Is Sri Lanka Expensive To Visit In 2024? - Feel Free Travel Blog
Is Sri Lanka Expensive To Visit In 2024? Is Sri Lanka Expensive To Visit In 2024?

Is Sri Lanka Expensive To Visit In 2024?


Written by Josh Band

Posted, 2nd May 2024

The answer to “Is Sri Lanka Expensive?” is no.

We run group tours in Sri Lanka all throughout the year and the affordability of the island is one of its biggest appeals to our travel groups.

Sri Lanka has long been known as an affordable destination, on par with most Asian countries in terms of budget. 

The island is always packed with backpackers and budget travellers taking advantage of the great accommodation options and low cost of living.

But just how cheap is Sri Lanka? We’ve put together a complete guide to how expensive, or should we say inexpensive, Sri Lanka is so you know exactly what to expect for your trip.

Is Sri Lanka Expensive?

If you compare Sri Lanka to any Western destination, then it is definitely not expensive.

It is an inexpensive destination where you can easily get luxurious food, accommodation, and transportation for a seemingly tiny price.

The currency in Sri Lanka is Rupees, and $1 USD is roughly equivalent to 296 Rupees!

However, compared to the surrounding countries, Sri Lanka can actually be surprisingly expensive, relatively speaking of course. 

A woman in a white tank top using a smartphone to photograph three people wearing matching black t-shirts, looking out over a foggy mountain landscape. Is Sri Lanka Expensive? No.

There are definitely ways of travelling around the island cheaply, but there are some unavoidable expenses to consider.

If Sri Lanka is the only country that you’re visiting in South Asia then you’ll likely believe that you’re onto a winner on the island and that everything is incredibly cheap, but the truth is that Sri Lanka is a little bit more expensive compared to India, Bhutan and Nepal  – particularly for activities and things to do.

Don’t get us wrong, the costs of lots of things in Sri Lanka are the same as in surrounding nations and you can easily live on around $30 a day, but there are a couple of areas where the prices are hiked up and Sri Lanka can actually work out more expensive than London!

A smiling woman in traditional attire speaking with a group of tourists in a lush tea plantation; the tourists are listening attentively

Let’s run through what prices you’ll have to watch out for in Sri Lanka so that you can budget your trip accordingly and ensure you aren’t overspending.

Or if you want, you can join us on a group tour of Sri Lanka which includes all activities, accommodation, a bunch of meals and in-country transport. All you need to do is make it to Sri Lanka!

Price of Food in Sri Lanka

As with any country, food prices depend on what and where you want to eat. You’ll find some great deals from local vendors and market stalls, selling authentic dishes like curries and rotis from as little as $2-4.

Sit-in meals will set you back a little more, averaging around $6-10 per dish. International dishes will of course cost more but not a big jump in price.

Traditional Sri Lankan meal served in earthenware dishes. The meal includes white rice, spicy beef curry, green beans, sliced onions, tomatoes, and a couple of red chilies on top

You’ll find a huge range of cuisines, particularly along the southern coast of Sri Lanka, which is a real tourist haven because of its beautiful beaches.

Upscale restaurants in urban areas and around the capital will cost a similar price to Western countries, with meals ranging from $15 to $30. 

Price of Drinks in Sri Lanka

Non-alcoholic drinks are pretty cheap in Sri Lanka, making it easy to stay hydrated in the hot, humid conditions.

Large bottles of water (1.5-2 litres) will cost as little as $0.50 which is great as it’s not advised to drink the tap water in Sri Lanka, making it an essential cost.

Smoothies are another great option for hydrating, but these are more costly at $2 to $4 – still much cheaper than the West… and tastier too!

Alcohol prices vary significantly across the island. 

Your best bet for a cheap beer is to opt for a local brand such as Lion Lager which will usually cost around $1-3 for a standard bottle/can in bars and restaurants. 

The locals aren’t big beer drinkers so international brands can be quite limited but you’ll always be able to find at least a few on offer, these will cost you more at around $2-5 to account for the import costs.

Wine also isn’t overly popular in Sri Lanka so it might not be the best in the world, but you’ll still find a decent menu in mid- and high-end restaurants. House wine will typically set you back around $5 a glass.

Cocktails are especially popular in tourist hotspots and hotel resorts and are usually priced at around $7-10.

Price of Transport in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a pretty advanced public transport system and the bus is one of the most convenient and cost-effective options. Short journeys will cost as little as $0.20, stretching to $5 for long-distance routes.

While we can’t promise they’ll turn up on time, if at all, or that they won’t be completely rammed with people, taking the bus is the cheapest method of transport in Sri Lanka and proves popular with travellers on a tight budget.

Trains are another popular method, if a little more expensive and are a common way of getting around inland on the island. The routes can also be pretty famous – like the Ella to Kandy route that you’ll see lots of content creators rave about, us included!

A train passing over the Nine Arches Bridge in Sri Lanka, surrounded by lush greenery and bathed in sunlight, with the hills in the background.

Trains will cost around $1 for short journeys and up to $10 for cross-country connections in first class.

Taxis and tuk-tuks are two more commonly used methods of transport in Sri Lanka, particularly in tourist areas. Tuk-tuks are mostly used for short journeys, costing around $2-5 per ride, but taxis require a bit more negotiation. 

It’s important to discuss payment before getting into a taxi as they don’t usually have meters and foreign tourists are a prime scam target.

It’s important to discuss payment before getting into a taxi as they don’t usually have meters and foreign tourists are a prime scam target.

While they’ll definitely be more pricey than tuk-tuk rides, it’s still a good idea to consider how much you think the journey is actually worth, relative to other Sri Lankan prices of course.

Price of Accommodation in Sri Lanka

Accommodation in Sri Lanka is a bit more on the pricey side compared to neighbouring countries and you’re unlikely to find anywhere that would actually align with the country’s cost of living.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is very much on the up and the locals are beginning to realise it. Accommodation prices across the island have definitely risen in the past few years, particularly along the coast and in the capital, Colombo.

Accommodation in the country is still very affordable though, especially if you are willing to stay in hostels and homestays – which we recommend if you are backpacking in Sri Lanka. These types of accommodation can be as low as $10-15 per night – even cheaper outside of peak season.

A modern, well-lit twin bedroom with a large window overlooking a forest, decorated with colorful bedding and a collection of square patterned frames on the wall.

Mid-range hotels and guesthouses with higher levels of comfort and better facilities will start at around $30 right up to $150+ per night – a decent deal if you are travelling as a couple or with a friend as most rooms come with the option of twin or double beds.

Luxury boutique hotels in tourist hotspots like Galle and Kandy are a lot pricier, costing upwards of $150 per night but the level of comfort and convenience is justifiable for the lavish care that the staff will tend to you with.

Again though, for a luxury hotel where you will be treated like royalty, $150 is nothing compared to what you would pay in the US or Europe.

Price of Activities in Sri Lanka

There are plenty of things to see and do across Sri Lanka and it would be pretty hard to get bored while visiting the country.

While there are lots of free attractions such as hiking routes and beaches, there are a number of activities that are worth paying for – even if they are slightly overpriced in comparison to the rest of southern Asia.

Sigiriya Rock is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island but it is also quite pricey at $36 – equivalent to a tour of London day tour!

Safaris at the national parks in the south of Sri Lanka are also quite pricey at $90-150, but the experiences are definitely worth the money as the wildlife there is incredible to see up close.

Safari vehicles driving on a dusty trail in a forest, filled with tourists observing the surrounding nature.

Temple visits can sometimes incur fees with the most popular temple – the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic – costing around $6.50.

Tea plantation experiences are an affordable way to spend a few hours, costing as little as $1 for tours of the facility and speciality tastings.

Other popular activities like cooking classes, scuba diving and surfing lessons, which are particularly popular on the south coast are slightly dearer than in the surrounding countries but you can still find some good deals by shopping around.

As a rough guide, we’d aim to find a surf school offering lessons at around $10-25 each, scuba diving tours at around $40-60 per dive (check that the company is reputable!) and cooking classes for under $35. 

So even though we are saying it’s more expensive than the surrounding countries, it is still very cheap to do so many incredible things in Sri Lanka.

As a budget traveller, you can definitely make the most of the island for a relatively cheap price but there are a couple of unavoidable fees if you want to see the prime tourist attractions available on the island.

Are flights to Sri Lanka expensive?

Flight prices to Sri Lanka can vary widely depending on your departure location and how far in advance you choose to book them.

We’d advise that you consider multiple airlines, travel dates and potential stop-over locations to make sure that you get the best price. Use Skyscanner or Google Flights to find the best prices.

You can also save a lot of money by travelling on the fringes of the peak season, which may also give you a less-crowded experience on the island. 

Departing from elsewhere in Asia from the likes of Singapore, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur will give round-trip fares of around $200 to $400 on budget airlines.

A Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-300 aircraft parked at an airport, being serviced. The plane is prominently displayed with other planes and airport infrastructure in the background

Travelling from mainland Europe and the UK will cost around $500 to $750 each way (£400 to £600) for economy class fares, and there may be stop-overs depending on your departure airport. Direct flights or flights during the peak travel season can be a lot higher, often over $1000 (£800).

Travelling from larger airports can help to cut out stop-overs and there will be a larger variety of airlines to choose from. London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol are two of Europe’s largest airports that are worth looking into if you can access them by public transport.

Prices are higher again if you’re travelling from the US, reaching the huge sum of $1500 or higher during the busy tourism months.

It’s definitely not cheap getting to Sri Lanka by air but luckily once you’re there, you don’t have to worry too much about budgeting the rest of your trip.


Below are some questions related to “Is Sri Lanka Expensive?” along with our answers to each question.

How much does a meal in Sri Lanka cost?

The cost of a meal in Sri Lanka will be as low as $2-4 for street food dishes but can be as high as £30 if you want to eat in high-end restaurants.

How much money do I need per day in Sri Lanka?

Travellers will need to budget an average of around $30 per day in Sri Lanka to cover accommodation and food costs. Most days will total a lot less but well-known tourist attractions can push the limits of the budget.

How much does a one-week trip to Sri Lanka cost?

A one-week trip to Sri Lanka will cost around $300 and $1200 (excluding flights) depending on accommodation, dining, activity and transport choices. 

How much is a beer in Sri Lanka?

A beer typically costs $1-3 for a standard-sized bottle/can. The price varies depending on the brand and location on the island.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Sri Lanka is an affordable destination for budget travellers, and there are plenty of cheap food, accommodation and transport options on the island.

While Sri Lanka is typically more expensive than some neighbouring countries, much of the price differences can be accounted for by the unavoidable import taxes that come with being an island country. 

The biggest difference in spending in Sri Lanka in comparison to other countries will come from activities with many temples and popular tourist attractions costing upwards of $25.

With careful planning, you can easily experience Sri Lanka on a budget and make the most of the amazing island!

Or if you don’t want to have to plan everything yourself, why not join us on our group tours where all you have to do is turn up?!

Whether you’re looking to travel solo or bring a friend along for the ride, our group tours in South East Asia & Australia are the perfect balance of culture, adventure, chill time & nightlife. You’ll arrive as strangers and leave as the best of friends.

Here are a few useful links to help with that planning;
👉🏼 View all Trips
👉🏼 Frequently Asked Questions
👉🏼 Check out our Reviews
👉🏼 Why choose us?
👉🏼 How does it all work?

If you’ve got any burning questions or just need a little travel inspo… jump in the DM’s with the team via either Whatsapp, Livechat or Instagram.


Written by Josh Band

Josh is one of our travel writers here at Feel Free Travel. You'll find him anywhere in the world typing away at what he sees in front of him. When he's not submerged in his laptop, he'll be in a local gym he's found while travelling or hiking up to the nearest viewpoint, especially if there’s a sunset pending.

Posted, 2nd May 2024


Written by Josh Band

Josh is one of our travel writers here at Feel Free Travel. You'll find him anywhere in the world typing away at what he sees in front of him. When he's not submerged in his laptop, he'll be in a local gym he's found while travelling or hiking up to the nearest viewpoint, especially if there’s a sunset pending.

Posted, 2nd May 2024

More travel inspo