Sri Lanka with Kids: Family Destination Guide

Everything you need to know about travelling to Sri Lanka with your family

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Sri Lanka with Kids: A guide to Sri Lanka for families

Sri Lanka: Why You’ll Love It 

Image of Apa Villas nr Galle, Sri Lanka with Kids

Sri Lanka has long been a globetotting favourite for families. Here you’ll find sun-drenched beaches, crystalline waters, water sports galore and laid-back coastal towns. Top of our list is the historic town of Galle that charms visitors young and old. First built by the Portuguese in 1588 the fort has been carefully preserved (it is now a UNESCO world heritage site) and today houses stunning architecture, art galleries, museums, churches, mosques and an increasing number of boutique hotels.

But it’s not all buttery beaches and turquoise seas in Sri Lanka, this little island is wonderfully diverse offering visitors breathtaking landscapes, dramatic scenery and a multitude of high-octane activities. Kandy is the laidback capital of the hill country and a drive into the highlands reveals quaint towns and emerald green hills blanketed with tea plantations. One of the highlights – literally – is Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada) a sacred mountain best climbed at night to witness the magnificent sunrise from the summit.

 

Sri Lanka: Why The Kids Will Love It

Image of boy holding turtle, Sri Lanka with Kids

Sri Lanka is the perfect place for families with children of all ages. Little kids will love the palm-fringed beaches and calm, swimmable waters, and will delight at the numerous turtle sanctuaries found near Bentota. Visit at the right time and you may be able to help release baby turtles back into the ocean. For big kids and teens Sri Lanka is activity heaven. From water skiing and surfing to banana boat rides and snorkelling, you’ll find most water sports available. You can even take a boat ride from the island’s southern tip and search of dolphins and whales.

Kandy and the Hill Country are wonderful destinations for older children who can take advantage of all the activities on offer including canoeing, mountain biking, trekking and white water rafting. Another hit with kids (of all ages) is the Pinnewala elephant orphanage; a project that protects the island’s abandoned or orphaned wild Asian elephants. The train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is enchanting and another must for families. Pack a picnic and grab a seat in the Observation carriage for stunning mountain views.

 Sri Lanka: When To Go

Image of tea fields, Sri Lanka with Kids

The coast: The most popular time of year to visit Sri Lanka is from December to April. During these months the days are sunny and the sea serene. From May onwards the humidity rises and the rain begins to fall in stormy bursts until June. A second monsoon passes through from October to November, although the rainfall is unpredictable and showers never last for long. Visit at this time of year and make the most of discounted hotel rates. The best months for whale watching are December to April.  

Kandy & Hill Country: Kandy’s location means that its climate is wetter and cooler than much of the rest of the country. The dry season runs from December to April and the monsoon rains fall from May through to July. The average temperature is 20C although January can be cooler. Nuwara Eliya sees an average temperature of 16C and can drop to as low as 3C, particularly during the winter months.

Sri Lanka’s high season runs from December to March; book well in advance if you plan to visit over the Christmas period. Adam’s Peak can only be climbed between December and April. The 10-day Kandy Esala Perahera festival is held in July/August.

 

 Sri Lanka with Kids: FAQ

Image of auto rickshaw, Sri Lanka with Kids

Capital: The political capital is Sri Jayawadenapura Kotte, just east of the former capital, Colombo.

Time: GMT + 05:30 Language: Sri Lanka has two official languages . Sinhala and Tamil – with English as a link language. Most people have some knowledge of English, and signboards are often in English.

Voltage: 230 . 240 volts, 50 cycles AC. If you travel with a laptop computer bring a stabiliser.

Visas: Visas are required and can be obtained online via the Electronic Travel Authority. Your passport must also be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of exit from Sri Lanka.

Health & Vaccinations: Visitors need to take special precautions against illnesses not normally encountered at home such as amoebic dysentery, malaria and dengue fever. Contact your doctor well in advance of your departure date to ensure that you receive all the necessary vaccinations. No vaccinations are compulsory unless you are coming from a yellow fever or cholera area. Country specific information and advice is published by nathnac.org. Bring any medication with you in its original, labelled container. A signed prescription note from your doctor is useful to have. Pharmacies are wide spread and stock the basic essentials. Private medical care is available in most major cities whereas facilities in remote areas can be very limited. Recommended hospitals and doctors can be found on the British High Commission website. http://ukinindia.fco.gov.uk

Getting There: Sri Lanka has one international airport, Bandaranaike International Airport, located 35km north of Colombo and 6km south of Negombo.

Money: The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, divided into 100 cents. ATMs are found in most towns and cities and credit cards are accepted in most shops, restaurants and hotels. Cash can be exchanged from major currencies such as US dollars, UK pounds and Euros.

Safety: Please consult your own government’s travel advisory for safety advice such as fco.gov.uk

Dress: Cool cottons, sunhats and swimming garb is useful all year with light jumpers for the hills and waterproofs for monsoon season. Adults (including teenage girls) are advised to dress conservatively when off the beach and especially when visiting religious sites. As a general rule of thumb cover your shoulders, chest and knees.