is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka 2024
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Is It Safe to Travel to Sri Lanka with Kids 2024?

Is It Safe to Travel to Sri Lanka with Kids? A Family-Friendly Adventure for 2024

We are huge fans of Sri Lanka. Our love for this beautiful country started over 10 years ago when we arrived for a quick 9-day visit with the plan to get legally married… perhaps a story for another post!

We loved the people, the culture, the food, the beaches and pretty much everything, so we were keen to get back to Sri Lanka and take our kids this time for a longer trip.

Sri Lanka gets a bit of a hard time in the media so this post is looking to discuss safety in Sri Lanka with kids. Obviously, decisions we make as a family are our decisions that we feel comfortable with and it’s up to you to do the same for your family.

But for us, Sri Lanka is a perfect destination for a family trip.

Sri Lanka festivals with kids
The festivals in Sri Lanka are well wort a visit.

Why you should take the kids to Sri Lanka

Pristine Beaches for surfing, snorkelling and swimming

  • Sri Lanka boasts some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches, with something to offer for every type of traveler. Along the southern coastline, you’ll discover beaches like Mirissa, where you can relax on soft, golden sands and enjoy the calm waves (maybe hit a cool beach bar…if you are hip!). The kids voted this beach one of the best for sandcastles too. However, take note that the waves can get quite big, so keep a close eye on the little ones.
  • If you’re into surfing or snorkeling, head over to Weligama in the south or Arugam Bay on the east coast. Known for its fantastic range of surf breaks, Weligama is perfectly suited for beginners and Arugam Bay is a paradise for wave riders. Check out the best surf conditions here. As with all sea activities, take care with currents and tides.
  • Snorkeling along the south coast will provide lots of opportunity to spot turtles!
  • The waves are something to be aware of at all beaches especially with kids.
Sri Lanka beaches
Sri Lanka’s beaches are some of the best we have ever visited.

Sri Lankan safaris with kids

  • When it comes to wildlife adventures, Sri Lanka has something special for families. Yala National Park is probably the most famous for its resident (yet elusive) leopards, but it’s also one of the busiest. If you’re looking for a more peaceful experience with these gentle giants, consider places like Habarana and Minneriya and take a look at our dedicated safari post here and for more information on the different parks take a look at this guide.
  • With wildlife being so close, they may cross that invisible boundary and wander into human territory. Watch out for monkeys, some can be vicious, DO NOT FEED THEM, and avoid eye contact as this can be threatening.
  • You could encounter snakes, scorpions, lizards, geckos but as with most animals, they generally want nothing to do with you.
  • Street dogs and cats are something to consider. Our kids love finding any kind of animal so this was something we were aware of. There are cases of rabies in the country and if it’s something you are concerned with, consider vaccinating.

Scenic Trains to Ride

  • Train travel in Sri Lanka is easy, cheap and an efficient way to travel around the country. Most routes can be booked online the official Sri Lankan train site. The train journey from Ella to Kandy is often described as one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. You’ll find yourself chugging through lush, green mountain passes and tea plantations, providing a visual feast for the whole family. But you will need to book your seat as far in advance as possible as it’s an instagrammers dream. Check out Seat 61’s advice for his train route.
  • However, keep in mind that this route can get quite busy, especially during peak seasons. So, it’s wise to book your tickets in advance, ensuring you secure a spot with a view. Your kids will love leaning out of the window to feel the fresh breeze and watch the picturesque landscapes pass by.

Mountains and Hiking for little legs

  • If your little ones are up for some adventure, there are fantastic mountains in Sri Lanka that are manageable for them. Little Adam’s Peak in Ella is a great choice. To make it easier, you can take a tuk-tuk part of the way, and then it’s just a short walk to the summit.
  • Another must-visit is Sigiriya, with its iconic ancient rock fortress. While it might seem challenging, it’s doable even for young kids, and the breathtaking views from the top are worth every step. For an insider’s tip, climb Pidurangala during sunset; it’s a shorter and less crowded ascent than Sigiriya, offering an equally incredible view of the surroundings.

Complex History and Culture

  • Sri Lanka is a country rich in history and culture. Two places that stand out are Anuradhapura and Sigiriya. Anuradhapura is the country’s original capital is it is brimming with cultural and historical sites.  
  • Sigiriya, often referred to as the “Lion Rock,” is an iconic fortress that’s an easy climb even for little adventurers. The historical and architectural significance of this site will leave a lasting impression on your family’s travel experience and you can read more about it here. It’s not cheap though, and because of this, there will be lots of people trying to sell you things.

Family-Friendly Factors for your trip to Sri Lanka

Short Distances and Convenient Travel

  • One of the best things about Sri Lanka is its compact size, making it incredibly easy for family travel. Most destinations are within a relatively short distance from each other, so you spend more time exploring and less time commuting. We used public transport for our trip around the island but you can also hire private drivers.
  • Some driving is slightly on the wild side, and whilst roads are generally not particularly busy, speed can be a factor (especially on the south coast buses). Be sensible and aware when crossing or travelling by car or bus.
travel by local bus in Sri Lanka with kids
Travel by local bus in Sri Lanka with kids

Colombo: An easy introduction to Sri Lanka

  • Arriving in a new country can sometimes be overwhelming, unlike some other Asian cities, Colombo offers a more relaxed and gentler introduction to Sri Lankan life.

Warm and Welcoming Locals

  • One of the most heartwarming aspects of Sri Lanka is its people. Throughout our entire journey, we didn’t encounter a single grumpy person! The locals have a genuinely happy and relaxed outlook on life, which is contagious. This positive attitude extends to interactions with kids. Everywhere we went, our girls were met with open arms and friendly smiles. On our first trip to Sri Lanka, we were chased down the road by a man, desperate to talk to us. Having just come from India, we just kept walking but eventually had to stop, he was so persistent. We turned around to a big smile and the man said ‘Welcome to Sri Lanka, thank you for coming’ and walked away!

Kid-Friendly Food

  • Sri Lankan cuisine is a flavorful adventure, but it’s true that some dishes can be a bit spicy for young palates. Not to worry, though! Many places, especially in tourist areas, offer kid-friendly alternatives. Pancakes, omelettes, pasta, pizza, and chips are commonly found and sure to please even the pickiest eaters. And let’s not forget the hoppers—these bowl-shaped pancakes are a unique treat worth trying. If all else fails, there’s an abundance of tropical fruits and plain rice to keep little tummies happy.

Budget friendly

  • Sri Lanka has something for every budget. It’s generally not one of the cheapest destinations to get to, especially if coming from Europe or the US but once in Sri Lanka, your money can really stretch. Budget considerations are always important for families, and Sri Lanka offers excellent value for your money. While it’s not as inexpensive as some other Asian countries, your Western currency still goes a long way. For instance, train travel, which is a fantastic way to explore, is very affordable. A first-class train ticket from Colombo to Galle, for example, costs just Rs800 (approximately GBP4).

Family-Friendly Accommodation

  • Sri Lanka boasts a wide range of family-friendly accommodation options, making it easy to find a perfect fit for your travel needs. From cozy homestays to hotels and guesthouses with gardens or pools, there’s something for everyone. Family rooms are pretty common, usually consisting of two double beds but it’s also cheap enough to book more than one room. You’ll find quiet homestays for under GBP20 per night as well as luxurious boutique options for a splurge.
beach front accommodation in Sri Lanka
Fancy some beach front accommodation in Sri Lanka?

Easy Visa Process

Health and Safety Considerations

Low Malaria Risk

One of the significant health advantages of traveling to Sri Lanka with your family is the low risk of malaria. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) certified Sri Lanka as malaria-free in September 2016. Which means no anti-malarial- woohoo!

Check with your Foreign office for the most up to date advice




Vaccination Recommendations

It’s advisable to keep up with essential vaccinations such as Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies, and Typhoid. For the most current vaccination guidelines, consult your local health provider.

Mosquito Repellent and Dengue Awareness

Mosquitoes can be a concern in many tropical destinations, and Sri Lanka is no exception. While the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases is relatively low, it’s crucial to take precautions to keep your family safe. Our personal experience with mosquito-borne illness reminds us of the importance of these precautions. During our five years living in Southeast Asia and extensive travels, my husband, Jak, unfortunately contracted dengue fever in Cambodia, which was a challenging experience.

To minimize the risk of mosquito-related illnesses, ensure that you pack and use mosquito repellent diligently. Additionally, be aware of the symptoms of diseases like dengue, which include high fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, and rash. In case of symptoms, seek medical attention promptly. Although the risks are generally low, it’s wise to stay informed about health updates and follow recommendations provided by health authorities like the WHO regarding current cases and outbreaks.

The Resilience of Sri Lanka

Historical challenges

  • Sri Lanka has a complex and at times tumultuous history. The country faced significant challenges, including periods of civil conflict, foreign colonization, and natural disasters. The devastating tsunami in 2004, followed by a prolonged civil war, left indelible marks on the nation.

Resilience and recovery

  • What is truly remarkable about Sri Lanka is its ability to bounce back from these hardships. The country has demonstrated incredible resilience. The end of the civil war in 2009 ushered in an era of peace and stability, offering hope for a brighter future.

Current status of tourism in Sri Lanka 2024

  • Before the pandemic, tourism was flourishing in Sri Lanka, with travelers from around the world visiting to explore its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent challenges, including civil unrest, posed new obstacles for the country’s tourism industry. (DESTINATION OF THE YEAR?) Sri Lanka has faced hurdles on the path to recovery, yet it remains a beautiful and welcoming destination.

Sri Lanka truly is one of our and the kid’s favourite destination. We have always felt incredibly safe and very welcome no matter where we went. We enjoyed the homestay experience where families treated us like one of their own and fed us until food came out of our ears. We enjoyed riding the bus with the locals, with the women pulling the girls onto their laps when going around a tight corner. We enjoyed being invited to our tuk tuk driver’s birthday party and hearing about their lives in Sri Lanka.

We love Sri Lanka and can’t wait to go back…what is stopping you?

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Meet the author

Lisa is the founder of Boston Tribe Travels. She has lived and travelled abroad for the last 15 years, visited more than 30 countries and has done most of that with her husband and two children. As a full time travel family, they like to travel slow, worldschool and seek new adventures. From living in Borneo for 5 years to backpacking South America, Lisa shares a wealth of travel experience to empower more families to travel and learn together.