruwa are must-sees, while adventurers should check out the many national parks in the country. No matter what you’re looking for, Sri Lanka has something to offer every traveler!

Is Bali or Sri Lanka cheaper?

Bali used to be an inexpensive destination, but as of late has become much pricier due to its fast rise in tourism. Although Sri Lanka is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination as well, it’s remained relatively inexpensive, especially in terms of food and attractions.

Is Sri Lanka better than Goa?

Goa is better for nightlife, with its many beach shacks, bars, and clubs. Sri Lanka is better for exploring nature and culture, with its ancient cities, stunning landscapes, and abundance of national parks.

Ultimately, the choice between Goa and Sri Lanka depends on what type of vacation you want to experience! Whether you choose Goa or Sri Lanka, you’re sure to have a great time!

Is Sri Lanka more expensive than Thailand?

Thailand is generally a much cheaper destination than Sri Lanka, especially when it comes to accommodation and food. However, when it comes to attractions and activities, Sri Lanka can be more expensive than Thailand due to its remote location and smaller size.

Additionally, some of the best attractions in Sri Lanka, such as whale watching and safaris, are much pricier than in Thailand.

Ultimately, you should factor in attraction costs when deciding which country to visit. However, Sri Lanka offers a unique experience you can’t find in Thailand, so it may be worth paying a bit extra!

Can you drink alcohol in Sri Lanka?

Yes. There are no restrictions on alcohol consumption in Sri Lanka. However, there may be some bans on selling alcohol on certain religious holidays or drinking it in public places like parks.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka?

The overall best time to visit Sri Lanka is between late December and April when the weather is pleasant across most of the country, especially the more touristy areas on the south and west coasts.

With its diverse landscapes, culture, and history, Sri Lanka is a great destination for any time of year! So whether you choose to visit in peak season or low season, make sure to enjoy every minute of your trip. Happy travels!