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Sri Lanka family holidays

Family holidays in Sri Lanka deliver the whole nine yards. This vibrant jewel of an island has so many facets, each showcasing a different aspect of its culture, history and natural beauty. Whenever you visit, you’ll find inspiring wildlife conservation, intrepid adventures and eye-widening ancient sites, topped off with downtime on world-famous sweeping sands and short eats to tempt everyone’s taste buds.

There’s plenty to keep kids of all ages engaged, whether cheering on a cricket match in Galle, trundling by train through tea fields, or whale-watching just off the coast. Add in sunshine somewhere all year round, and it’s easy to see why Sri Lanka constantly bowls us over as one of the top family destinations in Asia.

Sri Lanka weather & when to go

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Leopard spotting in Yala NP

Leopard spotting in Yala NP

Coconut farm

Bump along dusty tracks on the back of a bull-cart at a working coconut farm


Get breathtakingly close to the unique elephant gathering in Minneriya

Beach Sri Lanka

Bodyboard in some of the best beginners surf in Asia, or just kick back on the beach!

What to expect when visiting Sri Lanka with kids

Families often return to Sri Lanka’s well-loved shores again and again, as you really can discover something new on every trip, so there’s no need to rush to see it all in one go.

Wildlife wonders

Sri Lanka’s wildlife is guaranteed to grab your imagination, and watching wild animals from just a few metres away is always a thrill. Learn about vital conservation with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society in Wasgamuwa National Park, spot leopards on an intrepid safari trek, and get tantalisingly close to elephants in the wild in northern Minneriya. Fancy waking up to a dawn chorus with a difference? A tented camp in Yala or Wilpattu National Park is a great option for families looking for wildlife adventures with a few extra creature comforts. Head out early on family-friendly safaris, and cosy up around the campfire each evening to share the day’s adventures.

Family safari

Beach life

Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches are a huge draw for families looking for sun and dedicated downtime. Different parts of Sri Lanka’s coast are at their best at different times of year, but whenever you visit there are always golden sands and palm-lined bays to explore somewhere. For summer holiday beach time, head to the east for cycling trips around the coast, local villages to explore, and boat trips out to watch whales and dolphins diving offshore. Dive and snorkel in the vibrant waters, learn to bodyboard in perfect beginners’ surf and unwind to the sounds of the waves in secluded, high-spec coastal huts surrounded by National Park wilderness.

Sri Lanka beach

Culture trip

Sri Lanka has a treasure trove of cultural highlights for families to explore. In the south, Galle’s steadfast stone walls separate the ocean from a wealth of immersive sights and sounds. Watch a world-class cricket match in one of the country’s most iconic sports venues, or a less formal one down a side street (cricket is everywhere in Sri Lanka!). Browse between the shophouses that line Galle’s cobbled streets, and wander along the top of the fort itself, looking out to sea. Further north, feast on short eat snacks on Colombo’s Galle Face Green, catch sight of kites fluttering overhead, and delve deeper into the country’s history and culture.

Galle cricket

Sri Lanka family holidays off the beaten track…

For an awe-inspiring Sri Lanka family adventure that really jumps off the page, rumble through Tea Country’s lush landscape on the famous ‘blue train’ (though it’s not always blue!) to spend a few days experiencing the rural tranquillity of a classic hillside resort. Let younger kids run off a bit of energy on the lawns, relish screen-free time with the teens, and sip fine Sri Lankan cuppas in the shade. In a totally different style, the eco-friendly Mudhouse in the north west offers an immersive taste of off-grid living. Get involved with family yoga classes, light-pollution-free stargazing and traditional Sri Lankan cookery classes without any WiFi distractions!

Our Sri Lanka Specialists’ top tips for families

As Sri Lanka is a relatively compact destination, everything is fairly close together and journeys between stops are shorter. Apart from being a real bonus when travelling with kids (as all parents know, long journeys with littlies can be tough!), this means you can mix it up a bit and include several stops on your family holiday itinerary. You’ll get to the best of the beaches, wildlife watching and bustling city sights without spending too much time on travel!

One of the reasons Sri Lanka is a natural choice for a family holiday is that it is a genuinely great year-round destination. From December to April, you’ll find the best weather overall. The east coast and north of the country are dry and sunny from May to September, so ideal for UK summer holidays. For winter sun and Christmas breaks, head for the west and south west.

Yes, in general Sri Lanka is very safe country for families to travel in. After the events of Easter 2019, Selective Asia’s founder Nick spent time with our ‘in-country’ teams and local guides to get a first hand understanding of the security situation, and start mapping out a recovery plan. The country was quickly open for business again, but we urge you to read Nick's insights for a well-rounded, first-hand report, and if you have any questions, please do give us a call.

Having an experienced, knowledgeable and welcoming local guide on hand during your trip is absolutely invaluable. They’ll meet you upon arrival, act as translator, transfer you between locations, and generally make everything go as smoothly as possible. They’ll leave you to your own devices as much or as little as you wish, but we think a good guide is essential for a successful family holiday. We pride ourselves on using only the best guides in a given region. All our guides are trained to the highest level, and fully certified and licensed. Sri Lanka is unusual in that you will be with the same guide throughout your entire trip. This gives continuity to your family during their holiday, and builds a warm relationship that makes your visit truly special.

When planning a trip to Asia, it’s important to consider the possible requirement for vaccinations and immunisations. Most importantly, we stress that you should contact your doctor or medical practitioner well before you depart to get their advice on any vaccinations you may need for your trip. If you’ve travelled recently and believe that you are already up-to-date, it is still worth checking as vaccinations have a varying life span. The NHS Fit For Travel Sri Lanka web page confirms that malaria is ‘not normally present unless the illness was contracted abroad’, and the NHS Travel Vaccinations site has lots of up-to-date information.

Yes. All foreign nationals (excluding Singapore & the Maldives) require a visa or an Electronic Travel Authority to visit Sri Lanka. From 01 August 2019 for a period of 6 months only, tourists from 48 countries (including UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand & most European countries) are entitled to a FREE tourist visa for a maximum 30 day stay. You will still need to either apply for your ETA online or queue at the airport, but there will be no fee. If you are arriving in Sri Lanka by air, you can obtain your Electronic Travel Authority in advance of your departure with the easy-to-use online visa service. Alternatively most nationalities can obtain their visa on arrival at Colombo Airport.

Though you can pick up some stuff you need in the cities, we’d recommend taking supplies of any essentials, such as favourite nappies, formula etc., as well as your preferred brand of sunscreen and insect repellent. Light, long sleeved shirts, a light scarf or two, and long trousers or skirts will mean that you’re prepared for any modest dress code requirements. They’ll also help provide valuable protection against strong sunlight and mosquitoes. If you’re travelling with tinies, consider taking a really good baby carrier, as push-chairs might be more difficult to get about with.

You can’t obtain Rupee outside of Sri Lanka. You will find ATM machines in most major cities and there are several in the arrivals area at Colombo Airport. There are also a number of money changers at the airport offering fair rates of exchange on most major currencies. Hotels will also change currency and will often also accept payment in £, $ and Euro. In most shops and restaurants only Rupee cash and credit card payments are accepted. Travellers cheques are no longer accepted in Sri Lanka.

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