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10 Ways to Save Money on a Trip to Sri Lanka

Updated on January 18, 2015
Thish profile image

Thish holds a degree in Information Technology and also a Master in Business Administration. She loves traveling & share her best tips.

How to Save money on a Trip to Sri Lanka
How to Save money on a Trip to Sri Lanka

Traveling is more than Fun

Traveling is one special thing that we are very passionate about.

We have been traveling in or out of Sri Lanka for the past 2 decades, first solo, then as a couple, and now as a family with our little daughter.

1. Plan in advance, Book flights and accommodation well in advance:

Booking a month or more in advance gives you savings on hotel rooms. I stayed in Hikkaduwa last week and paid $130 for double room for 1 night, which I booked online 6 weeks in advance. One week before I arrived at the hotel I checked the prices and at the same website and the same room was $250 per night. I felt wonderful!

Same goes with flight booking. Check for few days for the prices in most of the travel reservation sites. It is by experience I have figured that the price for flight tickets vary even within a week based on the date. Most of the time, it has given me less rates when I fly on Wednesdays. Therefore try several days before purchasing the tickets and make sure you check several sites.

Flying at odd hours, such as mid night or early in the morning increases your chance of getting discounted flights.

If you travel on a budgeted airline make sure you bring your own snacks. Because the food served in budgeted airlines are way expensive and it will rip you off. Also remember to pack light if you take budget airlines as recently they have started to charge for luggage if you have more than one.

Closer to arriving sign up for , to see if there are any deals for things you would want to do anyway and sometimes you will find restaurant deals that are 40% off.

2. Enjoy local experiences, Enjoy local food:

Many countries have tourist spots that aren’t really the most interesting places to go to, not to mention that everything is more expensive around that area.

Talk to locals, they will give you best experiences and tips which they have learnt in their lifetime. Check what local experiences are available in or

Trekurios offers are expensive and you can find most of those similar experiences in Withlocals. Sometimes it is fun and would be a novel experience to eat at a local home than eating in a restaurant. Some hosts offer teaching you how to cook Sri Lankan food. Also half a day Colombo tour is a worthwhile visit and highly recommend this tour for kids.

In Sri Lanka, mainly in Colombo the tourism is emerging and so many up market restaurants are opening with targeting to tourists. Why not be a traveler opposed to a tourist for a change and eat from small local eating places which are so cheap and chat with locals while eating in those places. It is advised to eat like locals after few days of your visit to Sri Lanka as some find it hard to digest spicy food the locals eat.

If you go to a local food market you will see a huge variety of fruits and vegetables. They are fresh, healthy and reasonable priced. The fruits you find in Sri Lanka are immense and you should not leave Sri Lanka without tasting them.

3. Use Transport Wisely:

The mode of transport could be varied depending on area, your schedule and number of people in your group. The cities have metered tuk tuks which has three wheels and they are charging 50 LKR for 1st kilo meter and 40 LKR each for subsequent kilometers. Within Colombo City it is the easiest way to see many things at a short time.

If not you can use the public buses which is about 20 LKR to go about 3-4 kilo meters. If you have bulky baggage buses will charge for those as well. For long travels you can use train or bus. You can look the Sri Lanka Railway site to see the train schedules.

Also better to consult locals on traveling as they know exactly what would be the ideal mode depending on where you travel on what time and what days as it varies around Sri Lanka.

4. Keep change of local cash any time you want:

Otherwise you may not get your balance back from local stores or taxis which will end of losing money unnecessarily. Always use small denominations of cash. Pay with cash as close to exact change as possible. There are ATMs in all cities and you should not carry huge amount of money with you as it is a burden to take care of valuables when you are in a mood to enjoy the trip.

You can have some coins of 5 SLR, 10 SLR, few notes of 20 SLR, 50 SLR, 100 SLR, 500 SLR, 1000SLR. The largest note is 5000 SLR and most places will not exchange it for you saying no change unless it is a bank or a super market.

5. Go during off peak period.

Going off season is the number 1 money saver when it comes to budget travel. It is 365 days a year summer in Sri Lanka, but the peak season is from November to March as it is winter in most other countries and travelers use the winter period to come to Sri Lanka.

Traveling during off season to Sri Lanka will cut down about 50 % of your accommodation cost and also bargain flight tickets.

6. Do the Free Things Sri Lanka has to Offer.

It has a lot to do and they are absolutely free:

  • Catch a magnificent sunset or sunrise at Galle Face Green in Colombo, Mount Lavinia beach, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna or Trincomali beaches.
  • Take a walk or bike ride.
  • Play in the Viharamaha devi park in Colombo.
  • Swim at the beach.
  • Climb a mountain.
  • Visit a local market such as kolpetty market where locals shop.
  • Visit floating market at Fort
  • See a street fair, concert, or cultural event.
  • See the amazing Sri Lanka Air Force Museum for a very low fare
  • Visit temples, kovils and churches and enjoy the intricate designs

Get haircut, spa treatments and tailor made suits in Sri Lanka for a fraction of price you pay in USA or Europe. You can get a haircut from a small hair salon for about 2 US$ while the luxury salons could offer it at around 5-10 US$.

Amazing Sri Lanka Birds View

7. Stay at local home stays:

It is not just that it cuts the price 50% or more than staying in a hotel. It is safe and sometimes you will end of finding wonderful friends and they will give you the best tips to experience their country.

There are plenty of booking sites and home stay web sites when you google for such. However with my experience with most of them puts Airbnb( at the Top. Their system is very user friendly, transparent, less service charges, huge home stay collection and all the time I have used Airbnb it was a nice memorable experience. Airbnb community maintains a high satisfaction level with integrity and trust with their guests and all stake holders. Try searching in Airbnb and check for yourself how much money you can save just by staying in one of these beautiful home stays. They have home stays in 190 countries!

8. Carry your own water bottle:

When dine in restaurants carry a water bottle in your bag. Because a water bottle of 500 ml only cost you about 0.30 US$ in a shop and a restaurant will bill you the same for 1-2 US$ which is unnecessary when add up the cost which could might as well use on some other food. It’s worth it to take a trip to the grocery store and get snacks, water and everything you need for your trip since hotels overcharge.

Also remember to savour a king coconut which is full of minerals and vitamins when you are thirsty for a 40 LKR(0.3 USD) than drinking a carbonated artificial soft drinks.


9. Save on Food:

Cook for yourself – Not many people ever think about this, but cooking while you are on vacation with your family or partner can sometimes be quite fun& exciting experience.

Eat more at Lunch than Dinners – In most of the restaurants, lunch menus are often much less expensive than dinners. If you eat a big breakfast, good lunch and a light dinner, it’s also healthier to your body and good for the wallet


10. Buy a Local SIM:

If you're not careful, browsing the web abroad with your home country phone could shock you with charges. Buy a local SIM, call charges are less compared to most of the countries in Sri Lanka. This is valid for local and also international calls.

You can buy a local SIM card that has both voice and data packages for about 2 US$ and you can top up the phone for 100 LKR and above as much as you want. It is easy to contact travel places, and your accommodation places and browse internet easily. Dialog and Mobitel providers have the best island wide coverage.

© 2014 Ohla

Is there any other saving tips you like to share with us?

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    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Useful tips to save money that would be universally applicable.

    • Thish profile image

      Ohla 3 years ago

      Hi Ajalion4: Of course yes. Down south Sri Lanka is a very dynamic place with so much to do and s much to see. Looks like you have had all that excited things!! Thanks for commenting and if you have any money saving tips in Sri Lanka please add. Those will help manyyy people.

    • profile image 3 years ago

      Down south Sri Lanka best place to visit nice beaches wildlife singharaja raining forest whale watching riever safari snorkeling dive surfing and meny more....

    • Thish profile image

      Ohla 3 years ago

      Hi Henna, Vietnam is in my dream to go list one day. Peak period of Sri Lanka is from end of October to till around end of March. Off peak is considered from May to mid October. Most of the hotels are 50% during off peak period. So come during off peak and save 50% from your accommodation cost.

    • profile image

      Henna 3 years ago

      Hi Thish, Nice article I am from Vietnam.what is the tourist peak and off peak in Sri Lanka.

    • Thish profile image

      Ohla 3 years ago

      Of cource yes Miuhena. Sri Lanka is a very nice country with a good culture. The tourism is booming and be an early bird to enjoy everything Sri Lanka has to offer. Hope the tips will help you to save money in your trip to Sri Lanka.

    • profile image

      Miuhena 3 years ago

      Oh wonderful ways.. I feel like I should buy my tickets soon for a very authentic experience. Nice article!!

    • Thish profile image

      Ohla 3 years ago

      Hei, hope you found useful and thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Suni 3 years ago

      Thanks for the tips specially those are specific to Sri Lanka