As the second largest city in Sri Lanka, Kandy is a destination that's on every traveller's bucket list. Tucked away in the central hills, this mountainous region is also home to some of the island's top UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Whether you're considering the prevailing weather conditions or local events, here are some practical ways to decide when to time your getaway to the hill capital.
The Peak Travel Season
Those who are visiting Kandy for the first time may want to time their visit during the peak travel period in the region. Falling between the months of December and March, this is the driest season in the otherwise misty and cool hill station. As this period coincides with the tourist season in Sri Lanka as a whole, it is also the busiest time of the year to head up to Kandy. Apart from dealing with the large crowds, finding accommodation in Hotel Topaz or any other city hotel in Kandy will also prove challenging for those without advanced reservations. This is why it is crucial to plan ahead and book your hotel rooms, tours and excursions months in advance if you intend to visit during the peak travel season.
Worst Time to Visit Kandy
Regardless of the purpose or the duration of your visit, it is a good idea to steer clear of Kandy during the wet and muggy monsoon season. Although Kandy is known to experience light showers and rainy days even during its dry season, the monsoon months are when heavy thunderstorms descend on the hills. Although the rainfall in Kandy can make the waterfalls and natural beauty of the city more spectacular, it can also make it difficult to enjoy outdoor activities due to the risk of landslides. Therefore, the period from May to July is considered the least favourable time for a Kandy tour. However, if you are visiting during this time due to unavoidable circumstances, it is recommended to bring a raincoat to stay dry.
Sunny Days in Kandy
Although some tourists hailing from colder climates may find it unbearable, those with a penchant for sunny days can tour Kandy during its "summer" season. Lasting from October to November, this is when the temperatures in Kandy reach an all-time high at an average of 31 degrees Celsius. The humidity may make outdoor hikes and other expeditions more challenging but those who don't mind warm weather may find that the city is less congested during this period.
The Kandy Perahera or the Esala Perahera in Kandy, which takes place every year in the months of July or August, is considered one of the biggest cultural showcases in Sri Lanka. Buddhist devotees and those with a passion for local festivals might, therefore, want to time their vacation during these auspicious months in the island calendar. This sacred procession, which sets out from the Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), is a religious event that has been taking place since the dental remains of Lord Buddha were first housed in the former palace compound in Kandy. As a cultural event with great pomp and pageantry, the Kandy Perahera takes place over several days and includes the participation of dancers, fire breathers, drummers, acrobats and other performers while bejewelled tuskers are also part of the festivities. Travellers who wish to witness this grand affair must visit before the Full Moon Poya day in July and secure a base along the procession route.
Travellers who intend to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens or the Udawattekele Sanctuary during a trip to Kandy, on the other hand, should visit between March and April. This is when the flowers and fruit trees in Kandy and elsewhere in Sri Lanka are in full bloom in time for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year in early April.