Is Sri Lanka child-friendly?
Travelling to Sri Lanka with kids undeniably requires more consideration than a beach trip to Europe. Not only are the flight times longer, but you need to consider travelling around and the facilities within the country too. However, those who put a little extra effort into the planning process will be greatly rewarded.
Getting to Sri Lanka with kids
A 12-hour flight might sound daunting, especially to little ones who have never done such a journey before. However, there are many pros about the flights to Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Airlines fly direct from Heathrow to Colombo daily, departing at either 8.30/9.30pm depending on the time of year. These evening timings make it ideal for settling down with a film and some dinner before drifting off to sleep. The seat configuration of 2-4-2 makes it great for families who prefer to sit in one row together. If you prefer to break the journey up with a stretch, there are indirect options with Emirates and Qatar Airways.
The best thing about Sri Lanka is the variety of experiences and landscapes. Although it is a relatively small island, most sites are spread out across the country, so you need careful planning to ensure you don’t spend too much time in transit. Due to the logistics, the best way to get around is to hire a chauffeur guide. This ensures that you can travel around stress-free, and directly to your hotel. Not only will this mean you have a driver, but also a local guide to help educate all the family and recommend the best spots for you to visit. All Experience Travel Group vehicles are air-conditioned with proper seat-belts, and car seats provided for all young children and babies.
However, travelling by car isn’t the only way to get around, and we’d highly recommend breaking up your journeys by taking local trains or hopping on a tuk-tuk, which we guarantee kids will love!
Family-friendly accommodation and food
Sri Lanka has a great variety of hotels, ranging from larger resorts to smaller more characterful hotels with excellent service. We highly recommend the locally run boutique properties, as they are excellent at attending to individual requirements. Plus, the staff will often get involved with baby-sitting services or entertain the kids with a game of cricket!
Sri Lanka is a foodie’s dream, with colourful curries and dishes packed full of flavour. However, understandably this can be a concern for the fussier eaters among us, especially when travelling with kids! Rest assured though that most hotels will also offer European dishes or happily make sandwiches upon request.
As with most foreign countries, it’s sensible to check with your nurse or the NHS website about which vaccinations your family needs before travelling. For most children, their standard immunisations should still be in date, which is the most important thing. Although Sri Lanka is not a Malarial country, its tropical climate means that there are mosquitos. However, these usually only come out in the early evenings. As long as you use mosquito spray before heading out for dinner, they shouldn’t be too bothersome.
The tap water in Sri Lanka should not be consumed. However, most hotels provide either bottled water or a clean water refill station.
The Sri Lankan locals are among some of the friendliest people in the world, and are arguably the reason that most travellers leave with such warm memories. You’ll be welcomed as though you’re part of the family, fed as though you haven’t eaten for days, and questioned with genuine interest. In particular, Experience Travel Group take great pride in our local guides, who are hired just as much for their warm personalities as their in-depth knowledge. We aim to pair the interests of the client to the appropriate guide and match families with those who are great with children or have families of their own. (Don’t just take our word for it: hear an account of one of our travellers who took her first long-haul trip with kids in tow to Sri Lanka).
Is it safe to take a baby to Sri Lanka?
For those considering heading to Sri Lanka with small toddlers or babies, there should be no reason not to travel so long as you have made all of the necessary arrangements. Nearly all hotels, even the smaller boutique style ones, are able to arrange a cot in your room, and will happily store any food or equipment that you need. Baby-sitting services can also be booked in advance if you need a little R&R time. When booking your room category, ask your travel consultant to double-check that any balconies or pools are child safe. At ETG, we will always verify that the vehicles are able to have the correct seats for your child’s age and size.
Beyond all of this, Sri Lanka has such a wonderfully calm and welcoming vibe, that the whole family will feel relaxed the moment you arrive.
Where to travel in Sri Lanka on a family holiday?
The best thing about travelling to Sri Lanka is that it has it all: diverse wildlife, untouched beaches, fascinating history, dramatic scenery and the widest smiles. The trouble is knowing which places to focus on for your trip! To ensure that you embark on the right holiday for your family, the best thing to do is to speak to a Sri Lanka specialist who’ll be able to advise you on the most suitable locations for your family’s needs and interests. But to help whet your appetite, here are a few suggestions which in our experience, families will love…
Family adventure activities
White-Water Rafting Through the Jungle: The little region of Kitulgala sits on the edge of the hill country, and acts as a great base for some more adventurous activities such as kayaking, white-water rafting, off-road cycling and canyoning.
Take a Train Ride Through the Hill Country: Heading for the cooler climates of the Sri Lankan hills is a great way to break a journey up and take a rest bite from the heat. This is also where you can enjoy one of the most scenic train rides in the country as you chug through the rolling tea plantations. Journeying with other travellers and locals alike, it’s a brilliant way to strike up a conversation and mix things up from the usual car journey. There’s plenty to do once you’re in the hills, from visiting a working tea plantation to enjoying home-cooked lunches with the locals. For the families with older children, you might even want to climb Adam’s Peak – a famous pilgrimage site with breathtaking views.
Stay In Eco-Friendly Huts: For something a little different, venture off the beaten track and get back to nature by staying in an authentic eco guesthouse surrounded by jungle and natural lakes. The Mudhouse is a particular family favourite, where you’ll have the opportunity to go swimming in the lakes, help cook in a traditional Sri Lankan kitchen, and shower beneath the stars.
Family wildlife experiences
Elephant Spotting in Udawalawe National Park: This is essential when travelling to Sri Lanka with kids; the incredible wildlife never fails to capture their imaginations. There is a variety of beautiful National Parks in Sri Lanka, each offering an amazing experience depending on what type of encounter you’re looking for. When it comes to spotting wild elephants, Udawalawe is hard to beat. Here you can often see entire groups of elephants, along with crocodiles, wild deer and beautiful birdlife to name a few. For the more adventurous travellers, there’s even the opportunity to camp in the buffer zone of the park!
Go Whale Watching and Surfing: Sri Lanka’s southern coastline boasts a variety of palm-fringed beaches perfect for relaxing at the end of the trip. For those in the family who prefer to keep busy, head to the town of Mirissa. Here, head to one of the many surf spots dotted all along the coast. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot whales!
CURIOUS ABOUT SRI LANKA?
Head to our website to find out more about our family holidays to Sri Lanka.
Discover more about the Experience Travel Group approach to family travel.
Alternatively, a Sri Lanka specialist is always on hand to chat if you would like some personal advice – you can reach us on 020 7924 7133 .