Weather in Sri Lanka in May

If you're planning your getaway to the sun-soaked paradise of Sri Lanka come May, it's time to get clued in on what to expect. Be prepared for vibrant greenery, cultural festivals, and yeah, a bit of rain thrown into the mix. May marks the start of the off-peak season in Sri Lanka, which means fewer crowds and more chances to stumble upon those off-the-grid gems. Here’s our guide to the weather in Sri Lanka in May.

What is the weather like in Sri Lanka in May?

First off, buckle up for the start of the southwest monsoon season. May signals the onset, meaning you're in for increased rainfall and humidity across the board. You can expect warm temperatures with intermittent showers and thunderstorms, especially hitting central and southern regions. Coastal areas might still flaunt some sunshine, but it's wise to pack your rain gear and expect some damp interruptions to your outdoor plans.

May falls into the low season for tourism in Sri Lanka. It's not as jam-packed as the December to February high season, but you'll still see a decent flow of travelers, especially early on in the month. As the month progresses and the monsoon ramps up, tourist numbers tend to dwindle.

On average, Sri Lanka receives around 200-300mm of rainfall in May, with the southern and western regions experiencing higher amounts compared to the northern and eastern parts of the island. You’ll want to keep this in mind when creating your itinerary, as heavy downpours can trigger flooding in low-lying spots and landslides in hillier terrain.

Overall, May is not the best time to visit Sri Lanka if you are seeking dry and sunny weather. The increased rainfall and humidity can impact outdoor activities and transportation, making it a bit of a challenge to dive into all the country's delights.  However, if you're up for embracing the lush greenery and cultural events that come with the monsoon, May can still deliver a one-of-a-kind Sri Lankan experience.

Rough Guides tip: planning a trip to Sri Lanka can take hours. Make the most of your trip and allow our local experts to take care of the planning and booking. 


The weather in Sri Lanka in May is great for exploring cities © Shutterstock

Temperatures in Sri Lanka in May

In general, May brings warm to hot temperatures across the country, making it a great time for outdoor adventures. The north tends to be a bit warmer compared to the southwest and southeast regions.

As for rainfall, it varies across different areas, but overall, it remains moderate. This means you can expect warm and humid conditions pretty much everywhere you go in Sri Lanka during May.

North Sri Lanka

In the northern part of the country, including cities like Jaffna and Mannar, the average high temperature hovers around 32-34°C (89-93°F), with lows ranging from 26-28°C (79-82°F). However, this region tends to be relatively dry during May, with minimal rainfall averaging around 70-100mm for the month.

Southwest Sri Lanka

Moving to southwest Sri Lanka, encompassing cities like Colombo and Galle, temperatures are slightly lower compared to the north. Here, the average high temperatures range from 30-32°C (86-89°F), while lows range from 25-27°C (77-81°F). May brings a bit more rainfall to this region, with precipitation levels averaging around 150-200mm.

Southeast Sri Lanka

In the southeast region, including areas like Batticaloa and Trincomalee, temperatures are similar to those in the north, with highs reaching 32-34°C (89-93°F) and lows around 26-28°C (79-82°F). Rainfall in this area is relatively low during May, averaging around 100-150mm for the month.

Learn more and compare the weather in different months with our guide to the weather in Sri Lanka.

View on Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque or Red Masjid Mosque is a historic mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka © streetflash/Shutterstock

View on Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque, Colombo, Sri Lanka © streetflash/Shutterstock

Is May a good time to visit Sri Lanka?

May is actually a great time for exploring Sri Lanka. This month offers a delightful mix of warm weather and fewer crowds, making it an appealing time to visit. However, as the southwest monsoon season starts to ramp up, expect a bit more rain, especially in the southwest and central regions.

Despite the rain, temperatures tend to stay comfortably warm, perfect for exploring Sri Lanka’s landscapes. Plus, the monsoon showers bring out the lush greenery, adding an extra layer of beauty for nature lovers and avid photographers.

While outdoor activities like hiking and beach days might need to be flexible due to the rain, May can still make for a great trip. This country has a treasure trove of indoor attractions to explore, from ancient temples to museums and traditional performances.

Ready to take your trip without the hassle of planning and booking? See our tailor-made trip service.

What about crowds and costs?

Sri Lanka eases into its low tourist season during May, which means you'll notice fewer folks milling around at tourist hotspots and beaches. It's a bit like having the place to yourself, offering a more peaceful experience. Plus, you'll find that prices for accommodation and activities take a dip compared to the busier months, making May a budget-friendly time to check out Sri Lanka.

If you're all about saving some cash and don't mind a bit of rain, May could be your ticket to exploring Sri Lanka without breaking the bank. If you're looking for even fewer tourists, you might want to consider June for your trip. just remember, as June rolls along, you might start feeling the first hints of the monsoon season creeping in.

Still planning your trip? Browse our Sri Lanka itineraries for inspiration. 

 © Anton Petrus/Shutterstock

Sri Lanka Beach  © Anton Petrus/Shutterstock

Festivals and events in Sri Lanka in May

When you're planning your adventure in Sri Lanka, don't forget to see if your trip aligns with one of the country's incredible festivals or events. It's crucial to book your accommodation well in advance to ensure you have a place to stay during these busy times. And if you're looking for more inspiration for your Sri Lankan journey, be sure to check out our curated list of the best things to do in the country.

May Day in Colombo

May 1st marks International Workers' Day, celebrated worldwide to honor the hard work and contributions of workers. In Colombo, this day is marked by colorful rallies, parades, and demonstrations organized by trade unions and political parties. It's a fantastic opportunity to witness the spirit of solidarity and catch a glimpse of Sri Lanka's socio-political landscape in action. 

Vesak Festival 

Vesak is one of the most important festivals in Sri Lanka, celebrated by Buddhists with great fervor. Throughout the country, colorful lanterns, pandals (themed displays), and Buddhist flags adorn the streets, creating a mesmerizing ambiance. You can look forward to cultural performances and religious rituals, and soaking up the festive atmosphere. 

To make the most of your Vesak experience, be sure to book your accommodations in advance, especially if you plan to visit areas with major Vesak displays like Colombo and Kandy. Trust us, it's an experience you won't want to miss.

Find even more options for your trip in our list of the best holiday destinations in May.

Sri-Lankan Caramelized Onion Sambal (Seeni Sambal) © Shutterstock

Sri-Lankan Caramelized Onion Sambal (Seeni Sambal) © Shutterstock

Ready for your dream trip to Sri Lanka in May?

Excited to explore Sri Lanka? Let our tailor-made trip service simplify your travel experience by handling all the planning and booking for you. Our trips, designed by local travel experts, are fully customizable to ensure they align perfectly with your preferences and interests.

  • Luxury yoga (15 days): Indulge in a restorative holiday in Sri Lanka, with yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic treatments for a perfect digital detox and inner balance.
  • Sri Lanka cultural and natural beauty (10 days): Explore Central Province's temples and fortresses, then journey to Kandy, continuing through tea country to Bandarawela before concluding the tour in Galle and Balapitiya Beach.
  • Luxury Sri Lanka and The Maldives (14 days): Combine the best of Sri Lanka's cultural wonders with the luxury of the Maldives' white-sand beaches on this twin-center trip of a lifetime.

Want to learn even more useful information for your upcoming trip to Sri Lanka? Read our travel tips for travelling to Sri Lanka and how to get to Sri Lanka.

Visit Sri Lanka in other months

Planning your trip to Sri Lanka? See what the weather is like in Sri Lanka in other months: 

  • January: Enjoy the sunny warmth of Sri Lanka while mingling with friendly crowds, perfect for beach outings and cultural exploration.
  • February: Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the island under clear skies and bustling crowds, ideal for experiencing its diverse sights and sounds.
  • March: Take in the hot, dry climate alongside moderate crowds, providing an excellent balance for outdoor adventures and sightseeing.
  • April: Embrace occasional rain showers and fewer visitors during Sri Lanka's monsoon season, offering a quieter atmosphere for exploring lush landscapes.
  • June:  Find serenity amidst heavy rain and sparse crowds, offering a unique opportunity for relaxed exploration and rejuvenation.
  • July: Discover the island's charm amidst intermittent rain and reduced crowds, allowing for budget-friendly travel and authentic cultural experiences.
  • August: Enjoy the easing of monsoon rains and fewer tourists, making August perfect for budget-conscious travelers to explore the island's wonders.
  • September:  Make the most of clear skies and dwindling crowds, creating a perfect setting for nature enthusiasts and budget travelers.
  • October: Delight in comfortable temperatures and moderate crowds during Sri Lanka's shoulder season, providing an ideal mix of adventure and cultural discovery.
  • November: Experience warm weather and moderate crowds, making it an excellent time to explore beaches, wildlife, and historical sites without the peak season rush.
  • December:  Join in the festive spirit of Sri Lanka's holiday season amidst sunny weather and bustling crowds, creating a lively atmosphere for unforgettable celebrations.
Dre Roelandt

written by
Dre Roelandt

updated 06.06.2024

Dre Roelandt is originally from the United States but lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Dre is a freelance writer and artist with a passion for travelling. They are an in-house Content Editor at Rough Guides.

Ready to travel and discover
Sri Lanka?

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍