We have a great news for all budget travelers who are heading to Sri Lanka: it is a very cheap country (the cheapest we have ever travelled to so far and some people say it is even cheaper than India). It offers a lot, not only for solo backpackers, travel couples, holiday makers, but also for families with kids.
This country should be called the “Budget Travellers’s Paradise” instead of the “Tear-drop of India”. Why? There are plenty of reasons for this:
1) Sri Lanka is a very affordable country to travel through so you can do lots of new things (diving, snorkeling, elephant riding, experience safari, trekking) without a lot of money.
2) The scenery is stunning and you will be blown away by gold beaches, beautiful mountains, tropical forests or the variety of wildlife in Yala National Park.
3) Sri Lankan cuisine- sweet and extremely spicy you might want to cry at some point. There are plenty of local restaurants from where you can buy some samosas, curry and rice, Sri Lankan dumplings, roti, hoppers or other traditional Sri Lankan meals. The food is very delicious and you can discover new flavours.
4) People are amazingly hospitable– when locals see backpackers and budget travelers they don’t try to rip you off. The prices might be increased for obvious reasons, but it doesn’t differ much from what locals pay for the food or accommodation. People are not pushy, they try to help you and they keep smiling.
5) Traveling is trouble free– there is an easy access to any mean of transport you want to travel by, people speak very good English and Sri Lanka itself can be explored within a few days.
Disadvantages of traveling in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka can be perceived as a very overcrowded country (not as bad as India or China though) and you can see/feel it when getting into a train (push people hard or catch another train). Moreover, the country is very polluted and dirty.
Sri Lanka for $20 a day (based on our itinerary)
Budget: $20 per day= 2602.000 Sri Lankan rupees
Currency: Sri Lankan rupees ($1- 129 LKR)
Duration of stay: 7 days
Places visited: Colombo (2 days)—> Pinnawala ( 2 days)—>Ella and Yala National Park (1 day)—> Galle+ random beaches on our way (2 days)—> Colombo International Airport
Transport: Local buses (to travel inside the cities, never paid more than $0.50 per ride) and trains (to get from one province to another, never paid more than $1,20) + tuk tuk (rushing to the airport, $1)
Accommodation: Guesthouses, hostels (minimim of $8 and maximum of $15 per two) + 1 night hosted by Sri Lankan family (free)
Attractions: Elephant riding ($30 per person) and elephant bathing ($1 tip for the staff) + photo with a cobra ($15 per person)+ Safari experience at Yala National Park ($30)
Food: Local street food and dining out in local restaurants (maximum of $3 per person)
Additional expenses: Tips for locals ($4 in total) and souvenirs ($3)
Prices and expenses in different places
We have noticed that the prices differed depending on the place we stayed. For example:
Colombo– prices of food and accommodation were much higher in the city centre (obviously), but once we went outside the city the prices dropped by 40%. Colombo was very crowdy and the traffic was terrific.
Pinnawala was expensive in terms of attractions. You can’t bargain much as it is a very touristy place where you can see elephants and ride them, so locals ask you for tips and it’s hard not to buy a small souvenir at the market. The food and accommodation is cheaper than in Colombo though.