Essential Tips For a Child Friendly Holiday in Sri Lanka

Planning a family trip to Sri Lanka is a much more relaxed affair than in years gone by. A little thought is still required, though. Ailsa, the go-to-girl for all things family in Sri Lanka, has spent six years on the island with her two young daughters.

Here are her notes on travelling en famille…


As Sri Lanka has developed, so has the option for holidaymakers to find most things they need while they travel. In more rural areas certain items are harder to find and with less English spoken, the language barrier can make it tricky.


What To Take :

I’d suggest all the usuals…sun tan lotion (though not overly-slopped as it damages the coral), mozzie spray, insect bite cream etc.

A small umbrella – good in the rain and the sun

Car seats (if you can fit one in) – aren’t too easily found so many drivers
won’t have them.

Disposable nappies – you can find them in most bigger supermarkets but the quality isn’t always great (powdered/formula milk is widely available)


How To Travel :

From Europe you have the direct/indirect dilemma – stopping in the Middle East or long-hauling it with Sri Lankan Airlines. Personally I always welcomed the chance to stretch the kids’ legs for a couple of hours mid-journey.

Once here you’ll likely be with a driver or, perhaps, jumping on the train. Just bear in mind that time and distance in Sri Lanka don’t correlate as you might imagine. Nip down the highway to Galle from Colombo and you’re done in an hour and a half. A ‘lesser’ journey between Colombo and Kandy can take you up to 4 hours. Well-stocked iPads are a (somewhat guilty) life-saver!

Train journeys, while wonderful, can be similarly lengthy. The most popular, from Kandy to Ella is stunning but you might do better to split it, either doing Kandy to Nanu Oya, or Nanu Oya to Ella, if you’re with young kids.

Sri Lanka


Where To Stay :

Set-ups obviously change from one place to the next so always worth checking what room
arrangements hotels can offer.

Ashburnham Estate has a great Family Room and two doubles that link privately which work well for families.

Sri Lanka

Gal Oya Lodge has a Villa with two bedrooms; again an ideal set-up.

Sri Lanka

Another favourite of ours, Coco Tangalla, has a really lovely two-room set up for families down by the beach.

Why House, near Thalpe, offers a beautiful suite – ante-room ideal for small children – from which parents can sip G&Ts on the terrace with kids asleep inside.

Sri Lanka


Best Beaches :

Sri Lanka’s beaches can look stunning but a surprising number have to be treated a little carefully when it comes to swimming.

The drop-off at Unawatana, near Galle, is a fair bit sharper than at, say, Mirissa.

Down south, the little beaches around Thalpe and Habaraduwa are gorgeous but can be
rocky in parts.

Weligama Bay is widely thought the best and safest beach for kids on that southern stretch. It’s a great spot for beginner surfers too.

At the right time of year, we’ve seen fewer places better for safe swimming than off Kalpitya on the west coast – try Palagama for starters.

Sri Lanka Beach


Enjoying The Food :

The locals love spicy food, but they are also very accommodating when catering for children. Most restaurants will serve simple food like omelettes, chips & vegetables etc. But for days when you are off the beaten track and it’s a struggle to be understood then the simple Sinhalese phrase “miris epa” (don’t add chili) is a really useful one, or “sarai (sa-rye) veddi epa” (don’t make it too spicy hot).

Sri Lanka


First Aid ‘Stuff’ :

Medical care is good in Sri Lanka – you won’t find many swanky GP clinics but access to very good doctors isn’t a problem. The island is now officially Malaria-free so Malarone, or anything similar, isn’t needed. In some parts, notably Colombo, Dengue Fever is a concern, though, so mozzie nets and spray in the late afternoon and evening are recommended.

Many Sri Lankans will also, of course, be very happy to recommend natural and Ayurvedic medicines. If you or the kids get too much sun then there are plenty of Aloe Vera plants to be found. In Sinhalese it’s “Kumarika” and if you ask anywhere you’re staying it’s likely they’ll have some in the garden and be very happy to provide it to soothe your or children’s sore skin. It’s the best!

For any more tips please email or visit to book your family holiday to Sri Lanka.

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