Sri Lanka Travel Budget: Detailed Breakdown Of Our Daily Expenses

Sri Lanka Travel Budget Detailed Breakdown Of Our Daily Budget

After spending a month in Sri Lanka exploring the West, South, Middle and North of the country I did a roundup of our travel expenses and was surprised to learn that Sri Lanka is the cheapest countries I’ve traveled to so far!

When Frank and I traveled around Southeast Asia our daily budget was usually around €60 per day (€30 per person). In New Zealand and Japan it was around €100 per day (€50 per person). However, our Sri Lanka daily budget was just €44 per day (€22 per person)!

So is Sri Lanka cheap? Yes it is!

Sri Lanka Daily Budget - daily costs of travel in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka travel budget

Check the infographic below for detailed information about our Sri Lanka trip costs and find out exactly how much we spent on accommodation, transportation, food, activities and our visa.

Travel Sri Lanka on a budget! Our Sri Lanka daily budget was €44 per day for us as a couple (€22 per person). Check out the post and infographic for more details (info about accommodation, transport, food, activities, visa and more).

Sri Lanka travel budget: important facts and figures

• I traveled Sri Lanka with my husband, all expenses mentioned in this Sri Lanka budget are for the two of us together.

• I quote prices in Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) as well as € and $. When we were in Sri Lanka (February 2017), €1 was around 160LKR and $1 was around 150LKR. As the exchange rate varies this may be different now.

• I spent almost a full month in Sri Lanka, 26 days to be exact. In total, we spent 182.000LKR/€1144/$1222, which comes down to an average of 7000LKR/€44/$47 a day for us as a couple.

• The budget breakdown includes all our expenses in Sri Lanka, except our airplane tickets to Sri Lanka because obviously prices greatly differ depending on where you are flying from. I’ve also excluded the costs of the dives we did in Sri Lanka, as this isn’t an activity everybody would do and it’s relatively expensive. I’ve added more info about diving in the activity section further on in this post.

• My trip started and ended in Colombo (well, Negombo airport to be precise), you can find our 1 month itinerary here.


Cost to travel Sri Lanka: our average daily budget

Sri Lanka daily budget - expenses per categorie - travel on a budget1. Accommodation: 36% of daily travel costs
2. Transportation: 6% of daily travel costs
3. Food: 36% of daily travel costs
4. Paid activities: 13% of daily travel costs
5. Visa: 6% of daily travel costs
6. Miscellaneous: 4% of daily travel costs

Sri Lanka daily budget


1. Accommodation costs in Sri Lanka

During our trip we stayed at home-stays and hotels which I booked via Agoda and Booking. Prices varied between 1000LKR/(€6/$7) and 4000LKR (€25/$27) but the average night was 2500LKR/€16/$17.

In the table below you can find the places we stayed at (only the ones I recommend!), but I’ve also written a separate post about our accommodation in Sri Lanka.


Ella Ella Alpine Resort €25/$27 Agoda Booking
Ella Mount Breezevilla €21/$22 Agoda Booking
Galle The One €17/$18 Agoda
Haputale Bawa Guesthouse €16/$17 Agoda Booking
Jaffna Hotel Blue Whale €21/$23 Agoda Booking
Kalpitiya Nethu Villa €19/$20 Agoda Booking
Kandy The Travellers Home €14/$15 Agoda Booking
Negombo Erandi Holiday Home €7,50/$8 Agoda Booking
Sigiriya Pathum Homestay €19/$20 Agoda Booking
Talalla Seaview Resort €16/$17 Agoda Booking
Udawalawe Junction A to Z Family Guesthouse €7,50/$8 Agoda Booking
Weligama Naomi River View Villa €6/$7 Agoda Booking

Mount Breezevilla Ella Sri Lanka


2. Transportation costs in Sri Lanka

This is where Sri Lanka is really a lot cheaper than any other countries I have visited, transportation costs next to nothing! One of the most beautiful train rides in the world runs from Badulla to Haputale and costs a mere 80LKR/€0,50/$0,50 per person.

Nine Arch Bridge Sri Lanka Ella train

Buses run everywhere and are equally cheap. Bus rides are a fairly chaotic affair but a lot of fun, with loud Sri Lankan music booming from the speakers and the bus honking loudly at every corner.

Tuk-tuks are slightly more expensive and require some bargaining skills. But still very affordable compared to taxis fees anywhere in the world.

On average, our transport costs were 400LKR/€2,50/$2,75 per day. You can find detailed information how to travel from A to B in Sri Lanka in this post.


3. Costs of food in Sri Lanka

Food is very cheap too in Sri Lanka, we rarely spent more than 500LKR/€3/$3,50 per person on a meal, more often is was just 100-250LKR per person!

There are many dishes to try: roti (egg, vegetable, coconut, plain), hoppers, rice & curries and much more. Fruit juice is also widely available (my favorite is pineapple), usually priced between 100-200LKR. You can read all about the Sri Lankan cuisine in this post.

Kotthu dish what to eat in Sri Lanka

But for now the costs of food & drinks: on average we spent 2500LKR/€16/$17 per day. This also includes the costs for water, a 1.5 liter bottle costs 70-80LKR.


4. Cost of activities in Sri Lanka

On average we spent 900LKR/€5,50/$6) per day on activities. In Colombo, Galle and Kandy we did some city sightseeing. On the South coast we went diving, snorkeling and surfing. In Ella and Haputale we did a couple of hikes and in the North we explored Anuradhapura, Sigiriya and Jaffna. Below you can find the details of all our paid activities:

Travel Sri Lanka on a budget! Our Sri Lanka daily budget was €44 per day for us as a couple (€22 per person). Check out the post and infographic for more details (info about accommodation, transport, food, activities, visa and more).

We obviously did a lot more during our 1 month trip in Sri Lanka, but the rest of the activities were free! You can find all the activities we did in our Sri Lanka travel itinerary.

Note: I didn’t include the costs for diving. We went diving in Weligama at Weligama Bay Dive Center. We paid $60 per person for 2 dives (including equipment, water and fresh fruit).

5. Visa costs for Sri Lanka

We applied online for an e-visa for Sri Lanka. For us the visa was $35, we paid online with credit card, an easy breezy process. As was getting through customs in Sri Lanka. Since we spent 26 days in the country, the average daily cost for the visa was 400LKR/€2,50/$2,75.

Sri Lanka Daily Budget daily costs of travel in Sri Lanka


6. Miscellaneous costs in Sri Lanka

Some random costs in our Sri Lanka backpacking budget were laundry, mosquito spray, toothpaste and (very important when you are trying to run a blog while traveling) a local SIM with lots of data.

We bought a SIM from Dialog, they have several plans but it’s important to know that all plans are day/night plans. This means that you’ll get part of the data for usage between 8am-12 midnight and the other part of the data can only be used between 12 midnight and 8am.

Anyway, on average we spent 300LKR/€2/$2 per day on miscellaneous items.

Sunset Kalpitiya Sri Lanka


That’s it, all our Sri Lanka travel expenses!

I hope this post about Sri Lanka on a budget has convinced you to travel there, it’s a wonderful and very affordable country! You can download the budget infographic below. Feel free to ask any questions by leaving a comment or sending me an email.

Looking for more travel planning resources? Check out the Phenomenal Globe Travel Planning Library and my Travel Resource page!

Travel Sri Lanka on a budget! Our Sri Lanka daily budget was €44 per day for us as a couple (€22 per person). Check out the post and infographic for more details (info about accommodation, transport, food, activities, visa and more). #SriLanka #TravelBudget Travel Sri Lanka on a budget! Our Sri Lanka daily budget was €44 per day for us as a couple (€22 per person). Check out the post and infographic for more details (info about accommodation, transport, food, activities, visa and more). #SriLanka #TravelBudget

38 Comments

  1. stephanie
    March 19, 2017 / 12:13 am

    Thanks for this budget guide. I would love to visit Sri Lanka some day. I always thought it was much more expensive 🙂 good to know it is pretty cheap.
    x

    • Lotte
      Author
      March 19, 2017 / 8:21 am

      Very welcome Stephanie! It is cheap indeed and easy to travel around, I definitely recommend going to Sri Lanka:-)

  2. April 4, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    Very inspired to go here now esp with my upcoming journey. Hope to see you somewhere along the way!

    • Lotte
      Author
      April 14, 2017 / 4:40 am

      Thanks Anto and it would be awesome to meet somewhere on the globe:-). We’ll be in touch!

  3. Keith
    November 12, 2017 / 9:38 pm

    Did you hire ever a driver or only use public transport?

    • Lotte
      Author
      November 13, 2017 / 2:32 am

      We only traveled by public transport, buses and trains mostly. We also took the occasional tuktuk, I’m not sure if you consider that a private driver;-).

  4. Enci
    November 13, 2017 / 11:24 pm

    Hi,

    Do you think it is safe for a woman to travel alone in Sri Lanka?

  5. Trish
    November 17, 2017 / 4:53 am

    Very helpful post. What are your thoughts on solo older woman traveler in Sri Lanka

    • Lotte
      Author
      November 19, 2017 / 8:00 am

      Hi Trish,

      Thank you for reading, glad you found the post helpful to plan your Sri Lanka trip!

      As I traveled with my husband I can’t say from personal experience if it’s safe or not to travel Sri Lanka as a solo female traveler. But there are plenty of posts on the web by women who went there alone (like these: http://hannatravels.com/female-travellers-white-woman-sri-lanka/ and https://herpackinglist.com/2016/12/traveling-solo-sri-lanka/) so I recommend reading these stories. Also, we met an 85-year old lady traveling by herself in Ella and she couldn’t stop raving about the friendliness of the locals.

      Hope this helps, enjoy your trip!
      Lotte

  6. Corrine Howard
    November 22, 2017 / 4:26 pm

    Hi, fabulous blog!

    My husband and I are booked to visit Sri Lanka in Feb 2018. It is my birth country and I haven’t been back since coming to UK when I was 5 years old (5 years ago!)

    Could you please let me know how we should deal with currency?

    Any other advise would be gratefully received.

    Many thanks

    • Lotte
      Author
      November 23, 2017 / 12:04 pm

      Hi Corrine,

      Thank you so much, I’m glad you like my blog:-). Wow, it must be so exciting to go back to your birth country! About your question, we got money from an ATM with our Maestro cards. Make sure you have a credit card as well (preferably Mastercard) in case your bank card doesn’t work. We avoided carrying lots of cash though and usually got around 275 euro (50.000 rupees) which we split over the both of us. Also, try to have some smaller notes for small shops and tuktuks. Not everybody has change…

      Let me know if this helps and if there is anything else I can help you with!

      Have a great trip,
      Lotte

  7. Rohan
    January 7, 2018 / 5:06 am

    Thanks for this detailed breakdown! Really helpful for planning and easily laid out. Looking forward to reading you itinerary ideas!

  8. Vijayalakshmi Sundararaman
    February 6, 2018 / 8:41 pm

    This blog is amazing! I love it when travel blogs go into such details about expenses and the split up.

    • Lotte
      Author
      February 7, 2018 / 11:13 am

      Thank you! Glad you find the post helpful:-)

  9. Hussain
    February 26, 2018 / 2:16 am

    Great information . Me and my sister booked from tomorrow for 8 nights . We heard that food is expensive there . And is there uber taxi services from airport ? How you went to hotel from airport ?
    And hows the people over there ? Are they friendly or weird

    • Lotte
      Author
      February 27, 2018 / 9:15 pm

      Hi Hussain, I’m happy you like the post:-). About your questions, food in Sri Lanka is very cheap, you’ll rarely pay more than a couple of dollars for a meal. Western food is always more expensive than local food, if you eat kottu, roti or rice and curry you won’t spend more than a dollar or two per meal. There are taxis at the airport but I’m not sure if Uber is active in Sri Lanka. We were picked up by the owner of our accommodation (it was the middle of the night) and dropped off at the bus station by the owner the next day. Hope this helps, have a great trip!

  10. Badri
    March 29, 2018 / 3:11 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your experience in Sri Lanka. I’m planning to visit Sri Lanka as well, my question is: we are planning to see Trincomalee Temple. How will I get about this? Could you help in this regard? I looked through the couple of hotels on Booking.com from Low to High. Are they really helpful? Please let me know.

  11. April 20, 2018 / 10:16 am

    I am a huge fan of Sri Lanka and the coverage here of the place is marvelous. The picture of Nine Arches Bridge is particularly magnificent.

    We anchored in Trincomalee and can HIGHLY recommend a visit there. If you don’t have a sailboat, you can get there by train (https://www.seat61.com/SriLanka.htm) or bus (49 from Colombo, 45 from Kandy, 835 from Anuradhapura, 48/49 from Polonannawura, or 88 from Jaffna to name a few lines – here is a bus schedule FROM Trinco https://arugambaytraveller.com/2017/08/25/latest-trincomalee-bus-timetable/). Additionally, I recommend our Tuk-Tuk Driver Yoosuf if you’d like to take a tour of the town or anywhere in the general vicinity (+94 778 802 557)

    As far as accommodation, we slept on the boat, but the team over at Dykes Rest, a simple beachside guesthouse, were very helpful in providing the boats with laundry, water, and meal service (fresh dinners on the beach). You might want to check them out.

    • Lotte
      Author
      April 25, 2018 / 4:11 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for your detailed advice! Unfortunately it was still monsoon season on the East Coast at the time of our visit but next time I’m in Sri Lanka I’ll definitely visit Trincomalee!

      Happy travels:-)
      Lotte

  12. Ed
    May 6, 2018 / 8:19 am

    G’day guys! I am about to do one month in Sri Lanka with my partner, my first overseas trip. Did you book all your accommodation prior to leaving, or sort it out when you arrived in the different locations? Cheers

    • Lotte
      Author
      May 9, 2018 / 6:06 pm

      Hi Ed! You picked a great country for a first trip:-). I usually booked 1 day ahead when we figured out where we were going next. We didn’t really have our itinerary planned out so it was great to have the flexibility and decide per day what to do and where to go! Have a great trip!

  13. Srinath
    May 16, 2018 / 7:36 am

    Hi There!

    I am planning to visit Sri Lanka this September for about a week. I have some questions for you:

    1) Do you think it’s wise to climb up to Adam’s peak during this time? I heard it’s monsoon season then. Also, I would prefer climbing during the day.

    2) Is it better to travel by train or use buses or taxis? I am planning to go through an agency and the transport cost they’ve quoted goes a bit above my budget. Also, is finding my own transport better than having the agency arrange for me?

    3) Can I use Debit cards in Sri Lanka to withdraw from ATMs as I don’t have a CC?

    4) This one’s pretty dumb lol but doesn’t hurt to ask.. This is the first time am going on an international vacation. Do I need to open a bank account or something over there to withdraw money?

    • Lotte
      Author
      May 19, 2018 / 10:35 am

      Dear Srinath,

      Thank you for reading my post:-). About your questions:

      1) I haven’t climbed Adam’s Peak (only Little Adam’s Peak in Ella) so I’m not sure if that would be wise. I would ask other backpackers when you have arrived in Sri Lanka about their experiences and keep an eye on the weather forecast.

      2) We loved traveling by local transport, the train rides in Sri Lanka are gorgeous, especially in the mountains. Buses go everywhere but it can be a bit chaotic to find the right bus. There are always people willing to help though, so no worries about that. The plus side about having your transport arranged is you can probably see more in a week, the downside is obviously the costs. Eventually it’s up to you to decide what is more important:-).

      3) Yes we used our debit card in Sri Lanka to withdrawl cash. Make sure to carry enough cash (though not too much) and have plenty of small bills, especially when taking a tuktuk, bus or train. Not all ATM’s will work so try finding a branch that accepts your card. In small villages there aren’t always ATM’s present so get cash in bigger cities like Colombo, Galle and Kandy.

      4) There are no stupid questions! You don’t need a Sri Lankan bank account to get cash, but like I mentioned above not all banks may accept your card. I always carry at least 2 different bank cards and a credit card so if one card fails I always have a backup option. If that’s not an option for you my advice would be to carry some cash from home so you can exchange this at the airport. Yes, it will costs a bit of money because of the exchange rate commission but at least you’ll have some money to take a taxi/bus from the airport to the city.

      Enjoy your trip!
      Lotte

  14. May 20, 2018 / 4:03 pm

    I loved reading it after stumbling across your blog. Will follow regularly now. I am planning a trip to Sri Lanka and would love if you could suggest me whether I should carry LKR or USD. Thanks in advance and happy travels.

    • Lotte
      Author
      May 21, 2018 / 9:23 pm

      Hi Prapti, thank you for reading:-). I would just get LKR from an ATM when you arrive in Sri Lanka, you can take some USD as a backup in case your card doesn’t work at the airport and you have to exchange some money to take a taxi or bus to your first destination. Enjoy your trip! Lotte

  15. Michael
    July 23, 2018 / 11:00 am

    Hi

    Amazing post, super helpful.
    Thank you so so much!

    • Lotte
      Author
      July 23, 2018 / 7:20 pm

      Thanks Michael, I’m happy to hear that:-) Enjoy your trip!

  16. Manuel Hinojosa
    August 10, 2018 / 4:16 am

    This is very useful. Thanks so much. Me and my partner live in Canada and for the past few years we have escaped winter. Our plan is to go to Sri Lanka from mid January until mid April.

    Your post gives a very clear idea of what to expect.

    • Lotte
      Author
      August 11, 2018 / 2:43 pm

      Thank you Manuel, I’m happy to hear that! Enjoy your trip to Sri Lanka:-)
      Lotte

      PS I love Canada! Which part of the country do you live?

  17. Patrick Hubert
    September 22, 2018 / 1:20 pm

    Very interesting thank you I’m really enjoying your blog.. Do you remember how much the diving cost in Sri Lanka? Where was your favourite diving location(s)? Do you think the diving in Sri Lanka is beautiful enough or should I still look into going diving in the Maldives?

    I totally agree with Manuel up here, escaping the Canadian winter every year!

    Any info would be much appreciated.
    Merci 🙂

    • Lotte
      Author
      October 2, 2018 / 9:55 pm

      Thanks for reading Patrick, happy to hear you enjoy my blog:-) We paid 60 euro for 2 dives (9000 LKR per person). We only went diving at Weligama because the weather at Kalpitiya wasn’t that great for diving.

      Regarding your question, diving in Sri Lanka was fun but I would definitely go diving in the Maldives. I haven’t done so myself (yet), but it’s at the top of my bucket list!

      Haha, I’ve only been to Canada from June until October so I don’t know what a Canadian winter is like but I imagine it’s cold…

      Happy travels!
      Lotte

    • Kym L
      October 14, 2018 / 11:35 pm

      Hi Patrick. I have yet to visit Sri Lanka, but have had the good fortune at do two trips to the Maldives where my sister and I were on liveaboards. The diving was spectacular! What we saw and experienced there has certainly raised the bar for other dive vacations. We are going back, for our third, and final, two-week Maldives trip in April. I say final, as we want to expand our horizons and experience another ocean. LOL

      A fellow Canuck 🙂

      • Lotte
        Author
        October 26, 2018 / 9:55 am

        Thank you Kym for the extensive answer! I would love to go diving in the Maldives and your story has gotten me even more excited:-)

  18. Robin
    October 3, 2018 / 3:15 pm

    Thank you for the article!

    I generally avoid ATM because of the fees and the unfavourable rate at the exchange offices.

    Just discovered a new mobile app for my next trip Fairswap. It allows to exchange cash currency in real-time by meeting with each other at a pre-agreed location.
    Widely, you can post your need in foreign currency and if there is someone nearby facing the reverse need, then he can contact you and you will meet him and make the swap.

    Could be a good way to change before travelling or get rid of some leftover after holidays

    • Lotte
      Author
      October 13, 2018 / 1:39 pm

      Hi Robin,

      I agree exchange offices are not really good value for money and I hate the ATM fees… Interesting app and also a fun way to meet fellow travelers! Thanks for letting me know about this:-)

      Lotte

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