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Sri Lanka is a favourite travel destination of ours. We got married there and we’ve taken our kids there. This Sri Lanka travel blog to help you plan your holiday or travel in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka works for single, couple and family travellers with interests ranging from culinary to wildlife, culture, surfing and adventure sports. Budget or luxury travellers will find what they want here. This island is warm, welcoming, has good food and wonderful people, but you might need a little insight to get the most out of your holiday or vacation. There are things to love and a few things not to like in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Travel Blog Travel in Sri Lanka
A travel blog about Sri Lanka, facts about Sri Lanka, weather, places to see and do, how to get around, and everything you need to know to plan your tour of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Travel Blog

Sri Lanka have their own airline. SriLankan, we like them a lot and have flown from London to Sri Lanka with them often.

If you’re heading to Sri Lanka from Asia, Air Asia have taken us there from KL.

Sri Lanka was called Ceylon during my lifetime, the name changed in 1972 when Sri Lanka became a republic within the British Commonwealth.

Sri Lanka, Location

Sri Lanka lies, like a jewel, between the Gulf of Mannar and the Bay of Bengal, just off the tip of southern India.

It’s separated from India by the Palk Straight, which gets to just 54.8 Km wide.

It would seem to be possible to cross to Sri Lanka to India by boat, but this just isn’t a common tourist route.

Most tourists fly into Sri Lanka’s main airport, near Colombo City, the capital.

Sri Lanka is fairly close to Maldives and you could easily split your holiday between these two destinations, we’ve done it, it was great.

Sri Lanka travel blog guide

All our Sri Lanka travel blog posts, tips, advice, essentials and recommendations are here on this one blog page.

Links take you to more detailed information.

We hope you enjoy your time in Sri Lanka. We cover the following:

  • Costs of travelling in Sri Lanka.
  • Ideas on where to go in Sri Lanka, beaches and cultural destinations.
  • Activities in Sri Lanka and where to find them. There is snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing and wildlife safaris, we’ll tell you where.
  • What are the big, must-see attractions and how to get to them.
  • What to expect of accommodation in Sri Lanka, from luxury to budget and finding the best deals.
  • Practicalities of getting around the island by public transport or private vehicle. Update, as of July 2018, you can now book train and bus tickets for Sri Lanka online using our favourite, 12GoAsia. This is great news!
  • Should you book hotels, or wing it if you are backpacking around the island?
  • What food to expect in Sri Lanka, from street food to boutique hotels
  • Best time of year to visit, and which coast, south, east, north, west.
  • Vaccinations and staying well in Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka with and for kids and families.
  • Independent travel and booking tours in Sri Lanka.
  • Suggested itineraries and how much time you need to see Sri Lanka (in production!)

Costs of Travel to Sri Lanka

lion paws sigiriya rock sri lanka
Sri Lanka’s historic sites are undeniably expensive, particularly for foreign tourists. Seeing all the sites of Sri Lanka will greatly eat into your travel budget. The magnificent lion paw gates at the Sigiriya rock fortress are shown above. A magnificent historic site, but it costs.

How much Sri Lanka costs depends on you. We’ve visited as budget and luxury travellers.

Sri Lanka worked out the cheapest country on our 12-month budget round-the-world trip. That time we certainly managed to stay under our $50/day goal.

Food was very cheap if you ate in the right places and accommodation and transport were incredibly good value.

We mention the small guest houses and hotels we use in the posts specific to that destination.

If you choose top-end luxury hotels and villas, Sri Lanka offers a lot for your money. We’ve tested out quite a few, for personal enjoyment and as part of our work.

We can highly recommend the Lighthouse Hotel near Galle, one of the finest on the island. 

We got married there. 

More luxury hotels and villas are listed further down the page.

Taking guided tours and paying admission costs to the big attractions quickly eats into your cash as all admission costs are relatively high in Sri Lanka.

This is one thing we don’t like about Sri Lanka, high costs, scams and erratic pricing.

The costs of visiting Sri Lanka’s top attractions certainly need to be considered before planning your trip.

We had a wonderful time on our budget trip and didn’t feel any need to see and do everything with a high price tag.

You can easily cut costs by not visiting all the big sites. There is enough to do and enjoy in Sri Lanka without spending a fortune.

All information on this page represents our personal experiences only. Things change, please double-check any important information for yourselves.

Finding the Best Prices and Deals on Hotels, Hostels, Guest Houses and Resorts in Sri Lanka

We like to use Agoda for Asia as they are the experts for the region and often have a bigger selection, particularly try them for smaller hotels and budget accommodation but they do list luxury hotels, villas, and resorts.

If you’re the sort to book a long time in advance, reserving multiple hotels on a fully refundable basis, is your friend. Further down the page, we have more information on hotel standards and a few personal recommendations.

We don’t recommend Airbnb for Sri Lanka, we never found any useful accommodation on that platform in this country.

Best Beach Destinations in Sri Lanka

Ambalangoda beach sri lanka travel blog
One of Sri Lanka’s unspoiled beaches, where fishermen still haul in their catch in the early mornings. Ambalangoda, south-west coast

We now have a full post on Sri Lanka Beaches, the link is at the end of the page, you can click through to take a look at that.

I’ll tell you here that the main tourist beaches on the west coast can get very crowded.

For decades tourists have been pushing further and further south to avoid, ironically, other tourists.

Our favourite beach for family fun is little Mirissa, south of Galle, but even that is getting busier and busier.

Don’t overlook the west coast and even the northern beaches.

The Jaffna area (far north) is thought to be going to become a beach holiday destination in coming years.

The north-west coast is upcoming.

There are still quieter spots on the south-west coast to escape the crowds.

We found Ambalangoda beach to be almost deserted and peaceful.

The main part of Hikkaduwa can be crazy these days which is a shame, that was always my favourite.

Many beaches have big surf and strong rips, not ideal for small children.

Beaches for Surfing in Sri Lanka

  • Weligama Beach, Matara District. Southwest coast.
  • Hikkaduwa Beach Galle District Southwest coast.
  • Mirissa Beach Matara District (right next to Weligama)
  • Arugam Bay. Southeast coast Batticaloa District. Elephant Rock is a little south of main Arugam Bay

Beaches for Snorkelling in Sri Lanka

Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna are often mentioned as snorkelling destinations in Sri Lanka.

We’ve visited both several times and it’s been too rough and murky for snorkelling each time, but the following are the usual recommendations.

We have been scuba diving from Hikkaduwa but the diving wasn’t great. The northeast coast is supposed to have good snorkelling, but again, the conditions weren’t good enough when we were there.

If you’re keen to snorkel in Sri Lanka pick your times carefully. Avoid the monsoons, there are two monsoon systems that affect Sri Lanka.

April and September are recommended for good visibility on the east coast, elsewhere November to April.

We’ve visited around Christmas time several times, sometimes we’ve had great weather, other times rain.

The best beaches for snorkelling in Sri Lanka are the following:

  • Hikkaduwa
  • Passikudah
  • Mirissa
  • Unawatuna
  • Kalpitya
  • Palhena Reef
  • Galle
  • Negombo
  • Trincomalee
  • Pigeon Island
  • Weligama

Best Cultural Destinations in Sri Lanka

Sigiriya Rock Fortress Sri Lanka Travel Blog and Guide
Arriving at the mighty Sigiriya Rock Fortress for the first time with our children. We waited until they were 8 and 10 years old before taking this on. Sigiriya is in the “Golden Triangle” of Sri Lanka.

The Golden Triangle is where you’ll find Sri Lanka’s key historic sites, including Dambulla Cave Temples and Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

You’ll either need to base yourself up here or visit them by road from Kandy.

Anuradhapura is a magical ancient city and home to a Bo tree descended from Buddha’s and thought to be 2000 years old.  Kandy is a cultural attraction in its own right, boasting the iconic Temple of the Tooth along with multiple smaller temples and interesting attractions.

Ella, high in the tea fields, is popular with visitors as is the southern capital of Galle.

We feel that Jaffna, in the very far north, is the new must-see place for more adventurous travellers.

It’s almost free from tourists and very different from the rest of the country.

Sri Lanka’s highlands offer tea plantations, scenic walks and cooler temperatures. The famous hike to Adam’s Peak is worth your time, for the less adventurous there’s Little Adam’s Peak, just outside Ella.

The Adam’s Peak climb is more of a pilgrimage, hikers start in the dark to be there for dawn. These activities are among our favourite things to do in Sri Lanka

Where our Sri Lanka travel blog is different from many of the travel blogs out there, is that we visit all of these places to review and describe them for you.

Others don’t, they write guides with no first-hand knowledge. We think it helps you better if we go there for you rather than collecting information from the internet.

Cultural Destinations in Sri Lanka – More Reviews

Hotels, Villas, Guest Houses and Hostels in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Travel Blog the Eden Resort and Spa Golden Mile, Beruwela, Bentota
A stunning room at the Eden Resort and Spa on Sri Lanka’s West Coast, standards of accommodation are generally good and prices way lower than in the west.

What to expect from accommodation in Sri Lanka?

That totally depends on your budget. Here’s a selection of accommodation styles, at all price points, we do not make financial gain from sending you to particular hotels, resorts or guest houses, these are just examples that we know well.

Top End. Some of the luxury resort hotels and villas we’ve tested out in Sri Lanka and recommend. Just click through on the names below for more information.

  • The Max Wadiya Villa, Ambalangoda, West Coast. A  full-service, beach-side, relaxing, top-end, foodie paradise private villa, with plenty of room for large parties or private rooms for couples. See our review of the Max Wadiya here. Or take a look on here. Ambalangoda is a great, quieter, place to stay on the southeast coast, with easy access to plenty of attractions and not too far from the airport. The beach photo of fishermen, above, was taken at Ambalangoda Beach. It’s one of very few beaches in this area that is relatively unspoiled by mass tourism.
  • Templeberg Villa, Galle, South. Secluded jungle home, amazing dining experience, lovely colonial style rooms. See our review of the Templeberg Villa here or check rates and room types on Agoda or on
  • Eden Resort and Spa, Beruwala, The Golden Mile, East Coast. Family beach-side resotr and spa. See our review of the Eden Resort and Spa here, again, get an idea of rates and rooms here on Agoda or on Beruwala is close to the airport on the popular southeast coast, as the Eden, more or less has it’s own private beach, its not crowded as, for instance, Hikkaduwa can be.
  • The Paradise Resort and Spa Dambulla, Cultural Triangle. A stunning base for exploring central Sri Lanka’s historic highlights. See our review of the Paradise Resort and Spa here check rates and room types. Rooms were spacious and fabulous. The Paradise is on here.
  • The Lighthouse Hotel, Galle our wedding and honeymoon venue, right on the beach and a beautiful place to stay.. See it on Agoda here or on here.

Mid-Range. Family hotels with pools and all the usual facilities are abundant in Sri Lanka. Whatever style of accommodation you need, you will find. Search online using any of the major hotel booking engines. If you plan to book in advance. In high season or if you have very specific needs, even just for peace of mind, we would recommend pre-booking. Sri Lanka is getting busier and busier these days and hotels get full.

guest house in Sri Lanka
This is a fairly typical guest house in Sri Lanka. This guest house, in Mirissa, had family rooms, 4 poster beds with mosquito nets, private bathrooms with shower and standard western WCs. The pretty gardens made this one of our favourite places to stay. This is the Celestial Inn, Mirissa. Mirissa is one of our favourite beaches in Sri Lanka and we’ve stayed at The Celestial several times.

Budget. Truly budget backpacker guest houses are getting rarer in Sri Lanka as tourism booms and accommodation providers go more up-market. Again, we would recommend booking, but it is still possible to just turn up and go knocking on doors to find a bargain. At peak periods expect many places to be full. Sri Lanka is in no way as undiscovered as some would suggest.

The guest house in the photo above, is Celestial Inn, Mirissa. Click through to see it on

Sri Lanka Tours

Sri Lanka travel blog guide temple flowers anuradhapura
Temple flowers at the 2,000-year-old Bo tree at Anuradhapura. The Ancient city complex and temples take a full day of exploration and our guide saved us money.

Some visit Sri Lanka independently and make travel arrangements as they go, some book tours. Both are easy to do, before departure or after arrival. We’ll help you with getting around Sri Lanka, how to do it and where to go, below

Before we start on the independent travel information for Sri Lanka, I want to share a resource with you that could simplify your trip no end. It’s a website we’ve used in many countries, but not as yet for Sri Lanka. The number of tours they offer, from one day to a week and more is phenomenal. They offer private airport transfers, food tours, guided visits, internal bus connections. This is gold!

I’m massively impressed with what you can organise in Sri Lanka before you’ve even left home, you’ll find our full review here. or hop on over to their site and see which Sei Lanka tours, activities, even transfers, you can book in advance, from home.

Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka travel blog fish sri lankan food guide
As the sun goes down the restaurants open on Mirissa Beach

This little island has a double monsoon system, so picking the best time to visit Sri Lanka can be complex and entirely depends on which parts of the island you are visiting. Luckily for us, it means that there is always somewhere on the island with good weather at any time of year.

Temperatures remain fairly steady year-round, but you will see a big differential between coastal resorts (high-20s to mid-30s) and the high hill country (up to 20 degrees Celsius.) The temperature in Kandy is normally around 20 degrees C.

In general, the SOUTH-WEST COAST and HILL COUNTRY receive the heaviest rain from April to June. the EAST COAST is wettest in November and December. In between these two monsoons, the inter-monsoon rains bring thunderstorms ANYWHERE in October and November. This means the driest times are December to March for the EAST, SOUTH and HILL COUNTRY and April to September for the EAST COAST.

I did warn you that it was complex! In our experience rain is extremely unpredictable, we’ve had great weather and bad weather at the same times of different years.

How To Travel to Sri Lanka. Package Holiday or Independent Trip?

Sri Lanka Travel Blog and Guide Tuk Tuks Getting Around
Getting around Sri Lanka independently is pretty easy. Tuk tuks are a lot of fun. Here arriving at the Templeberg Villa in the hills just outside Galle.

Independent travel is a great way to see Sri Lanka but package holidays can be a good option for new travellers. If you want to organise an independent trip to Sri Lanka, maybe it’s your first time, here’s what you need to do:

  • Book your flights, select the cheapest, best flights for your dates using a flight comparison tool such as Skyscanner, if you’re new to finding amazing flight deals for yourself, we have a guide to using Skyscanner like a ninja here. Similar sites exist, but Skyscanner is our favourite, we use it every time. Sri Lankan Airways are superb and often very good value, budget airlines also fly to Sri Lanka.
  • Book your accommodation, think about where you’d like to stay on your first night and most certainly book a hotel, it makes life so much easier when you’re tired and adjusting. We use an affordable little hotel not far from the airport for late airport arrivals/departures. We’ve tried a few, this one has been best so far. There is a fixed rate, tourist taxi desk at the airport or arrange for this hotel to pick you up. If you’d like to book a whole week somewhere, go ahead, if not, a few days here, a few days there, is also fine.
  • For onward transport from Bandaranaike airport, by bus, taxi, train, tuk tuk or minibus click through.

Sri Lanka is a small island but the big sites are quite spread out, you’ll probably want a multiple base vacation. You don’t have to book every night in advance, you can leave your options open and book as you go, but organisation cuts into your vacation time and is a bit of a hassle.

When we’re backpacking we usually just arrive in a town and knock on doors until we find a place we like, but on a shorter vacation or one using mid-top range hotels you’d want to be more organised.

Flights to Sri Lanka.

We found it was cheaper to fly to Sri Lanka from the UK via Istanbul. If you visit our post on How to Save Money on Flights with Skyscanner you can read all about that tactic. We have also visited Sri Lanka from Malaysia as a stop-over on a flight to London. This cost us no extra and the flight was an incredible bargain with the excellent Air Lanka.

Visas for Sri Lanka

We love Sri Lanka for making children’s visas free. (at the time of our visit.) Not many countries do that. All visitors to Sri Lanka needed an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) available online. The ETA lasted for 30 days but could be extended. Find more information about obtaining your visa here. This section and regulations are particularly susceptible to change, so do your research well.

Sri Lanka Essentials, What to Pack

Sri Lanka Travel Blog and Guide Tuk Tuks Getting Around
Where you stay and your travel style determines your packing needs for Sri Lanka. At a luxury hotel (this is the Calm Resort, Pasikudah, east coast) you may like to dress up slightly, me, I wear jeans. Wardrobe is personal choice.

You will need copious sunblock, sunscreen (or sun-protective clothing) and mosquito repellent. Really, whatever else you take is personal choice. I like to wear jeans and trousers, some women prefer skirts and dresses, it’s up to you.

It’s fine to wear swimwear on the beach and around the pool in Sri Lanka, but skimpy clothing elsewhere is not a good idea.

Expect heat and humidity but be prepared to be chilly if you’re hitting the hill country. Have clothing that will cover legs and shoulders for visiting religious sites. You also need to remove hats and head coverings for important religious places such as The Temple of The Tooth, including hijabs. So I’ve been told by a very unhappy reader.

Families with young children will benefit from taking antiseptic hand gels or wipes. We like to carry a small bottle of iodine, small bites and scratches become infected easily in the tropics.

Read more about our travel medical kit here or about the travel gear we normally carry, here.

Sri Lanka Massage

Yes, massage is available in Sri Lanka. Resort hotels are likely to have spas with various types of massage provided by trained therapists. Sri Lankan traditional massage, Ayurvedic Massage is widely available.

You may find massage in Sri Lanka quite expensive compared to say, India or Thailand, but an Ayurvedic Massage is something you should try.

Vaccinations For Sri Lanka

Again, this is a personal choice. We tend to not get any special vaccinations for visiting countries with big tourist industries, such as Bali, Thailand or Sri Lanka.

The recommended vaccinations for Sri Lanka will vary depending on your home country, please check the official regulations with your doctor or health-care provider. You’ll also need to check latest COVID 19 safety requirements.

Currently, malaria prophylaxis was not recommended by my London GP. Back in the 90s, we took malaria tablets, we don’t today. Be very vigilant about mosquito bites, Dengue is a real risk. Always do your own research and get whatever jabs you need to feel safe.

Remember there is rabies and keep your kids away from dogs and monkeys. A tourist child died after a bite from a puppy recently in Sri Lanka, always get post-bite treatment if the worst happens. Read up on vaccinations and what we do here.

Get More Out of Your Trip. Read Before You Go!

sri lanka travel blog guide bool

The essential companion for your Sri Lanka trip, Lonely Planet Sri Lanka brings you history, culture, food, and customs, a few useful words and phrases to practice (please, thank you and hello are always appreciated) and of course, maps, hotel and restaurant recommendations. Get your copy here.

Books on Sri Lanka for Adults

Books on Sri Lanka for Kids

Sri Lanka travel blog book

We have had a lot of success in encouraging interest in places and travel with our children through kids books. Here are a few children’s books about Sri Lanka.
Ruby Rides an Elephant, a children’s book set in Sri Lanka. The Little Lost Fishing Cat, Stories From Sri Lanka. Roo, The Little Red Tuk Tuk.

Our Sri Lanka Travel Blog & Experience

We want you to visit Sri Lanka, get the most out of your trip and enjoy this amazing country as much as we have. We have visited 5 times, each time for a month to 3 weeks. Our last Sri Lanka trip was our second as a family with kids and we spent a month touring the island. We have created this guide to Sri Lanka with kids for you, as well as this, our general Sri Lanka guide. As professional travel bloggers we visit with the intention of gathering information to help our readers.

We’ve visited Sri Lanka on a tight budget, independent backpacking,  and with more cash to spend on luxury couple holidays and diving trips. We held our wedding in Sri Lanka. We’ve tested some beautiful boutique and luxury hotels along with private villas and travelled around the island by public transport and by private tour exploring many destinations. Recently we added Jaffna and Sri Lanka’s east coast.

We want you to enjoy Sri Lanka and not perceive it as a challenging destination.

Big Tourist Attractions in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka travel blog guide temple flowers anuradhapura
Turtles are hard to resist. You’ll find babies at numerous turtle hatcheries around Sri Lanka and adults are regular visitors to the beaches. You can guarantee sightings at Hikkaduwa where giants are fed by locals in the shallows. But is it ethical? This was at Kosgoda, near the Golden Mile of Beruwela and Bentota.

There are plenty of big tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. Sigirya, Dambulla, the Temple of the Tooth, Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Turtle Hatcheries, Yala wildlife park are popular, plus more. They’re incredible.

We’ve been to them all over the years, except Yala. People often visit these sites with drivers rather than organising their own transport. There are some big distances involved.

You can easily find a driver in Sri Lanka who will take you around the whole island if you don’t fancy trains and buses. Tuk tuk drivers will be keen to take you too. We have a post on Sri Lanka’s top places to visit.

Getting Around Sri Lanka.

There are many ways to travel around Sri Lanka once you arrive. Public transport is very affordable, but if you’re on a vacation or special holiday, you may want more luxury and convenience. Look at options below for booking private tours and vehicles with drivers.

Travel in Sri Lanka by Bus

Travel by bus in Sri Lanka
It’s very easy to travel around Sri Lanka by bus, and it’s cheap. The buses have great character but on popular routes at peak times they will be packed.

Buses in Sri Lanka are frequent, sometimes fun and incredibly cheap. A family can travel halfway across the island for $5.

To catch a bus in Sri Lanka you just find a bus stop or bus station and hop on. There was always somebody to help us find the right bus and most Sri Lankans have great English.

The buses usually come in two flavours, standard, open to the elements, no windows type and the smaller air con buses. Be aware that some buses get incredibly crowded. The Sri Lankan people lean towards wonderful, warm and considerate and we had great fun on the buses.

If you’re travelling with big packs you may need to put them on the seats, in which case, you should just buy a ticket for them, too.

Travel in Sri Lanka by Train

Train Travel in Sri Lanka train station
Getting around Sri Lanka by train is easy and train travel is great fun. There are some famous scenic train rides in Sri Lanka and the rail network is extensive, with stations at most major and minor towns.

The trains in Sri Lanka are great to use, some routes are fantastically scenic, but occasionally they were so packed we had to stand.

Trains vary, some are very old-school, some are very modern with air conditioning and reclining seats. We like the older Sri Lankan trains best with their wooden benches and open windows.

Snacks should be available at train stations and it’s common for vendors selling short eats to board the trains.

Tuk Tuks or 3 Wheelers in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka travel by tuk tuk
It’s easy to travel by tuk tuk in Sri Lanka. This is a tuk tuk entering the fortified Galle Fort.

Sometimes we used tuk tuks, also known ar auto rickshaws or three wheelers, to travel quite long distances in Sri Lanka. They’re more expensive than buses but it is possible to fit 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 big backpacks, and 4 smaller bags into the back of one.

Sri Lankan tuk tuk drivers are pretty fair with pricing but you’ll probably have to haggle.

Travel in Sri Lanka By Taxi

You don’t see many taxis in Sri Lanka and I doubt you’d be able to flag one down in most places.

We took one fancy air-con taxi from the airport, it was good but expensive ($12). There is a taxi office just before you leave the airport building, it was on the right. There were also ATMs nearby to get cash.

Booking a Private Tour and Driver in Sri Lanka

Tours and hired drivers are very easy to organise and the most commonly used method for package tourists and more up-market travellers. You can arrange trips through your hotel, direct with drivers, or through the multitude of travel agents on every street.

You can travel the whole island by tuk tuk, private vehicle, or aircon minibus, the choice is yours.

When we got married the same tuk tuk driver took us all over the island, we even went to his home to visit his wife and child, he was at our wedding. We’ll never forget him and we hope and pray he and his family came through the tragic tsunami safely.

Update: As of July 2018 you can book bus and train tickets in Sri Lanka online using 12GoAsia (see here). This is great news! We’ve been using 12GoAsia for years in Thailand, and being able to do this for Sri Lanka is a great step forward.

Food in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Food With Kids

Sri Lanka Travel Blog and Guide Tuk Tuks Getting Around
A typical Sri Lankan breakfast of string hoppers, fresh coconut (pol) sambol and dal. You can choose Western food or Sri Lankan, we go Sri Lankan. This was our villa breakfast at Villa Balapitiya.

We don’t think Sri Lankan food is as fantastic in comparison to some other countries (Thailand, India, Vietnam etc.) but it can be very good and we found food for the children easily. There are stand-out dishes and specialities to enjoy and fish and seafood along with fresh tropical fruits are big players.

The children ate omelettes, egg hoppers (find out what is a hopper here), fruit, curd (yoghurt), roti and traditional Sri Lankan breakfasts. My boys really started to enjoy egg curry, dal and potato curry in the mornings.

There are also plenty of baked goods, savouries and cakes (short eats) some better than others.

The children drank a lot of freshly made fruit milkshakes for extra calories and nutrition and started to drink tea for the first time. Sri Lanka does excellent tea, always served in china teapots.

In Kandy you will find plenty of bakeries serving cake to go with that tea.

On long bus and train journeys, vendors would be around selling savouries and drinks. My boys enjoyed fresh wade (vada) but some have too much chilli. If we were stuck we’d just buy a packet of biscuits and some Milo. Sri Lanka does great biscuits, very British bourbons, cream crackers and gingernuts included. Nobody had any tummy trouble during our time in Sri Lanka.

We’re passionate about food (my husband is an executive chef) and really wanted to eat well in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, food options in Sri Lanka were sometimes a bit limited by availability, time constrictions and the boring standard tourist menu. Food was good and nutritious, but not always very exciting. Real Sri Lankan rice and curry turned out to be hard to find.

If you are staying in a hotel rather than backpacking around the island your food experience will be totally different.

Every good hotel we’ve stayed at on the island had great food, usually with more of a Western influence. You will find plenty of incredible seafood dishes, fresh tropical fruits, and curries if they are what you enjoy. We’ll give special mention here to the incredible Sri Lankan crab curry prepared for us with love by our chef at The Max Wadiya Villa, I’ll never forget it. With accommodation and food like that, every hour that went into creating this Sri Lanka travel blog was an absolute joy.

Make sure you sample the traditional Sri Lankan breakfast, we’re big fans, but you may need to order the night before

Foods You Should Try in Sri Lanka.

  • Roti. Filled rot, the filling can be very spicy (hot) vegetables,egg, or chocolate
  • Kotu roti, roti dough strips, but chopped with veg or meat.
  • String hoppers. Noodle-like nests, to eat with curry.
  • Curry and rice. The national dish of Sri Lanka, multiple curries, with rice.
  • Crab curry. The best crab curry in the world! The crab is usually in its shell
  • Devilled dishes. A curious east-west dish, you’ll see it on most tourist menus.
  • Egg curry. Similar to crab curry, but egg. One of my favourites!
  • Egg hoppers. A bowl-shaped pancake with a cooked egg in the bottom.
  • Short eats. Or shorties. Various pastries, bread, and fried snacks.
  • Milk rice. A Sri Lankan special way of preparing rice. I’m not a fan.

That’s it, a quick overview of Sri Lanka. There are plenty of links in this Sri Lanka travel blog page, rather a lot actually, that can give you more information.

If you want to start your hotel search, we suggest you start with  Agoda  or ). Agoda works particularly well for Asia, Hotels Combined lets you compare multiple booking sites at once.

Travel in Sri Lanka World Travel Family Travel Blog

 This Sri Lanka travel blog first appeared on World Travel Family travel blog. We travel full-time to create this resource. It’s been over a decade now and his website helps us make a living (see how here). Enjoy your trip to Sri Lanka and don’t be afraid to reach out to me, Alyson, if you need help with planning your trip. My email address is on the contact page and you can always leave a comment below.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

160 thoughts on “Sri Lanka Travel Blog”

  1. Embark on an unforgettable family adventure in Sri Lanka with this insightful guide by World Travel Family! Packed with practical tips and engaging anecdotes, it’s a roadmap to creating cherished memories together. From cultural wonders to outdoor escapades, let this guide inspire your next family escapade in the teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka.

  2. Sri Lanka is home to abundant nature and once you are here, you can adore the lush nature around you. Here, you may find a large variety of trees, rainforest as well as the scenic waterfalls with magical cascading waters. This is the best opportunity to enjoy watching the fascinating allure of nature during your Sri Lanka luxury holidays.

  3. Thank you for such lovely words about Sri Lanka!
    Do visit us at Calm villa Waddudwa, if you travel to our beautiful island.

  4. Hi Alyson, Thank you for this. It’s really helped us to work out some places to go in Sri Lanka. Just wondering do you remember where the European street was in Colombo? Sounds like it will be perfect for us for our last night in Colombo. I have booked my trip using this website. Please suggest if you any in your mind

  5. Hi there Alyson

    We are considering a trip in late April ie 13th-28th this year to tie in with school vacations (we are a family with 3 kids aged 15,14 and 4). My concern / question is whether end of April makes sense from a weather viewpoint as I read this is the start of monsoon – and the flipover period between the coastal East beaches and SW? So if we did a “once in a lifetime” type trip – does April make any sense? I know you are not a weather expert and it can change – but Id appreciate any insight into travel this time of year. Also we would arrive around New Year,,,,does this pose any impacts eg will places be super busy for the first few days??

    • I’ve never been in April but everything I’ve read says it’s a good time with rain picking up into May, but you should always expect some rain in Sri Lanka. Also it depends which parts you’re visiting. I would have thought that catching the New Year festivities would be a great opportunity but there may be some closures Locals will be travelling so expect trains to be extra busy, maybe book seats if this is even possible, you’d need to be in 1st class for that I would have thought. The tourist scene in Sri Lanka is very well established so I doubt there’d be any closures of tourist hotels and restaurants or issues with hiring drivers, just more local services. But…don’t know, never been there. It wouldn’t put me off and if it’s the only time you can go then it is what it is.

    • Hi

      Alyson your correct Sri Lanka New year season is amazing time period,
      After April 13,14,15 long journey train starting from colombo are not much crowded ,because of new year days,all area not have many people, people go there village before the new year ,most of private company give holiday to them.

    • Hi all around the year climate is good even though you encounter isolated shower frequently but in April to October southern beach areas has rough see if you expected to visit beach go to the eastern part of the Srilanka.

  6. Hi, I’ve really enjoyed reading this article of yours. We’re really looking forward to Sri Lanka, I’m planning a loose inventory as I don’t want us to have a strict schedule just in case we see or visit somewhere that is so awesome that we want to stay longer.

    We’re planning budget stays and local eats, however we have some bigger plans too.
    We followed your advise so I have booked a budget guest house with great reviews , just 10 minutes away from the airport.
    Also I’ve booked a mid budget hotel at Fort colombo 4 days before our flight home for 2 night so we can enjoy Navam Perahera festival.
    Our big spends will be a hot air balloon trip in Dambulla and the nature reserves.
    I have to ask though, have you ever used Heli tours for a helicopter transfer?
    They are meant to be the cheapest way of experiencing a helicopter which averages at £55-60 each!
    It’s like a bucket list item, up there with the balloon.
    We’d love to do a trip or transfer on one but I’m struggling organising it with this company, where else do you think, would do an experience like this in Sri Lanka?

    Keep up the good work, really fascinating and informative.

    • I’ve only ever been on a helicopter in Australia sorry, never even seen or heard of such a thing in Sri Lanka. I didn’t know there was ballooning either, so good job hooking all that up!

  7. We will be visiting Sri Lanka this December and would like to hire a private car and driver to get around for our family of 3. There are so many options out there. Do you have a reliable one to recommend which is not too expensive?

    We’re planning 1N Colombo, 2N Nuwara Eliya/Horton Plains, 1N Ella, 1N Udawalawe, 3N Galle/Unawatuna and 1N Colombo. Should we skip Udawalawe to make trip more relaxed and stay an extra night in Ella given that we are doing Horton Plains?

    • No, sorry. We haven’t used a driver in years, we just use buses and trains these days.

  8. Hi, thank you very much for all this valuable information…. seems like I cannot find out if you succeeded to climb Adams peak or not at the end. Wondering How difficult it was for the kids… would love to hear from you., as debating the idea of going or not. Our kids (6-9) love trekking and are in good shape but not so experienced neither!!

    • We didn’t in the end. It was raining continuously. Another year!

  9. We are thinking of heading there early next year ! I dont think I have a single question after reading everything you have posted! THANK YOU!

    • Doing my job well then Lindsay! Shout if you think of anything. I need to get back soon, we’ve never been to Arugam Bay nor spent much time in Columbo, would like to rectify that!

  10. Hi, we are off to Sri Lanka on Friday and your blog is great, it has so much in it that the guide book doesn’t. I have travelled in India in the past so am very happy with the culture of respectfully covering up as a lady. Friends who have travelled recently tell me Sri Lanka is more relaxed, obviously for temples I will wear long trousers etc but when climbing the Lion Rock would I offend if I wore knee length shorts as a female?
    Thank you for any advice.

    • Don’t know, sorry, I wore jeans, I think knee length shorts are pretty much OK in most places though. I tend to err on the side of doing my best culturally and to keep the sun off at all times.

  11. Hello, we are planning a 4 weeks holiday with our 2 children (5 and 9) from 6 august to 3 September.
    Do I need to book all accommodation in advance because it’s difficult to find a family room?
    Do I need a driver for the whole tour or can I book a driver on the day for longish journeys? (my preferred option)
    We want to stay 8 days Nilaveli, any suggestions? possibly not in touristy area.

    • You can do it any way that suits you best Chiara. We tend not to book in advance in Sri Lanka and we’ve always managed to find somewhere, but if you book it take a lot of the worry out of it. I don’t see why you’d need a driver the whole time, no. You can get one whenever you want one.

      • thanks so much, So it’s not too late to find accommodation in SL for august? since you are so kind, I’ll post further questions

        I’ ll travel to SL from 6 Aug to 3 September with 2 children (9 and 5).
        1) I’ve put together an itinerary (below) but I wonder if it’d be better to go first south Galle, Tangalle, Yala and then from there to hill county?
        2) can we book drivers on the day for longish journeys without wasting time and without being too expensive? Somebody told me that circular trip are cheaper than one way
        3) Any suggestions to stay at Nilaveli? nice place near beach and the pigeon island
        here’s my itinerary

        Arrive in Colombo Drive to Haputale
        to Ella
        To Nuwara Eliya by train
        Nuwara Eliya
        To Kandy
        To Sygiria
        to Pollonnaruwa
        Pollonnaruwa Minneriya National Park elephant gathering
        to Anuradhapura
        To Nilaveli stay in Nilaveli
        dawn coast to Yala or Kumana
        Talalla/ Mirissa

        thanks so much!

        • If hiring a driver it’s usual to book one from A to B and back to A. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to do it, but you are doing a lot in a short period. I’ve been to Pasikuda but not Nilaveli, I don’t know that area at all sorry.

  12. Hello need a suggestion….. Planning a 5 day trip to Sri lanka in month of February landing Colombo ….. Kindly suggest must visit places for good wildlife, beaches and good food??? how about commute within the island ????

    • Hi Neha, if you go up to the highlights section there is a link to a post about cool places to visit, cultural highlights and so on. Within the island bus , train or private driver are all good options depending on how you like to travel and how much you want to spend.

  13. Can I ask, when visiting Temples, do girls (aged 8 and 11) need to have their shoulders and knees covered? I’m unsure as to whether it only applies to women. We plan on visiting a temple during a village cycling tour, so we’re likely to be wearing shorts and something cool, So would need to pack something for everyone to cover knees and shoulders in our rucksacks. Thank you!

    • I would make sure my kids ( boys or girls) were fully covered in Sri Lanka at all times. 1. sun. 2. respect. I wouldn’t have to worry about need then. Some places hand out sarongs to skimpily clad visitors. But I don’t know for sure as it’s not something that’s ever given us any concern. I know that we all need to take our hats off, adults and kids, and shoes obviously.

  14. Hi,
    First I would like to thank you for this wonderful blog which has been a goid resource for us planning our short SL tour. We are a family with 2 kids (8+12) and hire a driver for the whole 7day tour.. Here is our detailed itinerary. Would you be so kind to comment or suggest some changes for a not too stressed-out tour? Thanks and good luck!

    1. Sun 25.03. – Arrival in COLOMBO AIRPORT at 8.45. Departure with driver and car to DAMBULLA. Visit the caves + town. Overnight DAMBULLA.
    2. Mon 26.03 – Morning DAMBULLA to KANDY. En route stops: Aluvihara monastery, Nalanda Gedige. In KANDY: Kandy Garrison Cemetery, Peredenniya Botanical Garden ?, Temple of the Tooth in the evening. Overnight KANDY.
    3. Tue 27.03. – KANDY-ELLA Sights on the route: Nuwara Eliya, perhaps Ramboda waterfalls or St. Claire’s Falls and Devon Falls. Overnight ELLA.
    4. Wed 28.03. – ELLA- Little Adam’s Peak, maybe Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory, Rawana Ella Falls, Demodar Nine Arche Bridge. Overnight ELLA.
    5. Thu 29.03. – ELLA area and surroundings, drive to HAPUTALE (Dambatenne Tea Factory, Lipton’s Seat). Overnight ELLA.
    6. ‎Fri 30.03. Drive from ELLA to MIRISSA. Overnight in MIRISSA.
    7. Sat 31.03. – Morning drive MIRISSA to GALLE, visit the Fort in GALLE. Afternoon drive GALLE-NEGOMBO. Short stop in COLOMBO Pettah Bazaar and Fort. Overnight in NEGOMBO.
    8. Sun 1.04. – Early morning transfer to airport. Departure.

    • I have just read your itinerary. Travel in Sri Lanka on the roads is often busy and slow getting through towns. You will be spending all your time in the car and miss a lot of sights, I am thinking it has too much in it for only one week.

    • I think that sounds pretty do-able actually. Very smart to do this with a driver, it will save you lots of time over bus / train around Sri Lanka. There are places I’d certainly add, the ancient cites, Sigiriya, maybe less time around Ella. But obviously you’ve looked into it and these are the places you are prioritising.

  15. Thanks for such a wonderful and comprehensive article. I am also planning to visit Sri Lanka before this winter ends with an intention to laze away few of my days hanging out near beaches. I could already got an indea where I should hit right away. Thanks!

  16. We’re heading to Galle for 8 nights in February (before heading to the Maldives); staying in a Villa, travelling as a family with an 11 and 8 year old. Can you recommend any must-do’s within a reasonable driving distance, to incorporate a bit of culture, wildlife maybe, and fun?!!

    • Galle Fort, the fish and fruit and veg markets in Galle. Unawatuna beach is no distance away. We had monkeys and monitor lizards all around our villa in the hills behind Galle. You’ll find turtle hatcheries up and down that coast but they are rather dubious often. Yala wildlife reserve & safaris would be ” driving distance” to me, maybe not too you, also you could head up to Ella, even Kandy, Pinnewala even Sigiriya, Dambula and Pollonarua, but an overnight stay up there would probably be required. All are easy to arrange with private drivers locally.Mirissa isn’t far for the whales.

      • Thank you so much for your response, your blog is fantastic, and after submitting my question on here last night I discovered even more info about Galle on here, so I apologise for being hasty! We are staying on a jungle ridge behind Unawatuna so really looking forward to the wildlife we might see! We’d love to do Yala National Park, would you say it’s around a 3 hour drive each way from Galle? I think Ella and Kandy and the others you suggested might be a bit too far for us on this trip, we’re quite new to “exploring holidays” and we’ve spent a huge (maybe naive of us) part of the budget on the villa so we don’t really want to have a night elsewhere. An excuse to come back! Galle Fort and the markets are now on our list! I’ll research the turtle hatcheries, thank you. I didn’t know about whale watching from Marissa, thanks! I’ve heard train rides are a must in Sri Lanka too, can you recommend any which would involve a scenic half to full day out somewhere, or is that not possible without travelling further afield? Thank you so much again.

        • You’re going to have to get down to your villa from the airport, so take the train! It clings to the coast and much of it is pretty and interesting. When people talk about Sri Lanka’s scenic train rides they’re usually talking about the hill country ( Ella and onwards), also parts of Columbo-Kandy, but all train rides in Sri Lanka are worth doing IMO and incredibly cheap. Sorry, don’t know the drive time to Yala as we tend to use trains and buses these days and have not yet been. But the blue whales off Mirissa we have done ( also on this website).

    • That’s where I spent bulk of my childhood. I went to school there. Galle is surely a charming City with loads of things to do/visit. The old Dutch port is a big attraction and indication of the Gall’s colonial past. Old fruit and fish market is popular among tourists. Unawatuna is one of the best beaches in the south and not that far from the gall

  17. HI there
    This blog looks awesome – thanks so much for all the info.
    We are planning on taking our 2 kids end of 2018 – 10yrs and 8yrs. I haven’t really started researching yet but in your opinion whats the ultimate amount of time to go for??? We have a month at the most but do we need that much time??

    • A month would be great, but you could do a lot in 2 weeks if you raced around. We’re about to go for ( I think) our 6 th visit, many months in total, and still haven’t seen everything we want to see. Just pick your highlights and arrange your schedule in adbvance.

  18. Hi,
    Thanks for the tips about travelling with kids in Sri Lanka. From reading all the comments below it sounds like it is best if your kids are a little older? We have a 3 year old and a 1.5 year old.

    Pre kids my husband and I spent about 2 years backpacking various destinations around the world so we are used to travel but we have yet to do any overseas trips with our children. We like interesting travel (i.e. not sitting in a hotel resort) and are looking for a destination which will suit us as well as our kids, which is why we came up with Sri Lanka. Perhaps we should be considering somewhere else though?

    • Hi Connie,

      As a Sri Lankan, I think its all in the specific destination you choose. The great thing about the country is its small size. so, break your journey to give the kids (and yourself) time to rest. I would advise you to get a private vehicle organised. Public transport could be very much crowded, specially during peak traffic hours.

      There are rough and calm beaches, depending on the month you decide to visit. And yes, Mirissa beach is one of my favorites as well. You can also check out Unawatuna in the Southern coast and beaches in the Eastern coast Pasikudah and Nilaveli. It will be easier for you if your hotel is adjoining the beach.

      Try to avoid visiting places like Sigiriya rock and Dambulla rock fortress during the middle of the day. As the names suggest, these locations are built on a rock and can get really hot. I would say organise all the out door activities before 11 or 12 noon and after 4pm.

      Even though the country is small, there are many, many, many places to visit in Sri Lanka. so you can pick and choose what works best for the family. English is widely understood and spoken. People will go out of their way to to help if you are with children and most people will keep a protective eye on any child they see.

      Hope this was helpful even though a bit late

  19. Hi there

    We are looking to travel to Sri lanka next year: 2018 june, july and august.

    Ideally we would like to start somewhere calm but with kid facilities (3 yr and 5yr) e.g. being able to rent bikes and play sports etc and be in one place for a couple of weeks, then start to explore the country more widely.

    Two places that jump out are Arugam and Kalpitya as possible places to stay, but it may be that we need to be somewhere further south to have more kid facilities??

    Any thoughts, and ideas on destinations (and even weather) would please be amazing!?!

    Many thanks

    • Sorry Rebecca, we’ve never played sports or rented bikes really. Well, we did rent bikes once in Hikkaduwa over 20 years ago, but it’s not spmething I’ve seen much of on the island and we’re runners so we’ve never really looked for sports gear. Do you mean like a gym, tennis etc.? As you find in a big resort? Also I don’t really know what you mean by kid facilities. I’ve never seen a playground anywhere in Sri Lanka other than in a couple of big resort hotels and the one at the end of Kandy Lake, and it’s not great. Sorry can’t help more.

  20. Sri Lanka seems like an awesome and exceptional travel destination, Alyson! When’s the best time of the year to go there?

    • Any time is a good time! Because of the double monsoon system expect rain, but if one coast is dry the other may be wet. We’ve been mostly in October to February, we haven’t tested the northern hemisphere summer months yet, but we’d go absolutely any time, we don’t get hung up on weather.

  21. Very informative article about Sri Lanka itinerary. This article will be lot of help for foreigners who looking for for good Sri Lankan travel experience. And also is noticed in this article you mentioned some mid range and luxury hotels for stay. There are lot of luxury and mid range apartments and hotels in Colombo now. Great
    for someone who looking bit of luxury.

  22. Hi
    I have just read your blog on Sri Lanka and all the posts that followed. It sounds a perfect destination. We are planning a trip around 12th December. Unfortunately we have only 8 days. We are party of 6 (2 adults, 2 children , (age 5 and 8), plus my parents, (early 70’s). I would like to do have a mixed holiday in terms of beach / mountains etc, however I need to bear in mind that my kids and parents may get tired with too much walking. We prefer locations where theres a good choice of cafes / restaurants etc. Your recommendations would be greatly appreciated,!
    Many thanks

    • There’s nowhere we’ve walked much other than at Ella where we did the short ( 8 Km) Little Adam’s Peak walk with the kids, then about 8 and 10. Kandy could be a big walking day if you stay at the far end of the lake, but it’s always easy to flag a tuk tuk. Sigiriya I’d maybe think twice about with older and younger people, but it’s one of THE big highlights for many people. Anuradhapura we toured by tuk tuk. Dambulla is quite a climb up- hill, but it’s only a walk. You can certainly see a lot in just 8 days but you’d probably want to plan it in advance, get a firm idea of where you want to go. Hit the Lonely Planet!

  23. Hi Alyson

    Me and my Girlfriend have booked a trip for 4week from October 9th to November 6th. Not researching about the weather, now we are a little worried. Is there anywhere that will be a no-go weather wise during that time and any must see’s because weather will be nice ?


    • It’s a bit of a lottery Aaron, I doubt anything will be a no go, just expect some normal rain.

    • Hi Aaron,

      The monsoons have arrived 🙁 But don’t worry. On most days you’ll get clear blue skies for the first half of the day (I’m living in the capital city Colombo). Hope you have a good time!

  24. Really liked the complete & detailed article about your visit to Sri Lanka. It will be very helpful for families, couples and also for solo travelers. Totally agree with your weather analysis in the island , there’s always a place in Sri Lanka with good weather in monsoon season too, like a real tropical island.

  25. I like your article. It has detailed information and good photography. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  26. Hi

    Thanks a ton for the blog post. I am currently planning my Sri Lankan holiday for December this year and your blog was super helpful.

    However I have a couple of questions :

    – You said that Sri Lanka is a small island so one can travel easily. So where (which city) would you recommend we pick a base? We are keen to do the key things in Sri Lanka, Like beach, historic places, temple and wildlife
    – Do you think winter is a good time to visit.

    Thanks in advance

    • It’s small but not that small. You’d struggle to base yourself in just one place and see everything. And who’s winter? December is peak season with Christmas holidays, early November is quieter. With the double monsoon season it depends where exactly you go.

    • Hello All
      I have spent most of today reading this blog, I am very excited. Sri Lanka sounds very interesting.

      Can anyone give me a couple of tips, to help. I am thinking of going with my partner and 2 boys (10, 12) next year (July time). I was thinking of travelling for 3 weeks.

      Any tips on where I should go while we are there. I dont mind travelling around.

      I would like to organise myself, but need to know the best towns to base our selves in. With a few days to relax at the end of the trip

      I love rainforests

      • If you’re children are adventurous spirits then you can do no worse than spend a few night at Borderlands Sri Lanka – riverside situation, jungle, rainforest, rafting, kayaking, canyoning – excellent food and safety standards – accommodation in stilted cabins overlooking the Kelani River

        • Sounds fantastic! We will certainly look into that next time we’re in Sri Lanka, my boys would love all those outdoor activities.

  27. Amazing post… Thanks for sharing this useful tips and guides. with some realistic pictures… Really useful. and really amazed by you craze on Sri Lankan buses…though it’s wonderful to travel hill countries… The bus ride to the Sri lankan hill country gives a whole different experience to you guys..
    Keep travelling.

    • You know Rachith, we never appreciate what we have, it always takes an outsider to find the beauty in something. We live in Romania a lot of the year, it’s one of most beautiful places on Earth ( my boys reserve that title for The Himalayas), yet so many Romanians only have negative things to say about their country

  28. I am really surprised to see the wonderful facts that you have written about Sri Lanka.

    Pictures are so beautiful and information are useful to Sri Lankan Trip Planners.

  29. Hi Alyson,

    I stumbled upon your blog when I was doing some online research and was so inspired. It’s great to hear your family travel stories and thank you for sharing them with the world.

    My wife and I have a young family like yours – Tamara our daughter is 12yrs now and our son Sachin is 8 years. We have lived in 4 different countries with them – UK, Qatar, Singapore and now back home to our motherland, Sri Lanka.

    We gave up six-figure incomes in Singapore to come and live in Sri Lanka because we wanted to give something back to our village community, live close to nature and inculcate Sri Lankan values in our children. We have been in here for 3 years – our kids are thriving and we don’t regret a moment!

    We recently renovated my wife’s ancestral home in Matara, Southern Sri Lanka and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This spacious Colonial Villa, that dates back to early 1900’s, is set in 10 acres of tropical gardens, plantations & paddy fields and is just 20 mins to popular tourist beaches Mirissa and Weligama.

    We are keen to promote community-based tourism – we have only used skilled and semi-skilled labour from the village to refurbish the property. We source all our food locally – coconut water, our welcome drink, comes from estate, the rice is grown in our own paddy fields, we have a nascent organic vegetable garden and grow local fruits like bananas, soursop, pineapples, papayas within the estate – all with the aid of the local labour from the village community. Even the milk comes from our own cows and buffalos!

    My wife and I are looking to offer this kids friendly 4 bedroom ancestral villa for short or long term rental. A quiet, tranquil haven for relaxation – it’s suitable for Yoga, Meditation, Book writing or for simple Family enjoyment. You can till the land and eat all the home-grown vegetables and fruits. We can provide authentic Sri Lankan meals, cleaning and laundry facilities and arrange local transport, airport transfers etc.
    We are keen to work with you to attract the guests who can appreciate the back to nature, holistic living we can offer!

    Viji and Eranga

    • Hi guys I’m travelling with my family and 2 little babies to Sri Lanka next month. I was interested on your ancestral property. Could you drop me a mail at

    • Hi we are going to be in Sri Lanka late Jan 2018 would you please send us a few details like prices and required lengthy of stay etc. Regards Scott

      • Hi Scott, I don’t run Sri Lanka tours, sorry, I don’t know what you mean.

  30. Hi Alyson,
    I love your article, this is very helpful. I would also suggest that you visit Pasikudah Beach. It is very beautiful and is also considered as one of the safest beaches in Sri Lanka. There are so many budget and luxurious hotels which have stunning views.
    When I was in Sri Lanka, I had a really wonderful time staying at Amaya Beach. It was very relaxing to stay there, the staff was very friendly and there was an amazing view and the facilities were great.

    • Yes, we’ve been to Pasikudah Stephanie, took a car with driver over from Dambulla/ Sigiriya and then got the public bus back. I couldn’t really find much to say about it so we’ve never put it on the website. Maybe next time.

  31. Dear Alyson,
    We are ending our Sri Lanka trip with 6 days along the coast.
    We will be with our daughter who will be 16 months, and our first week we are moving around quite a bit so looking to stay in the same place.

    Where would you suggest we base ourselves for the 6 days? We are keen to see Mirissa, Unawutana, Hikkaduwa and maybe have a meal in Ambalangonda.

    thanks in advance for your advice,


    • I think Unawatuna would be easiest for you Elli, more options in terms of shops and restaurants. I never swam there, nor really went on the beach, I’m not a beach person, so I don’t know how safe the sea is, but it’s not a bad little town. If you want calm waters for your little one it would probably have to be Hikkaduwa ( Coral Gardens end), but it’s absolutely packed with tourists these days and quite spoilt. Mirissa isn’t too bad for safe swimming if you go in near the lifeguard station and only let her go in the shallows. There’s not much there though, it’s a small village. Unawatuna is good because it’s right next to Galle, so you can take a tuk tuk over there, explore the fort area and markets. It gives you something different to do at least. Ambalangoda is very small, not much there for tourists other than the beach hotels and villas, it’s not very developed at all, handy for the river safaris and of course you’ve got the traditional mask making centered there.

  32. We are three families looking to come together in Sri Lanka for Christmas 2017 – 5 of us from NZ, 4 from Uk and 5 from Sweden. We are three couples with 8 kids between us aged 6 to 16. Are you able to recommend where we should spend xmas and new year themselves? We plan on being in the country for about 2 1/2 weeks total. Any advice much appreciated! thanks

    • Not really, because I don’t know what you enjoy. Do you want to share a luxury villa ( Max Wadiya!) all stay in one big resort hotel or are you backpackers or mid-range tourists? Sorry, not enough information to go on! Do you want a party or peace, town or countryside, beach or history, too many variables! Sri Lanka really does have something to suit everybody.

  33. Hi Alyson,
    Thanks so much for your blog, it has helped immensely in planning our very fast approaching trip. Just wondering if you had any tips on money – that is cash/card, where to change money, ATM availability etc.

    Thanks again for an awesome insight.

    • Hi Tanya, that’s Chef’s department and he’s not here right now. We generally use cash points and never take out currency before arrival. The in-country rate is usually better.

  34. Hi Alyson, We have been searching for a travel agent half as knowledgeable as you to help us plan our quick stop in Sri Lanka and have had no success so far. Your blogs have been immensely helpful and a major source of information for us, so thank you. Would it be too much to ask for your advice on the best itinerary for 2 days in Sri Lanka? We want to see as much as possible and don’t mind staying on the move and paying for private transportation. Ideally, we would really like to incorporate Pinawalla, a scenic train ride, some nice views (even from hotel if we don’t have time to climb to them), some cultural sites, and a safari. We know we don’t have time for it all, but would like to do as much as humanly possible. We land in Colombo on a Thursday at 6:30p and fly out of Colombo Sunday at 3am. Any suggestions or input would be so greatly appreciated!

  35. Great blog Alyson. Were the mosquitoes a big problem on your trips? My son (now 9) seems to be particularly tasty to mozzies and as dengue is now a real issue I don’t know if we would be better giving Sri Lanka a miss. We were thinking of going over Christmas. I don’t know how easy it will be to keep him covered up with the constant temptation of beach, swimming pools etc! Thanks, Jay

    • Hi Jay. Yes, there are mozzies, same as Australia or anywhere else in Asia. Just take usual precautions. We have a post on avoiding mosquitoes, just search for it above. I really don’t think it’s more of a problem in Sri Lanka than anywhere else, but be prepared for rooms with vents and handle them appropriately ( switch off lights, shut doors etc.)

  36. Thank you so much for mentioning ourLeap & Hop book 🙂 Sri Lanka is an amazing place and I’m so glad you had such a good time.

  37. I discovered your site while researching our trip SL next year. It’ll be our first backpacking trip (me, hubby, 3 kids 14/12/10), and I thought SL seemed like a ‘safe’ option for first timers. I’ve sort of worked out a tour round with 2/3 days per place(Kandy, Ella, Yala, Galle) with 6 days in Mirissa at the end. I fear it will be a bit of a rude awakening for my oblivious children, but I hope it will be the first of many adventures. Albeit in 3 week chunks rather than 3 years! Thank you for your great information.

    • No problem Your Majesty. Hope you have a lovely time.

  38. Hi there,
    This is a brilliant blog and a really valuable resource to me as I plan a ‘little’ trip for myself and my son who will be three. I’ve booked flights from the UK to Sri Lanka at the beginning of October for two months. Before booking I think I got a bit confused about the monsoon – or the bit about ‘you will find sun somewhere on the island year round’ stuck in my head so anyway we are going in October and November which as you know is intermonsoon time.
    I’m planning to stay a few nights in Negombo before heading into the hills for a a couple of weeks – I’ve found a couple of nice homestays. My son is a massive train fanatic so will try to incorporate as much train travel as possible! I then thought we’d head down to Mirissa.
    My question is… From what I understand the weather at this time is unpredictable but that we will get a good amount of sun between rain; that the sea will be rough. I’m really in two minds whether to stay in Sri Lanka or hop over to Thailand after our short tour of Sri Lanka, where we will find calm seas suitable for my son, and travel around a bit in SE Asia, before returning to SL after Xmas. (Extending the whole trip to up to six months is an option). So yes, sorry! My question is what will the sea be like during those months? Will it be totally impossible with a three year old?

    Also, I notice you talk about Agoda a lot. I have been mainly using Airbnb to search for accommodation. This is partly because I am an Airbnb host so it’s a natural progression for me. I just wondered what, if any, experience you have of using Airbnb in this area of the world? I like it because it offers a direct route into a local community of you pick the right host. Just curious what your thoughts are really…

    Thanks again for all the amazing info!

    • Hi Vicky. Sri Lanka has big surf all year round. The East coast is the exception, I believe they have calm, lagoon-like seas over there at the right time. We were there in February, it was rough and monsoon-y. There are a couple of spots that famously have protected, calm swimming areas, Hikkaduwa’s Coral Garden is one, but it’s over-run with tourists. He will see giant turtles up close there though, they feed them in the shallows. I’ve been in November-December many times and the weather has been fine in the East and South. In Ella in the Highlands we had a little rain and it was cold at night. The worst weather I ever had there was over Christmas, S E coast, we had a load of rain, but last time November was fine. I think it’s luck of the draw. I was an AirBnb landlady too and for a while we would religiously check the site to see if there was anything available. It doesn’t work for Asia, is my feeling, you will get cheaper, better accommodation booking through Agoda without the hastle of the back-fore emailing of AirBnb and without the extra charges AirBnb applies. In 3 years we’ve used AirBnb twice, both for 1 month apartment rentals, neither in Asia. We don’t bother looking any more, we just go straight to Agoda. I think AirBnb is over priced unless you get really lucky, they also tend to charge per person adding extra for even small children, then of course, the hosts can still cancel at the last minute. Thailand undoubtedly has calmer seas and a totally different culture and cuisine. My personal feeling, for small children, I’d pick Thailand. My boys are big enough for the surf and enjoy the waves, they grew up on the Coral Sea and love the change.Also I enjoy Sub Continental culture and Thailand, well, we’ve been a million times, so Sri Lanka has been more of a draw for us in recent years but we’re all very much looking forward to a return to Thailand after Christmas.

      • Hi alyson,
        Thanks so much for your response. I think we are going to stick with our plan and do a little whizz round Sri Lanka before heading off to india or Thailand. I know india is quite hectic with a child but I’ve been there several times before and we’re seeing friends so I’m feeling confident!
        So now I have to deal with the backpack or suitcase/stroller or sling decision…. Going to revisit your luggage post now for some assistance with that one!
        Yes I know hat you mean about Airbnb….. I don’t charge for kids here and I’m always really surprised when others do. Additionally, I found a place that was listed on both agoda and Airbnb in Thailand, and it worked out £100 cheaper booking through agoda for one month.
        Thanks again! I may be in touch for some personal ‘tutoring’ as my anxieties rise closer to our departure. I’m wondering do you have a post about child safety? Your kids are older I know, but I am thinking about how best to ‘label’ my son in case he was to get lost (I think this is unlikely – I haven’t lost him yet but my mother is very anxious about this)

        • I would suggest a large tattoo on his forehead. If lost, please ring XXXXX. Nah only kidding. It’s not something we ever do but you can buy bracelets and so on, we have a post on those in our gear section.

        • When mine were little I’d often use a marker pen to write my number on their upper arm if we were at a theme park etc. Probably a good idea for airport/trains etc, but a little OTT for regular use!

  39. hi! great post! thanks! I wanted to ask you about going there with a 1 year old… what you think? would it be doable?

    • Doable certainly. Wise? That depends. What sort of travel did you have in mind? 2 weeks in a hotel? A longer backpacking trip? Travelling using buses and trains or aircon tourist taxis? You’d certainly want to be very careful about where he was putting his hands, because they would go in his mouth. In a big hotel that wouldn’t be a problem, on the street it would. You’d need to be extra careful about the sun, mosquitos and heat rash or the child just being uncomfortable in the heat and not knowing why it was suddenly so uncomfortably hot for him. If you were in air-con hotels and tourist taxis that would be OK. You’re unlikely to find car seats if that would bother you. You’ll find fruit, eggs and basic foods ( I can’t remember if they eat solids at 1 now!) You’d just have to be super careful and watch him like a hawk on most beaches because the surf is very powerful. Cheers!

  40. We are planning a month trip to Sri Lanka in January 2017. Since this is high season for the Central/Hill Country and Southern Beaches, which is exactly where we want to concentrate our trip, we are finding prices for accommodation a bit out of our budget of $30-$40 US Dollars per night. We are 2 older travelers used to a bit more comfort than low budget choices. But even what you list as having for $20/night in 2016 is showing more like $50/night when I check Agoda or email for next January. Being high season we are also reluctant to just show up and hope we find something within our budget and comfort needs. Are we just out of luck booking ahead?

    • Hi Rick. The prices we give are what we pay, face to face, you’ll never get the same low prices by bookig online ( the booking compnies take a cut any you pay forr convenience). If you want the cheapest price possibl, turn up and strt knocig on doors. If you want peace of mind, book online. The choice is yours. Good luck and best wishes xx

      • Thanks. Do you feel that even in January we could easily find something in $30-$40 with air-con (at the beach at least) and private bath by just showing up or do we need to down grade our expectations for accommodation?

        By the way, I really enjoy your blog.

        • I think you should book Rick, if not finding what you want would be a big issue, just book and be done with it. Sometimes peace of mind is priceless.

          • Thanks for the advice. What we might do is book a few places ahead in towns and cities that might be riskier if we can find any in our budget range. Then we will wing the rest.

  41. Hi and thanks for this wonderfull blog I have read with High interest. Our family will spend 4 weeks on Sri Lanka this Winther doing the South West loop – but as we are gonna spend new years eve, and did that 1 year ago in the nepali himalaya, we want to be well prepared to find the right spot for this, with 2 children (9 and 12) who at least want to feel the new year a bit more fun. Can you Think of a place for this? I can imagine some great beach or what do you recommend? Thanks again. KR Line

    • I’d stick with the beaches Line. There will be plenty of other people celebrating there. Mirissa is still our favourite although time and tourism marches on.

      • Thanks a lot on that, we will look for a great spot there. Tourism is ok at new years eve and then we can always escape for the more quit places.

  42. We took our boys to Kandy in Sri Lanka this weekend, largely because of the rave reviews I read here and at 1 or 2 other places. I have to say, we HATED our experience there. The best I can say is that we learned a few things about ourselves and what we can and cannot do as a family. It was hot, and air conditioning was minimal. As adults we could take it and our preschooler was excited enough not to mind, but the baby could not understand why he was uncomfortable and cried non stop. The roads were INSANE. I have a bone to pick with any travel bloggers who think that this is a safe place to travel with kids. We had to deal with single lane roads being used for dual carriage purposes in opposite directions with hairpin bends and no mirrors covering the blind spots. We saw two head on collisions while we were there. The people were not welcoming at all; in fact we found them aggressive and unwilling to respond. They treated us like we were there to steal something. E.g., we went to the Pinnawala elephant orphanage and afterwards there is a point where you cross the road where there are a few shops and a couple of restaurants overlooking a riverfront where the elephants come to bathe. When we tried to cross the road, a guard asked us for tickets to prove that we had been to the orphanage. My husband found 1 adult and 1 child ticket but lost one adult ticket, and the two tickets we had were not proof enough for them. They asked our driver if we had been and he said yes, but they didn’t believe him either. Then they asked to see pictures of us at the orphanage and only then did they let us through. Also, we believe in travel as education so I had prepped my preschooler about the Esala Perehera festival and the temple of the tooth in Kandy. We have two of the three books you mentioned for kids in your blog and then some. We made a lapbook and everything. When we got there, they didn’t let me in. I am a Muslim woman and I cover my head: generally you must have a bared head in a Buddhist temple but I had read online (and experienced personally while visiting Buddhist temples in Thailand) that they let you in if your head covering is for religious purposes. Not so in Kandy. And the worst part is that they were aggressive about it. When the woman in charge of females entering the temple told me I had to uncover my head and I explained myself, she still said no. So I said that’s okay I won’t go then. That should have been enough but then a man went up to my husband and told him to tell me to take off my head scarf. I could see my husband struggling to remain calm, as it is unacceptable in our culture for another man to come and tell a Muslim man to get his wife to uncover herself. We got away before the situation escalated, but it was deeply disappointing. To add to all of this, we have various allergies as a family. They didn’t understand us at the hotel and I was up half the night sick with an allergic reaction. Thank God I had taken food for my boys with me. There was just one chef who we found serendipitously who saved the situation for us. I will add a caveat to this though: their treatment of western travelers was very different from their treatment of us. Maybe that’s where the magic lies?
    Never, never, never again. HATED it.

    • Sorry to her that Natasha. Sri Lanka is a fabulous country, so, we’ll have to disagree on all of your above grievances. I must admit, I wouldn’t travel extensively with a baby, we never did and never recommend it.

    • I am sorry that you feel so bad about your travel in Sri Lanka. It is always difficult if different cultures come together. For me it is the first time to read or hear that a muslim does visit other religious sights and it probably has been the first time for the security at the temple to see a muslim couple trying to visit the temple of the tooth. In all religions there are rules to follow and sometimes a person from a different religion is not aware of an insult. As the security asked you to take off your scarf a non muslim would be asked to cover up if she would try to visit a mosque. It is then the decision of the woman to do so or not visit the mosque. As for the transport, there are less accidents in Sri Lanka with dead people then there are in Europe. Yes the street are small and narrow, but usually the people do also not drive so fast. I would recommend to take the train for the mountain area with children, the railway does not have so many curves and there are some fantastic views. In Pinnawella they are quiet strickt as there were many visitors trying to avoid to pay for the entrance tickets. They just wanted to see the elephants when taking their bath and tried to sneak through down to the river. Maybe they should have informed you that you would need the tickets again to enter the other side which leads you down the river. There is always room for improvements. Traveling with very small children is always challenging and traveling when the family has got allergies as well. I would recommend to contact the places you would like to stay in advance and asked them if they could accommodate the way you need it. Maybe there would even a possibility to cook your own meals.

  43. We are going to Sri Lanka this summer and I’ve been doing lots of research in preparations. I just have to say that your blog BY FAR has been the most informative. I appreciate that it’s actually helpful to those who read it vice just a fun account of things that you’ve done. Great blog!

    • Thank you Brooke, that’s great to hear. We hope you have a great time. We’re Sri Lanka specialists, I still have last month to write up, so come back soon!

  44. Thanks you so much for the detailed information on Srilanka. I am From India (New Delhi) and planning to visit in Month of March for 3 weeks as a solo backpackers.
    Can you recommend me any good home stay or at Colombo for 2 or 3 nights ??
    Also what will be cost for a Taxi to the hotel ?? As it will be my first visit to Srilanka and i want to book in advance (At least) 2 days in Colombo. Rest i will try my own to explore rest of the places. I am an experience back packers traveller, traveled to Nepal many times.

    • Hi Gautam, we’ve never stayed in Colombo, sorry, we always pass through to somewhere else. But I know that a taxi from the airport to Colombo was 2400 SL Rps, more for air con. If you walk outside the airport you’ll get one for less. I’ve always just thought there was more to see elsewhere, we head straight to the train or bus station.

  45. Such a great travel blog! you have really managed to convince us even more that we did the right thing booking a 3 week journey to SL with our children.
    We are going to SL in the beginning of March and we can´t wait!
    We are now in two minds of what kind of train we should take from Colombo to Kandy. Is the 2nd class ok for smaller children, (4 and 6) considering the heat? We have checked out the Seat61 blog but still hard to know what´s ok for the kids…
    any useful tips regarding the rather long train journeys with children?

    many thanks

    • The windows are all open on the trains, so the breeze cools them. I think we’re normally 2nd or 3rd, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen 1st. We just turn up, buy a ticket and get on, don’t worry about classes. But watch out for times, the trains can be very full at commuter hours. Get to the station in plenty of time to bag a seat. We’ve never done a particularly long train ride I don’t think, it’s a small island. I’ll let you know next week how we get on on the train up to Jaffna.

      • Great. Thanks for the quick reply. We have a few quiet long train rides ahead of us. The train journey from Kandy to Ella is 6 hours (!) so we would like to get a rather comfortable option if possible. Seems there are only the new Chinese blue trains running that journey anyway.
        Looking forward to hear more.

        • Last time we did it we were on a new blue train, windows didn’t open, didn’t like it, felt too cut off. But we got an older train up there too, which was better, I think from Kandy to Colombo. Just got off the Colombo-Kandy train, packed, but a great trip, very friendly and sociable and people were rotating seats to help out, 4 hours ish. Sorry , 6 hours is pretty short to us after 3 day train trips in India!

  46. Hi Alyson, I really enjoyed reading your blog and found it very helpful. I am going to Sri Lanka from the 1st April to the 16th. I really want to head straight to Mirissa – Tangalle – Ella. After these three places, ideally I want to visit Kandy and Sigiriya but worried about fitting it all in in 2 weeks? I am also unsure about the weather in April. Would you suggest going to beaches on the west coast to avoid rain? I have read that these are not as lively as beaches in the south. Thank you!

    • Sorry, I meant: would you suggest going to beaches on the east cost instead e.g. Arugam Bay

      • We will be there in about 2 weeks, I’ll let you know! Follow on Facebook.

      • Dear Imogen,
        East Cost “Arugambay is good for surfing.
        And there is new rising tourist area call Passikudah. There good for swim & relax.
        In southern area also Tangalle, Unawatuna & Hikkaduwa good for swim & relax.
        Mirissa is good for surfing & wail Watching.

    • I haven’t been to the east coast beaches yet Imogen, but will be there in a week or two, stay connected. Our Facebook page will give you more instant updates than the website. If time is short consider taking a car and driver for a couple of days, we’ve visited Kandy, Sigyria, Dambulla and the elephant orphanage in a 2 day trip from the west coast beaches, pick up and return from our hotel there. It will cost you more than public transport but for a short trip, time is the more valuable item. Find a driver on any street along the coast, independently or through an office.

  47. We are from Cairns (just down the road from you!), my family and I will be in Sri Lanka in March for 12 days working our way down the Coast Negombo (elephant orphanage) – Mirissa (whales) – Tangalle (Yala and Rekawa) – Hikkuaduwa on the way back . Due to our short stay I don’t think we will have time for the highlands so will save it another trip. Your blog and website are fantastic a great source of information!!……
    My question is with currency how is changing AUS$ in the streets? plenty of changers?

    • We usually don’t change cash, just use cash machines Mark. For travel, if we know we’ll need cash, we take US$. We’re flying to Sri Lanka again in 5 days, this time most certainly heading East and north to Jaffna. Enjoy your trip, Cairns, it ain’t 😉

  48. Great post, summarizing important things.
    I really missing the food there, especially rotti 🙂
    it’s their expertise.

  49. Wow this is a great blog, Very informative and nicely written.Well done! Seems like you enjoy your life travelling much. Great! We at Nature Lanka Holidays do the same. We love to give the best experience for all travelers come to Sri Lanka through us.

  50. Great blog, makes me feel much more comfortable taking my family to Sri Lanka. We are from Australia, and have visited other SE Asia countries in the past. We plan on going for 2 weeks, Colombo, Kandy, Yala, and Hikkaduwa. We are up to date with our tetanus, Hep A & B. Some say it is necessary to get typhoid injection, and others say only 2 weeks in those areas we should be fine without
    . What do you think?

    • I think you’ll be fine Bec. Go to the travel health category on this site to read up on vaccinations for Sri Lanka etc. But, whatever you decide, make sure you’re comfortable with your choice, worrying spoils a holiday.

  51. Helpful information. Sri Lanka was next on my bucket list. The food does look very interesting!

  52. I am an expat Sri Lankan (living in Aust for past 40+ years. I am visiting Sri Lanka in January 2015 and found your information very informative and find your perspective very useful even though I understand Sri Lanka very well. Thank you for your blog. I did use your contact number for the travellers guest house in Kandy and did speak to Sirisa who was keen to know where I had got the phone number from and I mentioned your blog.

  53. Hi great info, we want to travel to sri lanka with our son 9 month old, is it advisable. I am really considering the dengue fever thats common there- how can we stay safe? planning to stay only in colombo. what places do you suggest? we have been to sri lanka earlier before my son was born…stayed at colombo and negambo.

    • Well, travelling with babies always puts them at a slight risk. We lived with Dengue fever in Australia, it was just a fact of life in the wet season, nobody got it, but you’ll need to take preventative measures, screen his cot and the windows. I’d go further south for the quieter beaches, less tourists, but it depends what you’re looking for.

  54. hey thank you so much for all this information now I’m really excited we are travelling sri lanka for a month in december and can’t wait to spend chirstmas there with our to girls any recommendation for a place to stay the week of christmas

    • Hi Lisa, No, I can’t suggest any particular place. The big hotels will have Christmas meals and events on, we spent Christmas in Goa once and it was lovely, so much less commercial. We hope you have a wonderful time in Sri Lanka.

  55. Hello Alyson. If you were to spend 3 months in India or Sri Lanka with young kids (3,6,7), where would it be?

    • Good question Lisa. For me I’d pick India because I just love the place, but it’s hard, hard on you, hard on the kids. I’d pick Sri Lanka with such small children, I don’t think I’d take a 3 year old to India at all unless it was a very limited, just stay in a couple of places and travel 1st class on the trains sort of trip. Remember that most beaches in Sri Lanka have big surf, not ideal for young children, but you will find a few beach places with calmer seas. Also remember that admission costs are high in Sri Lanka, if you’re going to all the big attractions, it’s going to cost you. That is of course offset by the ridiculously low transport costs and good guest house prices.

  56. Hi, Thanks for the great post. We’d like to travel to Sri Lanka in August with our 8 month and 3 1/2 year old – where would you recommend going at that time of year? We’re thinking that instead of trying to see many things just to pick a couple of “bases” and maybe rent a house/apt. for a week at a time (maybe with a cook?) and go on day trips from there – what are your thoughts? Advise on where to look for house rentals in Sri Lanka and what we should expect to pay?

    • The weather in Sri Lanka is good in August Rochelle, check this link for detailed information. With children that young I guess you’d want a hotel or rental with a pool, the seas around Sri Lanka are rough with big waves, lots of fun for my bigger boys, maybe not for little ones. Have a look at Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna on the south-east coast, both have calmer areas protected by coral reefs. You’d probably want a while on the coast and maybe a few days in Kandy, you could visit many of the big sites from there, but there are some very big days for such little kids. Get a driver with a tourist mini van for the day, more expensive than taking public transport, but easier on a young family, you can arrange that very easily, anywhere in Sri Lanka. Good luck!

  57. Great post.very pleasant to read your post. I do not think that srilanka offer something unique and interesting to travel. one of the highlights is the traditional market. usually in a place like that, you will get the goods assortment, unique and at a cheap price. It looks like an elephant safari attractions and also very pleasant. srilanka probably one of the right places in Asia for a holiday with the family. Hopefully also guarantee security for tourists.

  58. Hi Alyson, how old were your boys when you did Little Adam’s Peak? We’re heading there with our 8 year old and I’m wondering if he would get bored/tired from the climb and the walk?

    • About 7 and 9 I think Jacquie. Little Adams Peak is just a short walk really, lots of steps, my boys flew up there. Were you thinking of the real Adam’s Peak?

  59. My parents and I are making a 6 day 5 night trip to Sri Lanka. I would love your recommendations on what we should definitely see and experience in this short period of time. We’re from Malaysia and as you’ve been here, you would know that there are certain similarities between both countries. I’d like to explore what Sri Lanka has to offer that Malaysia doesn’t have. Thank you!

  60. Any advise on getting from Ella to Yala and then from Yala to Mirissa? Thank you

  61. Your blog on Sri Lanka is amazing, leave next Saturday for 12 nights with our three daughters! Can not wait!!

  62. This is some excellent information for any family visiting Sri Lanka. I think many tourists are not aware of the public transport options available to them. Although bus services were there for a long time and haven’t improve much the train system has dramatically improved. Now there are many long distance trains specially targeting the tourist hotspots like Anuradhapura and Galle. You can get your destination faster and very comfortably as well.

  63. Hi Alyson,
    I experienced my first trip to Sri Lanka this month (my partner’s fourth) and I loved it. We stayed 10 days but could have easily have stayed longer. Next time I will take my 7 year old son. We flew into Colombo where our driver met us and drove straight up to Kandy. We stayed at a serene homestay 12 km’s out of town that had a wonderful traditional breakfast. We did day trips from there. Then onto Ella for a night to walk up Little Adam’s Peak. Next stop Mirissa for 3 nights. Cheap drinks, choosing fresh fish for dinner and gorgeous beaches. We finished with 3 nights in Unawatuna at a cheap resort to refresh before heading back to work. We spent a couple of days wandering around Galle which was wonderful. And I was lucky to have a ring made as a birthday gift 🙂 Highly recommend visiting this stunning spot. Happy travels; we will be back again soon.

  64. Hi Marianne and thanks for your kind words. From Unawatuna I’d definitely just catch a local bus. Colombo to Unawatuna could be tricky, you need to get to the bus terminal in town which is a way away from the airport. Or the train station, again a way away. There is an airport taxi stand, nice taxis, fixed fares, but relatively expensive, you’ll find yourself ushered towards this option, it’s what we did ($12 to Negombo). Returning, we caught a bus from Colombo train station to the airport, it dropped us outside the airport fence, so I don’t know where you’d go to catch a bus at the airport, maybe the empty buses come in, maybe you have to walk outside to the road. The train or the buses run the length of the coast and both are easy and cheap. 4 places there I haven’t been to, so I don’t know, sorry. Tangalle, back up, train. We came back up from Mirissa to the airport by train, it was packed, we stood the whole way, but it was the morning commuter train 6am from Mirissa. When we were in Tangalle it was low season, November. We preferred Mirissa but a lot of people adore Tangalle. If you find organising public transport too much drama, just find yourself a driver, tuk tuk of tourist mini bus, it’s incredibly easy to do. Try every sort of transport, they’re all fun!

  65. Hi Alyson – It has made my evening ( a very cold one here in the UK tonight ! ) reading your blog, we are travelling to Sri Lanka in March 2015 for my 40th birthday, we are taking our 8yr old son & 6 yr old daughter – we don’t want luxury, just to see the real Sri Lanka !
    We have booked guest houses not big hotels & our goals are to see blue whales & all the beautiful wildlife, flora & fauna that SL has to offer.

    If you can offer any ideas of the best way to travel around I would love to hear from you. Our itinerary is Colombo – Unawatuna (4) – Mirissa (3) – Sinharaja Rainforest (1)- Uda Walwe (1) – Yala (2) – Badula ?? TBC – Tangalle (4) – final night in Columbo.
    I have read your comments on Tangalle being quiet, do you think we may be over doing it with 4 nights or just good for a chill out ?
    You & your family sound as if you a really living what would be our dream – amazing !

    Best wishes – Marianne

  66. How do we travel from one city to another ? do we hire a cab? FYI , i have an infant with me .

    • With a baby I’d hire a driver and tourist mini bus Ananya, I’ve never seen a taxi as such there. We use trains, buses and tuk tuks, super easy!

  67. hey folks .
    thanks for the sri lankan information . very helpful .
    question ? i will be going to sri lanka for about 3 months at end of january .
    i’d like to spend most of that time up in kandy . i like mountains more than beaches !
    can you recommend 1. place to stay for 1500 lanka dollars or less ? 2. favorite internet cafe ?
    favorite vegetarian restaurant ? and .. best way to go directly from airport to kandy ?
    thank you much

    • Mike did you find the post about Kandy and where we stayed? That’s the only place I can recommend. You could take a fixed rate airport taxi, they’re pretty luxurious but expensive. Or arrange for a driver to pick you up, or get yourself to the bus or train station and hop on the next available. We don’t use internet cafes, we travel with our own laptops and only take accommodation with good wifi and no, can’t recommend a restaurant, we used Devon Tea Rooms on the main street every day for breakfast but mostly grabbed a hopper or some cheese and biscuits in the evening. The Pub is opposite Devon, only place we found where you can have a beer with your food, but we only ordered French fries. There are plenty of small restaurants, tiny places, in the town but we were staying out along the lake and never fancied walking in in the evening, we like our breakfasts more. Good luck!

  68. Thats a great itinerary. We never managed going to Mirissa. Did you see any whales there? I want to go back to Sri Lanka to visit Sigriya and see the whales!

  69. Ahhh so excited to have found your blog (through twitter!) we are Brit expats living in the Seychelles but we are taking our first trip to Sri Lanka this December. Our son will be 18 months. You guys are obviously Sri Lanka experts having been several times!! We were planning on taking our pram do you think that would be a total waste of time? X

    • Hmmm…That depends what you’re going to do and where you’re going. Want to send me an email, and we’ll chat about getting a toddler around Sri Lanka. Sounds like a great plan!

      • Great blog, I’m happy I found it. We’re also going to Sri Lanka with an 18 months old boy. We’ve got only 2 weeks and we’d like to visit: Colombo – Galle – Mirissa – Tangalle – Uda Walawe – Ella – Adam’s Peak (maybe) – Kandy. We plan to use public transportation. I would be very grateful for any tips concerning travelling with a toddler 🙂 So far we’ve been with our son to Thailand when he was 8 months old.

        • It’s a long time since I travlled with toddlers Anna! Keep ’em happy, fed , watered and rested I guess. My worry with toddlers was always fingers in mouthes, a lot could go wrong there. Public transport in Sri Lanka is brilliant, but you have to accept that you won’t have things like car seats. Bus and train windows and doors will probably be open. You’ll need to be on your toes.

  70. I keep hearing about how awesome Sri Lanka is for families. It is definitely on my list!

    • Go Amy! We adore Sri Lanka, we’d actually love to live there for a while.

  71. Love your roundup of my home town! Can’t wait to the take the kids home some day soon but loved following your adventures!

  72. So helpful, thank you so much! Can’t wait to visit Sri Lanka, only doing so because of you.

    • Well, I really hope you love it as much as we do Erin! We can’t wait to get back. Much as we love India, Sri Lanka is a lot easier, a gentler introduction to my favourite part of the world, particularly with kids.


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