How much does it cost to backpack in Sri Lanka?

My boyfriend Wiebe and I travelled across Sri Lanka for 16 days and spent less than €500 p.p. for the entire trip. Sri Lanka is a cheap destination, however, the breakdown in this post is geared towards a budget traveler. All costs mentioned below are per person per day, but based on two people travelling together. It includes all expenses in the country itself, i.e. excluding international flights or insurance.

Sri Lankan Rupees
Sri Lankan Rupees

 

Accommodation €10
Transport €2.5
Food & Drinks €6.5
Activities €8
Varia €3
Total €30/day

 

Accommodation

Room with a view in Tangalla on the south coast of Sri Lanka
Room with a view in Tangalla on the south coast of Sri Lanka

On average, we spent €10 per person per night based on a double room with private bathroom in hostels. The cheapest room costed only €6 p.p. while we spent a little more on the beaches in the south (up to €23 p.p.), but your boyfriend turns 25 only once 😉 Niroshan and his family offered us a free bed for 2 nights after my couchsurfing request.

Niroshan was the perfect host in Gampaha and took care of us on our first days in the country
Niroshan was the perfect host in Gampaha and took care of us on our first days in the country

We wanted to be flexible so didn’t book accommodation in advance. Once in the country, we bought a local SIM card and in the bus or train to our next destination we called some hostels either advised by locals or from a guidebook. This way we could negotiate about the price before arrival (my haggle skills suck 😉 ) and I felt less intimidated by all the tuk tuk drivers that wanted to bring us to a hostel (where they get commission) as soon as you leave the bus or train station.

 

Transport

What do you prefer: train, bus or tuk tuk?
What do you prefer: train, bus or tuk tuk?

Trains are extremely cheap in Sri Lanka and cost less than €1 per hour if you don’t mind seats in 2nd or 3rd class. Buses are similarly cheap, but tuk tuk (taxi) rides can add up quickly so use your haggle skills. Trains and buses are perfect for long distances, while a tuk tuk is very convenient for short distances within the city. A fair price for a tuk tuk ride is approximately 100 Rp (~€0.60) per kilometer, however, expect to pay more after sunset.

 

Food & Drinks

Delicious but spicy breakfast in Sri Lanka
Delicious but spicy breakfast in Sri Lanka

Our lunch and dinner consisted mostly of local food but we splurged once a week on western, more expensive non-spicy food. As we are not really used to eat spicy food in the morning we sometimes opted for an English breakfast (up to €4) instead of a Sri Lankan breakfast (€1). We drank a lot of water, which costs between 60 and 100 Rp for a 1.5L bottle, and a soda or beer a day (both ~100 Rp/€0.60).

 

Activities

Learning how to play the local board game carrom
Learning how to play the local board game carrom

In Sri Lanka we divided our time between free, cheap and expensive activities. Thanks to Niroshan we eyewitnessed a Buddhist ceremony and his son learned me how to play the local board game called carrom. We visited some temples, strolled around Galle Fort and the Negombo fish market, enjoyed the beach life in the south and went to an instrument ‘factory’. We loved these free activities as during each of them we learnt something new about the local culture.

 

Observing the fishermen's life on the beaches in the south
Observing the fishermen’s life on the beaches in the south

Most of our activities had an admission fee. We visit the Temple of Tooth in Kandy, washed an elephant, hiked Adam’s Peak (actually free but we tipped the monks), toured on the tea plantations surrounding Nuwara Eliya, went to a spice garden in Ella, booked a boat ride in the mangrove, we spoiled ourselves with a massage and learned how to surf (not a success…).

 

On safari in Udawalawe National Park
On safari in Udawalawe National Park

The game drive in Udawalawe National Park (€55 for the two of us) and the whale and dolphin watching in Mirissa (€35 p.p.) were our two most expensive trips in Sri Lanka.

 

Varia

Costs in this category tend to be forgotten when you estimate your travel budget. For this trip it included buying a SIM card with credit, going to internet cafes, refiling toiletries, doing the laundry, purchasing souvenirs, tips and going to a hairdresser. Wiebe also hurt his toe very badly and we had to see a doctor who charged €11, while we payed €5 in the pharmacy afterwards.

 

 

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Sri Lanka travel tips and wanderlust. Travel guide to help you estimate your backpacking budget. Do you want to know which price is fair for a tuk tuk ride? Or the cost of a local breakfast?

8 Replies to “How much does it cost to backpack in Sri Lanka?”

  1. I love that you gave a really simple breakdown of your budget, & even mentioned that you did a variety of activities. Really cool that you were able to see a Buddhist ceremony!

  2. I love affordable countries and knowing which places I can see and experience without breaking the bank. I’ve heard so many great things about Sri Lanka I can’t wait to take my adventures there. Thanks for the tips!

  3. A hurt toe while backpacking, yikes! Haven’t backpacked myself for six weeks I know how important your feet can be. Sounds like Sri Lanka is very affordable for backpackers. Surprised by the $3 difference in price for the Sri Lankan breakfast and the English breakfast. I would probably opt for that every week too.

  4. I haven’t given much thought to visiting Sri Lanka but I may need to think twice now. It’s more than affordable and looks like a great place to visit.

  5. That’s amazing how inexpensive Sri Lanka is. You lived quite comfortably for $30 per day. I love the fact that even after treating yourselves to massages, you stayed within budget. Seeing the Buddhist ceremony must have been quite interesting. What kind of ceremony was it?

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