Sri Lanka in May: Travel Opportunities in the Monsoon


Tourist crowds are sparse across Sri Lanka in May. Popular tourist hotspots are a little less busy during this time. But the monsoon weather does bring constant rain in most parts of the country. Still, a well-planned trip to Sri Lanka will open doors to many attractions, particularly in the Cultural Triangle of the north-central plains and the coastal areas in the northeast.

Sri Lanka Weather in May

Pristine Nilaveli beach in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Head to the coastal city of Trincomalee to enjoy the sunny beaches and warm waters.

The monsoon brings several distinct weather patterns to Sri Lanka. In May, Colombo experiences 16 rainy days and a temperature range of 25℃–31℃. In the southern town of Galle, expect a daily high of 30℃ and a low of 25℃. The region sees around 290mm of rain in May. But in the northeastern parts, the conditions are different. Trincomalee receives 52mm of rain and temperatures range between 26℃ and 34℃. The hill town of Nuwara Eliya, in the southern highlands, is one of Sri Lanka’s coolest towns. In May, the temperatures here hover between 12℃–21℃ with 13 days of rain. In Kandy, expect a daily high of 20℃, with 11 rainy days.

For a seasonal overview, check out our guide on the best time to visit Sri Lanka.

Weather in Sri Lanka in May - 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 May

Buddha Silhoutte in Sri Lanka in May
Sri Lanka observes Vesak Poya, commemorating the three phases of the life of Buddha.
Kandy is a quaint hill city in Sri Lanka that is becoming a popular spot.
Kandy is a beautiful, peaceful mountain city and is also home to the tooth relic of Buddha.

Monsoon rains discourage conventional travelers from traveling to Sri Lanka in May. However, this can be a great time to visit the country’s top attractions while avoiding the high-season crowd. Here are some reasons why visiting Sri Lanka in May can be a good idea:

  • Explore colorful Kandy: Perched among the misty mountains of the Kandy Plateau, this hilltop town is known for its revered Buddhist tooth relic. Visit the sacred site as its indoor shelters safeguard you from the monsoon showers. Kandy is also home to the National Museum, a former royal palace. Discover the artifacts depicting the history and culture of the city and the British colonial era.
  • Vesak Poya: Vesak Poya commemorates three phases of the life of Buddha—birth, enlightenment, and attainment of Nirvana. Across the country, celebrations begin in early May with homes and businesses displaying colorful lanterns called Vesak Kudu. City streets are adorned with artworks depicting characters from the Jataka fables. Buddhist devotees, meanwhile, hand out food, sweets, and icecreams to passersby.
  • Explore Colonial Colombo: The Colombo National Museum details the fascinating pre- and post-European history of Sri Lanka and is a perfect place to escape the May rains. You can see Portuguese, Dutch and British influences on landmarks across the Sri Lankan capital. These colonial powers left their mark on Colombo, including the Dutch Hospital — now a hub for shopping and dining — and the Old Colombo Lighthouse, built by the British in 1857.
  • Climb Sri Pada: It is still possible to climb this sacred mountain in Southern Sri Lanka in early May. You will be amazed by the imprint of Buddha’s foot on the summit. If the weather is by your side, this is one of the best times to visit Sri Pada.

Where to Go and What to Do

Elephants in Yala National Park in Sri Lanka in February
 If luck is by your side, you can see the majestic wildlife in the forests of Yala National Park, Sri Lanka.

Wildlife starts emerging in the Yala National Park. Notable for its sizable population of leopards, the park is also home to elephants and crocodiles and a colorful profusion of birds. In central Sri Lanka, you can explore the cultural and historical relics of Anuradhapura.

If you go to Sigiriya, you will find the ancient rock fortress less crowded than during the peak tourist season. You can also escape the rain by taking shelter within the 80 caverns that make a honeycomb formation in the rock.

A trip to Trincomalee offers hot and dry weather, perfectly complementing the beaches in the region. Tourist numbers are low at this time of year, so the beach bars and restaurants beneath the slender coconut palms are cheap and cheerful. Turtle Island, off Nilaveli Beach, has superb snorkeling spots full of colorful corals, sea turtles, and even small reef sharks. Fort Frederick is an excellent place to repair for an evening drink and to watch the sunset.

Sri Lanka provides an opportunity to see the country at a relaxed pace in May. You can find tours and trips at discounts with reasonable accommodation options. With landscapes varying from misty monsoon-washed hills to hot, dry coasts where you can stretch out and forget the busy world, Sri Lanka is a tropical paradise in May.

If you need help with planning a customized trip to Sri Lanka, you can always reach out to our local travel experts to devise a tailored itinerary. Check out our how many days to spend in Sri Lanka if you want a detailed itinerary for your next Sri Lanka holiday. For instant inspiration, browse through our Sri Lanka tours in May.

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Traveling to Sri Lanka? Chat with a local travel specialist in Sri Lanka who can help organize your trip.

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    Rajika Dileeshi
    Travel Expert in Sri Lanka
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