Ever thought of visiting Sri Lanka with kids? Or without for that matter? Well, having recently returned from an amazing holiday in Sri Lanka with kids (5 kids to be exact!), I can tell you honestly and wholeheartedly that a family holiday to Sri Lanka should be on the top of your travel list!
Beaches, nature, wilderness, wildlife, countryside, adventure, food, culture…… you’ll find it all in Sri Lanka, and so much more! Couple all of this with warm, welcoming and friendly people, a myriad of transportation options and accommodation ranging from absolute budget to total luxury, and you will see that a holiday to Sri Lanka with kids could very well be your best family holiday yet!
I’ll be honest, until recently I knew very little about Sri Lanka. It really wasn’t until more and more photos and stories began popping up in my Instagram and Facebook feeds, that my curiosity grew. And grew and grew! Every picture seemed to be straight out of a travel brochure. Every story, like an exert from Lonely Planet. How could this be? Well, as I looked further, and ultimately visited myself, I got my answer – because that’s what Sri Lanka truly is – one big, beautiful, awe-inspiring travel destination. A photo opportunity around every corner. A new tale of adventure and discovery in every direction you turn! On a world map Sri Lanka may appear small, but once you are there, faced with so many options of places to explore and things to do, it feels as if the country is endless. The opportunities sure are! Visiting Sri Lanka with kids truly is an adventure, an opportunity to learn, discover, play and explore! Whether you are beach bums, surfers, hikers, nature enthusiasts, animal lovers, temple hoppers, city slickers, food aficionados or a combination of all, you will find everything you look for in a holiday in this one little (but oh so big) island called Sri Lanka!
Soft white sand and calm waters. World renowned surfing spots. Waves just big enough for kids to play in safely. Palm trees, cocktails and deck chairs. Whale watching, snorkeling, diving. The entire coastline boasts an exuberant amount of world-class beaches and whatever your family enjoys most in a beach – you will find it in Sri Lanka!
If your kids are anything like mine, the mere mention of seeing a wild animal, up close and personal, will get them in to a spin! Well, just wait until they are in Sri Lanka! They will burst will excitement! From a wild elephant safari, to a whale watching cruise, from snorkeling alongside turtles to spotting water buffalo in the wild, the animal encounters that this wild and beautiful country has to offer are certainly plentiful!
The elephant safari that we went on in Habarana, was possibly our kid’s favourite part of our whole trip to Sri Lanka. Not to mention the moment when, heading back to our hotel, we had to stop to let a wild elephant cross the road, greeted by her mate waiting on the other side. So incredibly exciting and beautiful to witness!
You know those moments when you see rolling hills, quaint villages, picturesque landscapes, and your breath is taken away? This is the Sri Lankan countryside! As you drive along narrow, windy roads, there is beauty in every direction you turn. From farms to tea plantations, waterfalls, waterways, mountains and villages, the natural beauty is just breathtaking. With so much to stop and marvel at, restaurants, road-side stalls, wild animals…. you could easily spend days and days just driving through the countryside and you would never hear the kids say they were bored. (Although you may want to bring along some travel sickness medicine for those windy roads)
If you love to get your adrenaline pumping, to throw on your hiking boots and immerse yourself in nature, to explore ancient ruins and jungles, then Sri Lanka is the place to be! From white water rafting to scuba diving, from mountain hikes to waterfall treks, from ancient ruins to wildlife safaris, the opportunities for adventure are endless.
Have you heard of the ancient Sigiriya Rock Fortress? Referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World, Sigiriya Rock would probably be the most visited (and photographed) tourist destination in Sri Lanka. Atop this 200 metre high monolith, you will not only find breathtaking unparalleled 360° views, but the most unique and fascinating ruins of a 5th century kingdom. (Look out for an upcoming blog post for more details on this ancient wonder, including the fascinating story of the history of the kingdom). The hike to the top is not for the feint hearted. It is quite exerting and the narrow and steep staircases are very, very nerve wracking, however if our 5 kids ranging in age from 4-13, can do it, most people can! And once at the top, you will see how well and truly worth it it is! I have honestly never seen anything like it!
I really didn’t know much about Sri Lankan cuisine before visiting. However having travelled to many Asian countries in the past and participating in food tours in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang, we were already in love with Asian food, and so were extremely excited about this aspect of our trip. And it did not disappoint! From the plethora of fresh and exotic fruits you will find at road side stalls, city markets and in every buffet and on every menu you see, to the vast variety of curries and rice dishes, our taste buds thanked us every time we ate!
Our kids are not fussy eaters and ate pretty much everything that we did. Some even having curries spicier than what I could handle. But even if your kids are fussy eaters, you will always find something they enjoy, be it plain or fried rice, pasta, fries, vegetable stir-fry, soup and salads. And then there’s dessert! Sweet cakes and pastries, puddings, jelly, ice-cream, fruit…. something (or in our kids case – everything) for everyone!
When you need a break from the beach or your feet are sore from hiking or you simply want to have some good old family fun, there’s a long list of activities Sri Lanka has to offer.
Horse riding, canoeing, whale and dolphin watching, cycling, boat rides, city tours, food tours, tea factory tours, hot air ballooning, animal safaris and temple visits, and let’s not forget a ride on Sri Lanka’s famous blue train!
UNESCO World Heritage sites
Sri Lanka boasts EIGHT UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- The ancient city of Polonnaruwa
- The ancient city of Sigiriya
- The Golden Temple of Dambulla
- The old town of Galle
- The sacred city of Anuradhapura
- The sacred city of Kandy
- Sinharaja Forest Reserve
- Central Highlands of Sri Lanka
To me, this list alone is enough reason to visit Sri Lanka!
History, architecture, religion, beauty…… I challenge anyone – adults and kids alike, to not be completely fascinated and awe-struck by each and every site!
If you love exploring temples, immersing yourself in the religion, beliefs and culture of a country, then Sri Lanka is definitely the place to visit!
Buddhism and Hinduism are the two most widely practiced religions in Sri Lanka and you will find temples, big and small, pretty much everywhere you visit. The beauty of them alone, the architecture, the intricate mouldings and decorations will have you in absolute awe and then the history of them, the religion, the traditions, the offerings and prayers, will bring a tear to your eye. They are just beautiful, in every way.
We visited the Temple of The Sacred Tooth in Kandy on Sri Lanka’s Independence Day. It was absolutely packed with people travelling from near and far to visit, to pray and to give offerings. The temple itself is incredibly beautiful. Even when completely full of people, you feel this sense of peace and warmth when you enter. We all truly felt so very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit, especially on such an important and sacred day.
Whether you are backpacking or on a tight budget, seeking five star luxury, or somewhere in-between, Sri Lanka offers every possible range of family friendly accommodation that you could think of. Resorts, home-stays, B&B’s, villas, eco-lodges, hotels, hostels, retreats, even tree-houses – you will find it all! In general, Sri Lanka is a very cheap country to travel around, so even the fanciest of hotels can be a bargain compared to other countries.
For those on a budget you will find a plethora of unbelievably affordable accommodation options ranging from hostels to home-stays to basic hotels. Would you believe that you can find clean and comfortable rooms, mainly home-stays, for as little as $6AU a night? Do your research, read the reviews, but I guarantee there are so many places offering basic but neat and clean rooms, you really won’t have any trouble finding somewhere affordable and comfortable.
If luxury is more your style, then you are in for a real treat. From the city to the country, Sri Lanka has an abundance of 4-5 star hotels and resorts, most offering full and half board accommodation. We stayed in some fabulous hotels during our tour of the country, and with pools, luxurious rooms and elaborate buffets, our children would have been more than happy to have never left the premises.
I truly hope that this post has helped convince you that visiting Sri Lanka with kids really should be on the top of your bucket list! Just writing it has had me yearning to return (which trust me, we will be doing ASAP!) and more certain than ever that it is an absolute top destination for families!
Feel free to comment or message me with any questions you have about visiting Sri Lanka with kids and keep a look out for upcoming posts on this incredible country!