In the list of exquisite yet cheap travel destinations for Indians, Sri Lanka ranks at the top. A 3-week long trip to Sri Lanka will cost you not more than ₹22,000 (~330 USD!) – stay, food, visa, site-seeing and more included! Flight tickets costed me extra 12000 bucks. So here’s how to travel Sri Lanka from India on a budget and make the most of it!
Indian Vs Sri Lankan Currency
1 Indian Rupee = ~2.5 Sri Lankan Rupees
This is the current value of forex (foreign exchange). Back in June 2018, when I went to Sri Lanka, 1 rupee was roughly equal to 2 Sri Lankan Rupees.
Even so, it was pretty cheap considering I wrapped up my trip in under ₹25K!
Sri Lanka Visa for Indians
Visa is the 1st step to planning this trip. Thanks to the sri lanka visa on arrival facility for Indian passport holders, applying for the visa is a smooth process. You can apply for Sri Lanka visa online (application form download) and go ahead with the process. Let’s have a look at the Sri Lanka Visa Application process.
How To Apply for Sri Lanka Visa:
- Go to the official website for Sri Lanka Tourism
- Click on ‘https://www.etagov.com/slvisa/application.php?type=1’
- Fill in the form and pay the fee.
Sri Lanka Visa Cost – ₹1200 (as of June 2018)
Once you are done, you will get a letter which you have to download, take a print out of and show at the immigration when you are at the airport.
Sri Lanka Hotels & Prices
Finding a budget accommodation in Sri Lanka is very easy. I used booking.com to book really nice hotels in Srilanka at ₹1000-1500 per night.
Sri Lanka Hotel Cost – ₹1000 (per night)
You can easily get a luxury hotel for ₹2000+
Best Money Exchange Places
Almost all jewellery shops in Sri Lanka have foreign currency so forex is not a problem in Sri Lanka. Some of the jewellery shops that I visited were in Colombo Kandy and Trincomalee.
Sim Cards I Used – Dialog & Mobitel
I used a Dialog Sim card, but it was a bit expensive. However, since Dialog and Mobitel have the best service, I preferred using one of the two. If you are wondering where to get Sim cards in Sri Lanka, then let me tell you that it is very easy. Just walk past the baggage belt at the airport and you’ll find so many telecommunication booths selling sim cards.
With a Dialogue Sim Card I got approx. 1 GB data for 300 Sri Lankan Rupees. Later, from my YouTube comments I discovered that there are cheaper plans available too like 2GB data for ₹100. :(
Transportation While You Travel Sri Lanka
When you are in a new country, you should use public transport to commute between cities. It’s a great way to save money while rubbing shoulders with the locals, getting an insight into their intricate cultural norms and daily life.
Here’s how to manage the commute:
- Busses: The place has all kinds of busses – private, state run, expensive minibuses, cheap ones with interiors donning Buddha’s pictures, air conditioned busses and the semi-luxury ones. Busses here are cheap but they can get crowded at times. Prices differ route to route.
- Trains: Trains and Sri Lanka are well-connected, clean, reasonably cheap and comfortable. If you are traveling through mountains (e.g. going from Ella to Kandy), prefer taking a train. The view is beautiful and the train almost cinematically passes through the lush expanse. Some of the trains had different classes – First, second and third – with not much difference!
- Tuk Tuks (auto rickshaws) – You’ll find them everywhere! Take tuk-tuks for short distances only and haggle for the fare before you get into one!
Sri Lanka Food & Cuisine
You won’t get any conventional Indian rotis or chapatis in Sri Lanka. Also, it is nothing like the Indian South Indian food. Sri Lankan food is mostly rice based and is as versatile as it’s yum. I still miss the ‘Parotta’ and ‘Kottu’. Rotis in Sri Lanka are always filled with stuffing, so you gotta ask for vegetable roti or potato roti if you are really craving Indian breads.
I relied on restaurants and street food like. You’ll get a meal in 100-150 INR.
Entry Tickets to National Parks, Monuments, etc.
Even though entry tickets to historical places, national parks, amusement parks, etc. are cost 20 to 30 times more as compared to local prices, there are decent discounts for Indians or SARC nations. I have covered more on this in my Vlog here:
Tip: Save tickets from some places by not going to the touristy places and rather going to their alternatives! Like Pidurangala rock instead of Sigiriya.
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BONUS TIP: Learn Few Sinhala or Tamil Words
A few words that I remember:
- Gihin Ennam – See you again
- Koh Mada – Hi ! How are you
- Kih Da – How Much ?
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