Sri Lanka in January: Weather and Wildlife


Wrapped in emerald green forests and rolling hills, bordered by a turquoise ocean and dotted with charming colonial coastal towns, Sri Lanka surely is an idyllic holiday destination. And what better time to experience this island country, nicknamed the ‘Teardrop of India’, than in the mild summer month of January. Experience the adrenaline high riding the magnificent swells of Hikkaduwa, or simmer in suspense as you track a leopard in the dense forests of Yala National Park. Find meditative bliss in the quaint rock citadel of Sigiriya, or take a scenic train ride from Ella to Kandy. Heading to Sri Lanka in January is a perfect destination for chasing wanderlust.

Sri Lanka Weather in January

Enjoy the beach weather in Sri Lanka in January
You will love the beach in Sri Lanka in January with sun shinning and the waves crashing the shore

Approximately 10°C shy of the equator, Sri Lanka, like other equatorial countries, does not have major temperature fluctuations across the seasons. It is primarily ruled by two monsoon cycles - Yala and Maha. January in Sri Lanka is when the northeastern Maha monsoon starts wrapping up. This means rain showers are limited to the northeastern part of the country, such as the Trincomalee Coast, while most tourist destinations in the south and west coasts are generally dry and warm. The capital city, Colombo, experiences highs of 31°C and lows of 23°C. The average daytime temperature in the hill regions, such as Nuwara Eliya, is 20°C, which drops to a chilly 10°C towards the evening. Expect some rain in the Cultural Triangle located in the country’s north central plains. Although the monsoon has passed, the weather in Sri Lanka in January can be unpredictable, with the possibility of rain. The average monthly rainfall in the month is 72mm. So it is always a good idea to have an umbrella or light rainwear with you if you are traveling in Sri Lanka in January.

Check out our seasonal guide for the best time to visit Sri Lanka.

Weather in Sri Lanka in January - Rainfall and Temperatures

Avg Daily (°C)313132323130303030303030
Avg Nightly (°C)222324252626252525242323
Avg Daily (°F)87.887.889.689.687.886868686868686
Avg Nightly (°F)71.673.475.27778.878.877777775.273.473.4
Avg Rainfall (mm)6269130253382186125114236369310168

Why Visit Sri Lanka in January

A beach in Sri Lanka is as scenic as they come
A perfect place for you to enjoy the beautiful tropical beach with great waves in Sri Lanka
Elephant at a national park in Sri Lanka
If you love the wonders of nature, don't miss a chance to go to jeep safari and spot native animals in Yala National Park

January is the high season in Sri Lanka's tourism calendar and it is easy to see why. The country boasts superb weather conditions during this time—agreeably warm and mostly dry. Travelers can experience almost all the activities and see the attractions that Sri Lanka has to offer. Following are some reasons why you should visit Sri Lanka in January.

  • Beach time: Frolic on the sun-kissed beaches and warm inviting waters of the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka’s southern coast hosts some of the most beautiful beaches and they enjoy perfect weather in January, as the Maha monsoons have retreated to the northeastern coast. Choose a spot, spread out your beach towel and spend the day relaxing under the azure sky.
  • Festivals: Festivals are a great way to socialize with locals and learn about their culture. Do not pass up on this chance by attending Thai Pongal, a harvest festival celebrated in January by the Tamil minority of Sri Lanka. Learn to draw a Kolam, or join a local culinary class to get lessons on cooking Pongal, a traditional festive dish.
  • Wildlife Trails: With the dry season descending with January, animal tracking in the dense forests of Sri Lanka becomes easier. Take a jeep safari to Yala National Park to spot the elusive leopard. Alternatively, you can also visit the Wilpattu National Park, where its salt basins are brimming with post-monsoon rainwaters providing an atmospheric setting for tracking the spotted wonder.

Where to go and what to do

One of the most famous temples in Sri Lanka, Seema Malaka
Visit one of Sri Lanka's famous temples in the heart of the city of Colombo

Whether you want to surf, sunbathe, go on a safari or seek solitude, Sri Lanka in January is a great time to indulge in activities of all kinds. With a coastline of 1,600 km, there are plenty of beaches to enjoy the sun. The southern beaches of Negombo and Unawatuna are great to relax in gorgeous sand strips. Hike the holy mountains of Adam's Peak with the pilgrims for a spiritual experience. For culture buffs, Sri Lanka offers six cultural Unesco World Heritage Sites in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy. If you wish to escape to the cool climes and away from the maddening crowds, the tea-growing district of Nuwara Eliya is what you are looking for. Step back in time by staying in a colonial-era bungalow. And for a slice of an urban vibe, embark on a city tour in Colombo. Also, check out the confluence of culture in the coastal town of Galle, home to the famed Galle Fort and many colonial-era landmarks and architecture.  

The overall weather in Sri Lanka in January is ideal to combine a coastal escape with a cultural tour and a jungle safari through the island's wild heart. Sri Lanka in January welcomes one and all with arms wide open.    

Reach out to our local travel experts to customize a trip to Sri Lanka in January. 

Note: Exercise caution during your travel to Sri Lanka, as the security situation might be a bit sensitive because of the country’s economic and political crisis. 

Other Related Articles:
Sri Lanka in February
Sri Lanka Private tours

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