It is unanimous, Sri Lanka is one of the best destinations in the world for family holidays. The small island nation is known for its amazing wildlife, verdant tea plantations, scenic nature trails, pristine beaches, and great hospitality.
It is hard to go wrong with a Sri Lanka holiday, but as always you need to be a little proactive when travelling with young children to ensure their safety, comfort, and happiness.
If you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka with toddlers and not sure where to get started, today’s Travellers Isle article is for you.
The topics that I wish to cover in this article are as follows.
- Is Sri Lanka safe for toddlers?
- What can toddlers do in Sri Lanka?
- Frequently asked questions
- What is the best time to visit Sri Lanka with toddlers?
- How long to spend in Sri Lanka with a toddler?
- What is the best way to get around Sri Lanka when travelling with toddlers?
- What is less expensive? Hiring a vehicle and driver for the full tour or hiring taxis from one destination to another?
We are not going to describe toddler tour itineraries in this article, as we are planning to discuss them in detail from a future article. In the meantime, you may browse our Sri Lanka family itineraries for some inspiration or drop us a message to get our help on planning your itinerary.
Without any further ado, let’s get started.
Is Sri Lanka safe for toddlers?
The word “safe” has a new meaning in 2022. I believe the time that the pandemic held us back is behind us. However, you might be wondering if Sri Lanka is safe to travel with a toddler when Covid19 is still in the background.
Sri Lanka faced many economic hardships during the Covid19 pandemic, but the country did extremely well on the health and safety front.
Sri Lanka is one of the most highly vaccinated Asian countries in the world. At the time of writing this article 77.7% of Sri Lankans have received at least one dose of a Covid19 vaccine, 64.0% of Sri Lankans are fully vaccinated, and 27.6% of Sri Lankans are boosted.
Thanks to the sacrifice and the commitment of the frontline workers, the country has managed to bring down the daily Covid19 deaths to single digits. I am optimistic 2022 is the year that we beat the Covid19 virus.
In addition to that, you do not need to worry about Malaria, Cholera and Rubella when travelling Sri Lanka. Dengue does still exist in Sri Lanka in very small numbers, but using a mosquito repellent and booking airconditioned accommodation will almost eliminate any risk of catching Dengue during your Sri Lanka trip. (Usually, you do not find mosquitos in airconditioned rooms.)
Sri Lanka is also a very peaceful country in which to travel. There are no wars and Sri Lankans are some of the most hospitable people in the entire world.
Though you should take reasonable care of your belongings, petty theft in Sri Lanka is less common compared to many parts of the world.
Overall, Sri Lanka is a nice and safe country to travel with toddlers.
What can toddlers do in Sri Lanka?
Now it is clear Sri Lanka is a safe destination to travel with a 1 to 3 year old child, let’s discuss some of the amazing experiences that you can have in Sri Lanka with your little ones.
1. Jeep safaris
I think any parent would agree that children hold a beautiful fascination for animals. Take the kids to a national park during your Sri Lanka trip, you are guaranteed they will love it.
There are 22 national parks in Sri Lanka. However, not all of them fulfill the criteria to be recommended as family friendly. In my opinion, Minneriya, Udawalawe and Yala national parks are the best national parks in Sri Lanka for families visiting with toddlers.
If your kids want to see wild elephants, Minneriya and Udawalawe national parks are the best for your Sri Lanka trip. If they want to see a greater variety of animals (including leopards), consider visiting Yala national park.
2. Short hikes in Ella
When I design tour itineraries for families, I always try to include two to three nights in Ella. This amazing hill country destination is known for its beautiful hikes that are perfect with young children.
Little Adam’s Peak and 9 Arch Bridge are the best hikes to enjoy with toddlers in Ella. You will need roughly 2 hours for each of these excursions when travelling with small children.
If you like, you may also visit Lipton Seat to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding tea plantations and mountains. We recommend hiring a tuk tuk to get to the top, as it is a bit too difficult by foot.
3. Scenic train rides
Another amazing experience that you can share with your children in Sri Lanka is the scenic train ride from Nanu Oya to Ella. Kids love watching out the train windows as the train rushes through tea lands and misty mountains. I am pretty sure the adults will be equally happy.
A word of caution: Book your seats well in advance. Train tickets become available for reservations 30 days prior to each train journey day (at 10.00 am). They often get fully booked within minutes.
4. Sunset boat safaris with toddlers
You should never skip an opportunity to see wildlife when travelling with toddlers. A sunset boat safari in Sri Lanka is one such opportunity.
If you are spending your beach stay in Bentota, you may enjoy a boat safari on Madu River. If you are staying in Tangalle, you may enjoy a boat safari through the Kalametiya sanctuary. Both of these excursions are filled with colourful birds and are highly recommended for families travelling with toddlers.
If your Sri Lanka tour is during the period May to October, you may also visit Gal Oya to enjoy a boat safari in Senanayake Samudraya. The luckiest observers will be able to witness elephants swimming in the Senanayake Samudraya Lake during this amazing boat safari.
5. A couple of historical sites
Do not shy away from the historical sites when travelling with toddlers. Kids will not be bored visiting an odd temple during your Sri Lanka trip.
I highly recommend visiting Temple of the Tooth with your child while you are in Kandy. It is one of the most enchanting temples in Sri Lanka. If you wish to make it a bit more fun, you may dress like locals with silk sarees and batik sarongs when you visit the temple. (There are plenty of stores in Kandy where you can buy traditional dress at an affordable price.)
Another historical site that can be easily visited with young children is Polonnaruwa ancient city. It is located just one and half hours away from Sigiriya. We recommend visiting this UNESCO listed world heritage site in the early morning and late afternoon to avoid the sun.
6. Enjoy the beaches
Last but not least, make sure that you have plenty of beach time during your Sri Lanka holiday. Beautiful sunsets, snorkeling, sandcastles, fresh seafood, what’s not to like?
Generally speaking, the beaches in the southern and western parts of Sri Lanka (Bentota, Induruwa, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Dikwella, Mirissa, Tangalle, etc.) are the best for Sri Lanka trips during the period November to April. If you are visiting Sri Lanka during the period May to October, choose a beach on the east coast of Sri Lanka (Pasikuda, Trincomalee, Nilaveli, etc.) for optimal weather.
Frequently asked questions
1. What is the best time to visit Sri Lanka with toddlers?
The best time to visit Sri Lanka with your little ones is from mid-December to mid-April, when the cultural triangle, hill country, southern and western regions enjoy perfect weather.
July to September is another great time to visit Sri Lanka. However, tour itineraries that are recommended for this period involve slightly more travelling, as they feature beach stays in the east coast. (East coast beaches are the sunniest in Sri Lanka during the period July to September.)
2. How long to spend in Sri Lanka with a toddler?
Ideal time duration for a Sri Lanka holiday with a toddler would be fourteen to sixteen days. The minimum duration that we recommend for a Sri Lanka trip with a toddler is ten days.
3. What is the best way to get around Sri Lanka when travelling with toddlers?
You need to hire an airconditioned car if you are travelling Sri Lanka with a toddler. Bus journeys in Sri Lanka are way too tiresome for little ones, due to heat, crowds and longer hours of travelling.
(Trains are not as tiresome as busses, but they are limited to a few regions of the country. It is impossible to do a full Sri Lanka tour just using trains. In fact, in most Sri Lanka itineraries, the only portion that can be travelled by train is the Kandy – Ella leg.)
4. What is less expensive? Hiring a vehicle and driver for the full tour or hiring taxis from one destination to another?
Hiring one vehicle and driver for the entire tour is almost always less expensive than hiring multiple taxis. This is mainly because the taxi drivers also have to cover the cost of their empty returns from the amounts that they charge from you. (There are virtually no empty returns when hiring one vehicle and driver for the entire tour as your driver starts and ends the tour from the same place, Colombo airport.)
Sri Lanka is an amazing destination to experience with toddlers. Your kids will never get bored in Sri Lanka exploring its beauty. Choose this island nation for your next family holiday and you will agree it is one of the best holidays that you have ever had.
As I always say, a little planning goes a long way when travelling with little ones. I hope this article guides you in the right direction as you begin your tour planning.
Feel free to leave a comment or drop us a message, if you have any questions. You are also welcome to browse our blog. We have plenty more articles to help you with your tour planning.