Little Sri Lanka is like entry-level Asia for family holidays: a gentle introduction to the continent without the absolute culture shock.
That’s not to suggest it’s any less wonderful than the neighbours, just a bit easier on the senses, in a good way. Younger kids love Sri Lanka for the friendly Sri Lankans, beaches, elephants and endless sunshine.
All of which appeals just as much to teenagers, only with the added bonus of awe-inspiring temples and monuments, brilliantly lively cities, great street food, water sports and rugged outdoor activities.
Direct flights from London to the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, take just over 10 hours
Southern Sri Lanka has average temperatures of 27˚C all year round, 8 hours of sunshine a day for 365 days and a short rainy season between October and November.
A growing number of eco-resorts and heritage hotels on the south east coast balance more commercialised development in the busier south west.
Family friendly elephant and leopard safaris in southern and central national parks.
Between 3000 and 4000 elephants roam wild in Sri Lanka.
The drive from Colombo Airport to Galle now takes less than two hours on the Southern Expressway.
Sri Lanka has 15 National Parks and eight World Heritage sites including the entire Central Highlands and the sacred cities of Kandy and Anuradhapura.
Sri Lanka’s roughly half the size of Cuba and easier to visit now than ever. Roads are improving all the time and the railway line between Colombo in the south and Jaffna in the far north has recently been re-opened. But the south coast’s a good choice for family holidays: the loveliest beaches are here along with several interesting towns and central Sri Lanka’s interior is still very accessible for a day (or more) exploring.
Sri Lanka is a stunning country to drive around. Avoid using a car in any of the cities: taxis and trishaws are better options. The country’s public transport network is quite extensive, but first-class and air con are only available on some routes, so buses and trains can be uncomfortable for younger children and some journeys can take much longer than anticipated.