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How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Sri Lanka?

traveling in sri lanka

I spent five weeks traveling around Sri Lanka just before the main tourist season started, still enjoying the bargain deals of the low season and seeing prices go up in the high season – this applies mainly to accommodation, however. I am breaking down all of my Sri Lanka expenses to give you an idea of what costs to expect when you budget for a trip to Sri Lanka.

Overall, Sri Lanka was one of the cheapest countries I’ve been to and it is possible to travel Sri Lanka on $20 – $30 per person a day (on a shoestring), or around $50 per person per day in nicer accommodations. Read on for the full breakdown of food, transportation, sightseeing, accommodation and other costs in Sri Lanka.Sri Lanka

How much is a Visa for Sri Lanka?

A visa is required to enter Sri Lanka. Luckily it is easy to apply for a Sri Lankan visa online. The cost of a visa for Europeans, North Americans and Australians is US$35.

If you don’t apply for a visa online, you can get a visa on arrival at the port of entry in Sri Lanka for US$40.

These are the visas you can choose from when applying for a Sri Lanka visa online:

  • Tourist Visa Single Entry up to 90 days: US$35
  • Tourist Visa Single Entry up to 90 days: US$35
  • Tourist Visa with Double Entry up to 90 days: US$35

sri lanka talpe beach

How much is accommodation in Sri Lanka?

Accommodation will be your biggest expense in your daily travel budget for Sri Lanka, but the value for money is usually very good.

The cheapest rates for a private double room I found was LKR1,500 (US$10.40), and in some of the beach towns I paid around LKR3,000-3,500 (US$21-25) for a double room (split between two people). Remember that this was in the off-season though.

In other places (not along the coast) LKR1,500 seemed to be the going rate for a basic double room, breakfast often included, and usually with free wifi.

As for higher end accommodation, I found some nice hotels with swimming pool and breakfast for LKR5,000-6,000 (US$35-41), and really nice hotels, like the Cinnamon Hotels in Sri Lanka, often offer special rates starting at LKR7,000 (US$49) during the low season (expect this to double in the high season).hikkaduwa beach cinnamon infinity poolI didn’t sleep in dorms but a dorm bed was usually around LKR800 (US$5.50). It definitely pays off to check hotel booking websites like Booking.com for special deals in the places you’re planning to visit. Through Booking.com, I found a nice boutique hotel in Colombo for $50 a night (for two people), and a great deal for a gorgeous hotel in Polonnaruwa for $29 a night including breakfast. luxury hotel

How much are food & drinks in Sri Lanka?

Food can be dirt cheap, but it also can be pricey depending on if you’re willing to delve into the local cuisine or stick to western choices. A Sri Lankan dinner of kotthu, which is a favorite of the locals, costs around LKR165 – 200 (US$1.15 – 1.40), while a chicken curry in a beach town can cost you up to LKR900 (US$6.25). On average, expect to pay between LKR200 and 300 (US$1.40 – 2.10) for local food and LKR600 to 900 (US$4.15-6.25) for a dish in a tourist restaurant. Breakfast usually cost me LKR500 to 700 (US$3.45-4.85), including tea or coffee.

Speaking of coffee, if you are looking for good coffee, you’ll have to pay for it. The most expensive coffee I had was in Kandy at Natural Coffee, where I was charged LKR560 (US$3.90) for a cappuccino – more than I usually paid for an entire meal! There are some coffee shops in Colombo, and some cafes around the country that have a proper espresso machine, but they’re few and far between.

Generally, you can expect to pay around LKR270 (US$1.88) for an espresso and LKR350 – 400 (US$2.40-2.80) for a cafe latte or cappuccino. Of course there are also the cheap roadside coffee vendors or the guys that walk through the trains with a big thermos, selling a brown liquid for 10 rupees (US$0.07), but I wouldn’t call that coffee 😉Sri Lanka foodIf you prefer to stick to western food (why would you though, because Sri Lankan food is seriously addictive!), there are some western chains like Pizza Hut and KFC, and you can find sandwiches, burgers and pizza in the beach towns. Western meals are between LKR600 and 1000 (US$4.16 -7.00). You can splurge on fine dining in places – often, the nicer hotels have on-site restaurants, and there you pay upwards of LKR1,000 (US$7.00) for a dish. Snacks are super cheap – local chocolate is LKR50 – 100 ($US0.35-0.70), a bag of cashew nuts is LKR120 (US$0.85), peanuts are LKR50 (US$0.35), and little fried lentil balls or donuts are 10 rupees (US$0.07). A vegetarian roti (a dough triangle filled with vegetables – basically like a samosa, but not deep-fried) is 40 rupees (less than US$0.30) and big enough to serve as a full meal – cheapest lunch ever! A bottle of water (1.5 liters) is LKR60 – 70 (US$0.40-0.50), and since the tab water in Sri Lanka is not drinkable, you’ll have to budget for at least one bottle per day.jaffna fruit stall

How much is alcohol in Sri Lanka?

Alcohol is generally pretty cheap in Sri Lanka. A 625ml bottle of local Lion beer can be as cheap as LKR250 (US$1.75), but can cost you up to LKR600 (US$4.15) in nicer establishments. I usually paid LKR300 (US$2.10). Cocktails are more expensive – about LKR400 to 500 (US$2.80 – 3.50) along the beaches and LKR800 to 1000 (US$5.50 – 7.00) in the nicer bars of Colombo.reefs edge hotel beach beers

How much is transportation in Sri Lanka?

Transportation in Sri Lanka is some of the cheapest I’ve ever taken anywhere in the world – I still can’t believe that a 7-hour train ride cost me a mere LKR230 ($1.60) in 2nd class! While I wouldn’t opt for 3rd class (those are the cheapest tickets but the carts are often overcrowded), I think 2nd class is perfectly fine and there’s no need to pay for 1st class, which is about 1000 rupees per ride and essentially the ‘tourist cars’. I will share more about that when I write about my Sri Lankan train adventures which deserve a post o their own. I usually paid LKR190 (US$1.30) for a train ticket, the cheapest one was the 1 hour ride from Ella to Badulla which cost me 40 rupees (just under 30 cents).train ride to badulla with nine arches bridge tunnelLong distance buses are a bit more expensive but still cheap by western standards – expect to pay around LKR80 (US$0.55) for a 1-hour ride. The most expensive ride was a 4-hour trip from Kandy to Polonnaruwa at 150 rupees ($1.05) Tuktuks range anywhere from 50 rupees to 600 rupees (or more, if you go really far in them), always negotiate before you get in.

The price they quote you is usually higher than what they’re supposed to charge you, so try to haggle. As a rule of thumb: anything up to 3 kilometers shouldn’t be more than 100 rupees, but the more touristy the area, the higher the prices the drivers charge.kandy tuktuks

How much are attractions in Sri Lanka?

Tourist attractions are the most expensive category in a Sri Lanka travel budget. Sri Lanka offers its heritage sites and national parks at a steep price, unproportionally higher than anything else that’s sold at deflated tourist pieces. Tourists don’t pay double or tenfold what locals pay, they pay around 40 times the local price. An example: Sri Lankans pay LKR50 (US$0.35) to enter Yala National Park, foreigners pay more than 2000 rupees (US$14).Sri Lanka tours The ancient cities in the north are LKR3,250 (US$22.50) each, and a half day safari in a National Park comes to US$40 with the vehicle, park entrance and a guide, but you’ll most likely get quoted a higher price. For our jeep in Yala we paid LKR4,000 (US$27.70) between four people and admission was around LKR2,500 (US$17.30) (it gets cheaper the more people are in a group). You can rent bikes for the day to get around the ancient cities which cost LKR200 to 300 US$1.40-2.10). Prices for other fun activities: A whale watching tour will cost you around LKR6,000 (US$41.75), a dive is around US$30, surf lessons are around US$40, cooking classes start at LKR3,000 (US$21). mirissa surfer

Other expenses in Sri Lanka

Other expenses to consider when setting a travel budget for Sri Lanka include things like laundry, toiletries and a local SIM card. Here are some examples so that you know what to expect:

  • Laundry: LKR250-350 (US$1.75-2.45) per kilo
  • Shampoo/ conditioner 100ml: LKR150 – 180 (US$1.05-1.25)
  • Face wash 100ml: LKR150 (US$1.05)
  • SIM card: LKR399 (US$2.75) for a 4GB data package

Sri Lanka 2014

How much is a local SIM card in Sri Lanka?

Make sure to grab your free local SIM card right when you make your way through immigration at the airport. Dialog, one of the fastest 3G networks in the country, offers free SIM card at immigration – just ask for one and they’ll give it to you. I personally used mobitel and paid 399 rupees for a 4GB data package. If you add another 100 rupees for call time credit, that should last you a while (if you only use your phone to call guest houses etc). For other options, check this comprehensive overview of all Sri Lanka SIM card providers and the prices for their respective data packages.Sri Lanka

Some notes on money and ATMs in Sri Lanka

There are ATMs everywhere, at least one in each town, no matter how small it is. And cash is king in Sri Lanka – it was rare that I was able to pay anything with a credit card, so prepare and make sure you’ll always have enough cash on you, especially when you visit national parks and UNESCO sites – the only place I was able to use my card at was Yala National Park. Seylan Bank has a maximum withdrawal of only 10,000 rupees, so if you pay fees for cash withdrawals abroad, make sure to avoid this one. Commercial Bank lets you take out at least up to 20,000 rupees, if not more. Sampath Bank lets you take out at least 30,000 rupees at once.Sri Lanka

Tipping in Sri Lanka

Most places automatically add a service charge to the bill, so double-check before you tip if they’re already including it.

Generally, tips are NOT expected in Sri Lanka, but if you want to show your gratitude for exceptional service, tips are of course appreciated. For locals it is not customary to tip in Sri Lanka, but if you’d like to leave a tip: In small restaurants, less than 100 rupees is sufficient, in more upscale restaurants, 200 rupees is more than enough. If you want to bar tender, don’t tip per drink – leave a tip at the end of the night. 

Taxi drivers are not tipped in Sri Lanka, but feel free to round up your fare.

Sri Lanka Budget: Per day breakdown

As you can see, Sri Lanka is very affordable – not as cheap as India, but you can get by on an average $30 a day, if you stay in budget accommodation and don’t take expensive tours every day. A beach day with accommodation, two full meals, coffee, snacks and drinks at night in a beach town would cost me around $25 – which would be a travel budget for Sri Lanka on the lower end – but on days when I visited one of the UNESCO sites, my daily expenses could easily add up to $50, which was for me a daily travel budget for Sri Lanka on the higher end.Trail Wallet Sri Lanka Budget

As usual, I used the TrailWallet app to track my expenses.

 

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How Much it costs to travel in Sri Lanka

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Where to stay in Hong Kong: The OZO Wesley in Wan Chai

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When I arrived at the OZO Wesley, I immediately liked the beautiful stylish entrance – but it was when I walked through these doors that I was truly stunned.ozo wesley hong kong entranceThe swanky, bright and spacious lobby has hands down one of the funkiest designs I’ve ever seen in a hotel. The waved wooden lines that cover parts of the ceiling and walls paired with bright red furniture reassured me immediately that I had made a good choice with this hotel, and I hadn’t even seen my room yet.Hong Kong Ozo WesleyI’d wanted to stay in Wan Chai, a neighborhood of Hong Kong that I wanted to explore more of, and the location of the Ozo seemed perfect. A tram station and several bus stations right outside the house, two subway stations (Admirality and Wan Chai) are each a a five-minute walk away. The other thing that had spoken to me was that their website promised ‘stylishly designed urban accommodation for on-the-go global nomads’. Well if that’s not the perfect hotel for this globetrottergirl, then I don’t know!Hong Kong Wesley Ozo HotelThe check-in was efficient and quick, and within five minutes of arriving I found myself opening the door to my room on the 18th floor, and yet again, was pleasantly surprised about the comfort and the design. Hong Kong is, similar to New York, known for its tiny hotel rooms, but the Ozo manages to make the most of every single inch – there is even a small desk next to the bed. The blue and grey painting of the city skyline that covers the entire wall behind the bed adds to the nifty and modernistic feel of the hotel.Hong Kong Ozo Wesley RoomLast but not least, my favorite part: the sofa reading nook in the bay window! I started looking forward to the occasional downpours because it meant I could make myself a cup of tea (every room has an electric kettle and tea) and relax with a magazine in my little nook, or draft some articles. It was my favorite little detail of the hotel.ozo wesley hong kong room with window1However, the reading nook isn’t even what the Ozo is all about – the Ozo is all about getting decent sleep. Everything in the rooms is designed for guests to have the best possible night’s sleep, the best ‘dream experience’. This means super comfy beds, thick curtains that block out the sunlight in the morning, double glass windows to keep out the city noise, and even includes a sleep timer on the TV that comes with sheep jumping across the screen. I couldn’t help but smile every night when I turned the TV on, eagerly awaiting the friendly sheep to put me to sleep with their monotone jumps.Ozo Wesley Hong Kong dream tvAnd my sleeps at the OZO were indeed always uninterrupted, and the bed was so cozy that I was tempted to spend all day in it, instead exploring Hong Kong. But after a good night’s sleep I was way too energized to stay in bed. Another thing I loved about my room was the fact that I opened the larger-than-your-usual-minibar fridge and found it EMPTY!Hong Kong Ozo Wesley room amenitiesFinally a hotel that understands that most guests are tired of paying for overpriced minibar drinks and snacks and rather go to 7-11 to stock up on exactly the items they want. The OZO gets it, and instead of forcing you to empty the minibar just so that you have room to store your snacks and drinks, and then putting all the minibar items back in before check-out, they leave you an empty fridge to begin with. Marvelous! And for those who don’t want to go out to get snacks or drinks, there’s still the 24-hour cafeteria in the lobby that has things like cookies, chips, fresh fruit and drinks.Hong Kong Ozo WesleyOn my first day at the OZO, I went for a run on the Bowen Road fitness trail, which I had discovered thanks to googleMaps, was only a short run up the hill from the hotel. Once you’re up there, you can run for miles straight along the rocks of the hill, surrounded by lush jungles, and with splendid views over Hong Kong. This became one of my favorite running routes in Hong Kong, but the hotel is also just a short run away from the Central and Western Distric Promenade which goes along the water all the way to the harbor, another scenic running route.Hong Kong Ozo Wesley ViewsWhen I woke up to rain on my second day, I decided to check out the hotel gym instead and was stoked to see a rather big gym, fully equipped with cardio machines and weights. I’ve noticed that when a hotel states it has a gym, it can be hit or miss – sometimes it’s okay, but often it’s tiny and neglected. This one was definitely one that was well taken care of and equipped with modern machines.Hong Kong Ozo Wesley GymThe one thing you need to refuel your batteries after a morning workout? A strong cup of coffee. And the OZO has exactly that: instead of simply providing a coffee pot in the breakfast room, like many hotels do, it offers two coffee machines that make exactly the coffee you want, either a simple espresso or americano, or cappuccinos and lattes. The other parts of breakfast were absolutely sufficient for me: fresh breads, cheese and cold cuts, jams and peanut butter, yogurt, a selection of juices and salad. The only thing I wished I would have had a larger selection to choose from was fresh fruit, especially since the hotel is making a point of serving healthy breakfast.Breakfast Ozo Wesley Hong KongOverall, I think the hotel is perfectly located to explore Central, Wan Chai and Sheung Wan, and Kowloon is just a quick subway ride away. As I said before – I was never too upset when it rained because I was looking for an excuse to spend more time in my room – and that barely ever happens!Hong Kong Ozo Wesley Hotel Room

Details

Location: 22 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Price: Starting at US$142 per double room
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly:
Absolutely – super fast wi-fi and desk, multimedia connectivity panels, comfy bay window seating
Amenities: Free wi-fi, complementary breakfast, gym, interactive orientation screens with city information, lobby lounge with snack bar, in-room coffee & tea making facilities
Website: www.ozohotels.com/wesley-hongkong
Hong Kong Ozo Wesley Hotel

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