Pack up the whole family and prepare for a cultural, invigorating and relaxing adventure, all tied into one when you embark on this 13-day Sri Lanka family-friendly itinerary. Be prepared to hike, swim, raft and view ancient monuments as well as relaxing seaside on this well-rounded trip. Travel from Colombo to the Cultural Triangle to Kandy to Kitulgala and finally to Bentota. There’s something for everyone in the family!
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Begin your family’s adventure in the country’s beautiful capital, Colombo. Arrive in the cultural Mecca and check into a hotel of your the Tintagel or Park Street. Let the kids burn some energy with an evening walk to check out the gorgeous colonial architecture lining the winding streets.
The day begins with a visit to one of the most important places of learning and spirituality - the Gangaramaya Temple. Continue onto the Seema Malakaya Temple, a tiny temple built on a lake and can only be reached by a small bridge. Head on over to the local markets, and stock up on traditional goods. Tour the National Museum and pay a visit to the Fort before wrapping up your day and returning to your hotel.
Rise early and travel to Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, around 4 hours from Sri Lanka. Pass through the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. The once-small project has turned into one of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions. The orphanage gives a home to abandoned or orphaned wild elephants that would otherwise likely die. The elephants roam free throughout the sanctuary. Reach the Cultural Triangle and spend the night at the Heritance Kandalama.
The kids will love the wide range of food available, start the day off with breakfast before a massive day of playing in the ground’s gardens and the huge swimming pool. Look for the monkeys, mongoose and rock squirrels hanging around the grounds. Enjoy a full day of fun hanging out at the resort.
Embark on a day of adventure as you and the family take an elephant trek through the jungle. Hang on tight as you cross shallow waters and through dense foliage. You also have the option to take an exciting jeep safari in Minneriya National Park. The park is best known for having the largest gatherings of Asian Elephants. In the dry season, herds of up to 150 can be spotted. Keep your eyes peeled for Sambar deer, toque monkeys, cormorants and painted storks.
Your next adventure will take you to the lush green city of Kandy, the island nation’s cultural capital, and a 2-hour drive from Dambulla. This was the last kingdom of Sri Lanka. Check out the Temple of the Tooth. The temple contains the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Check into the Earl's Regency Hotel.
Take a tour of the Bahirawakanda Monastery, and see how Sri Lankan monks live and worship. See the Temple of the Tooth lit up at night by thousands of tiny white lights: a magical sight to behold. For golf aficionados, there’s an 18-hole golf course, putting green and practice range. For non-golfers, there’s still plenty of activities to choose from with a floodlit tennis court, swimming pool, saddle club, riding lessons for all ages, horse safaris, bird-watching and bike trails. Spend your final evening resting up to journey to the western foothills tomorrow.
Drive for 90 minutes into the western foothills of the central highlands to spend the night in the tropical rainforests. Enjoy the winding rivers and natural beauty of the area. Discover your wild-at-heart side as you raft down the mighty Kelani. If you or the kids aren’t feeling up for the grade three rafting, feel free to canoe the river instead. Spend the night at Borderlands camping and fall asleep on stilted platforms resting over the river.
Enjoy a scenic 3-hour coastal drive as you make your way to historical Bentota. Check into Heritance Ahungalle or Saman Villas for a five-night stay. It’s time for relaxation and endless days lounging or playing on the sand.
Children and adults alike will love visiting the Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Project. This innovative project works to conserve the dwindling marine turtle species. You are welcome to observe the turtles in their natural breeding habitat without disturbing or harming them. Return to your hotel in Bentota for a restful evening.
Visit the UNESCO site of Galle’s 17th-century fort. View period Portuguese and Dutch architecture. Wander through the town’s narrow alleys, imagining life centuries ago. Enjoy lunch at the Lighthouse Hotel, designed by Geoffrey Bawa in 1994. The Lighthouse maintains a Portuguese style, reenacting the country’s landing at Galle in brass and bronze on the expansive main stairwell. The kids will love seeing where knights once strode.
If you’re feeling active or looking to wear the kids out, try the town’s many watersports. You can rent a banana boat, water ski, jetski, attempt windsurfing or wave boarding. Lessons with English-speaking instructors are available. Enjoy as much sun and surf as you can alongside the picturesque Indian Ocean.
Savor a delicious Sri Lankan meal on your final morning in the country. Depending on your departure time, fit in a final swim in the sea or walk along the hotel’s lush gardens before packing up and catching your flight back home after a full 13-days of adventure, culture and relaxation.
The dramatic and sultry Tintagel property is located in central Colombo, close to Colombo Town Hall, National Art Gallery and Sinhalese Sports Club. The hotel was previously home to three of Sri Lanka’s political leaders, making it an important structure of national heritage. This unique and intimate hotel boasts ten high-ceilinged suites with timber floors, lavishly decorated with a unique blend of color, texture and atmosphere. The spacious bathrooms feature rain showers, bathtubs and large vanities. All rooms include complimentary WiFi, LCD TV screens with DVD/CD players, a minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities and Egyptian cotton bedding. Selected suites come with a private courtyard or a balcony. There are a range of dining facilities including an alfresco restaurant, a chic indoor restaurant offering international cuisine, a private dining room and a bar with black leather lounges and bronze tables. Other facilities and services of the hotel include a spa with optional in-room service, swimming pool, gym, steam room, library and courtyard.
Designed by famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, the unique Heritance Kandalama hotel is set into a cliff face among dense tropical forests, flanked by the Dambulla rock temple and Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The hotel’s buildings were planned to blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment and are covered with hanging vines and flowering plants. Each of the 152 rooms faces either Kandalama Lake or the forest – even the bathrooms were planned to showcase the view – and is decorated in an elegantly simple contemporary style. The Kandalama is the first Green Globe 21-certified hotel in Asia, and the first hotel in the world to be awarded the prestigious LEED Green Building certification. There are three restaurants to choose from, including the Kanchana Café, which has won multiple awards. Among The Kandalama’s amenities are a pool, business center and fitness center, while the world-renowned Six Senses Spa has a location here that offers Asian, Swedish, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic massage.
This family-friendly, adventurous river camp can be found on top of a hill overlooking the Kelani River. Surrounded by mountains and fast-flowing rapids, Borderlands river base camp offers a comfortable stay in a natural setting, for a more refined camping experience. Wooden cabins with thatched roofs will keep you dry as you rest on top-quality linen, double or single beds with bedside tables and lamps, as well as on your private terrace, providing spectacular views overlooking the Kelani. All tents and cabins come with mosquito nets, and are spacious enough to sleep three to five people. Nighttime entertainment can be found at the camp’s Long House, equipped with a modern sound system, informal bar and a comfortable, cushioned seating area. High speed WiFi is also available at all times. Dig into some delicious Sri Lankan curries, refresh yourself with a nice cold beer and share stories in the great company of fellow guests, as you roast marshmallows around a camp fire. Kayaks and rafts will enable action-packed days along the stunning Kelani River.