While the monsoon season in southwestern Sri Lanka runs from May to September, August is something of an exception, with fewer days of rainfall in parts of the country (particularly near Colombo and the west coast).
Temperatures in most of Sri Lanka are fairly stable year-round, cooling off slightly during the monsoon. In August, Colombo experiences highs around 86°F and lows of 79°F, while in Kandy, highs are around 84°F. At the hill station of Nuwara Eliya, which is cooler than the rest of the country, temperatures can run as low as 55°F.
Northeastern Sri Lanka is still in its dry season, so temperatures are sunny and hot. In Jaffna, highs are an average of 90°F, in Trincomalee, they reach 95°F, and in Anuradhapura, they reach 93°F.
Crowds & Costs
Between the reduced rainfall around the capital this month and summer vacation in the Northern Hemisphere, August can be a popular month for travelers. Many European travelers take their vacations in August. Events like the Kandy Perahera, which sometimes falls during August, can cause crowding and drive prices up further in certain areas. It’s a good idea to make your arrangements in advance.
Where to Go
If the Perahera falls during this month, Kandy can be a good destination for August.Otherwise, it’s also a good month for wildlife-spotting in Trincomalee, or at Yala National Park.
Those interested in learning more about Sri Lankan Tamil culture can head north to Jaffna, where one of the island’s largest temple festivals is taking place this month.
For more information, see Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka.
What to Do
If you intend to visit Kandy, you’ll get to take part in the festivities of the Perahera. This colorful celebration involves a several-hours-long parade of elephants and fire-dancers. To get a seat for the festival, arrive in the city early and book one of the plastic chairs placed outside shops and restaurants—the crowds make it hard to see the parade without a pre-booked seat, and prices go up closer to the event.
It’s also a good time to see wildlife in Sri Lanka. In Trincomalee, on the east coast, whale-watching season is in full swing. You’ll have the chance to catch a glimpse of blue whales, sperm whales, and spinner dolphins.
August’s dry weather makes it an ideal time to visit Yala National Park. Since the animals tend to congregate around watering holes during the dry season, they’ll be easier to spot and you’ll have a higher chance of seeing a leopard. The park is popular and can get crowded, so try to avoid weekends and public holidays if possible. You could also visit the temple complex in the nearby pilgrimage town of Kataragama.
Events in August
Several big events take place in Sri Lanka in August. Note that the dates of religious festivals are calculated according to a lunisolar calendar; check beforehand to confirm exact dates.
The Kandy Perahera usually falls in either July or August. It commemorates the Esala Poya day, and is focused on the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, normally stored in the Temple of the Tooth. During the Perahera, the tooth relic is paraded throughout the city, carried on the back of an elephant.
Further north, in Jaffna, the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil Festival is a 25-day-long extravaganza taking place at the temple of the same name. The festival honors the god Skanda, and is celebrated with parades transporting images of the deity around the city, while participants play the drums and dance. Some devotees throw themselves to the ground or perform acts of self-mutilation.
Traveling to Sri Lanka in August? Check out these great itineraries.
Sri Lanka from North to South - 15 Days
Explore the entirety of Sri Lanka, from north to south. With this itinerary, you’ll experience Colombo’s urban attractions, Jaffna’s cultural appeal, the historic highlights of the Cultural Triangle, the beauty of the Hill Country, and the relaxation of Sri Lanka’s beaches.
Honeymoon in Sri Lanka - 12 Days
This romantic honeymoon tour includes whale-watching in Trincomalee, wildlife-spotting in Yala National Park, and sightseeing at the Cultural Triangle’s most popular attraction: Sigiriya Rock.