If Sri Lanka has not been on your travel radar before, you should definitely consider it. Read on, as we help you uncover this island nation and share the many wonderful things you and the kids can do in Sri Lanka.
The name Sri Lanka conjures up an image of a former British colony, one that is associated with the popular Ceylon tea. You may think of rolling tea terraces, but that’s not all there is to Sri Lanka. Like Singapore, the country is an island nation. It’s located to the south of India, surrounded by the Indian Ocean.
With Buddhism being its official religion, Sri Lanka is known for magnificent Buddhist relics and ruins, sacred temples and ancient cities. The country has also captivated the heart of countless visitors with its raw beauty. You will find nature in its truest sense − wild safaris, lush tropical jungles, mighty hills and deep blue seas. Untouched as they are, Sri Lanka’s tourism is developed enough to offer various tour packages for you to choose from.
1. Visit the Beach
Being an island, Sri Lanka guarantees plenty of beach time for the family. An ideal relaxing day means lounging on the sand, watching the kids play in the water. When you feel like it, join the fun and take a refreshing dip in the water. Unawatuna beach in southern Sri Lanka is known to have the safest and calmest waters for swimming. The beachfront is known for its soft pristine sand and picture-perfect sea.
There is a good selection of restaurants, cafes and accommodation choices. However, since Unawatuna is one of the most popular beach towns, it also has a vibrant nightlife with a great number of bars. Do take this into consideration when choosing between a day visit and overnight stay.
2. Learn about Turtles
To pack some meaningful and educational experiences in the trip, you can visit the Sea Turtle Farm & Hatchery. Located in Habaraduwa also by the beaches in south Sri Lanka, it’s a non-profit organisation that aims to rescue sea turtles from extinction. They hatch and cure sick turtles in a safe sanctuary before releasing them into the ocean.
At this small centre, young minds will learn about the dangers the species is facing, as well as various conservation efforts. They can also help release baby turtles and watch them go back to the ocean. The hatchery is open daily from 7.30am to 6pm. A visit to this place takes about half an hour – a meaningful way to start or end a day.
3. Go on a Safari
In Sri Lanka, the kids will have the chance to see plenty of birds and animals, not in the zoo, but in their natural habitat. Home to 22 national parks, the country is one of the best places in Asia to observe wildlife. Little ones will be fascinated with leopards, elephants, sloth bears and numerous colourful birds that are protected on this island. A trip to a national park includes a local guide and jeep transportation, which can be arranged at the entrance of the park or with your hotel or tour operators. Visitors are not allowed to alight from the vehicles except at designated areas. If you fancy a night in the wild, you can also opt to stay in a lodge or camp in the park.
Some of the most popular national parks are include Yala National Park (above), best known for its leopard population. However, due to the popularity of the park, it is often very crowded. Expect to see lots of jeeps in line! Alternatively, Uda Walawe National Park is one of the best places to spot elephants. It is about a third the size of Yala National Park, but significantly less crowded, which means a better chance to spot the animals.
4. Take a Train Ride to Ella
Ella is a beautiful town that’s worth visiting with your family. On top of that, the journey there is a unique experience on its own. A far cry from the usual MRT trains the kids might imagine, the train system in Ella was introduced by the British government in 1864, and offers some of the most picturesque train rides in the world. You can go to Ella from various places such as Kandy or Nuwara Eliya.
The train trundles slowly up the mountain, passing lush emerald hills of green tea plantations. It is about seven to eight hours from Kandy, but along the way, you can choose to stop for a few days at Nuwara Eliya, the ‘Little England’. Slow down, take a deep breath and let your imagination take to the clouds on this scenic journey. Click here for a detailed guide on how to take the train in Sri Lanka.
5. Stay at a Colonial Villa in Sri Lanka
Relive the lifestyle of British nobility back in a different era. There are villas designed to reflect the architecture and style of the colonial period. Should you require, you can have your own chauffeur and a personal butler to help you arrange your stay and itinerary. Meals can be catered to your and the kids’ preference, and if you need extra help to make the stay even more comfortable, pool fence, baby cots and high chairs can be arranged. Just sit back, sip a cup of tea and watch the little ones having fun the garden. Bliss.
The article is contributed by Khanh Tran from SriLanka-Villa.com. Images courtesy of SriLanka-Villa.com unless otherwise stated.