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Weather in Sri Lanka during the Month of May

May is a fascinating month in Sri Lanka, as it signifies the transition from the inter-monsoon phase to the southwest monsoon season. The weather during this period in the southwest is often marked by intermittent rain showers, increasing humidity, and shifting wind patterns. The northeast, however, has lovely weather and is full-on in the season!

Weather in Sri Lanka’s Northeast during the month May

The northeastern part of Sri Lanka experiences a different weather pattern compared to the southwest during the month of May. While the southwest monsoon affects the southwestern regions, the northeast undergoes a relatively dry period known as the “Yala” season.

Dry Season in the Northeast Sri Lanka during the month of May

The Yala season generally lasts from May to August, providing the northeastern regions of Sri Lanka with comparatively drier and warmer conditions. Areas such as Trincomalee, Batticaloa, and Jaffna experience less rainfall during this time, making it an ideal period for outdoor activities and beach vacations. However, occasional showers can still occur but tend to be less frequent and less intense than in the southwestern regions.

During the Yala season, the northeastern regions of Sri Lanka experience warm temperatures, typically ranging from 30°C to 33°C (86°F to 91°F). The warm climate, combined with relatively lower humidity levels compared to the southwest, makes for more comfortable weather conditions, particularly for visitors not accustomed to high humidity.

Northeast Monsoon

It is important to note that the northeastern regions of Sri Lanka are primarily affected by the northeast monsoon, also known as the “Maha” monsoon. This monsoon season occurs from October to January, bringing heavy rainfall to the northeastern areas. Consequently, the weather patterns in the northeast are distinct from those in the southwest, with the most significant rainfall occurring during a separate monsoon season.

In conclusion, the northeastern parts of Sri Lanka experience relatively drier and warmer conditions during May due to the Yala season, which coincides with the southwest monsoon affecting the southwestern regions. The pleasant weather in the northeast during this time makes it an attractive destination for tourists seeking to explore Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches, cultural sites, and natural landscapes. Nevertheless, visitors should always be prepared for occasional showers and varying weather conditions.

The Impact of Monsoons on Sri Lanka’s Weather in May

The Southwest Monsoon

The southwest monsoon typically commences in late May, lasting until September, and brings substantial rainfall to the southwestern regions of Sri Lanka, including popular tourist spots like Colombo, Galle, and Matara. This monsoon is the result of moisture-laden winds from the Indian Ocean blowing toward the land, producing significant precipitation.

In May, the southwest monsoon is in its initial stages in Sri Lanka, with occasional showers that gradually intensify as the season progresses. Coastal areas in the southwest part of the country are particularly susceptible to heavy rainfall during this time.

The southwest monsoon also leads to increased humidity, causing the climate in Sri Lanka to feel hot and muggy. Average temperatures in May range from 28°C to 30°C (82°F to 86°F). With the southwest monsoon intensifying, humidity levels increase, making the days warmer and less comfortable.

The Inter-Monsoon Phase

The inter-monsoon phase, which takes place between the two primary monsoon seasons, is marked by unpredictable weather and localized thunderstorms. In Sri Lanka, the first inter-monsoon phase typically occurs between March and April, while the second takes place in October and November.

During May, Sri Lanka experiences the final days of the first inter-monsoon phase, characterized by erratic weather, with sudden showers and thunderstorms occurring throughout the country. These rainfalls are generally brief but can be quite intense, leading to localized flooding in certain areas in the south-west.

The inter-monsoon phase also leads to a shift in wind patterns. As the southwest monsoon approaches, the winds change direction, resulting in calmer winds before they strengthen again toward the end of the month.

The southwest monsoon and the inter-monsoon phase shape Sri Lanka’s weather in May. The beginning of the month is marked by the final days of the inter-monsoon phase, bringing unpredictable showers and thunderstorms. At the same time, the latter part of May experiences the onset of the southwest monsoon, delivering more consistent rainfall to the country’s southwestern regions.

A Closer Look at Weather in Sri Lanka during the Month of May

Northeastern Delights: Amazing Weather and Recommendations

The northeastern region of Sri Lanka experiences some of the best weather during May, with clear skies, warm temperatures, and low rainfall. The average daytime temperature ranges between 27°C (81°F) to 32°C (90°F), making it an ideal time to explore the sandy beaches, ancient temples, and vibrant wildlife.

Some top recommendations for the northeast include:

  1. Trincomalee: Dive into the crystal-clear waters around Pigeon Island, explore the historic Fort Frederick, or soak up the sun at the pristine Nilaveli or Upuveli Beach.
  2. Batticaloa: Enjoy the serene beauty of the lagoons, visit the centuries-old Dutch Fort, or visit the beautiful beaches of Kalkudah or Posikudah.
  3. Arugam Bay: Renowned for its surfing opportunities, this picturesque bay offers thrilling water sports, yoga retreats, and a laid-back atmosphere, adventure off into the nearby Kumana National Park for some wildlife spotting!

Coastal Contrasts: South and West Coasts

During May, the southwestern monsoon brings rain to the south and west coasts of Sri Lanka, resulting in higher humidity and occasional thunderstorms. While rainfall is more frequent during this time, the weather remains warm, with average temperatures between 28°C (82°F) and 30°C (86°F). Despite the rainfall, these regions have plenty of activities and attractions to explore.

Recommended destinations and activities for the south and west coasts include:

  1. Galle: Wander through the historic Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site, or relax on the serene Unawatuna Beach.
  2. Mirissa: Embark on a whale-watching tour, catch a stunning sunset from Coconut Tree Hill, or enjoy the lively nightlife at beachside bars.
  3. Bentota: Indulge in water sports, visit the captivating Brief Garden, or marvel at the traditional craftsmanship at the Bevis Bawa Workshop.

Central Region: Lush Hills and Misty Mornings

The central region of Sri Lanka experiences mild to cool temperatures during May, with average daytime temperatures ranging between 20°C (68°F) and 25°C (77°F). While rainfall is common, it typically occurs in the late afternoon or evening, leaving mornings and early afternoons perfect for exploring the region’s lush landscapes and tea plantations.

Top attractions and activities in the central region include:

  1. Kandy: Discover the sacred Temple of the Tooth, stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens, or admire the traditional Kandyan dance performances.
  2. Nuwara Eliya: Bask in the cool climate, visit picturesque tea plantations, or hike to the stunning Horton Plains National Park.
  3. Ella: Hike to the iconic Ella Rock or Little Adam’s Peak, or explore the Nine Arch Bridge, all while enjoying the scenic beauty of the surrounding hills.

Weather in Sri Lanka during the Month of May: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should I pack for Sri Lanka in May?

Given the diverse weather conditions, it’s best to pack lightweight, breathable clothing for warmer regions and a light sweater or jacket for cooler central areas. Don’t forget a rain jacket, umbrella, waterproof footwear for the occasional showers, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses for sun protection.

Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka during the month of May?

Yes, it is very safe to travel to Sri Lanka in May. Although the southwest monsoon affects the south and west coasts, the northeast experiences fantastic weather, making it an ideal time to explore this region. The central region’s cooler climate and lush landscapes also provide a unique experience.

Are there any festivals or events in Sri Lanka during May?

Vesak Poya, a significant Buddhist festival, is usually celebrated in May, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and passing away of Gautama Buddha. Festivities include colourful lanterns, street decorations, and traditional food stalls, offering a rich cultural experience. However, the exact dates may vary based on the lunar calendar, so be sure to check ahead of time.


The weather in Sri Lanka during the month of May offers a mix of experiences across its diverse regions. From the sun-kissed northeast to the lush central hills, there’s something for every traveller to experience!

Weather in Sri Lanka during the month of May

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