How Much Did I Spend In Sri Lanka?

Many people say that Sri Lanka is expensive. It will be if you don’t research. A friend of mine spent a thousand US dollars for 9 days! I, on the other hand, spent only a total of $350 (US) for 10 days excluding airfare. But I’ll show you the overall cost that includes airfare to give you an idea of how much to save should you plan to visit Sri Lanka in the near future.

Let’s use the following exchange rates:

1 US $ = 43 Philippine Peso (Php)
1 Malaysian Ringgit = 13 Philippine Peso (Php)
1 Sri Lankan Rupee = 0.33 Philippine Peso (Php)

Traveled: March 2014


I flew from Manila to Kuala Lumpur via Cebu Pacific, then bought a roundtrip Kuala Lumpur – Colombo ticket via Air Asia. I also bought a return ticket to the Philippines. Staff at the Bandaranaike International Airport staff check return tickets so make sure to purchase yours ahead.

Total= Php 13,584 (includes roundtrip Manila-Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur to Colombo) or $316 (Round off)


In Sri Lanka, taking a taxi can be VERY expensive. Using the public bus or the train is the way to go! If you don’t have a choice, you can also hire a tuktuk. Train travel can go as low as 40 Rupees or Php 12 (28 Cents). On my last day, however, I used a taxi since it took about an hour to reach the airport (and most locals would recommend taking the taxi instead of using the public bus when heading to the airport to avoid delays). The driver charged 2500 Rupees. Overall, I spent about 4300 Rupees in transportation, which is equivalent to Php 1419 or $33.

Sri Lanka Train

A train in Colombo


I arrived in Sri Lanka during the off-peak season which is why accommodation then was very cheap. However, booking ahead is necessary during the high season to save time and money.

I spent around Php 4,500 or $105 for accommodations which includes 2 nights in a single room with private bathroom in Nuwara Eliya and 3 nights in a single room with private bathroom in Haputale.

Carnation Rest Guest House in Nuwara Eliya

Carnation Rest Guest House in Nuwara Eliya


Food in Sri Lanka is really cheap (and delicious). The serving portions are also huge! In fact, you can pay for one meal that can already feed 2 people. A decent meal is priced at 200-250 rupees or Php 66 – 90 / $1.50 – $2. Street snacks can go as low as 50 Rupees. To save on drinks, I bought from supermarkets.  For 10 days, I spent around 5000-7000 Rupees for food which includes a 400+ lunch at Burger King (HAHA!) and dinner at a fine dining restaurant!!! In Philippine Peso, that’s about 2310 ($54).

Delicious / spicy Samosa!

Delicious / spicy Samosa!


Here are some of the fees I had to pay: Victoria Park entrance, entrance to Sigiriya World Heritage, World’s End trek, entrance to Dambatenne Tea Factory, the tollgate going to the airport, and the Visa.

It’s $30 each for Sigiriya and the Sri Lankan Visa. Other fees mentioned total to Php 1500. Using the exchange rate above, I spent around Php 4,000 ($94)  in this category.


Sri Lanka Immigration started the ETA (Electron Travel Authorization) system in the beginning of 2012, which allows travelers to apply the tourist visa online. As soon as you have the passport, credit card and access to internet, you are able to make the application. When the application is approved, you will receive email notification or you can use the checking status function on the website to find out the details yourself.

ETA allows you to stay in Sri Lanka for 30 days, if you wish to stay longer, you have to either visit Immigration in Colombo to extend it for 30 days or you should apply for a visa sticker on your passport from the local Sri Lankan Embassy. For more information please visit


If you compute my ground expenses based on the above categories, total would be around Php 12500 or $290. I did buy a few things, however, such as tea, beer, souvenirs and other snacks which led me to spend $350 overall.

Add everything…

13,584 or $316 – airfare
15,050 or $350 – ground budget (includes a fine dining meal as mentioned)

TOTAL: $666 or Php 28,634 – all in including plane tickets, Visa, accommodation and other things such as hiring a tuktuk, or visiting Sigiriya.

If you’re not interested in fine dining or if you can find cheaper accommodations, you can basically survive Sri Lanka with only $300 for 10 days excluding airfare as long as you use PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Doesn’t matter if you’re planning to watch whales, surf or trek World’s End. Most of the time, the public bus or the train can get you to places for less than a dollar.

More tips: 

1. If you’re in Haputale and want to explore World’s End or Lipton’s Seat, you can rent a tuktuk. Ask your hotel or guesthouse for a reliable tuktuk (don’t just hire anyone you see on the street or you’ll be royally ripped off or harassed). If you want to save money, take a bus from Haputale proper to Dambatenne Tea Factory and from there you can trek through the tea plantations to reach Lipton’s Seat.

2. You will see around 3 money changers at the Bandaranaike International Airport and you may be tempted to change your money since Sri Lanka only accepts Rupees. The trick is to change a small amount only then once you’re out of the airport, find a bank. Banks offer good rates.

3. When outside the airport, don’t take a taxi to reach Colombo proper. There’s a bus parked outside Bandaranaike International Airport which can take you to Colombo Fort for just 100 Rupees or 76 cents (Php34).

4. Street food is cheap and clean. As for liquid, it’s still recommended to purchase bottled water. You can purchase from the supermarkets but whether you buy water in a supermarket or your hostel, there’s not much difference. Overall, food and drinks are relatively cheap unless sold at a beachfront or in a 5-star hotel.

5. If you decide to visit Nuwara Eliya and Haputale, you don’t have to rent a tuktuk if you want to go around the area. These towns are SMALL so you can basically walk to reach the points of interest. Just make sure to avoid walking at night if you’re a female and you’re alone. Bring whatever’s necessary to ensure your safety.

 Happy Travels!

22 thoughts on “How Much Did I Spend In Sri Lanka?

    • Yes, it can be very cheap according to the options you choose. If you choose to stay in a 5-star accommodation, then it’d be very expensive. But there are hostel dorms, cheap guest houses… etc. Thanks for reading 🙂

    • Hello Carlo! As mentioned in More Tips #2: You will see around 3 money changers at the Bandaranaike International Airport and you may be tempted to change your money since Sri Lanka only accepts Rupees. The trick is to change a small amount only then once you’re out of the airport, find a bank. Banks offer good rates.

      – hope this helps 🙂 All the best!

      • I used USD and I think it’s best to use it for your trip. As far as I can remember, there was no Philippine flag on the money changer’s country currency list.

  1. Hi Rica. Nice post! Mas lalo ako nahikayat pumunta Sri Lanka next year. May tanong lang ako regarding visa process.. Did you process the visa on arrival or ahead of time? And is it required for first time visitors na magpakita ng mga bank statements or proof of employment like sa China or Korea?

    • Hi Chris! I processed it ahead of time. I did secure a bank statement but they didn’t even look at it. Do prepare it just in case. Good luck!

      • Visa, return tickets (return to Philippines included), hotel / hostel boookings, bank statement – please prepare them na lang para hindi ka mamroblema 🙂 Once you secure your visa, my guidelines don kung ano pa po ung kailanan nyong e prepare.

  2. plano kong pumunta sa sri langka this coming june pwede mo ba kong tulungan this is my first time to travel wala akong idea pano mag travel p puntang ibang bansa

  3. Pingback: The Sri Lanka Story | Rica's Rucksack - Travel Blog

  4. Hi Rica! Your Sri Lanka entry is very informative. Love reading your blog. I am going to Sri Lanka this coming February 2017. I’m a bit hesitant to travel alone. Hopefully I could find a travel buddy.

    • Thank you for reading, Angela. Treat Sri Lanka like you would treat any other country with regard to safety (e.g., don’t go out alone at night, don’t wear anything that will attract attention, etc.). In general, the people are friendly and welcoming, but I’m sure you’re familiar with the drill of not being overly credulous as a traveler. You’ll do fine, I’m sure, with or without a travel buddy 🙂 Have a safe trip ahead!

  5. Hi Rica,

    Question re: airline tix. You mentioned Php 13,584 (Manila-Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur-Colombo).

    How about your return tix? (Colombo to KL and KL to MNL). How much did it cost? 🙂

    • Hello! Sorry if this part confused you. These were the tickets I bought:

      Manila to KL
      KL to Colombo
      Colombo to KL

      I went somewhere else after KL. But the total is 13584 for those tickets. Roundtrip means in and out of Sri Lanka.

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