"Sri Lanka: An Island Full of Treasures" Sri Lanka by jungles

Sri Lanka Travel Guide: 4,203 reviews and 10,917 photos

Sri Lanka for the Budget Traveller

Many of Sri Lanka's visitors come only to sit on the sands of the island's beautiful beaches, but this country has SO much more to offer than just a pretty beach. Ancient ruins, painted caves, close encounters with wildlife, wonderful home-cooked curries, friendly people, religious fervour, extravagant festivals; it's all here and easy to reach in this compact, incredibly lush tropical island.

Despite its cheap cost of living, Sri Lanka is often overlooked by backpackers and budget-minded overland travellers, simply because the only way to get there is to fly. In fact, Nick and I had wanted to visit a couple of years ago on our trip that in the end included Burma, India, and Pakistan, but we decided to give it a miss when we found out there was no ferry from India. It does seem like such a waste of money and fuel to fly; Sri Lanka and India appear tantalizingly close on the map, and there is even evidence that there was a bridge linking them in ancient times, perhaps built by the white monkey Hanuman as told in the Ramayana legend. Of course, the reason the ferry has been out of service so long is because of the political situation, which seems to be worsening. This should not stop anyone from coming to Sri Lanka, however. While the north and the east are sadly off-limits once again, the attractions that visitors come to Sri Lanka to see are all still accessible and show no signs of the conflict that has been so devastating for so many people in Sri Lanka.

In any case I'm very glad we made it back here in the end, as this island is a truly inspiring place. Since most of Sri Lanka's visitors are in the mid-range to high-end category, the most common practice is to hire a car and driver to get around. While this is certainly the easiest and fastest way to reach all the sights, it is also perfectly feasible to reach practically anywhere by public transport, though it will probably take a bit longer. Hopefully those wanting to visit Sri Lanka on a low budget will find my pages helpful.

It should be noted that in general Sri Lanka is not quite as cheap as India, though for food and accommodation you will usually get a sufficiently higher standard for the slightly higher price. A reasonable budget for Sri Lanka, using public transport and staying in low-end guesthouses, is US$15 per person per day, plus extra expenses for things such as a safari in a national park. You could probably do it for a bit less if you limit your sightseeing and seek out local restaurants instead of eating in guesthouses, but once you've made the plunge for the airfare you might as well spend a few extra dollars to make your stay more enjoyable.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:ancient sites, wildlife, great food, beautiful beaches, friendly people
  • Cons:hassle in touristy areas, north and east once again off-limits
  • In a nutshell:This small island has so much to offer!
  • Last visit to Sri Lanka: May 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (55)

Comments (11)

  • PierreZA's Profile Photo
    Jul 7, 2009 at 12:27 AM

    Great page, very helpful tips!

  • shawnbrito's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2009 at 3:25 AM

    Well, you do have a point there! The prices have changed, however the prices for tourist are far higher than the local prices (Rs 100/-). If you can speak Sinhalese fluently, you can get away with anything:) Horton plains tickets are far most expensive.

  • omidamini's Profile Photo
    Nov 7, 2007 at 1:37 AM

    Dear , you have very nice Sri lanka VT page , i hope see you here in my country

  • penumbra's Profile Photo
    Oct 24, 2006 at 8:51 PM

    Amazing view from the top of Yapahuwa and I?m not sure I?ve ever seen a bridge with a tile roof.

  • Maxus's Profile Photo
    Jul 7, 2006 at 3:03 PM

    Great tips and fantastic tips about my favourite country, a truely impressive page, I spent an hour here tonight and enjoyed everything you have written, well done.

  • ukirsari's Profile Photo
    Jun 9, 2006 at 2:39 AM

    hi wendy [and teh jungles :)] terima kasih for birthday greetings. you can say in indonesian as "selamat ulang tahun'. happy travels! ~@rie~

  • BC23's Profile Photo
    Jun 5, 2006 at 7:52 AM

    Lovely page Wendy !!!,hope you had a great trip to SL. You ve been to places even I havent been , being a Sri Lankan !!! envy you :-)

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Jun 3, 2006 at 10:02 PM

    I completely agree with you, going to Sri Lanka to lye on a beach is a pity. Your page is a wealth of information with excellent photos! Sorry, suction devices are completely inefficient against snakebites and give a false feeling of security!

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2006 at 11:20 PM

    Excellent pages of Sri Lanka, Wendy. You write really well and brings the places to life. Now I do not have to feel left out at not be able to travel to old Ceylon, I just go to your pages. Thanks so much for sharing. SL

  • hunwagner's Profile Photo
    May 28, 2006 at 4:14 AM

    Another great page of yours - you got to some remote places I didn't, though I did get to Trincomale on the east coast! ;-)


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