With Elephants, Turtles, And More Exotic Wildlife, Sri Lanka Makes For A Great Family Getaway

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Photo of With Elephants, Turtles, And More Exotic Wildlife, Sri Lanka Makes For A Great Family Getaway 1/2 by Tripoto
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Photo of With Elephants, Turtles, And More Exotic Wildlife, Sri Lanka Makes For A Great Family Getaway 2/2 by Tripoto
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If you were to design a perfect holiday for your kids, it would probably include some beaches, some forts to climb and will probably throw in some exotic wildlife. And if you wish to have a great time at this holiday as well, just add in a relaxing ayurvedic massage and some historic temples. The ideal holiday for your family is ready! But where can you get the perfect balance f both? Well, with mad beaches, rumbling elephants, refreshing tea plantations, ayurvedic spas, ancient temples, gushing waterfalls, infinite national parks, playful turtles, and eclectic beach bars; Sri Lanka is a candid affair. Even with a set itinerary, things are bound to get spontaneous here; so don’t be surprised if while walking the urban districts of Colombo you find yourself escaping to the sunny beaches of Hikkawaduwa or if the hills of Nuwara Eliya lead you to an Elephant orphanage nearby; this island in the Indian ocean promises it all. The amazing landscape in the Sri Lanka can only be contested by its other major offering, its food. The Sri Lankan cuisine hasn’t been fully discovered yet, but those who have tasted some of its wild delicacies like the fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry), jackfruit curry and Watalappan (steamed egg custard), vouch that there is no deserving equivalent to it.

How To Reach Sri Lanka

The Bandaranaike International Airport, which is popularly known as Colombo International Airport, is the only major airport in Sri Lanka. However the Koggala Airport and the Bentota River Airport fly passenger planes to India. Sri Lanka is well connected to most of the countries in the world. You can take a direct flight from New Delhi to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. You can also travel to Sri Lanka by a taking a ferry from Munnar and ports in southern India.

Visa Requirements For Visiting Sri Lanka

With growing tourism in the country, Sri Lanka is considering the possibility of granting Visa on arrival to various countries. India, China along with other West Asian and European nations may benefit from it.

Travelers need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), which is similar to an E-Visa to enter Sri Lanka, this visa is valid for 30 days from your arrival. Citizens of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria must hold a return or an onward ticket. Sri Lanka has a visa on arrival system as well but it is best to obtain an ETA to avoid standing in lines. Citizens of Maldives, Seychelles and Singapore can obtain a visa on arrival without any fee. Citizens of these countries need to obtain a visa before arriving in the country. You can find your country on this list and see the procedure for getting a visa. For more details about getting a Sri Lankan visa visit the official website.

Getting Around

The easiest (and scenic) way to travel around the country is to hop on its trains. You can take the local railways or opt for more comfortable options like Rajdhani Express and Expo Rail. Buses also ply regularly around the country. You can ask at Pettah Central Bus Depot in Colombo for buses to Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. Within Kandy and Colombo, tuktuks or trishaws are a fun option to cover small distances. If you want to skip the hassle of finding transport, renting a car may seem viable to cover all the places to visit in Sri Lanka. Rentals start from $60/day.

Day 1

Explore the art scene in the city of Colombo

The charming capital is brimming with city lights. Situated on the shore, Colombo’s beaches are its greatest asset. One of the most happening cities in Sri Lanka, Colombo’s local art scene, nightlife, food culture and sights stand uncontested.

Know the Roots of the Country at the National Museum

From a stone Buddha to the Royal Throne, the museum brings together a mix of the cultural and religious past. The best place to visit in Sri Lanka to start your Sri Lankan adventure and introduce your kids to this amazing country.

Get to the Art of the City

Colombo’s vibrant art scene is any traveller’s delight. Whether it is the avant-garde style of local artists at Barefoot Galley or the more quirky and innovative canvases of Red Dot Gallery, or the ultimate collection of past and present at the National Gallery, you will surely return inspired. This is a must visit if you have some teens who are yet exploring their career options. Maybe art will be their muse?

Picture credit: Indi Samarajiva

Photo of Theertha Red Dot Gallery, Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Image Credits: Uditha Umesh

Photo of Theertha Red Dot Gallery, Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Picture credit: Kesara Rathnayake

Photo of Theertha Red Dot Gallery, Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka by Tripoto
Day 2

Spend a day out at beaches

Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project lies an hour away from the Colombo city and makes for a perfect escape on the second day. A few kilometres away is Hikkaduwa, the surfing beach where you can indulge in other seaside activities. Both these options are great, no matter how old your kids are!

Meet the Olive Ridley Turtle at the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project

Almost 1.5 hours away from Colombo, stop at Kosgoda on your way to Hikkaduwa the turtle hatching farm to spend a day with the endangered species. You will probably be as excited as your little one here.

Taste the Blue Waters of Hikkaduwa

Go scuba diving, snorkeling or surfing in the ocean and enjoy a good tan on the beach afterwards, while your kids build sandcastles.

Picture credit: Will Master

Photo of Hikkaduwa, Southern Province, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Image Credits: Amila Tennakoon

Photo of Hikkaduwa, Southern Province, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Pick the best places to stay in Colombo

Here are a few centrally-located and best-rated accommodation options for your stay in Colombo with prices ranging from Rs 4000-6000 per night.

Photo of Cinnamon Red Colombo, Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka by Tripoto
Photo of Opulent River Face Hotel, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Best Rated Places to Eat in Colombo

1) Ministry of Crab: Ranked in Asia’s 50 best restaurants and situated in one of the oldest heritage structures of the country, this restaurant is a mandate for any seafood lover. Try its classics, the chill crab and the baked crab. Prior reservation is recommended.

2) Paradise Road Gallery Café: Within a rustic setting, a diverse fare of local delicacies is served. A great place to relax in the evening or catch up for brunch.

3) Cloud9 Rooftop Lounge: Enjoy a lovely barbeque dinner with an even more exhilarating view.

Day 3

Explore the best of Sri Lankan landscapes at Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya lies at a five hour distance from Colombo and makes for the next stunning destination on this trip. The misty hills here are covered in tea plantations was once a favourite destination of the British colonizers, who escaped to its cool shadows in the harsh summer. The small country houses, left behind by the British pop up in its green landscape, giving it a parallel identity of “Little England,” as it is popularly called. Nuwara Eliya is where the natural beauty of Sri Lanka Tourism is highlighted and celebrated.

Hike to Adam’s Peak

An adventure uphill with gorgeous views on the way and a “sacred footprint” at the summit.

Take a Tea Trail

Walk around the mesmerizing tea plantations and smell some freshly plucked tea leaves. Pedro Tea Estate or Bluefields Tea Estate are some great options.

Picture credit: Michael Theis

Photo of Pedro Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Picture credit: Charles Pieters

Photo of With Elephants, Turtles, And More Exotic Wildlife, Sri Lanka Makes For A Great Family Getaway by Tripoto

Picture credit: Pavel Dobrovsky

Photo of With Elephants, Turtles, And More Exotic Wildlife, Sri Lanka Makes For A Great Family Getaway by Tripoto
Day 4

Explore the wildlife around Nuwara Eliya

Travel to the central highland of Sri Lanka to the Horton Plains National Park that lies an hour away from the city of Nuwara Eliya. Another great outdoor adventure could be visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on the fourth day that is also a breeding ground for Asian Elephants. This will be the highlight of your trip, for you and your kids.

Go to the World’s End at Horton Plains National Park

Set out early morning to spot some rare birds and animals, and also walk to the World’s End, a cliff with a drop of 4,000 feet and a breath-taking view.

Spend a day at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Meet young Asian elephants bathing in the river at one of the most popular elephant breeding sites in the country.

Picture credit: Danushka Senadheera

Photo of Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, B199, Rambukkana, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Picture credit: Amila Tennakoon

Photo of With Elephants, Turtles, And More Exotic Wildlife, Sri Lanka Makes For A Great Family Getaway by Tripoto

Pick the best rated places to stay in Nuwara Eliya

Choose from the most stunning resorts around Nuwara Eliya with prices starting Rs. 5,465 onwards.

Photo of Heaven Seven Nuwara Eliya, Haddon Hill Road, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka by Tripoto
Photo of The Fern Cove, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Best Rated Places to Eat in Nuwara Eliya

1) Grand Indian: A bit of a shift from the local cuisine to the spices of North India. It is one of the local favourites.

2) Tea Factory Hotel Restaurant: With its archaic interior of an old tea factory and a good view, it’s a nice place to get some lunch or sip some brews.

3) Q Restaurant: Local cuisine served in a quiet setting. If you want a break from all the Sri Lankan food, though order some amazing Pizzas.

Day 5

Experience the Sri Lankan History through the heritage architecture

At a distance of 2 hours from Nuwara Eliya lies one of the biggest cities in Sri Lanka, Kandy. The third destination on the itinerary, a former capital of the Sinhalese Kingdom, Kandy is a treasure trove of culture, history and art. It’s foggy landscape centers around an enchanting lake, a palace that stands true to the richness of the country’s pre-colonial past and the a scared city; all give it the charm of the land far, far away where the once upon a time of your travel tales will be written.

Be enchanted at the Royal Palace

This vast enclosure once housed the Royal family and is constituted by a number of significant structures, mainly the Temple of the Tooth, and the King and Queen’s Palace.

Enjoy the View at the Kandy Lake

A blue gem amongst the green landscape, the lake is right at the center and can’t be missed. Plus, just look at that view.

Picture credit: Arian Zwegers

Photo of Kandy Lake, Kandy, Central Province, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Picture credit: David Haberthür

Photo of With Elephants, Turtles, And More Exotic Wildlife, Sri Lanka Makes For A Great Family Getaway by Tripoto

Picture credit: Maximilian Imran Faleel

Photo of With Elephants, Turtles, And More Exotic Wildlife, Sri Lanka Makes For A Great Family Getaway by Tripoto

Get a final taste of nature and culture around Kandy.

Day 6

Tea Trail at the Ceylon Tea Museum

Located in an old, abandoned tea factory, this museum resurrected by the Sri Lanka tea board tells you all there is to know about the popular Ceylon Tea.

Spiritual Encounter at the Dambulla Cave Temple

A World Historic Site and a must on the places to visit in Sri Lanka, the Dambulla Cave Temple has been a pilgrimage site for centuries. It is the largest cave site in the country with Buddhist mural paintings and 157 statues.

Picture credit: Rahim Packir Saibo

Photo of Dambulla Cave Temple, Kandy - Jaffna Highway, Dambulla, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Picture credit: Dhammika Heenpella

Photo of Dambulla Cave Temple, Kandy - Jaffna Highway, Dambulla, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Pick the best-rated places to stay in Kandy

Choose from the most-gorgeous accommodations around Kandy for an escape of a life time. Prices starting Rs 7000 onwards.

Photo of OZO Kandy Sri Lanka, Saranankara Road, Kandy, Sri Lanka by Tripoto
Photo of Cinnamon Citadel, Srimath Kudarathwatta Mawatha, Kandy, Sri Lanka by Tripoto

Best Places to Eat in Kandy

1) Slightly Chilled Lounge Bar: A lake view, a pool table, some good music and a good fare of Chinese, Slightly Chilled exceeds expectations on all levels. There’s also of course the happy hour.

2) Theva Cuisine: Fine dining in Kandy with a calming view of the Hantana mountains, the restaurant provides experimental and Asian cuisine.

3) The Empire Café: The vintage setting of the café gives way to a modern fusion of dishes from European to Asian.

Have you been dreaming of an escape to the places to visit in Sri Lanka? Find the perfect hotel and plan the perfect itinerary, unlike anywhere else. Tripoto is the world's largest community of travellers. Ask people who've been to Sri Lanka for tips and destinations.

All hotel prices are approximate and as updated on 13 February 2016.

Colombo is a fine introduction to the diversity of Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is popular for growing the Ceylon Tea. Known as Little England, its colonial past remains vividly alive here in its architecture and old buildings. Nuwara Eliya will refresh your mind, body and soul. Kandy is full of Sri Lanka's history and its traditions. Plus, its lake is truly a sight for sore eyes!

The capital city of Colombo, the this tea-hill-station Nuwara Eliya and the cultural hub of Kandy together give you a perfect travel experience to Sri Lanka in a week. Have you been to Sri Lanka? Write about your adventures here.

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