Sri Lanka has been gaining buzz as one of the top holiday destinations in the world and as you’d expect, tourism thrives on the Island.
But what a lot of tour guides and packages don’t mention is that Sri Lanka is also really cheap to travel to and around on a budget. If you don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on your next holiday, read on for why Sri Lanka is one of your best options for an amazing time and an easy load on your wallet too.
Sri Lankan tourist visas are quite cheap. If you apply ahead of your arrival online, you’ll only pay a fee of $35. There’s also the possibility of a tourist visa on arrival at the Sri Lankan airport but there’s a price hike and long waiting lines if you choose this option so for a budget holiday, apply online and get your visa cheap and fast!
While your typical, touristy hotels can be a bit pricey on a budget, there’s any number of budget hotels, hostels, small bungalows and homestay opportunities for as low as $10.
What’s more, booking rooms in advance using online trip planners such as Booking.com will net you cheaper prices than if you book directly at the place. And it will also help you plan out your trip around the Island a bit better too, as a side bonus.
It goes without saying that booking private transport around the country is much more expensive than public transport. What’s surprising is how much cheaper public transport is. There’s an extensive bus network throughout Sri Lanka and even a journey of more than two hours will only set you back a couple of U.S dollars. Buses can get crowded but there’s never a dull moment in one with booming Sri Lankan music and screeching horns so it’s definitely an experience not to miss.
Sri Lanka’s train network, although not extensive and certainly not fast, is also quite cheap and is often the best way to get from one large city to another, especially in the Southern and Central regions of the country. Like buses, train rides are very cheap. Though there are air-conditioned, 1st class cabins in pretty much all intercity trains, opting for a much cheaper 2nd class seat is a much better idea. How else are you going to hang out the doors of a long winding train on a hill and take that photo you’ve only seen online and always wanted to take?
For shorter trips within cities, tuk-tuks are abundant although it’s general practice among tuk-tuk drivers to charge tourists almost double the local price. But you can ask your homestay family or the manager of your budget hotel for a local price point so that you can negotiate the price down to its normal level before you set off on the tuk-tuk ride.
There’s no shortage of cheap food options in Sri Lanka. Street-food in Sri Lanka is amazingly cheap and quite often are unique experiences you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
For meals, it’s quite easy to duck into small restaurants, recognizable by their mostly local clientele and small spaces, and sit down for a full rice and curry lunch or dinner for just a U.S dollar or two. Just make sure to keep smaller notes in local currency on hand and you’ll be saving quite a lot in food expenses while still getting Sri Lanka’s iconic, delicious food experience.
Perhaps the best thing about Sri Lanka when it comes to budget travel is that there are many things to do and experience around the country, completely for free.
Because of Sri Lanka’s all-around coastline, there’s definitely any number of local beaches that are completely free and oftentimes, completely devoid of other visitors. Settle down, stretch out and get ready to lose quite a few hours on a gloriously empty and completely free beach.
It’s common practice, too, for travellers on a budget to make a beeline for a beach town like Hikkaduwa and then make full use of the beautiful coastline nearby for free while staying at cost-effective accommodation and budget hotels in Hikkaduwa like Citrus Hikkaduwa. You can even take an early morning stroll to see local fisherman prepare for the day’s first catch.
Colombo too, despite its reputation as a tourist spot, has many intriguing and free attractions for the budget traveller. To ease up on travel within the city, book an affordable city hotel in Colombo such as The Steuart by Citrus and then head off to explore the historic districts of Colombo Fort by foot, completely free of course! The local markets are an amazing way to get the feel of the city and also the perfect way to meet the friendly locals.
The city of Kalutara is located on the coastal strip of the Western Province of the beautiful island, Sri Lanka. This city is quite popular among the tourists as it is home to some of the best beach hotels in the island. Kalutara hotels are surrounded by many cultural and historic landmarks and offer you a luxurious and comfortable stay at the beach with a breathtaking view. However, it is quite rare that the complete beauty of this city and its surroundings are explored by tourists. We understand that planning a trip can be exciting but also quite daunting. As a tourist, you want to experience as much as you can while enjoying and relaxing on your vacation. Finding the perfect balance can be quite stressful. But don’t worry, we’ve compiled a list of places that would be ideal for you to explore on your vacation. These places are generally overlooked, which means that it wouldn’t include the general tourist rush, providing you with an opportunity to blissfully relax and enjoy nature.
This beach is on a spit of land off the coast of Kalutara extending between the sea and the estuary of Kalu River. It is not as popular as the other tourist spots and therefore it’s relatively unspoiled as well. This golden beach will give you the opportunity to see the local fishermen at work while children run around the shore either playing volleyball or flying kites. While you are in the area, if you are interested in seeing colonial architecture make sure to check out the giant Kalutara Bridge and the remnants of the fort.
This lighthouse is located on Barberyn Island off Bentota which is around 20 minutes away from Kalutara. This 8 acre tropical island has hosted this 100 foot tall lighthouse for over a century and today it’s one of the only four international lighthouses in Sri Lanka. One of the friendly lighthouse keepers is always willing to talk about the history of the lighthouse and explain how it’s operated. Additionally, this beautiful island is one worth exploring with tall palm trees and the bright blue sea. This picturesque island is ideal for a relaxing walk or even a picnic.
Ventura beach, also known as Bentota beach, is the ideal spot for all those who are looking for an adrenaline rush on vacation. The best months to catch calm waves that are safe for a swim are on October to April allowing anybody to engage in water sports such as snorkeling, scuba-diving, wind-surfing, water-skiing, jet-skiing and much more. This breathtakingly beautiful beach is also lined with hotels and restaurants that are known for their delicious seafood and international cuisines.
The Dedduwa lake is near the Western Coast of the island of Sri Lanka and is surrounded by beautiful Gardens known as Lunuganga which is world renowned architect, Geoffrey Bawa’s country estate. Surrounded by rubber and plantations, the lake is located in a beautiful spot with a mesmerizing view of the hills in the distant. You can either sit back and relax in this peaceful and serene destination or take long walks or a guided tour around the area to learn about the rich history of this place.
If you are looking for a break from the popular areas and from sport and tourist activities, this lake is ideal for you. There are quite a few restaurants on the shore of the lake allowing guests to enjoy a great meal while enjoying the gorgeous view of the lake. This spot is away from the main town making it possible for tourists to even fish or sight birds in the area. It’s the ideal getaway location.
This wide almost white sand beach is located just 15km away from Kalutara and is perfect for those who are looking for a secluded beach spot. Sandwiched between the crowded Bentota beach and Beruwala beach, Moragalla beach although beautiful is usually unnoticed. The sea around Moragalla is quite shallow because of the underwater coral reef that lies close to the coastline. Moragalla beach is the ideal spot for a lazy dip in the ocean or a relaxing stroll around the beach collecting seashells that will later remind you of this idyllic beach.