Peak and off season: When to get the best deal
Although Sri Lanka is a relatively small island, it has two distinct monsoon seasons which affect different parts of the country at different times. It might sound confusing at first, but this actually makes Sri Lanka a year-round destination. When to go just depends on where in the country you plan to spend the most time.
Overall, the peak season is usually considered to be between December and March. This is when the driest, sunniest and coolest (“cool” is a relative term in this humid tropical nation of course) weather graces Sri Lanka’s West, South and Hill Country.
The west coast is the most developed and frequently visited part of Sri Lanka. It includes Colombo and some of the island’s most popular beach resorts including Negombo, the idyllic Kalpitiya Peninsula and the regions of Kalutara, Beruwalaand and Bentota, home to many European-style hotels and upscale beachfront resorts.
The quieter south includes the Dutch colonial town of Galle, Yala National Park and some of Sri Lanka’s most picturesque beaches, such as Unawatuna, Weligama, Mirissa and Tangalla. The Hill Country is where you’ll find sprawling tea estates, elegant five-star villas and beautiful natural scenery, with great hikes, dense forest, rushing river rapids and magnificent waterfalls. The south and west are wettest during the Yala monsoon, between May and August.
When it’s raining on the west coast, the east is dry and sunny. Sri Lanka’s east has a much more local feel and a coastline made up of uncrowded beaches and tiny fishing villages. The colourful town of Trincomalee is the capital of the east, with a mix of crumbling colonial mansions and rainbow-hued Hindu temples. The north of Sri Lanka receives relatively few visitors, although more people are discovering the scenic train journey between Colombo and Jaffna, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka’s Tamil community. The Maha monsoon between October and January brings heavy rain to this region.
As a general rule, the best and cheapest time to visit Sri Lanka is during the shoulder seasons of April and September.