This post outlines the estimated cost of travel in Sri Lanka. Read our suggested shoestring and more comfortable backpacking budgets for this colourful island in Southern Asia. We also have some sample prices and info on using money there.
Is Sri Lanka expensive to visit?
Daily Travel Costs in Sri Lanka on a Shoestring Budget
US$20/day | 3600 Sri Lankan Rupees
Most travellers in Sri Lanka have been or are going to go to India so it’s useful to compare it to the cost of travel in India. The general consensus seems to be that Sri Lanka is marginally more expensive than India but not by an enormous margin. One of the reasons for that is that Sri Lanka hasn’t traditionally been viewed as a big backpacker destination and as such doesn’t really have as much to cater for them. For example budget hostels with dorm beds are less plentiful so you may end up spending slightly more on accommodation in Sri Lanka. The cost of other things is fairly similar although entrance fees to major sites do also tend to be higher.
However things are changing and Sri Lanka is really developing into a popular destination for both backpackers and luxury holidaymakers. Its currency has also depreciated quite considerably over the past couple of years. Therefore as of early 2019, it’s an even more affordable destination for visitors. Given it is only a small island, you won’t spend much on transport or getting around so a realistic shoestring Sri Lanka backpacking budget might therefore be considered to be around $20/day.
Read more – Check out the best time to visit Sri Lanka.
More Comfortable Sri Lanka Backpacking Budget
US$30/day | 5400 Sri Lankan Rupees
Sri Lanka does have a big tourist industry so there are lots of things that cost a little bit more that might get you tempted to stray from a shoestring budget. For $30/day you can stay in better places on the nicer beaches and eat in some really very good restaurants. It will also allow you to visit more sites and temples, a few of which have ridiculously high entrance fees, which most tourists in the country won’t think twice about paying but budget travellers might find them to be a real nuisance.
Read more: India travel itinerary
Travel Insurance for Backpacking Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka may be cheap but remember that these budgets do not cover extra expenses such as booking flights to the country or purchasing travel insurance which is very important in case you get sick or suffer an injury whilst there. In terms of backpackers there are a few options when it comes to the best travel insurance for Asia.
Sample Prices in Sri Lanka
Train from Colombo to Kandy (4 hours) – $2 for 2nd class seat, $4 for 1st class AC seat
Dorm bed in budget hostel – from $5
Cheap private twin or double room – from $10
Meal in a budget restaurant – $2
3 course meal in a decent restaurant (mid-range) – $6
Large local beer in a bar/restaurant – $1.50
Entrance to the Sigiriya Rock – 4200 LKR ($23)
Generally speaking, these prices are similar to the cost of travel in Nepal.
These prices were last checked in 2016. Everything else on this page was updated in February 2019.
Currency – Sri Lankan Rupee
£1 = 240 Rupees
€1 = 205 Rupees
US$1 = 180 Rupees
(All exchange rates are correct as of February 2019)
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This post was last updated in February 2019.