What are the best things to do in Sri Lanka with kids? In our opinion Sri Lanka is one of the best Asian countries to visit with kids. It offers a great array of cultural and wildlife attractions that children will love, though we had some practical logistical questions before we went. In this guide we will round up the best things to do in Sri Lanka for families, as well as giving you some top tips on where to stay and how to get around.
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Tips for Visiting Sri Lanka with kids
Do you need a Visa for Visiting Sri Lanka?
Yes you do need to get a visa for Sri Lanka. It is an easy process that can be done online and costs only 20USD.
Do you Need Vaccinations for Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka has been classified as malaria free by the World Health Orgnisation since 2016. Which to me was a huge factor in making Sri Lanka family friendly.
However dengue is still a risk as with any tropical destination so you need to consider this when booking, and if you go be sure to have good insect repellant and lots of long sleeve t shirts and bottoms for kids for evenings and overnight to protect against mosquito bites.
Also there are some vaccinations that both adults and children will require for visiting Sri Lanka.
It is recommended that everyone who visits Sri Lanka has been vaccinated for:
- Hep A
- Hep B,
- Rabies and
So you should factor this into your planning for Sri Lanka family vacation.
Where to Stay in Sri Lanka with Kids
There are lots of different accommodation options for Sri Lanka with kids from luxury hotels, boutique hotels, glamping and guest houses.
The one thing we recommend looking for when visiting Sri Lanka with kids is accommodation with a pool. Sri Lanka can be a hot and humid place to visit so it is nice to be staying somewhere with a pool where you can cool down after a long day of sightseeing.
What is the best way to travel around Sri Lanka with Kids?
Perhaps the most popular way to get around Sri Lanka with kids, or without is by train. This is certainly something that shouldn’t be missed when traveling in Sri Lanka.
Trains should always be booked in advance especially at peak times as they can get fully booked. I would also avoid trains during public holidays as they can get very busy and uncomfortable to travel on with kids.
However you will not be able to travel everywhere by train. You other options for traveling with kids in Sri Lanka are:
- private car
We used private cars a lot rather than local taxis. Depending on the roads you are using will depend on traffic levels and time. However the thing we like about using private cars was the ability to use car seats and get to places quickly on the toll roads.
Also this is the only way you are likely to get air conditioned vehicles when traveling in Sri Lanka.
However another popular method of transport is tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuk are slower than cars usually traveling at only 40-50km per hour.
Kids love them as they are open at the sides and are such a novel way to travel. However with this, if you get stuck in traffic the petrol fumes can be quite overwhelming.
However it is worth noting that you can’t use a car seat in them and are only really recommended for local journeys and you will need to keep a good hold on your little ones.
If you are worried about safety which is always my main concern with tuktuks, cars, usually organised through hotels or online companies are your best bet as you will be able to book more modern vehicles with safety features and will be able to use your car seat.
We recommend bringing your car seat from home as they are not readily available for hire in sri Lanka.
Where can you buy baby supplies in Sri Lanka?
If you are traveling to Sri Lanka with a baby or toddler you will be wondering where you can buy baby supplies such as nappies and milk.
Fresh milk is usually available in the main cities such as Colombo. However if you are out in the countryside or more remote you are more likely to get UHT.
If you require formula milk while traveling in Sri Lanka we recommend either taking it with you or purchasing it while in Colombo.
Diapers are generally available across the country but are easier to purchase in the cities. Generally speaking you will find it hard to find Western brands in more remote areas and you may also have issues if your children are larger requiring diapers.
If you want a Western brand diaper or a diaper in a larger size then you may want to pack these and bring them with you.
Is Sri Lanka stroller friendly
If you are traveling to Sri Lanka with toddlers or a baby you may want to know if Sri Lanka is stroller friendly.
If you are in the city strollers will be ok to use though you will be faced with uneven surfaces. However generally speaking carriers rather than strollers are more useful in Sri Lanka for doing hikes and for on the beach.
Eating in Sri lanka with kids
Sri Lankan food tends to be quite spicy. As such you want to pay attention to what you order. If you have a fussy eater fruit and hoppers are a great choice.
Hoppers are a traditional bowl shaped pancake in sri Lanka and are both authentic, tasty and of course child friendly.
However if you have a super fussy eater with you in tourist towns you will find pizza and pasta readily available.
Best Things to Do In Sri Lanka with Kids
Note: Obviously, Sri Lanka tourism has been hit by the pandemic but also civil unrest in the recent years. As such you should always check your country’s advice about visiting the country before booking and travel.
Take a Train Journey
Probably the number one thing to do with children in Sri Lanka is to go on an iconic train journey.
In fact when we told our kids where we were heading they BEGGED us to take them on the train so of course we were happy to oblige.
We ended up on 2 train journeys during our time in Sri Lanka.
The first went from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. We did it because I wanted to see the amazing views and because the kids were desperate to go on a train. This journey took far longer than it would have done by car but the views were as spectacular as we had been told.
The other journey we took by train was from Kandy to Colombo. We had done the Colombo to Kandy leg by car as the trains had been fully booked when we arrived.
You can book your trains either online before you arrive, or at the station in Colombo. We recommend trying to book your train tickets in advance, especially if you are traveling during peak season in Sri Lanka.
However there was heavy traffic and one of our kids got car sick so we had to keep stopping. The whole journey took hours and hours. The train journey, by comparison, was super easy, stress free and much quicker. And it has some amazing views to boot.
Another beautiful train ride is from Ella and Haputale.
Many people will sit with their legs dangling out of the train, however we do not feel this is safe to do with kids and recommend you think about safety when you are traveling around Sri Lanka, or anywhere by train.
Climb the Lion Rock in Sigiriya
One of the things we loved about Sri Lanka was the amazing and child friendly hikes that you can do.
One our our favorites was the Lion Rock Climb in Sigiriya. Even the most relunctant hikers will enjoy this walk as there is so much to distract them on the walk – from wall paintings to wild monkeys to some rickety old stairs.
Clearly babies and toddlers will struggle with this hike alone but it is completely doable with a decent carrier. We recommend selecting a hot weather carrier as you will get sweaty on this journey.
Little Adam’s Peak in Ella
Another great hike to do in Sri Lanka with kids is the Little Adam’s Peak in Ella. You can even do this with toddlers in Sri Lanka.
The reason is that you can go part way up this peak in a tuk tuk, which is another must for your Sri Lanka Bucket list. From the drop off it is then about a forty minute walk up.
Again we recommend using a carrier if you are visiting with toddlers. And be sure to pack a good day pack as there are no amenities for buying snacks etc on your hike.
WE recommend doing this hike in the morning to try and beat the heat but also as the mornings will reward you with clearer views as it does tend to get cloudy and busy in the afternoon.
Go on an Elephant safari
One of the things we loved about visiting Sri Lanka was the amazing wildlife in particular seeing the amazing elephant population.
There are a few places that you can go on a an elephant safari in Sri Lanka including in the Sigiriya area the two national parks of
- Minneriya and Kaudulla.
However if you are in the Southern park of Sri Lanka then we recommend heading to t Udawalawe National Park for another Sri Lanka Safari with elephants. We hired a private driver which was great with kids as it meant we could go at our own pace and could spend as much or as little time with the elephants as we wanted.
You can also see elephants at:
- Yala National Park, Kumana National Park and
- the lagoons around Pottuvil.
So really no matter which part of Sri Lanka you are heading to you will be spoilt for choice for an elephant safari.
We recommend visiting a national park rather than an orphanage to see elephants in Sri Lanka as these elephants are in the wild and there is less concern about welfare of these amazing animals.
Hit the Beach
Sri Lanka has some absolutely amazing beaches, especially if you are visiting Sri Lanka with family.
It is worth noting however that some of the beaches in Sri Lanka have very strong currents so you must be careful when traveling with kids or even heading into the water yourself.
When we stayed on the South Coast we decided to stick to playing on the beach and using our hotel pool for water play as the beaches near us had very strong currents.
There are lots of amazing beaches around the country so you are really spoilt for choice. We particularly love the beaches on the South Coast including in Galle, Weligama and Mirissa.
Others go as far East as Arugam Bay and Trincomalee.
Dalawella Beach beach near Galle is a popular one with families as it tends to have some of the calmer waters. Also, depending on time of year you visit you can see turtles at this beach which is another special things to do in Sri Lanka with kids.
We actually loved all of the historical sites you find in Sri Lanka. Perhaps our favorite place was Galle but there is history around every corner in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has been colonised several times so you can find a mixture of British, French and Dutch influences in architecture in the cities.
Another highlight in Sigiriya was an amazing glamping site, but there are many family friendly glamping sites across the country. It is a really special way to stay in this amazing country. .
Ride in tuk tuks
If the train wasn’t the highlight for the kids then tuk tuks definitely was. They absolutely loved travelling by this mode of transport and were thrilled when we used them for all short distance travel. However there are some considerations you may want to factor in when traveling by tuktuk which we have talked about above.
Go to a festival
Now this wasn’t exactly planned and I would add a word of caution about the particular festival that we went to in Kandy (the Festival of the Sacred Tooth).
It went on for hours and hours – well past the kids’ bed times and, as luck would have it, the night before an early train journey back to Colombo. BUT it was an incredible experience to see all the dancers and acrobats parading the streets (I didn’t love the elephants – an ongoing conflict for me).
With some better planning on where to watch the parade from, I think you could get a really great experience without tiring the kids out too much.
Head to the Beach
What most people come to Sri Lanka for – the beaches are really, really beautiful. Conscious that we had packed a lot in to our 7–day trip we made sure we had a couple of days of R&R at the end to really appreciate the coastline.
Fly a kite
We arrived in August to find there was a huge kite flying festival in Colombo the day after we went to Kandy.
Hugely disappointed, we bought a kite and flew it anyway. The following weekend, in Negombo, we were delighted to find that kite flying seems to be a national pastime and we watched families flying kites together on the beach at sunset.
So either add a kite to your Sri Lanka packing list or buy one locally when you arrive.
You can’t go to Sri Lanka without commenting on the delicious food they have to offer. From Egg hoppers for breakfast to coconut-based curries for dinner and samosas for a mid-morning snack, we found loads of options for us and the children to try.
Don’t get me wrong, my kids will still choose chicken nuggets over a chickpea curry any day of the week but they also tried and enjoyed almost everything we put in front of them.
Hoppers in particular are an easy sell with even fussy toddlers in Sri Lanka and there is fresh exotic fruit everywhere which is what my kids like to live off when in Sri Lanka.
Where to eat with kids in Sri Lanka
There is no end of places to eat in Sri Lanka and we loved them all! The hotels, obviously, are a great place to start as they are convenient and reliably consistent. They’ll usually have kid-friendly options and will serve alcohol if you want it (we found the restaurants in Kandy didn’t sell alcohol during the Festival of the Sacred Tooth). The train stations had some snacks available but lots were very spicy and we were glad to be travelling with a few snacks to keep everyone going. In the main towns you can find all sorts of restaurants to cater for your every need.
Where to Stay Sri Lanka with Kids
We were so lucky to find some incredible places to stay in Sri Lanka:
Where to Stay in Colombo with Kids
Where to Stay in Kandy with Kids
Where to Stay in Sigiriya with kids
Where to stay in Negombo
Top Tips on Visiting Sri Lanka with toddlers or kids
Travelling on Trains in Sri Lanka with toddlers
If you are travelling to a strict timeline consider booking your tickets ahead of time. I’ve heard some people have booked then tickets and then not got what they wanted but most people have been successful. Also, don’t travel first class – you get guaranteed seating (you also get this in second class) but you also can’t open the windows or doors and get the real feeling of the journey.
Strollers would be fine in the towns but less useful on hikes. I think a carrier or backpack would be much more useful on this sort of trip. If you’re travelling with a driver, make sure you check that the car has seatbelts (note a lap belt passes for a seatbelt in Sri Lanka so make sure you ask the right question). If you don’t have a dedicated driver for the duration of the trip, consider buying travel car seats instead of lugging around the tradtional ones.
Food in Sri Lanka
While my kids are getting more and more adventurous, I found I had to plan ahead to make sure there would be something that they could eat if they decided they were feeling like playing it safe. I also found it hard at times to find appropriate snacks and I was glad to be travelling with a supply of things from home that I knew they would eat.
FAQS About visiting Sri Lanka with Kids
Can you visit Sri Lanka with toddlers?
You can of course visit SRi Lanka with toddlers however we recommend checking with your medical professional before travel and ensuring they have all necessary jabs before travel.
Thanks Emma and Wanderlust and Wetwipes for this wonderful and informative guest post! We can’t wait to return to Sri Lanka with our toddler and know that this will be an invaluable resource when we do!