A Budget Destination
Type Of Travel
This trip was to some extend both “Flashpacking” & “Mid-Range”. Flashpacking because we chose mostly small and cheap but pleasant guesthouses, went to small local restaurant and actually did nothing special but for… The car! Since we only had 10 days in Sri Lanka and wanted to make the most of this very limited amount of time, we rented a car with driver, which was a great comfort but a pricy proposition… So all in all we ended up with a budget at the lower end of the mid-range type of travel.
Itinerary & Time Of The Visit
Never have we bought a long-haul plane ticket 6 days before departure… But when a window of opportunity of 12 days in February 2016 aroused, the decision was quick. With only 10 days in Sri Lanka, we had to make some bitter choices, as this is not nearly enough for a country that would ideally require 3 weeks or more… Beaches were immediately out of focus, as was soon wildlife watching, because of the lack of time.
We spent 5 days on the Northern Cultural Triangle (Anuradhapura, Mihintale, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya & Dambulla), which was the bear minimum to be able to somehow discover those places. Then followed 3 days to get a glimpse of the Highlands and the Tea Plantations (Kandy, Nuwera Eliya & Ella). Last but not least, we headed south for one and a half day rest on the beach & whale watching in Mirissa and to discover Galle.
As said above, the car with driver was a great comfort and an even greater flexibility, but a pricy proposition… With almost 31 € per person per day, it was a big chunk of our overall budget, almost as much as our expenditures for our “everyday life” (hotels, restaurants, one drink in the evening, various expenditures…). Cultural Sites, especially the one listed as UNESCO World Heritage, are very expensive in Sri Lanka, where double pricing systematically applies.
|Costs per Person per Day in €||2016|
|Long Distances’ Transport||€ 30,90|
|Short Distances’ Transport||€ 0|
|Total Transport||€ 30,90|
|Restaurants & Food||€ 9,40|
|Drinks & Going Out||€ 3,30|
|Every Day Life (& Souvenirs)||€ 2,10|
|Total Living||€ 32,40|
|Visits & Tours||€ 10,90|
|Total Tours & Activities||€ 15,40|
|Total Country:||€ 78,70|
Hostels & Hotels
Accommodation is quite cheap in Sri Lanka, with a price level similar to what you find in India or Southeast Asia. We took mostly small but pleasant guesthouses, and a few hotels in more touristy areas, and paid an average of 35 € per night for a double room.
|City||Hostel / Hotel
|Type of Room||Price
per Night (€)
(1 to 5 Stars)
|Negombo||Villa Taprobane||Guesthouse||Double Room||21,6||****|
|Anuradhapura||Milano Tourist Rest||Hotel||Double Room||31,9||****|
|Palonnaruwa||Leesha Tourist Home||Guesthouse||Double Room||28,8||***|
|Kandy||Nature Walk Holiday Resort||Hotel||Double Room||34,8||***|
|Kandy City Rest||Guesthouse||Double Room||41,0||**|
|Nuwara Eliya||Grosvenor Hotel||Hotel||Double Room||41,7||**|
|Ella||Rawana Holiday Resort||Guesthouse||Double Room||34,8||****|
|Mirissa||Esprit d’Ici Hotel||Hotel||Double Room||49,2||****|
|Negombo||Villa Taprobane||Guesthouse||Double Room||19,9||****|
|Total Sri Lanka||35,0|
Restaurants & Food
Since we chose a very high speed of travel (we changed city almost every night), we mostly opted for dining at our guesthouse / hotel, or at more touristy places (like Ella or Mirissa). Therefore, we ended up with a budget of almost 10 € per person per day, quite high for Sri Lanka…
|Type of Meal||Type of
(1 to 5 Stars)
|Anuradhapura||Milano Tourist Rest||Diner||Hotel||5,06||****|
|Polonnaruwa||Leesha Tourist Home||Diner||Hotel||3,16||***|
|Kandy||Nature Walk Holiday Resort||Diner||Hotel||7,30||***|
|Kandy||Food Stall (Market)||Lunch||Food Stall||1,01||***|
|Kandy||Kandy City Rest||Diner||Hotel||5,06||***|
|Nuwera Eliya||China Garden Restaurant||Diner||Food Stall||3,03||***|
|Mirissa||Mirissa Eye Restaurant||Diner||Beach Restaurant||9,48||****|
|Mirissa||Island Bay Restaurant||Lunch||Beach Restaurant||4,58||**|
|Galle||Pedlar’s Inn Cafe||Lunch||Restaurant||7,74||****|
|Total Sri Lanka||5,75|
Drinks & Going Out
Here again, the fact that we chose more touristy places, like our guesthouses, to have a beer, pushed the budget for an evening beer up… A large bottle (640 ml) cost us an average of slightly more than 2,5 €…
|Type of Drink||Type of
(1 to 5 Stars)
|Anuradhapura||Milano Tourist Rest||Beer||Hotel||3,13||****|
|Polonnaruwa||Leesha Tourist Home||Beer||Hotel||2,21||***|
|Kandy||Nature Walk Holiday Resort||Beer||Hotel||2,78||***|
|Kandy||Kandy City Rest||Beer||Hotel||1,90||***|
|Nuwera Eliya||China Garden Restaurant||Beer||Food Stall||3,00||***|
|Mirissa||Mirissa Eye Restaurant||Beer||Beach Restaurant||2,21||****|
|Total Sri Lanka||2,76|
Tours & Activities
Cultural Sites, especially the one listed as UNESCO World Heritage, are very expensive in Sri Lanka, where double pricing systematically applies. Visiting the 3 main ones (Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa & Sigiriya) will cost you no less than 80 USD entrance fees per person!
Wildlife watching, on the other hand, is far cheaper than in Africa. For the 3 hours Safari in Wilpattu National Park, we paid 33 USD for the Jeep (with room for up to 12 people!) with a very knowledgeable driver plus 20 USD entrance fees per person.
Splurge At Reasonable Costs?
A car with driver is surely a way to indulge a comfortable time in Sri Lanka and a high flexibility. As mentioned above, this is a quite expensive yet pleasant way to travel. Of course, there are many small luxury resorts, where prices easily go through the roof. For luxury, Sri Lanka seems to be no cheap destination…
Our budget was high for Sri Lanka, and this level of expenditures can be significantly reduced:
- The car was a big chunk of the budget, and even if it gave us a great flexibility, this surely isn’t necessary if you have sufficient time at hand (more than 2 weeks, and ideally 3)… If you want to enjoy the comfort of a private car for certain legs, you can charter taxis from one city to the other, and take public transports (bus, train) for easier routes… There, you can save a significant part of this budget.
- Also on accommodation, you can save a significant part of the budget, and there is quite a network of cheap hostels and guesthouses that offer descent and clean rooms