Tag: Sri Lanka with kids

Dambulla with kids

THE ASIA INTERVIEWS – Happiness Travels Here chats about Dambulla with kids

This month we chat to Kaylie from Happiness Travels Here about her favourite family holiday in Asia – Dambulla, SRI LANKA. Have you considered Dambulla with kids?

Our regular readers will know that we are huge fans of Sri Lanka. It’s one of our favourite destinations we’ve travelled with the boys and such an accessible destination for intrepid families. However, our Sri Lanka adventures focused on the South and East of Sri Lanka (including Colombo, Udawalawe National Park and Arugam Bay) and we didn’t make it further north than the central highlands. So I was very excited when Kaylie agreed to chat about Dambulla, a place we have not yet visited.

Dambulla with kids

1. Tell us a bit about yourselves. Where are you from and how often do you travel as a family? How old are your children?

In 2014 with a 3 year old and newborn baby we were offered a fantastic opportunity to move from our home in New Zealand to Dresden in Germany. Prior to having children we had both been keen travellers and we knew being based in Europe would open up so many experiences, learning about another culture, a new language and the chance to travel as a family. We have now been in Germany for almost 4 years and the kids are now 4 and 7 years old. We have travelled to almost 30 countries during that time.

Dambulla with kids

2. How many times have you travelled to Asia and why do you love travelling there?

I have always loved travelling to Asia. Asian destinations have this buzz about them, an orderly chaos that you can’t find elsewhere. The people are warm and the food is diverse and delicious. Prior to having children I travelled extensively through Asia, spending part of my medical internship in a paediatric hospital in Bangkok and also visiting my parents in the Philippines where they lived for 4 years.

As a family we have taken trips to Japan and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was the perfect half-ways point to meet my parents for an epic Christmas holiday, they travelled from New Zealand to meet us there. We fell in love with the Dambulla area in Sri Lanka.

3. Why is Dambulla your favourite destination?

You’ll find Dambulla in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. The landscape is breathtaking. Lush green jungle, impressive rocky spires, lakes and pristine national parks full of wildlife. Amongst all these vistas you will also find significant cultural sights. Dambulla sits within Sri Lanka’s “cultural triangle”. Inhabited as early as the 7th century BC the area is rich in history. The mix of awe inspiring nature and a rich cultural heritage made our stay in Dambulla our favourite during our 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary.

Dambulla with kids

4. What were your top 3 things to do in Dambulla with kids?

1. Jeep Safari in Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park
We visited Dambulla with a 3 year old and a 6 year old. By far the favourite excursion for the kids was seeing dozens of elephants in Minneriya National Park. We took a private jeep safari through the park. This is easy to arrange when you arrive. It took about an hour to reach the grasslands and watering hole where the herd was gathered. There was plenty to see on the way, peacocks, deer, crocodiles and mongoose. Coming around the corner to see the herd in the distance, goosebumps rolled over my arms, as we got closer we could smell the organic grassy smell of the elephants and even hear the crunch as they chewed clumps of grass.
We sat and watched the elephants interact with each other. Juveniles chasing and playing in the watering hole, a group of females huddling around a newborn calf and the dominant male wandering amongst the herd giving each female a reassuring tap with an outstretched trunk. An unforgettable experience.

Dambulla with kids

2. Hiking Sigiriya Rock
Sigiriya is a large column shaped rock and home to an ancient fortress. Also known as “Lion rock” the final stairway sits between the paws on a giant lion carved into the rock. Ascending a 200m rock may seem like a strange activity for a family holiday but we seem to gravitate towards these activities. While the climbs can sometimes be a challenge for little legs, we thoroughly enjoy the challenge and often talk about our achievement for weeks to come. We arrived at the entrance just before the 7am opening, since we were travelling during Christmas, a popular time for domestic and international travellers, we wanted to avoid crowds. We skipped the museum and headed straight through the gardens to the base of the rock. The path is very well organised, one way up and one way down, the stairs are in good condition, steep in places, though always with handrails. Our 6 year old had no trouble with the climb, 3 year old Ella needed to be carried some of the way. I am sometimes uncomfortable with heights and there was a short section of stairs bolted onto the side of the rock where I felt my heart quicken a little but I felt safe and my even more height phobic mother was also fine. At the top we were greeted by expansive views over the jungle and a wide open plateau to explore.

Dambulla with kids

3. Visiting Dambulla Caves
Dambulla caves are a significant heritage site not only because of the extensive cave paintings and 153 Buddha statues but also because the caves were used by ancient civilisations. 160 metres up, a Buddhist temple has been built into the side of the mountain, protecting the caves and the intricate and brightly coloured paintings within. The kids delighted in seeing some monkeys along the path up to the temple.
Our driver took us to collect our tickets at the main entrance, we then headed back out the road to use an alternative entrance which cuts a significant portion off the climb. Be sure to get your tickets first though as they will be checked only at the top.

5. Where did you stay and do you recommend it?

We stayed at the Heritance Kandalama. When I was researching our trip to Sri Lanka and talking to friends that had already been, I heard over and over how wonderful the Heritance Kandalama was. While it might not be in everyone’s budget we love mixing budget accommodation with a few nights of luxury.

The Heritance Kandalama is built into the side of the rock surrounded by jungle and overlooking the beautiful Lake Kandalama. The view is dramatic and Sigiriya rock can even be seen in the distance. The hotel is the masterpiece of a world famous architect and built to blend into the environment with minimal ecological impact. The hotel has a reputation for having one of the best dinner buffets and we were not disappointed. Extensive seafood, freshly BBQed meats, a large selection of local curries, fresh, healthy vegetable dishes and desserts that would rival those in Paris.

Dambulla with kids

Three pools one with a natural rock bottom, another an infinity pool which in the right light seamlessly fades into the blue of the lake below. Changing levels and low rails mean toddlers need to be actively supervised when moving about the complex.
Tip: Book direct with the hotel for the best price.

6. What did the kids eat?

In our family we have one adventurous eater and one fussy eater. For more adventurous kids mild chicken, prawn or vegetable curries are delicious served with rice. There were plenty of fresh tropical fruits. The hotel also had typical kids menu food available nuggets, chips, pizza, burgers pasta and more. Our favourite dish was served at breakfast, Sri Lankan Egg Hoppers, a crispy crepe like basket made with rice flour and coconut milk, holding a seamed egg. I enjoyed mine with a dahl and spicy sambols.

7. How did you get around?

We hired a driver and van. The roads in Sri Lanka are narrow and windy. What looks like a short distance on a map often takes much longer than expected. The drivers are quite aggressive. I would not recommend self driving. An alternative would be to travel the island with a combination of public transport and private transfers which can be organised by your accommodation.

Dambulla with kids

8. What is your top tip for travelling to Dambulla with kids?

Legs and shoulders need to be covered to visit religious sites so take a sarong to wrap over shorts or light long pants. Everyone needs to remove their shoes, on sunny days the ground can get hot so take along socks for the children to wear.

Please do not take part in elephant rides or visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, these are not ethical experiences, the elephants are often poorly treated and it encourages traders to illegally remove elephants from the wild. There are plenty of opportunities to see elephants in their natural habitat.

Dengue has become more of a problem in Sri Lanka in recent years. Rates vary a lot depending on the time of year and the area of Sri Lanka so take this into account when planning a trip and avoid high risk areas.

9. What item could you not have done without in Sri Lanka?

We picked up sim cards at the airport on our arrival. The cost was around $10 USD and this included data, texts and calling. This was great to be able to research where we were going, stay in touch with each other, our hosts and our driver.

10. Where are you off to next?

Our next trip is to Tbilisi in Georgia. We have friends that live there and it looks like a beautiful historic city to visit.

Read more about Happiness Travels Here on Kaylie’s website. You can also follow on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest.


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, it is at no extra cost to you, but I get a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog. 


Dambulla with kids

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Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids
Why Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids
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Colombo with kids

Colombo with kids: top 5 things to do

Had we stepped into a parallel universe? Colombo seemed so familiar; the architecture, the climate, the people, the colours. It could be our home in Bangalore, except the traffic flows, there are no mounds of rubbish, it’s cleaner, the pavements are walkable, tuk-tuk drivers use the meter and there is barely any honking. Life here is certainly calmer than its neighbour, India. Have you considered visiting Colombo with kids?

Colombo with kids - tuk-tuks

In fact, compared to pretty much all Asian capital cities we have visited over our years of travel, Colombo seemed to be the most chilled. However, do not mistake the relaxed city vibe as backward. Colombo’s economy is booming and modernisation is prevalent as shiny new skyscrapers transform the city’s skyline, towering above villages where you’ll still find the essence of the bygone Dutch colony.

Colombo with kids - skyscrapers

Colombo was our first insight into Sri Lanka and we loved it. Many people head straight to the beach resorts of Negombo on arrival, for a lighter introduction. However, we wanted to immerse ourselves as soon as possible into Sri Lankan life and we’re very pleased we did. Here are our 5 top things to do in Colombo with kids.

1. Viharamahadevi Park (Victoria Park)

Colombo with kids - Viharamahadevi Park

Amongst all the green open space, at the north-eastern edge of Viharamahadevi Park you’ll find a superb play area for children! Plan to spend a full morning or afternoon here. There is a big playground, toy train ride, horse rides, a small aquarium and a wobbly bridge over a small lake where you can hire boats. And if it’s a hot day, let them run through the water fountains to cool off.

2. Galle Face Green

Head to Galle Face Green, right on the sea front, just before sunset. Watch the colourful kites soaring high and perhaps buy one and join in, before grabbing some dinner from one of the food stalls to watch the sun set. You may even see a snake charmer. Once night falls, treat the kids to some cheap fluorescent-light toys. It will keep them entertained whilst you stroll the length of the seafront, soaking up the atmosphere.

3. Wandering around Slave Island

Colombo with kids - slave island

We didn’t see another tourist as we wondered around the narrow alleyways of Slave Island (the name has stuck since Dutch colonial times, when slaves were housed in this area which was surrounded by water). The boys loved high-fiving people in the doorways and chatting to other kids as we walked past their homes. One family even offered our boys a selection of battered plastic toys to take home (we politely declined). Such a warm and friendly village atmosphere. We certainly felt like we were seeing a different side to the shiny new skyscrapers popping up around the city. Take a tuk-tuk to the Fort area afterwards as it’s a ‘must do’, although we didn’t find the area too engaging for young kids.

4. Gangaramaya Temple

Sections of Gangaramaya feel more like a museum than a temple, with an eclectic array of artefacts gifted over the years; shiny buddha statues, a life-sized stuffed elephant, bold artwork, Dutch antique collectables, vintage cars and a large Bodhi tree. There is no logical flow to the building, with pathways and steps leading you to different corners and rooms, all contrasting in nature; a wonderful place for the kids to explore! This is not your standard Sri Lankan temple. Ticket entry is LRK200 per adult, but this also includes entry to Seema Malaka, a beautiful temple/meditation centre sitting out on South Beira Lake, just a short walk around the corner.

5. Waters Edge


This tip comes from expat friends living in Colombo, who are regulars to Waters Edge with their two young boys. This is a lovely oasis from city life with manicured lawns set around a lake, providing ample space for kids to run free. There is also a playground and an aquarium, which along with the grounds is all free entry. Make a day of it and try out one of the many restaurants, or bring your own food to enjoy in the designated picnic area. If you visit for Sunday Brunch you can also use the pool for free. The swimming area has a separate kids’ pool and kids’ jacuzzi. Entry is normally LKR1000 per adult (LKR500 for children under 13).

Where we stayed

Colombo accommodation is pricey compared to the rest of Sri Lanka. However, this is the capital city. We stayed at the delightful Anugaa In The City in Borella (GBP40 per night on booking.com for a spacious en-suite family room). It’s a little out of the city, but with tuk-tuks being so cheap and plentiful, the 10 minute journey is really not a problem. Plus, if possible, they allow an early check-in free of charge. We arrived bleary-eyed from our night-flight at 4am and were warmly welcomed to our room, carrying our two sleeping boys straight from the taxi into the comfy beds.

Colombo with kids - Anugaa

The staff are wonderfully friendly and accommodating. It can be a bit tricky to find them at times if you need something, but you’re provided with a mobile phone to contact the owner if needed. This is also very handy if you need someone to explain to a tuk-tuk driver how to get you back.

We particularly enjoyed the lovely breakfast spread provided each morning in the quirky dining area (included in room rate); a fantastic array of fruit, traditional Sri Lanka food of hoppers, noodles and curry, as well as omelettes for the boys.

Anugaa breakfast

Getting around

Tuk-tuks use the meter. Coming from India, this was extremely refreshing. Drivers may initially try to quote a higher fare, but if you then ask them to use the meter, they will generally oblige. However, unless you are heading to a major landmark, it’s unlikely they will know the way. Ensure you have offline Google Maps of Colombo downloaded to your phone, with a star locating your accommodation, so you can direct drivers when necessary.

Getting to/from Colombo

Bandaranaike International Airport, a 45 minute drive North of Colombo city centre, is the main airport for Sri Lanka, servicing flights from around the world. Do keep in mind that during the working-week rush hours, getting to and from the airport can take much longer. The easiest way to get to your hotel on arrival is to order a taxi from the desk on the right once you’re through baggage and customs. Our taxi was LKR2100, which is paid directly to the driver. Ask them to use the Expressway (much quicker, even in the middle of the night) and pay the extra LKR300 for the toll.

From Colombo you may wish to head east to Kandy, or south to Galle. Both are on the train network and this is the best way to travel (you certainly want to avoid all those hairpins bends in a car to Kandy!) Book your train ticket as soon as you arrive in Colombo, if you haven’t yet booked them online. As you can see from our Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids, we headed south to Galle. The train journey is just 2.5 hours (LKR400 per adult, children under 3 are free) and much of the track hugs the coastline, affording lovely sea views as the train carves through palm trees and villages.


Have you visited Colombo with kids? Any top tips to share? Let me know.

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Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet guide. The Sri Lanka edition was invaluable to our travels.

You may also wish to read:
Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids
Udawalawe NP with young kids: meeting elephants in the Sri Lankan wilderness
Arugam Bay with kids: staying at Elephant Road Resort 



Arugam Bay with kids

Arugam Bay with kids: staying at Elephant Road Resort

In a country with a reputation for great beaches, it takes a lot for a stretch of sand to stand out. But the mere mention of the name Arugam Bay sends people’s imaginations into overdrive. Pristine beaches, great surfing and a relaxed vibe are supposed to await you on the East Coast. But does the reality match the myth and how does it suit a travelling family?

Arugam Bay with kids - Crocodile Rock

First impressions of Arugam Bay seem to confirm the guidebook hype; the crescent-shaped bay creeps into view as you cross a bridge, the low-lying rice-paddies provide the perfect foreground to take in the scene. It feels like paradise but some of the gloss begins to fade as you hit the main road. It’s not that the town has anything immediately wrong with it, the main road has all the creature comforts you’d ever need and there are enough restaurants, surf shops and hotels to choose from. It just has a sense that, as beautiful as it is, everyone else is well and truly in on the secret and you could be in any one of a hundred other beach resorts in SE Asia. Which is fair enough, Arugam Bay is no longer a secret backpacker hideaway and one should never complain about the tourists when you are a tourist etc.

We arrived on a Saturday and it was BUSY BUSY BUSY. Not just with foreign tourists but hundreds of Sri Lankans enjoying some leisure time at the beach. It was so crowded in the sea that we found it almost impossible to locate three feet of shoreline to call our own and the sideways angle of the strong waves meant the boys couldn’t be left alone to just paddle. After twenty minutes we left the beach defeated, headed to a generic restaurant and ordered a pizza. Don’t believe the hype.

Arugam Bay with kids - Elephant Road

Saturday afternoon in Arugam Bay – busy, busy, BUSY!

But, as soon as we left the restaurant, the tide began to turn and another side of Arugam Bay appeared. We headed over to our accommodation (the beautiful Elephant Road Resort) and immediately sensed a different atmosphere as we crossed the wooden footbridge over a little stream.

Elephant Road Resort

Miki the owner, has created an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the main street, a resort more in keeping with the vibe the area apparently had ten years ago. Elephant Road Resort is super-chilled and relaxed, but not isolated: the town is still only a two-minute tuk-tuk ride away but you are safely ensconced from the fireworks, bars, music and general busyness of the main strip.

Elephant Road Resort, Arugam Bay with kids

We stayed for three nights and all the other guests we met during our visit were families. Older kids were keen for surfing lessons from the guru, Miki, whilst younger kids (including ours) just enjoyed the space to explore.

The resort is laid out around a central sandy courtyard, perfect for the boys to run around and dig holes. There are four deluxe family rooms to choose from, all providing en-suite bathrooms, air-conditioning and two double beds (perfect for families). There is also a lovely outdoor space to relax, with hammock and hanging double bed.

As with so many coastal places in Sri Lanka, the original resort was destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami, a single wall the only thing left standing after that awful day. But, starting from that single wall, Miki has created a haven for travellers who want something different to the usual beach resort hotels and backpacker hostels. The communal nature of the layout means you feel part of a small community, led by the chilled-out surfer Miki who seems to care passionately not only about his guests but also about the wider Arugam Bay community and his place within it.

The food at Elephant Road resort was healthy and tasty. Us parents particularly enjoyed the Israeli breakfast served in the communal dining area, whereas the boys were all about the pancakes. Miki also puts on a set menu dinner in the evenings if there is enough demand and you will enjoy the most beautiful mixture of Sri Lankan and Israeli meals, surrounded by your fellow guests all enjoying the easy-going atmosphere.

Arugam Bay with kids - Elephant Road

Shakshuka for breakfast

Make sure you pop to see the lovely ‘Aunti’ who lives next door, right by the foot bridge. The boys loved meeting her chickens and Mums (and Dads!) can purchase some coconut oil to protect your locks from all that surf.

Arugam Bay with kids - Neighbouring chickens

Meeting the chickens next door.

Where to go

As mentioned, Miki has been around these parts for many years and knows the area like the back of his hand. He was able to point us in the direction of some absolutely stunning beaches, just a ten minute tuk-tuk ride away, down a bumpy, sandy path. Finally, we saw what all the fuss was about – pristine, quiet beaches with small shacks serving cold drinks and noodles. We were in heaven. Our routine was set for the next few days; mornings playing at the beach and afternoons napping in the hammock or hanging-bed back at Elephant Road.

Arugam Bay with kids - Peanut Farm beach

Peanut Farm Beach

The beaches we enjoyed were Peanut Farm Beach and Elephant Rock Beach. They were both beautiful, but our favourite was probably the latter with a seemingly endless stretch of sand and (relatively) easy water to play in. Although wear sturdy shoes to climb over the rock to get to the beach. As with all the beaches around Arugam Bay, parents will need to supervise children in the water as the waves are big and the current strong. There’s a reason why it’s such a popular surfing hang out! Plus, there is very little shade, so it may be worthwhile taking along a baby beach tent (check out this blog post for recommendations).

Tragically, only three weeks after we left, a British tourist was attacked by a crocodile in the lagoon near the Elephant Rock beach and died (read the BBC article here). We had waded through the lagoon ourselves (although not in the exact spot as the poor man) and had no idea there were crocodiles lurking – lots of other people were in the lagoon. Another attack is of course incredibly unlikely, but do keep this terrible incident in mind if you visit.

Arugam Bay with kids - Elephant Rock Beach

Elephant Rock Beach

On our final afternoon we were dropped off at Crocodile Rock (another 15 minute tuk-tuk) and took a slow walk along a windswept shoreline to reach the actual rock. A very gentle climb led us to the top where we were greeted by the most perfect vantage point for the approaching sunset. Take care of the little ones as the rock drops off quickly at the edge, although there are plenty of places to sit and watch the sky change colour; the low-lying rice fields providing the perfect canvas for this amazing sight.

Getting around

Tuk-tuks are everywhere and easily the best way of getting around. Tuk-tuks around Arugam Bay itself are LRK200, whereas to get to the nearby beaches is LRK1500 return (this includes a 2-3 hour waiting time).

Getting there

Arugam Bay is not on the train network. We opted for a tuk-tuk to take us there from Udawalawe NP for LRK7500 (4.5 hours).  For a much faster ride and a little bit more money you can get a car. You can book either a car or a tuk-tuk from your previous accomodation. As you can see from our Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids, we visited Ella after Arugam Bay. Miki at Elephant Road Resort organised us a tuk-tuk for LRK2000 (4 hours). A car would be much quicker (3 hours). However, do keep in mind that there are a lot of hairpin beds as you ascend to Ella. The open sides of a tuk-tuk may make it an easier journey for the whole family.

Do we recommend Arugam Bay for young kids?

Absolutely! Just ensure you get your accommodation right. Elephant Road Resort was the perfect family-friendly base for our Arugam Bay stay. Close enough to the main tourist drag to stock up on milk, nappies and snacks, or to pop for some fried noodles or pizza, but nicely tucked away from the bustling party scene. Jump in a tuk-tuk to reach nearby beaches and find your own slice of paradise. Bliss.

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Disclaimer: TraveLynn Family was kindly hosted by Elephant Road Resort. However the opinions and words are all our own, based on our own experiences.

Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet guide. The Sri Lanka edition was invaluable to our travels.

You may also wish to read:
Why Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids
Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids
Udawalawe NP with young kids: meeting elephants in the Sri Lankan wilderness



Living Heritage Koslanda, family friendly luxury in Central Highlands Sri Lanka

REVIEWED: Living Heritage Koslanda


Picture the scene: you’ve been travelling as a family for a few weeks, having the time of your lives experiencing all that Sri Lanka has to offer. You’re happy but perhaps a little weary, head full of memories but in need of some time to pause. Family travel has its challenges so, every now and then, you need to head somewhere slightly off the tourist trail for a chance to recharge and savour a little bit of luxury. You’ve all deserved it.

Living Heritage Koslanda view

Living Heritage Koslanda (LHK) is one of those picture perfect resorts you sometimes see in glossy magazines at doctor’s surgeries; you look at the pictures longingly but fold the magazine away, assuming it’s for someone else, perhaps someone with more money and less children. But therein lies the magic of LHK – it’s an affordable slice of luxury perfectly suited to families. This beautiful resort, crafted with great care and sensitivity out of eighty acres of pristine Sri Lankan jungle, may be tucked away from the country’s well-known tourist sights but has enough activities, fun and friendly staff to make it the highlight of your holiday.

Arriving to Living Heritage Koslanda

The mood is set as soon as you arrive, the unmarked entrance to the resort is down a dusty, bouncy track which immediately builds up a feeling of getting away from it all. Our tuk-tuk driver edged along the road, unsure if we were going the right way but Google Maps (and the general sense of excitement) guided us along. A slow walk down the path led us to Mr Carrim, the smiling, happy General Manager who would look after us so well over the next few days.

Living Heritage Koslanda Mr Carrim

The Accommodation

The over-riding feeling of LHK is that of tranquility and being close to nature. Cloud-covered hills frame the horizon, vast spaces of lawn invite the children to play and the only tweets come from the birds nestled in the trees.

Living Heritage Koslanda plunge pool

This is enhanced even further by the extraordinarily stylish suites (four in total) which sit on a small hill overlooking the rolling hills in the distance. Each luxury villa, sympathetically designed to fit the magical setting, comes equipped with an outdoor seating area, outdoor plunge pool and shower, en-suite bathroom, spacious open air living area centred around an ornamental light-well and an elegant double bedroom boasting high A-frame beams (with extra beds available for the children). Locally-sourced antique furniture provide a homely feel, including a small table and chairs for the kids, plus all the practicalities you will need; fridge, kettle and TV (with a choice of kids’ DVDs).

We must also give a special mention here to the magic of the bedroom. We had our very first over-sleep in four years (gasp!). It must have been the combination of soft beds, pitch dark room and complete silence that led both us parents to wake naturally at 7:25am, whilst our boys were still fast asleep (6am is the norm). For this reason alone, LHK deserves a gold star in our book, the rooms were the most comfortable we’ve slept in. Perhaps it was the fresh jungle air as well…

But once the boys finally woke, what we all absolutely appreciated was all the vast, open space on our doorstep to just be free…

Living Heritage Koslanda, open space

How to keep the kids entertained

So you’ve hopefully got the impression that it’s a place to relax, to get away from it all and generally chill out. You might be wondering how that works with children; won’t they get bored in a place so remote and relaxed? The answer to that is a resounding no. Aside from the enjoyment of running around and taking in the fresh air, we also filled our time with:

Swimming in the Waterfall

A 45 minute hike (for our 2 and 3 year old, shorter for older kids) along a path through the jungle leads you to a fantastic private waterfall. It was easily one of the highlights of our entire trip to Sri Lanka. It’s not the easiest of hikes with two small children and we probably found it at the very upper end of our capability levels but, my oh my, was it worth the effort. Scrambling over the last few boulders to be greeted by the roar of that stunning waterfall is a memory we’ll never forget. We found a couple of comfy rocks, splashed around, took turns showering under the falls, had a pebble throwing competition and generally appreciated the magic of the location. It’s all within the resort’s boundaries so you’ll have the place to yourselves. We advise wearing sturdy closed-toe shoes and long trousers for the hike (there are a few leeches, particularly in the rainy season), pack some light-weight towels, water and snacks, and some reef-sandles for the kids to wear in the water. Mr Carrim also provides you with a mobile phone to call ahead with your lunch order when you’re on your way back! This is the life.

Living Heritage Koslanda, Waterfall

Marshmallows on the campfire 

The crackling sound of burning logs greeted us as we descended from the dining area down to the lawn after dinner. Mr Carrim had a roaring campfire going, plus a dozen tasty marshmallows. Under a clear star-filled night sky we huddled together and toasted the marshmallows with the boys – such a happy memory which the boys adored.

Living Heritage Koslanda, marshmallows

Croquet on the lawn – it’s such a chilled out place that croquet seems to fit perfectly. The little ones might not know the rules but that doesn’t stop the fun.

Living Heritage Koslanda - croquet

Looking for animals

Being in the wilderness provides the opportunity to find so many animals. The boys found monkeys, frogs, geckos and even a couple of cows to meet.

Living Heritage Koslanda - cow

Swimming in the incredible infinity pool

There are so many luxurious touches at LHK, things that you would only get to experience in other parts of the world if you paid ten-times the amount, but the best of the bunch must be the infinity pool overlooking the rice paddies and rolling hills. The kids might not notice the incredible setting though as they jump, splash and dive their way around the shallow end. If there are more perfect family experiences than this in the world, we’re yet to find them. Bliss.

Living Heritage Koslanda - infinity pool

The Food

As you’d expect, the food at LHK is of an equally high standard to the rest of the resort. We had the best Sri Lankan food of our trip on the first night, followed by the best chicken and mashed potato since leaving the UK on night two. There were great choices for the boys as well; pancakes, fresh bread and fruit for breakfast, sandwiches and chips for lunch and pasta, followed by ice-cream, for dinner – all served in a magical outdoor dining area under the stars.

Living Heritage Koslanda, Restaurant

So would we recommend Living Heritage Koslanda to other families?

You can probably guess the answer. So much of family travel is about hectic fun that it pays sometimes to slow down a moment and take a breath. Many boutique resorts are often focused at romantic honeymooners, but LHK is that rare thing – a beautiful, luxurious resort which welcomes families and, more importantly, understands them and their needs. Whether it’s the marshmallows or the infinity pool, the kid-friendly food or the lovely Mr Carrim (who the kids were still asking for a week later), we were made to feel so welcome and had the best family time we can remember. Pay them a visit as well, treat yourself and we’re sure you’ll leave with the same incredible memories.

Find out more and book online at koslanda.com. We suggest staying at least three nights.

Living Heritage Koslanda, steps

Getting there

There are quite a few options for reaching the resort, depending on where you’re coming from and what your budget is. Private AC taxis can be arranged from Colombo (or indeed anywhere), you can drive straight from Ella (a popular tourist town about an hour up the road), or (as we did) take the breathtakingly scenic train journey from Ella to Haputale (one hour, Rs160) and then take a tuk-tuk (Rs2000, 50 minutes) down to the resort.

Disclaimer: Living Heritage Koslanda kindly hosted our two night stay. However the opinions and words are all our own, based on our own experiences.

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You may also like to read:
Why Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids
Long-haul flight survival with young kids
Travelling India with young kids

Sri Lanka with young kids

Why Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids

Have you considered Sri Lanka with kids? Sri Lanka is a popular destination for travelling families right now and it’s not difficult to see why. Over the past few years we’ve had some amazing family adventures with our boys (aged two and three) but our recent trip to this teardrop-shaped island has perhaps been the best ever! It’s a relatively small country so travelling between places is easy, yet it still offers enough activities, must-see sights, and fun to keep the whole tribe entertained. Indeed, for a country roughly the same size as Ireland, it manages to offer so much variety – both natural and cultural – that we’re sure you’ll fall in love with it too.

Read our Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids here


TraveLynn Family in Sri Lanka

Tourism is booming here, which is a fantastic testament to the resiliency of its people, who over recent years have had to overcome civil-war and the devastating tsunami. As with other places, the rapid development isn’t without its problems and, as a result of limited regulation and flagrant breaches of planning laws, a few recently-untouched places are becoming over-developed with little consideration to the natural environment. All of which means: don’t leave it until your kids are older, NOW is the time to visit. These are the reasons why we think Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids…

Pristine beaches

Elephant Rock, near Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has some of the best beaches in the world; with thousands of miles of coastline to choose from, you’ll easily find clean, pristine sand, perfect for building sandcastles and digging holes. You really don’t have to look hard for a quiet patch to yourselves. Just be careful of those huge waves with the little ones; they will love jumping over the crashing shoreline but ensure you hold their hands so they don’t get swept away by the strong current. Our favourite spots were the shady bay of Mirissa, and Elephant Rock Beach (a ten minute tuk-tuk ride down a dusty track from the party scene at Arugam Bay).

Close encounters with wild elephants

Kids on safari in Udawalawe, Sri Lanka

Take your little ones on a jeep safari and meet elephants in the wild, for a fraction of what it would cost in Southern or East Africa. You are pretty much guaranteed to see them on a three hour safari (just the right amount of time for young kids, with the help of snacks along the way). Bouncing around in an open jeep also adds to the adventure! It’s likely you’ll also spot crocodiles, buffalo, plenty of colourful peacocks, and if you’re extremely lucky and look very very hard, a leopard. We loved our experience in Udawalawe NP, camping the night before at Kottawatta Village. You can also hang out with the elephants at Minneriya National Park, Yala National Park, Kumana National Park and the lagoons around Pottuvil.

Ride the rails

Train to Haputale, Sri Lanka

Our boys absolutely love trains. There’s something about seeing a train arrive at a station, jumping on-board and then sitting back as you chug along a track that all kids (and parents!) enjoy. Book your trains either online before you arrive, or at the station in Colombo (especially during peak season) and take what are considered to be some of the most beautiful train journeys in the world – along coastal tracks or lush, green mountain passes and tea plantations. Your kids will love hanging out the window and sticking their tongue out like a dog Dad, or sit in a doorway with your feet dangling over the side, watching the world pass by. One of the most beautiful stretches is between Ella and Haputale.

Mountains that little legs can climb

Little Adam's Peak, Ella, Sri Lanka

One of the highlights of our trip was hiking to the top of Little Adam’s Peak in Ella. You can take a tuk-tuk part of the way, and then it’s a forty minute walk (for our 2 and 3 year old – adults and older kids will do it in half the time!) to the summit. There are quite a few steps for little legs to navigate, so take some snacks to coax them up and enjoy those stunning views from the top.

The history

Galle Fort with kids

Sri Lanka is clearly a winner in the natural beauty stakes but it’s no slouch from a historical perspective either. Throughout history it’s been controlled by the British, French and Dutch, who left their mark with forts, grand buildings and churches but the local influences are apparent as well, be it temples, palaces or ancient ruins. The kids will love experiencing it all and the majority of the sights are free and easily accessible.

Distances are short

tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka

As mentioned earlier, a fantastic amount of natural and historical variety is compacted into a relatively small area so there is no need to take internal flights or long, overnight journeys and it’s unlikely you will need to travel more than four hours to your next destination. Train is always our preferred mode of transport but if the tracks don’t take you to where you need to go, it is always very easy to arrange a car or tuk-tuk. Just ask your hotel the night before. Strong haggling techniques are very rarely required. A car will get you to your destination quicker, but we always prefer the tuk-tuks (called tri-shaws in Sri Lanka, with a speed limit of 40km/h, although they usually bounce along at closer to 50km/h). For some reason the boys are always more chilled in them; something about the open sides and air rushing through.

Soft landing and introduction to Sri Lanka

Viharamahadevi Park, Sri Lanka

Unlike many Asian capital cities, which can seem loud and chaotic on arrival, the relaxed coastal city of Colombo will gently ease you into Sri Lankan life. We loved arriving into Colombo where our hotel allowed a very early check in (4am!), tuk-tuks all use the meter (note, this is only a Colombo thing), the best park ever (Viharamahadevi Park) which offered a playground, water fountains, boating lake, small train ride, aquarium and also horse-riding! Our boys loved the park on the first day after we’d had a long nap to recover from the night flight. But even if that feels like too much hard work, head to the beach resort of Negombo, which is actually much closer to Colombo International Airport (about 30 minute drive, rather than the 1 hour to Colombo), for that first day or so.

Nappies and milk are readily available

Even a small town will have a convenience store to purchase cow’s milk. In Colombo you can get the familiar plastic bottles from the fridge. Once you travel into the countryside, UHT milk is generally sold in boxed cartons, which you don’t need to refrigerate until open. If there’s no fridge at the hotel/guest-house, we leave the carton of milk overnight in the sink with cold water. Not all places have a kettle so, if you need warm milk, pack a thermos flask for boiling water (provided by accommodation) to then add to the milk to heat. We do regret not getting our boys used to cold milk, our youngest always needs it heated to the perfect temperature and can seemingly detect a one-degree difference simply by holding the bottle!

Nappies are available from convenience stores. However, you may have to make do with the local brand. Don’t bother with Pampers, it’s not at all the same quality as the brand you’re perhaps used to. An expat friend in Colombo has done heroic research and recommends Soft Love nappies (or Drypers). Stock up when you see them and strap a pack to the side of your backpack. Also, get a size bigger than usual as they tend to come up small in Sri Lanka.

The People

Colombo friends

We didn’t meet a single grumpy person in our whole two weeks in Sri Lanka. Not one! Everyone has such a happy, chilled outlook and it’s infectious (except when train travel is concerned, the locals become strangely forceful there!). More importantly, everyone we met was so open and fun with our kids. So much so that our boys blossomed with every interaction and we could genuinely see the immediate positive effect of travel on their social well-being.

The Food

Food for kids in Sri Lanka

To average Western tastes, Sri Lankan food is spicy and you may find your little ones don’t like it. That’s fine as many places serve pancakes or omelettes and you’ll also find pasta, pizza and chips in many tourist towns, although I’m sure most kids will love the hoppers (a bit like a pancake in the shape of a flying saucer). If all else fails, there is tropical fruit aplenty and you can always find plain rice. However, us parents absolutely loved the local food and we were easily able to find restaurants to suit everyone’s palate.

It’s relatively cheap

This is always an important consideration for families as travelling with kids tends to inflate the budget. Sri Lanka is not as cheap as other Asian countries but your western money still goes a long way. Train travel in particular is very cheap in Sri Lanka. First class train from Colombo to Galle is just Rs800 (GBP4).

Family friendly accommodation

Ella, Sri Lanka

There are so many family homestays dotted around Sri Lanka which are perfect for travelling families as there will often be toys and new friends to play with. You’ll also find many hotels and guesthouses with a garden or pool, which is always a winner with the kids, across a range of prices. We booked most of our accommodation through booking.com. You can find lovely quiet homestays for under GBP20 per night or splash out on some incredible family-friendly boutique luxury (we loved our stay at Living Heritage Koslanda, with its abundant open space, infinity pool and private waterfall for swimming – read our review here).

Easy visa 

Apply online, pay the USD35 on application and it’s done. Easy.

No malaria, but you may need some jabs

No need for anti-malarials as the World Health Organisation certified Sri Lanka as malaria free in September 2016. However, it is advised that all the family receive vaccinations for Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Hep A and Hep B, Rabies and Typhoid. Check with your local health provider for up-to-date information. Also, ensure you pack a lot of kids’ mossie repellent. There are quite a few mosquitoes in Sri Lanka (dengue is a serious problem) and the local repellent can be quite harsh on young skin.

TraveLynn Family in Sri Lanka


We absolutely loved our time in Sri Lanka and hope to be back again soon. Have you visited Sri Lanka with kids? Do you have any favourite places?


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Sri Lanka with young kids

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Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet guide. The Sri Lanka edition was invaluable to our travels.

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