Discover the island of Sri Lanka- the perfect family adventure. Sri Lankan people adore children. They are the focus of all families and married life, and a cheeky smile will go a long way. Not to mention the Tuk Tuk's, brightly coloured temples, elephant rides, and water sports. This really is a natural magical kingdom for a family holiday. Our Sri Lanka experts will personalize an itinerary to your budget and requirements including anything from luxury beach villas to Robinson Crusoe tree houses.
For suggested itineraries for family holidays, click here.
Sri Lankan people adore children. They are the focus of all families and married life, and a cheeky smile will go a long way. The children are very friendly, polite and respectful of their elders, and yet there seem to be no rules or overt discipline. Not to mention the Tuk Tuk’s, brightly coloured temples, elephant rides, and water sports. This really is a natural magical kingdom for a family holiday.
Many hotels will offer free accommodation for the under-5's, sharing a room with parents, e.g. Sri villas. Significant discounts of 50% are also offered on meals for the under-12's. If you would rather have the complete run of a villa, Southpoint and Cinnamon Mount welcome children and provide a multitude of activities like Boogie Boards, snorkelling kit, baby-turtle release, games, fishing trips, boat rides and an in-house nanny.
Even more luxurious and a real adventure for the children, is to book Ceylon Tea Trails on the Hill Country. It is fully staffed and any noise from the children's adventures, including mountain biking, kayaking and white water rafting, will disturb only the fish and visiting wild life.
At the other extreme, prepare to join the whole family together in a Robinson Crusoe tree house at Rafter's Retreat or take to the river floating in old motor tyres at Galapita - both full of 'natural treats'.
Suncream is a must. Bring your own, as local supplies may be well past their sell-by date.
Responsible baby-sitting services are available in many of the hotels and payment for a baby sitter will be not less than Rs. 2000 for a maximum of 8 hrs , which would be a small price to pay for a night off for dinner à deux.
Children’s activities on offer are usually pools, snorkelling, nature walks and wildlife, cycling and sightseeing. The Sri Lankan children are extremely resourceful and used to entertaining themselves. They will happily welcome a new Western friend to their games.
Prams or backpacks for very small children should be brought from home – but bear in mind the heat with regard to backpacks. Sun hats will be needed by day; this is the Tropics.
Many stray dogs and cats roam the streets. The danger is small but children should be discouraged from making “furry friends”.
Cars and 1st/2nd class trains are suitable for young children, but the very crowded and small buses should definitely be avoided.
Activities & Suggested Highlights
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Sri Lanka is an island for the adventurous spirit and inquisitive mind, and those children will thrive just about anywhere on the island.
Specific destinations which are always winners with children are:
1. Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage – 45 minutes drive out of Kandy
Bathing and feeding times – thrice daily – are the star attractions and children can be quite close to the baby elephants. To the conservationist, it’s a little unnatural, but certainly involves no cruelty.
2. Kandy Culture - The Kandyan dancing and fire-walking/eating is best seen at the Cultural Centre. The Annual Esala Perahera is an amazing cultural carnival in July, lasting 10 days. The crowds and waiting can be daunting to small children.
The Kandyan Art & Craft Centres in the city are great fun and really involving. The whole family can try their hand at mask carving, and painting, basket-weaving or puppetry. Families will be welcomed at Earls Regency, Elephant Stables, Cinnamon Citadel, Mahaweli Reach hotel and Ellerton Bungalow.
3. Gentle nature trails and mountain biking - The Ancient Cities in Polonnaruwa, Ella in the Hill Country and Wellawaya in the Uva Province are excellent areas to explore on foot or by bicycle without tiring children. Stop-offs for dips in the waterfalls and picnics are all part of the fun.
4. Tea Plantations and Museums - Visitors are invited to watch the pickers at work and the tea selection processes on estates all over the Hill Country. The machinery is very simple and very old and fascinating to children of all ages. Ceylon Tea Trails is a perfect way to combine colonial luxury and a working estate.
5. Kayaking, White-water Rafting & Historic Caves - Rafter’s Retreat offers an excellent 2-day adventure package in Kitulgala. With only Grade 2 rapids the rafting is safe for children over 6yrs (including non-swimmers). Cave visits, mountain biking and visits to the pre-historic Beli Lena caves make for an exciting and colourful outing, all topped off by accommodation in fantasy tree houses.
6. Safaris – Are a must for the animal lovers who are not comfortable with zoos. Riding in open-top jeeps is only the start of the fun, as you will see wildlife only previously seen on the Discovery channel. Yala, Wilpattu and Uda Walawe are our recommended Parks to see the much-admired leopards and Sri Lankan elephant. Cinnamon Wild has the pool, observation deck to accompany a great safari.
Real enthusiasts prepared to push the boat out will see leopards, bear and elephants close -up whilst sleeping in an open environment at night in luxury tents.
7. Elephant Rides – Can be enjoyed in many places, from a fun 15 minutes on the beach to a 3hr trek in the jungle. Habarana in the Cultural Triangle is the centre for the best treks.
8. Sea, Sand and Snorkelling – Will always entertain children for many days. The South and southwest coastlines offer the best beaches and snorkelling, and Bentota has a plethora of water sports from jetski to banana boat rides. Unawatuna and Nilaveli are probably the best Snorkelling bays at present.
9. Turtle Farms – Visit the hatcheries by day or night and admire the young , old and albino turtles, or join in with the burial of eggs and releasing of young to sea. Kosgoda and Unawatuna have the most organized and interactive tutle centres.
Family atmosphere, a wide selection of restaurants and activities, and a holiday more “package” in flavour can be found in Unawatuna, Negombo and Bentota. The Beach has Mark Warner facilities and a great kids club.