Things To Do In Sri Lanka in May

Sri Lanka in May transforms with diverse landscapes, gorgeous beaches and beautiful tropical forests that will take your breath away. The country is considered a year-round destination since it has two monsoon seasons- Yala and maha and can expect unpredictability in its weather. Despite this, the tiny island captures hearts with its beauty.

The Yala monsoon captures Sri Lanka in May and it affects Colombo, Galle, and hill country between May to August. The temperature at the time averages at 29 degrees celsius, which is great to go around and explore.

Nonetheless swimming in the sea in the west and south coast of Sri Lanka in may is generally prohibited to tourists as it may get dangerous. To experience the beaches, one must head to the east coast on the other side of the mountains as things start to brighten up on the east coast and it is the best chance of getting that summer sunshine. In the cities, the relative humidity due to the unpredictable rainfall ranges from 60%-80% throughout the year. Despite the strong monsoon winds that blow, you can expect plenty of sunshine, especially during the first half of May.

Things to Do in Sri Lanka in May:

1. Visit Yala National Park

During May, some places that you should visit are the Yala national park as it would be a treasure trove for photographers as the animals in the park start to appear at the watering hole and the chances of seeing the Sri Lankan leopard are higher. This park is also famous for its beach and its fishing villages. Yala national park is found in Hambantota, Sri Lanka and is managed by the department of wildlife conservation. The park closes each year for maintenance for September.

2. Vesak Poya

Not only is Sri Lanka is famous for its destinations, but it is also renowned for its festivals such as Vesak Poya which commemorate the three crucial milestones in buddha's life which are: his birth, enlightenment, and nirvana. Vesak poya is considered to be one of the most important Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka and celebrated in the first week of May.

The celebrations begin on the full moon day and continue for a week where it fills every home, street and shop with the magical and colourful lanterns which are called Vesak Kudu, which is said to be depicting the light of buddha. Well-lit pandals illuminate places like Colombo and Kandy which have artwork from the jataka stories, whereas the villagers and townspeople light up their homes with clay diyas for the Vesak in Sri Lanka. The festival occurs on a full moon day during May and is celebrated across the island with the grander celebrations happening in the capital city of Colombo.

The festival brings along many cultural events which showcase Buddhist history about the three stages of 'buddha's life. The festival engulfs the entire country with joy and is the best possible time to experience the Buddhist culture. Vesak day is also the most significant Buddhist festival celebration in southeast Asia.

3. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

The temple of the sacred tooth relic is a historic Buddhist temple in the heart of Kandy city. It is unique as it houses the relic of the tooth of the buddha and is vibrant during the Vesak festival in May. Kandy is considered to be the last capital of the Sri Lankan monarchy and is a world heritage site, mainly due to the existence of the temple. Rituals are performed thrice daily: at dawn, at mid-noon and once at sunsets. Tourists generally visit on Wednesdays as there is a symbolic bath given to the relic with a herbal preparation as well.

4. Gangaramaya Temple

In Colombo is considered to be a very sacred temple in Sri Lanka, let alone Colombo. It is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Colombo; the temple complex consists of a library, museum, educational halls, residential hall, pirivena or seminary and alms hall. Visit the temple for its history, beauty, especially during the festival of Vesak in the first week of May. The temple also has a Beira lake that is behind the temple is a sight to see in may as the monsoon approaches the weather cools down and is brilliant to take pictures with many birds that you can see in the mornings. In between the lake, there is a small temple called Seema Malakaya, which is a meditation room. The temple also has an annual Gangaramaya Nawam Maha Perahera which is a procession which involves flag bearers, dancers and flautists.
Timings: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM (Monday to Sunday)
Cost: LKR 100 /Person

5. The Pettah Floating Market

Is at w.E.Bastian Mawatha in pettah, a place in Colombo, and it consists of 90 + trade stalls, with most of the stalls established on boats on Beira lake which is a different experience for tourists. The market predominantly sells local handicrafts and local produce, so it becomes a great place to get souvenirs for loved ones back home. The market is in full swing in may due to the influx of tourists.
Timings: 8:00 AM to 10:30 PM Monday to Sunday

6. Bentota Resort Town


Bentota resort town is a town famous for its beaches, watersports and Ayurveda. Bentota is a coastal town in Sri Lanka, located in the Galle district and is only as large as '65km's. It is home to the Kasgoda turtle hatchery which is an avid tourist attraction amongst visitors who are animal lovers. The Galapatha raja maha vihara Buddhist temple contains stone inscriptions, stone carvings, pillars, ponds and troughs from the medieval period which are worth the visit. Bentota also has helicopter services to show tourists the town. It is an amazing place to visit in Sri Lanka in may for peaceful beaches and the Vesak festival.

7. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is where orphaned, nursery and breeding elephants are nursed back to health. It is at Pinnawala village, 13 km northeast of Kegalle town in Sabaragamuwa. It houses over 40 elephants many of which are babies, these elephants are kept safe and are treated with the utmost care, and the tourists are allowed to bathe and play with the elephants, enjoy a drink and behold the beautiful scenery around the enclosure. Going to pinnawala in may can increase the amount of time you can interact with the elephants as the orphanage wouldn’t be as tightly packed with tourists as in other months. Tourists can spend more of their time bathing the elephants and experience the treatment they are given. Going to pinnawala in may let the tourists get a closer look at these elephants, interact and enjoy their time as in any other months one would struggle with the massive crowds.
Timings: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM from Monday to Sunday
Cost: LKR 3000 per person 

Transport in Sri Lanka in May

The transport in Sri Lanka during the monsoon season generally ranges between buses and tuk-tuks as well as private cabs. They do function during monsoon unless their route is affected by flash floods. Since May is considered low-season in the rain-affected parts of Sri lanka, you can get incredibly beautiful and luxurious stays at 5-star hotels for cheaper rates. Generally, the prices drop down to 20-25% during the monsoon season.

If you plan on seeing the east coast, you'll get the best weather from April/May to September. If you are planning to visit Sri lanka and you're heading to the west and south coasts and hill country, December to March is the best time to visit Sri lanka.

Travelling to Sri lanka in may be hectic. Since you know the weather in Sri lanka is unpredictable, you will have to be prepared and carry what is required. You must take a lightweight rain jacket for travelling to monsoon-affected areas as many sights worth seeing might be affected by rain. It is essential to carry warm pieces of clothing if you are planning a trip to the upland areas, which can get very cold in the evening and night due to the monsoon winds.

This post was published by Subhash Movva

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