An island that packs a totally mesmerizing punch: Sri Lanka would have to rate as one of the most rewarding travel destinations in Asia for families. Easy to reach and compact enough to not warrant extensive travel times when exploring different regions, this glorious speck of gorgeousness offers a titillating taste of everything that makes Asia so enticing. An abundance of incredible wildlife thrives in its nature reserves, interesting culture and history are everywhere, spirituality abounds, beaches are resplendent, wildlife mesmerizing, smiles ubiquitous and delectable food part and parcel of everyday life. When it comes to varied, comprehensive and rewarding family trips, few destinations deliver this much for so little effort. One of the best family trips you could take anywhere – let alone Asia – a Sri Lanka family vacation offers great value for money, utmost safety, insane variety of activities and adventures to keep kids (and parents!) of all ages entertained and, as is almost imperative with kids, stunning beaches for days of leisurely frolics.
Here are just a few reasons Sri Lanka rates tops with travelling families.
It’s not overrun with tourist crowds…yet
There’s no denying that Sri Lanka’s popularity has risen sharply in recent years yet you still won’t find the kind of tourist crowds other Asian destinations boast. For travelling families, who are wary of large crowds, this is quite ideal. The improvement in infrastructure, accommodation and services means you need not challenge yourself – and the kids – to some life-altering culture shock. In Sri Lanka, you’ll find everything you need for a family trip, every kind of comfort you require and won’t feel like you’re taking the kids on some colossal adventure way outside their comfort zones. Yes, everything will surely look, smell and taste different but you can easily enjoy all the home-style comforts your family needs. What’s more, Sri Lanka’s sheer diminutive size means even the capital city, Colombo, is not as overwhelming as, say, Bangkok. Fewer people, fewer cars and simply infinitely easier with kids in tow.
Family trips to Asia, generally speaking, are not nearly as ‘cheap as chips’ as they used to be although Sri Lanka – thanks to its still relative anonymity – still offers affordable family vacations. This means you can stay longer, upgrade your accommodation, include organized tours an and day-trips compared to other destinations in the region. You get a greater value for your hard-earned funds and can include more fun into your everyday touring. Considering the fact that cost is a huge consideration for most families, Sri Lanka’s excellent value is one of its most revered attributes.
We tailor at your pace
There’s nothing quite like a 12-hour bus or car ride to utterly ruin a family vacation or, perhaps, having to take a 1hr flight mid-vacation, something which always seems to completely disrupt the whole ‘relaxed’ feel of a holiday. In Sri Lanka, travel times are short and sweet and, aside from the brilliant bonus of less travel, it also means you can mix it up and enjoy different experiences in a short time. Enjoy a jeep safari through a stunning jungle in search of wildlife in the morning and spend your afternoon surfing the waves on some glorious beach. Take an enthralling guided tour of one of the country’s 8 UNESCO-listed historical sites before lunch and then go shopping crazy in a vibrant bazaar of an afternoon or, if the mood takes you, spend hours just lazing by the pool enjoying some togetherness. If variety really is the spice of life – and it certainly is when it comes to kids – then Sri Lanka will deliver in spades.
Food is varied
Sri Lankan food is delightfully tasty and spicy yet, thankfully, boasts enough variety to even delight fussy young taste buds. You’ll find non-spicy food and staples such as omelettes, pasta, pizza, pancakes, tropical fruits and more in every tourist-oriented town and local restaurants so whilst you feast on local specialties you can have peace of mind knowing you’ll always find a child-friendly alternative should your kids not be as gastronomically adventurous as you are.
Up close and personal wildlife encounters abound
There’s little that can excite children – of all ages – quite as much as up close and personal encounters with wildlife. In Sri Lanka, jeep safaris are taken in the country’s most revered national parks which boast some of the highest concentration of wildlife in all of Asia. Add a short and rewarding jeep safari to your itinerary through gems like Minneriya, Yala, Kaudulla and/or Wasgamulla and you’ll blow away the kids with sightings of wild elephants, crocodiles, bears, boars, leopards, several species of monkeys and birds amongst hundreds of other enticing animals. Some parks have a higher concentration of certain wildlife so if there’s a specific animal you’re all dreaming to see ask us when planning your itinerary and we’ll point you in the right direction. Sri Lanka’s wildlife cache is, hands down, the best part of visiting for families and the ease of sightings means you’ll enjoy an unforgettable experience in a half0day excursion, which is ideal when travelling with younger tots.
There’s a ton of old stuff to scramble over
Many families erroneously believe that kids don’t enjoy touring historical or cultural sites yet we’ve found that, if anything, they can be utterly enthralled exploring temples, historic fortresses, heritage-listed churches and old grand palaces. Given its eclectic history – being at various times ruled by the British, French and Dutch – and also given its incredible religious heritage, Sri Lanka is brimming with a host of famous sites to be explored, most of which are free to visit and totally fun to discover. Make sure you take a knowledgeable guide along for the ride, as they’ll bring the place to life and impart some fascinating info along the way.
The local culture is very child-friendly
Sri Lanka’s love of children is legendary and the culture’ inherent child-friendly disposition means parents are never made to feel like their children are a burden in hotels, restaurants or famous tourist sites. This is one of the country’s most beautiful attributes and the reason behind its apparent lack of child-specific attractions. The whole country is a playground and children are welcomed, everywhere you go, be it an ancient ruin, revered temple or national parks.
A holiday in Sri Lanka for us ticked all the boxes, small enough so you don’t have to travel far each day, big enough that diversity is prevalent, the history is fascinating the hotels were to die for, the scenery is stunning the food amazing, the wildlife was an absolute surprise, I spent 2 years in Africa and never saw so many leopards as we did in 2 weeks in Sri Lanka. It was the perfect family holiday we were all, young and old, entertained from the minute we arrived to the minute we left, the only bad part about it was departure.
Hall Family, Sydney January 2018
There’s an abundance of other fun, exciting and relaxing stuff to do with kids in Sri Lanka, including snorkelling along the east coast, water sports galore in the south, more wildlife spotting in the east and stunning sun-soaking in the calmer shallow waters on the west coast. See how we’d plan an excellent 10-day Family Tour of Sri Lanka and keep in mind that here at Get About Asia, we can design a tailor-made itinerary to suit your needs and desires. Check out our Sri Lanka Guide for inspiration of where to go and what to see and ask us about personal recommendations from staff who’ve been there – with kids – and enjoyed every moment. You can contact us, right here.
Author: Laura Pattara
“After spending years taking short vacations in Asia, Laura finally managed her dream, travelling extensively through Central Asia, China and Southeast Asia on a 3-year-long overlanding adventure that she describes as “SIMPLY EPIC”. Following in the footsteps of ancient traders, Laura meandered along the famed Silk Road through the Stans, delighted her tastebuds for 8000km across China (no mean feat) visited an insane number of temples in Southeast Asia, all the while snorkelling, diving and beach-bumming along the way. Tickled pink by history and culture, Laura loves off-the-beaten-path destinations in Asia and anything that isn’t gift-wrapped for tourists”