Travelling in Sri Lanka is not as expensive as it may seem at first glance, but is not much attractive place for backpackers because the tourism infrastructure are more focus on groups and tours arranged by travel agencies. A tourism more focused on resorts, boutique hotels, heritage houses, tea states… were most of the tourist travel by taxi, being unusual see foreigners in buses or train, except at the railway lines that cross the Hill County and the tea plantations.
Although Sri Lanka attract quiet some backpacker and solo travellers, specially the ones looking for surf spots and others choosing this island as a stopover between India and southeast Asia.
However, despite not being “backpackers friendly”, travel in Sri Lanka may be an option even for small budgets, as far as you stick to public transports (bus and train), sleeping in guesthouses or homestays and avoid the most popular tourist attractions like monuments, temples, natural parks… basically travel by yourself!
The food is very cheap, and local restaurants offer enough quality at very low prices. The street food is still cheaper and usually with enough quality.
The transports, buses and trains, are also very cheap, but slow and uncomfortable.
Cost: € 14 / day
Divided as follows:
10% culture and tourism
This value was obtained by taking into account:
- All trips were made by train or bus; only two tuk-tuks.
- Nearly all meals were in local food restaurants or street food; including at least a rice and curry, snacks, fruit and a “king coconut” a day.
- Water was mostly from tap, as in Sri Lanka is safe drinking.
- The accommodation was in guest houses, homestays and some budget hotels; mostly in rooms with en-suite. Never air conditioning, or breakfast included.
- Some stays were in shared room.
- No accommodation was booked. On site it is almost always possible to bargain the rates, especially if you are traveling in low season.
- Stays in the coastal beaches This was in low season; in the west coast it was during peak season.
- Includes only one entry in one of the many tourist sites: Sigiriya, about 28 € … the most expensive by the way!
- Does not include excursions, guides, sports activities or visits to national parks.
- does not include visa fee.
Example of some prices in January 2016:
- Single room costs at least 1000 LKR
- Train ticket Kandy-Colombo (2nd class): 190 LKR (normal) or 280 LKR (express)
- Bus ticket Kandy-Colombo(115 km): 160 LKR
- Rice and curry: 100 to 200 LKR
- King coconut: 50 LKR
- 5 apples: 100 LKR
- Veg Roti (street food): 30 LKR
- Kottu: 70 LKR
Visa fee: 35 USD