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Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Sri Lanka

A Budget Destination

Fisher Boat, Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Fisher Boat, Mirissa, Sri Lanka

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.

Global Budget

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
Hotels € 17,60
Restaurants & Food € 9,40
Drinks & Going Out € 3,30
Every Day Life (& Souvenirs) € 2,10
Total Living € 32,40
Visits & Tours € 10,90
Activities € 4,50
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
Name
Type of
Accommodation
Type of Room Price
per Night (€)
Evaluation
(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  
Diner at the Leesha Tourist Home, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Diner at the Leesha Tourist Home, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

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…

City Restaurant
Name
Type of Meal Type of
Restaurant
Price
Food (€)
Evaluation
(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 ***
Ella Chill Cafe Diner Restaurant 4,99 *****
Mirissa Mirissa Eye Restaurant Diner Beach Restaurant 9,48 ****
Mirissa Island Bay Restaurant Lunch Beach Restaurant 4,58 **
Mirissa Unknown Diner Beach Restaurant 12,01 ***
Galle Pedlar’s Inn Cafe Lunch Restaurant 7,74 ****
Negombo Rodeo Pub Diner Restaurant 5,56 ***
Total Sri Lanka 5,75  
During one stop on the Train from Kandy to Nuwera Eliya, Sri Lanka

During one stop on the Train from Kandy to Nuwera Eliya, Sri Lanka

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 €…

City Bar
Name
Type of Drink Type of
Bar
Price
Drink (€)
Evaluation
(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 ***
Ella Chill Cafe Cocktail Restaurant 4,66 *****
Ella Chill Cafe Beer Restaurant 2,29 *****
Mirissa Mirissa Eye Restaurant Beer Beach Restaurant 2,21 ****
Negombo Rodeo Pub Beer Restaurant 2,64 ****
Total Sri Lanka 2,76  
On the beach in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

On the beach in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

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…

Indulging a refreshment in the luxurious Amangalla Hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka

Indulging a refreshment in the luxurious Amangalla Hotel, Galle, Sri Lanka

Reduce Costs?

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
Having a coconut in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Having a coconut in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

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3 Responses to Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Sri Lanka

  1. ranjith alwis 29. April 2016 at 3:12 #

    it is lovely trip report ,all details clear best wishes from srilanka Ran holidays.

  2. Kavindu Jayasekara 15. September 2016 at 9:38 #

    hi

    very important details about Sri Lanka. Keep it up your good work. best wishes from Traveler Ceylon

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