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Sri Lanka is now up there in the top places to visit in Asia. Most of us know Asia for being pretty cheap and reasonable to travel around, especially for those of us coming from a Western Country but how cheap is Sri Lanka, how much money do you need to take to Sri Lanka, and how much does a trip to Sri Lanka cost?
Well, in this Sri Lanka Travel Blog I’m going to share how much I spent backpacking Sri Lanka for 3 weeks along with what I found to be the costs for food, accommodation and activities in Sri Lanka to help you plan your trip and budget for Sri Lanka and know how much a trip to Sri Lanka costs.
If you are looking to backpack Sri Lanka on a budget or simply travel on a budget, you’ll be pleased to know that this is possible. Sri Lanka has many hostels offering dorm rooms at really great prices (more on the actual costs below), the public buses and trains are ridiculously cheap, and there are plenty of local restaurants to eat in to keep costs down.
If you’re looking to backpack Sri Lanka on a budget your biggest expense is likely to be activities and day trips like surfing, snorkelling, going on safaris and entrances into temples but at the end of the day, these experiences make the memories!
Unfortunately drinking alcohol in Sri Lanka will quickly add up the amount you spend as alcohol prices in Sri Lanka aren’t particularly cheap.
Sri Lanka is a pretty popular country to visit for a 2 week holiday, from Europe the flight isn’t that long and it’s much more of an adventure than going to Greece or Spain!
Just like every country you still have to watch what you spend in Sri Lanka, if you want nicer accommodation in fancier hotels, you can do this but don’t go thinking they will be super cheap, they come at a cost. Meals in tourist restaurants, especially western food can be 3-4 times more expensive than food in a local place and those smoothie bowls you’ve seen people have in Sri Lanka are also more costly.
If you are visiting Sri Lanka on a 2 week holiday with more money to spend your money will go a lot further than it would in Europe which I hope you are happy to hear, however, costs could and will soon add up if you keep splurging.
In 3 weeks in Sri Lanka I spent £510.00 / $621.00USD.
I stayed in pretty decent guesthouses and small locally run hotels for £12.00-£15.00 / $14.50- $18.50 a night. I did a few day trip activities that added up like snorkelling in Trincomalee for £40.00 / $48.00 and a day trip in Ella for £25.00 / $30.00.
Generally my hotels had breakfast included in the rate so that was one meal covered and I ate out for lunch and dinner, usually in a mix of local restaurants / one meal at a lower price like £1.50 / $1.80 and one a bit more for £3.50 / $4.25.
I had a few beers in some places but I didn’t go crazy and I also didn’t do any shopping so this helped keep my costs low.
Travel Insurance for Sri Lanka
Have you got travel insurance for Sri Lanka yet? Make sure you take insurance out before you go! I am insured with World Nomad’s who I really like because they designed by travellers, for travellers, you can even purchase insurance with them once you have left for your trip. Whilst you’re thinking about it, get a quote from them here!
Hostels – if you want to travel Sri Lanka on a budget, and or, you like staying in hostels for the social aspect you’re looking at dorm rooms from £3.00-£7.00 / $3.70-$8.50 depending on the popularity of the location and if it’s high season or not.
Guesthouses & Homestays – If you want a private room for a cheaper price these are a good option and price wise you’re looking at £10.00-£25.00 / $12.25-$30.00 again depending on the location and time of year.
Hotels – If you want to stay in a Heritage Hotel in Sri Lanka, a Manor House, an Eco-Lodge, or a fancy hotel with a rooftop pool this does come at a price, these types of hotels in Sri Lanka cost around £100.00-£200.00 / $122.00-$244.00 a night offering 5 star service and accommodation. However, if your budget isn’t that high there are still good hotels that will cost around £50.00-£70.00 / $60.00-$85.00 a night.
Tip 1 – I used Booking.com to book all my accommodation in Sri Lanka because this features hostels and hotels so it’s easy to compare whether you can get a private room for the same price as a dorm, especially if there are two of you travelling together. You can have a search on Booking.com here for an idea of prices!
Tip 2 – I did see a few YouTube videos where people said they didn’t pre-book accommodation and instead turned up and looked once they were there and they found it cheaper as the taxes can often be taken off, but I’ll admit that didn’t happen to me when I did it or when I extended in person rather than online. It was the same price.
Tip 3 – If you’re travelling Sri Lanka as a group, Airbnb is a good place to look for accommodation in Sri Lanka for apartments and villas. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up for a new account here to get £34.00 off the first trip you book!
Based on visiting a mixture of local cafes, slightly more fancy Instagram-able cafes, and tourist restaurants this is what I found to be the cost of food in Sri Lanka. Note that this based on Vegetarian meals and meals with meat and seafood do cost more.
Vegetable Kottu – 300Rs / £1.35 / $1.65
Rotti – 200Rs / £0.90 / $1.10
Smoothie Bowl – 700Rs / £3.15 / $3.90
Avocado on Toast – 600Rs / £2.70 / $3.30
Western Meal – 800Rs / £3.60 / $4.45
Fruit Juice – 350Rs / £1.60 / $1.93
Meal in Restaurant by the Beach – 1500Rs / £6.80 / $8.30
Beer in Local Restaurant – 250Rs / £1.10 / $1.40
Beer on Beach or Bar – 500Rs / £2.25 / $2.75
The price of transport will change depending on where you are in the country and it could also change depending on the person selling the tickets, for example on the buses sometimes I was charged local prices, sometimes it seemed like I was being charged more. Here are what I found to be the prices of transport and the cost of getting around Sri Lanka when I went:
Public Bus Journeys 1 hour – 50Rs / £0.22 / $0.27
Public Bus Journeys 4 hours – 160Rs / £1.60 / $0.88
Public Bus Journeys 6 hour – 280Rs / £1.25 / $1.55
Ella to Kandy Train in 2nd Class 7 hours – 330Rs / £1.50 / $.180
Tuk Tuk Ride 10 minutes – 300Rs / £1.35 / $1.65
Tuk Tuke Ride 30 minutes – 600Rs / £2.70 / $3.30
Tuk Tuk Ride 2 hours – 2000Rs / £9.00 / $11.00
Shared Taxi for 6 hour drive per person – 4000Rs / £18.00 / $22.00
Although transport by taxi is much more expensive it is much more comfortable, however, you really can get all around Sri Lanka using the buses and trains if you’re happy to sweat and be squished a bit, this is the biggest thing about Sri Lanka that makes it budget friendly in my opinion.
Surf Lesson – £11.30 / $13.80
Safari – £50.00 / $60.00
Diving – £50.00 / $60.00
Another cost not to forget is Travel Insurance. I am insured by World Nomad’s and I really recommend them as they were created by travellers for travellers and I have always had and heard positive things about them. Get a quote here whilst you’re thinking about it.
If you want to visit Sri Lanka on a tour, I came across One Life Adventures recently, they are an Australian tour company who run an epic 12 day tour to Sri Lanka visiting all of the main spots you’d want to see on your first trip to Sri Lanka, and the plus of going on tours is you know most of the trip is paid for in advance and you just have extras to pay. To save you some money on your Sri Lanka tour you can get $50AUD off their tour using the promo code: THEWANDERINGQUINN.
I hope this post and these costs help you work out how expensive it is to visit Sri Lanka and how much things cost in Sri Lanka!
To SEE my trip to Sri Lanka, check out my YouTube videos here!
To read more of my Sri Lanka posts see:
I’m Ellie Quinn!
I’m a travel addict who has been travelling on and off since 2010. In the Summer of 2018 I quit my office job in London, left my flat and I now travel and blog full time! Yes, I’m living that dream!
NOV-DEC: PROBABLY INDONESIA
If you want to join or read more about the details of the group tour.