Happy Independence Day!
Wandering Moms is celebrating Sri Lanka’s Independence Day! Known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” Sri Lanka is a small island off the southern coast of India with a rich historical past dating back to the 6th century BCE. Sri Lanka’s modern history includes Portuguese rule from 1597 to 1685, followed by Dutch rule after the Eighty Years War, then British rule that lasted until 1948. On February 4, 1948, the island nation, then known as Ceylon, was granted independence as the Dominion of Ceylon which remained as part of the British Commonwealth. The island remained attached to the British Commonwealth until 1972 when it became a republic, changing it’s name to Sri Lanka. February 4th is recognized as Sri Lanka’s official Independence Day, so our global community of Wandering Moms is celebrating with some fun facts about this beautiful island nation with a list of exciting things to do in Sri Lanka with kids!
Get to Know Sri Lanka
- Population: 21,413,000
- Size: 25,323 square miles (roughly the size of Ireland, or the US state of West Virginia)
- Capitals: Colombo (executive and judicial capital) and Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte (legislative capital)
- Official Languages: Sinhala and Tamil
- Official Religion: Buddhism
- Official Currency: Sri Lankan rupee
- Main Exports: Tea and Cinnamon
- National Sport: Volleyball
- Fun Female Fact: Sri Lanka was the first country in the world to have a female Prime Minister! In July of 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected as Prime Minister and served three terms.
- Let’s Learn: Sri Lanka has the highest literacy rate of any country in South Asia. 92% of the country is literate, as literacy is a fundamental right granted in the Sri Lankan constitution.
When is the Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka with Kids?
Sri Lanka has a year round tropical climate, but it’s important to understand the monsoon seasons when planning your trip to this island paradise. Sri Lanka experiences two monsoons a year. In May and June, the southwest monsoon brings rain to the south and west part of the country. In October and November, the northeast Monsoon hits the north and east parts of the country. The good news is that you can find a dry and sunny part of Sri Lanka at any time of the year- you’ll just need to know where to go to find the sun!
- January through March: The first three months of the year are considered the best time to visit Sri Lanka. The entire country is generally dry and sunny, though the Maha Monsoon season can hang around through early January, meaning the northeastern areas may still be a bit wet and rainy.
- April through September: This is the southwest monsoon, or Yala Monsoon season. The southern and western parts of Sri Lanka will be very wet and rainy. If you are visiting during April through September, head to the northern and eastern parts of the country to find sunny beaches!
- October and November: This is known as the “Inter-monsoon” season, or the period between the two monsoon seasons. It can be a bit unpredictable but is overall rather wet and rainy across the island.
- December: December is the start of the Maha Monsoon season, which brings winds and rain to the northeast parts of Sri Lanka. If you are visiting in December or into early January, your best bet is to head south for sunshine!
Things To Do With Kids in Sri Lanka
Visit a National Park
Sri Lanka is home to 26 national parks and going on a wildlife safari in one of the parks is a major highlight when visiting Sri Lanka. In many parks, animal sightings are very common- making a Ski Lankan safari great for kids as you’re likely to spot all sorts of exciting animals on a three to four hour safari. Yala National Park is by far the most popular park and is known for it’s leopard population as well as it’s elephant spotting. Minneriya National Park is known for having the largest elephant population in Asia so if you’re looking to spot wild elephant, this park is your best bet. Wilpattu National Park has over 60 lakes in it’s boundaries and has popular morning safaris when animals flock to their favorite watering holes.
Go to the Beach
Sri Lanka is known for it’s stunning beaches and what kid doesn’t love a beach day?! If you’re planning a beach vacation to Sri Lanka, be sure to pay close attention to which part of the island will have sunny beach weather at the time of your trip. Also, keep in mind that many of Sri Lanka’s beaches are known for having treacherous rips, so be very cautious when entering the water. Love Sri Lanka shares their top 10 Family-Friendly Beaches in Sri Lanka to help you find beautiful but calmer beaches for kids and families.
Take a Hike
Sri Lanka has some great hikes for kids and families. Little Adam’s Peak in Ella is a popular family hike. The hike to the summit is approximately 4.5km and takes roughly an hour, with some rocks to scramble up just before reaching the summit.
Ride the Rails
Sri Lanka has som of the most beautiful train rides in the world- so plan for a train ride if visiting with kids. The longest and most beautiful train ride in Sri Lanka runs from Kandy to Ella and takes approximately 5.5 hours. However, if you’re traveling with younger kids who might not want to sit for such a long and scenic ride, consider a shorter trip. Riding the train from the mountains of Kandy to the tea plantations surrounding Columbo is about a 45 minute to one hour ride that will give younger kids a chance to experience the train without having to sit for too long.
Go Whale Watching
Depending on when you visit, you might be able to take a whale watching tour. From November to April, whales can be spotted of the southern coastal town of Mirissa. Boat tours leave from Mirissa early in the morning and most trips take a couple of hours. From May to September, blue whales and sperm whales come much closer to the northern coast near Trincomalee. Because the whales come into the harbor, the whale watches cruises that leave from Trincomalee are much shorter, as it only takes about 30 minutes to get far enough out to spot whales.
Visit an Ancient City
Sri Lanka is rich in ancient history. There are two main ancient cities to visit in Sri Lanka- Anuradhapura and Plonnarwu. Anuradhapura is the oldest ancient city in Sri Lanka, having servied as the political and religious capital for over 1,300 years. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to Sri Maha Bodhi– a sacred fig tree. It Is the oldest human-planted tree in the world and is considered a direct and living link to Buddha.
Polonnaruwa is another ancient city worth visiting with kids. It tends to be a little less crowded than Anuradhapura, making it a bit more accessible especially with younger kids. It’s also rather flat, which makes it perfect for bike rides. You can rent bikes and ride around to see all of the tombs, temples and giant Buddha statues!
Take a Plantation Tour
Sri Lanka is know for it’s tea plantations and no visit to the country would be complete without taking a tour of a tea plantation. Tea plantations are so prevalent in Sri Lanka that over 1 million of it’s 22 million citizens work in the tea industry. The FlashPacking Family gives a fantastic overview of tea plantation tours in Sri Lanka if you’re looking to find a plantation to visit! Sri Lanka is also world famous for it’s cinnamon, so be sure to check out a cinnamon plantation tour as well!