I’m sure you have the got the idea of our feelings about Sri Lanka, especially if you have read our ultimate guide. But one of the best things, in the very long list of things, that makes Sri Lanka with kids so amazing is that in spite of its small size, each region is different, from its climate, landscape and food.
Exploring all that this country has to offer is a must and how you do it, especially with kids needs thinking about. Travelling with kids has to be one of the most challenging parts of travelling with kids…wait! I’m going to be talking about those travel days, moving from one place to another, transitting, planes, trains, automobiles etc, you get the idea.
This article will guide you through the different options available for travelling around Sri Lanka and our top tips.
Sri Lanka By Car
Private driver is probably the most common way to travel around Sri Lanka. Travelling by car is definitely the most comfortable option. You can hire a vehicle and a driver to take you around. One of the benefits of this option is that you travel at your own pace, and you don’t have to worry about tickets or departure times.
You have lots of flexibility for your journey which can be a life saver for the kid that needs a toilet stop or a stretch of the legs. We took a private car for some parts of our trip because public transport options meant an epically long journey. However, if you fancy a bit of an adventure, immersion into the culture and a much cheaper trip then take a look at the public transport options we have shared below.
Sri Lanka By Train
While it may not be the fastest mode of transportation, riding the train in Sri Lanka is undeniably one of the most memorable and scenic ways to explore this captivating island. It is definitely one of our favourite ways to get around.
Compared to bus rides (more on that later), train journeys are known for their relative comfort and reliability. One significant advantage is being able to book tickets online but also if you need help at the station, there are plenty of English speaking help available.
When travelling with kids, although the journey may be longer, the option to move around the carriages makes the journey easier in some ways.
But it’s not just about reaching your destination; the train ride itself is a captivating attraction. We have all seen those Instagram shots of the train rides in Sri Lanka. The routes through Sri Lanka’s are some of the most scenic in the world; Taking you through lush mountains, past verdant rice paddies, and into the heart of stunning tea plantations. The iconic Kandy to Ella route, in particular, is a favorite among travelers for its breathtaking vistas. Get your elbows ready to push through all those instagrammers to snag the best spot. This route sells out much quicker than other routes so book early if this is something you want to do. Check out Sri Lanka train schedule
If you’re opting for a train adventure in Sri Lanka, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the three available classes:
- First Class: This option is available on selected trains and offers air-conditioning. It comes in three varieties: coaches, sleeping berths, and observation saloons with large windows. If you’re traveling along a particularly scenic route, consider the observation saloon. Just be prepared for the air conditioning, which can sometimes reach Arctic temperatures, so having an extra layer handy is advisable.
- Second Class: It’s not as plush as first class, but it’s comfy with cushioned seats. The catch? No A/C, but there are fans and windows you can open for a breeze. Heads up, it’s usually the busiest class!
- Third Class: This one’s for the adventurers. Seats aren’t cushioned, and there’s no A/C, but guess what? You can fling those windows open for a real feel of the surroundings.
Okay, now for some practical tips:
- Plan Ahead: Trains fill up fast, especially first class, so grab your tickets at least a day before.
- Bathroom Adventures: Train bathrooms can be an experience. Keep wet wipes or antibacterial spray handy, and brace yourself for the experience. Trust us; it’s all part of the journey!
- Open-Door Alert: Train doors are often open between compartments, so keep an eye on your kiddos to make sure they’re safe.
- Pack a Jacket: Depending on when you travel, it can get a bit chilly on the train, so throw in a jacket, just in case.
So there you have it – riding the train in Sri Lanka is not just about reaching your destination; it’s an unforgettable adventure in itself.
Where & When to get tickets?
For train journeys, it’s better to get your tickets in advance. You can either go to the station a day or two earlier to buy them, or you can purchase your tickets online by using the link below. For longer journeys and the more popular routes book sooner rather than later (Colombo to Galle, Ella to Kandy, Kandy to Colombo)
Sri Lanka By Bus
Ok, so this has to be one of my highlights of travelling in Sri Lanka, but in all honesty, this will not be for everyone.
Public buses run throughout the country and is the most common way of travelling for locals to travel around the country which means, buses can get busy. If it’s comfort you are looking for, this may not be the way to travel for you.
There are also private buses which are smaller, air-conditioned and much more comfortable. We didn’t ride them so can’t compare the level of pure exhilaration offered.
The buses which run along the coast road from Matara to Colombo are some of the most fun and terrifying ways we have ever travelled. There seems to be a race to get to the next bus stop to pick up the most passengers, this means that you travel FAST! This is definitely something to consider when planning your journey.
Check out the video of our experience here
Top tips for riding the bus:
- The first two seats of public buses are reserved for Buddhist monks. This is also a good thing as these are the seats for only the most dangerous of thrill seekers!
- Bus stations in major areas are often crowded. If you’re following a schedule, make sure to come in advance. This will also give you a better opportunity of getting a good seat. There is no real system to get on the bus, it’s every man for himself.
- The likelihood is that if your kids don’t have a seat, a lovely local woman will likely squish up or sit your kids on their knee.
Where & When to get tickets?
For bus tickets, you can book ahead but it’s really not necessary and probably more hassle. You can just jump on the bus and the conductor will come and ask your destination. Tickets are CHEAP!
If you want to buy a ticket online you can use the following link.
Three-wheelers fondly referred to as tuk-tuks, named after the sound its engine makes, are found throughout the country, especially in big cities and towns. They are the equivalent of taxis and kids will love going in one since it’s open at the sides and offers a unique experience. It’s also great for exploring the city on short journeys.
Want to see more places with TukTuks? Check out Bangkok here or Cambodia.
Where & When to get tickets?
In the bigger cities you can use PickMe or Grab app to book a TukTuk. TukTuk’s in Colombo use a meter but if you hail your own you need to negotiate rates before agreeing to ride.
Fancy a different kind of journey around Sri Lanka?
Hire your own TukTuk
TukTuk Rental offers a unique self-driving adventure in Sri Lanka, connecting avid travelers with local tuktuk owners. Here’s what you need to know:
- Social Business: TukTuk Rental is a socially conscious business that helps local tuktuk owners earn extra income. They pay these owners above standard rates, ensuring a fair contract and providing financial support for their families.
- Local Impact: With approximately 1.5 million tuktuks in Sri Lanka, many owners are burdened by financial loans due to high government taxes on these vehicles. TukTuk Rental’s service contributes to alleviating this financial strain, making a positive impact on local communities.
- Premium Service: TukTuk Rental offers a premium rental experience. Their packages include unlimited kilometers, full insurance, driving lessons, essential accessories like phone holders and chargers, spare tires, detailed adventure maps, a social group chat with fellow travelers, and 24/7 on-road support.
- Authentic Travel: The company believes in experiencing travel like a local, allowing you to choose your adventure by putting you behind the wheel of your very own tuktuk.
- Convenient Operations: Located in Mount Lavinia, Colombo, TukTuk Rental simplifies the rental process. They source reliable and late-model tuktuks, handle all paperwork, and connect tourists with local tuktuk owners through their user-friendly online platform.
TukTuk Rental offers an authentic and socially responsible way to explore Sri Lanka, making a difference in the lives of local tuktuk owners while providing an unforgettable travel experience for adventurers like you.
Whichever way you choose to travel around Sri Lanka, you will have the most amazing experience in this beautiful country.
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