Sri Lanka Costs: $51 a Day

Having just reopened its borders to tourists in 2009, Sri Lanka is a relatively new travel spot. Essentially untouched by large developers and many of the hassles that accompany well-worn backpacker trails, it’s still possible to travel there on a shoestring. We did exceed our budget of $40 a day, since Sri Lanka isn’t quite as affordable as its large neighbor to the north. And we definitely got the sense that prices are rapidly rising as proprietors test the waters on what visitors will pay to enjoy the country’s beautiful beaches and cultural attractions.

Here is a breakdown of our costs. This table does not include costs to enter the country, which included $52.00 in airfare (this is when we used airline miles to fly first class) and visa fees of $60 ($30 each).

Type of Expense Total Cost
(for 18 days)
Daily Average Notes
Lodging $278.25 $15.46 Our lodging choices ranged in price from $7.92 in Anuradhapura to $27.71 in Unawatuna.
Food $262.41 $14.58 Food prices on the beach tended to be much higher than local food shops, with the exception of roti stands. Local places had better food and music.
Transportation (within country) $33.62 $1.87 Transportation can cost as little as $1 a day!
Entertainment $251.21 $13.96 Includes SCUBA, Horton Plains National Park, whale watching, and the cave temples at Dambulla.
Alcohol $81.34 $4.52
Incidentals $19.16 $1.06 Includes the costs for items like sunblock and internet.
Grand Total* $925.99 $51.44 *Total reflects expenses for two people. It does not reflect costs to enter the country (i.e., visas or airfare)

Some Examples:

1 L water – Rs.70 ($0.55)
640ml beer – Rs.240 ($1.90)
Hotel near the beach – Rs.2500 ($19.80)
Meal at a local’s restaurant – Rs.300 ($2.38)
Ice cream cone – Rs.50 ($0.40)
Western-style breakfast – Rs.500 ($3.96)

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