Travelling Sri Lanka on a budget: How much does it cost to backpack in Sri Lanka?

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

How much does it cost to travel in Sri Lanka? The answer to this question is of course quite dependent on the type of traveller you are, the activities you do and how long you travel. But of course, I can say something about what we have spent in Sri Lanka.

So, in this travel blog: how expensive was our trip through Sri Lanka? Moreover, I tell you what the prices of food and accommodations are. I also give you some budget travel tips.

Finally, I answer the million-dollar question: Can Sri Lanka be travelled on a (small) budget?

Fisher boats at Blue Beach Dickwella


Is your next stop Kandy? Read about this place in our travel guide!


Is Sri Lanka a budget travel destination?

Yes, Sri Lanka is definitely a cheap travel destination for backpacking! It is one of the cheapest countries we have ever been too! For less than a €10 per person, you stay in beautiful locations in fine hotels. So, accommodation-wise, Sri Lanka is a budget travel destination.

Food is very cheap and also the cost of transport, both public transport and for example a tuk-tuk, is not expensive. However, making use of a taxi, a private driver is much more expensive.

The only thing more expensive is admission fees for sights and activities. Yet these things are often not expensive, but it is not always in proportion to other prices in Sri Lanka.

What does a trip trough Sri Lanka Cost? In this blog you will find all about prices, budget and costs of traveling through Sri Lanka.


How much money did we spend in Sri Lanka?

We travelled through Sri Lanka for four weeks. Both with public transport (buses and trains) and with taxis and tuk-tuks. During our trip through Sri Lanka, we pay attention to our budget, but not very strict. We also did not always sleep in the cheapest hotels, we also often enjoyed nice and comfortable accommodations Sri Lanka has to offer.

Disclaimer: Everyone travels in his or her way and has different priorities. That is completely fine, but keep this in mind when you read our costs. Backpacking can always be more expensive or cheaper.


Click here for our travel guide on beach town Trincomalee!


Facts about our budget through Sri Lanka

amount of days: 29

Total expenditures: LKR306.977/ €1515,85/ $1693,91
Expenditures per person: LKR153.489/ €757,93 / $846,96
Average expenditures a day: LKR10.585/ €52,27/ $58,41

Forecasted budget: LKR11,138/ €55/ $61,46
Amount of days below forecasted daily budget: 18
Amount of days above the daily forecasted budget: 11

All expenses are for two people and are calculated based on exchange rates during the trip through Sri Lanka. This does not include our airline tickets. The currencies displayed are Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR or Rs), Euro (€) and USA Dollar ($).

Nine arches brigde and my great umbrella ella


Will you also visit Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka? Click here for a free travel guide!


How much are accommodations in Sri Lanka? – 35.2% of the total Sri Lanka budget

Total expenditures: LKR107.958/ €533,10/ $595,72
Amount of nights: 29
Average price for a hotel for 2 persons: LKR3.726/ €18,40/ $20,56

Hotels, hostels and guesthouses are not expensive in Sri Lanka. We slept in luxury lodges with internet, breakfast and a great view for less than 20 euros per night (for two people). Our most expensive overnight stay was €30.

If your budget is smaller, no problem, there are also plenty of accommodations where you can spend less than €10 a night. Conversely, there are also hotels and guesthouses that are many times more luxurious, with an associated higher price.

Regarding accommodations, Sri Lanka is certainly a budget travel destination!

Here you will find our hotel guide with the nicest hotels in all of Sri Lanka!

Zephyr villa Dickwella


Free guide on how to climb Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka!


How much is transportation in Sri Lanka? – 16.7% of total Sri Lanka budget

Total expenditures: LKR51.255/ €253,09/ $282,83
Average day expenditures: LKR1768/ €8,73/ $9,76
Bus and train: LKR4.141/ €20,45/ $22,85
Tuk-tuk: LKR16.013/ €79,07/ $88,36
Taxi: 
LKR17.295/ €85,4/ $95,44
Scooter: LKR12.872/ €63,56/ $71,03
Petrol: LKR933/ €4,61/ $5,15

Transportation and travelling around Sri Lanka is not expensive at all. If you travel by bus, you are sometimes on the bus for less than two euros for three or four hours. In addition, Sri Lanka is not very large, travelling between the different locations can be very fast.

The train journey between Kandy and Ella is a trip that you should not miss, the train is also very cheap. However, the journey takes long (around 7 to 8 hours if I remember correctly)

Travel Tip: it is best to buy the train tickets between Kandy and Ella more than one week in advance. Go to any train station, it doesn’t matter which one.

No tickets purchased in advance? No problem, the second-class non-reserved tickets are also fine. Buying train tickets online means paying at least three times as much for the same train ticket.

Read more about Ella and the beautiful train ride from Ella to Kandy in this Ella travel guide.

Sri Lanka Train

Sometimes it is nice to travel parts by car (taxi) or tuk-tuk. The prices of taking a tuk-tuk are of course higher than if you travel by public transport.

In addition, a scooter is also a great means of transport in Sri Lanka. We rented a scooter at many locations for €5- €10 per day to explore the area ourselves.

Budget saving tip: Always try to gather other travellers if you are planning to take a private car/taxi. Usually, you drive a standard route that more people take. This way you save some money again!

Tuktuk Ella


Click here for our free hotel guide for Sri Lanka!


How expensive is food and dining in Sri Lanka? – 36.2% of the total Sri Lanka budget

Total expenditures: LKR111.126 / €548,72/ $613,20
Average expenditures per day: LKR38.31,68 / €18,92/ $21,14
Money spend at restaurants and cafés: LKR98.633/ €487,03/ $544,26
Groceries: LKR12.494/ €61,69/ $68,94

How delicious is the local Sri Lankan cuisine?! Curries, roti and chapatti. Besides, it is cheap too! What is less cheap are western-style restaurants. Here you eat poké bowls, drink good (soy) cappuccino and enjoy pancakes. You pay Western prices for this, but it is very tasty.

We were well aware of all that food. More than 36% of our total spending was on food, mainly food outside the door. We are food-lovers, however, if you are not, you can save some bucks here!

Food Tip: in all my travel guides about Sri Lanka you will find the best restaurants and coffee shops!

Curry in Sigiriya


Is your next stop Kandy? Read about this place in our travel guide!


How expensive are activities in Sri Lanka? – 9.9% of total Sri Lanka budget

Total expenditures: LKR30.285 / €149,54/ $167,11
Average expenditures per day: LKR1045/ €5,16/ $5,77

Many activities such as visiting temples and Fort Galle are free. The activities that you do have to pay for are sometimes very expensive. For example, you pay 25 euros per person for climbing Lion Rock in Sigiriya. Fortunately, there are often alternatives such as the much cheaper Pidurangala Rock.

Activities such as diving, surfing and body boarding are quite cheap in Sri Lanka. For example, you pay only €50 for diving (two dives). You can rent a surfboard from €1.50 per hour.

Lion's Rock us Sigiriya


Will you also travel towards Sigiriya (Lion Rock)? Click here for our travel guide on this place!


Other expenses: 2,1% of the total budget Sri Lanka

Total expenditures: LKR6359/ €31,4/ $35,09
Average expenditures per day: LKR219/ €1,08/ $1,21
Sim card: LKR2529 / €12,49/ $13,96
Other: LKR3830/ €18,91/ $21,13

We did not have to pay for our visas in Sri Lanka. We did, however, buy a local SIM card with calling credit. This was from Mobitel, for 16GB internet and 200 calling minutes we paid 10 euros.

Finally, we bought clothes, souvenirs and had the laundry done a few times.

Budget tip: currently a 30-day visa on arrival is free in Sri Lanka. The government instituted this for six months on 31 July, but it may be extended.

Coconut Three Hill sunrise Mirissa


Read more about Ella and the train ride from Kandy to Ella in this travel guide on Ella.


How much does alcohol cost in Sri Lanka? A price list of common expense

What is the price of alcohol in Sri Lanka? How much cost a basic meal? In this part of our budget guide, you find prices of general products.

  • 1 Kilo apples:LKR450/ €2,22/ $2,48
  • 250 ml olive oil: LKR880/ €4,35/ $4,86
  • 1 bag of chips: LKR300/ €1,48/ $1,66
  • 1 Kilo bananas: LKR80/ €0,40/ $0,44
  • 1 pack of yogurt (1L): LKR350/ €1,73/ $1,93
  • 1 Bread: LKR135/ €0,67/ $0,74
  • 1 Kilo avocados: LKR350/ €1,73/ $1,93
  • Bottle of milk (1L): LKR230/ €1,14/ $1,27
  • Bottle of Coke (1L): LKR150/ €0,74/ $0,83
  • 1 Kilo tomatoes: LKR142/ €0,70/ $0,78
  • 350 Gram Nutella: LKR1200/ €5,93/ $6,62

  • Bottle of water (1,5L): LKR70/ €0,35/ $0,39
  • Wine in supermarket: LKR2200/ €10,86/ $12,14
  • Beer in the supermarket: LKR190/ €0,94/ $1,05
  • Shampoo: LKR300/ €1,48/ $1,66
  • Cappuccino: LKR350/ €1,73/ $1,93
  • Glass of wine: LKR900/ €4,44/ $4,97
  • Beer in a restaurant: LKR500/ €2,47/ $2,76
  • Simple meal (1 pers): LKR500/ €2,47/ $2,76
  • 1 Liter benzine: LKR161.00/ €0,80/ $0,89

Fruittent Sri Lanka Anuradhapura


Free guide: The best beaches in budget travel destination Sri Lanka!


Conclusion: is Sri Lanka an expensive country for backpacking?

No, Sri Lanka is certainly not an expensive travel destination. You can easily travel around here as a backpacker. But also as a “flash” packer, a backpacker with more need for luxury. Sri Lanka is a true paradise, especially for people who travel on a budget.

Besides, this budget travel destination is a wonderful country where you can easily travel around, find a lot of variety regarding nature and where very kind people live!

Sri Lanka Mirissa

What is a realistic daily budget for a trip through Sri Lanka?

Realistic daily budget for a solo backpacker in Sri Lanka

A realistic daily budget for a backpacker in Sri Lanka is between 30 and 40 euros per day. With this budget, you move around by public transport, sometimes by shared taxi. You often eat street food, however, sometimes you spoil yourself by eating at more fancy restaurants. You often sleep in private rooms and occasionally in a dorm.

Of course, it is always possible to travel for less money through Sri Lanka. In the end, Sri Lanka is a perfect budget travel destination.

Realistic daily budget for couples in Sri Lanka

A realistic daily budget for couples in Sri Lanka is around €50 and €60. When you travel in pairs you share the room and the transport options such as scooters, therefore you spend less per person on travel. We spent 26 euros per person per day. In this budget range, you sleep in a private room, usually with air conditioning and eat at nice restaurants too.

You see, Sri Lanka is a relatively cheap travel destination, perfect for every budget!


Is your next destination in Sri Lanka the beach town of Mirissa? Read everything about this place here!


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4 Comments

  1. by Harin on 5 June 2020  10:37 Reply

    Great work and very insightful.

  2. by prasanna thenuwara on 6 June 2020  03:32 Reply

    Super analysis.
    Correction - should be kind instead 'kid people live'

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