The word Sri Lanka brings to the mind picturesque visuals of serene beaches and crowded cities, wild jungles and terraced tea plantations, incredible food and friendly people. Overlooked by travellers for nearly two decades due to civil conflict, Sri Lanka is only now starting to reappear on this tear-shaped island located below India.
Owing to the rampant inflation that has taken place over recent years, Sri Lanka is no longer the bargain it used to be. Although prices are still comparable to the surrounding countries in South and Southeast Asia, the amount you end up spending, depends largely on you. While package tours are popular, they are far from the only way to see the best of what the country has to offer. Exploring new places doesn’t necessarily have to be heavy on your pocket – not if you know how to watch your pennies.
We’ve complied some tried and tested tips to help you plan your holiday to Sri Lanka, on a budget.
Come up with a plan
Spontaneous travel plans sound great, but not preferable if one does not have the luxury of time and money to spare. A travel plan is essential if you are travelling on a budget. You will not require a detailed hour-by-hour itinerary, however, you should have an idea of how long you plan to stay at each site. Leaving less to chance means less unexpected spends.
When you’re in Sri Lanka, we advise you to take the following route:
Colombo (One Day) > Kandy (Two Days) > Nuwara Eliya (Two Days) > Una Watuna & Bentota > (Two Days)
We have saved you some Google Maps search minutes with an estimate of the time you will spend at each site.
Colombo to Kandy: 115 km, 4 hours
Kandy to Nuwara Eliya: 80 km, 2.5 hours
Nuwara Eliya to Unawatuna: 254 km, 6 hours
Una Watuna to Bentota: 70 km, 1 hour
Bentota to Colombo: 80 km, 1.5 hours
Instead of expensive hotel suites, consider opting for dorm rooms in hostels. Sharing a room naturally divides the costs and also offers you the opportunity to meet new people who might be willing to explore the country with you.
Other great alternatives are websites like Yoho Bed that offer budget to luxury hotel bookings in Sri Lanka. Their network extends to 70+ cities in Sri Lanka and is the preferred option for most travellers. With Yoho Bed’s service you will find accommodations with ease, including finding an accommodation in dehiwala mount lavinia.
Embrace public transport
Buses and trains are cheaper than planes. Hire a taxi service if you want to travel in the confines of comfort, but it’ll come with a cost. Don’t be afraid to hop on to a train as Sri Lanka is quite well-connected.
Book flights in advance
If you start making your travel plans early, flight tickets will cost you starting at US$250 one way. Airlines make flight seats available up to a year in advance and as travelling costs will be one of the major chunks, lock down the tickets as early as possible in order to save the most.