30 days in Sri Lanka: maps, costs and itinerary

Distance Travelled: 1745 km

(by bus: 1365 km … by train: 380 km)

Days: 30 days

Date: january 2016


Considering that the average speed of a bus or a train in Sri Lanka is around 35 km/h… to make the 1745 kilometers I spent 50 hours inside buses or trains… not easy to move in Sri Lanka, yet, super-cheap as all this trips didn’t cost more than 24€!!!


30 day in Sri Lanka. Southwest Coast. Itenerary
30 day in Sri Lanka. Southwest Coast. Itinerary


30 day in Sri Lanka. Central Hills, Southeast and East Coast. Itenerary
30 day in Sri Lanka. Central Hills, Southeast and East Coast. Itinerary



14 €/day (one person)

Divided as follows:
32% food
45% accommodations
5% transports
10% culture and tourism
8% diverse

… considering traveling solo, eating just local (vegetarian) food, no a/c rooms, sometimes dorms, travel by public transport like bus and train (unreserved) avoiding taxis or tourist shuttles, no alcohol, tabaco or soft drinks… doesn’t include laundry… shopping and souvenirs are also not included, as well health expenses and communications (SIM card, mobile, telephone, internet…).

Doesn’t include visa fee.

Travelling in Sri Lanka is not as expensive as it may seem at first glance, but is not much attractive place for backpackers because the tourism infrastructure are more focus on groups and tours arranged by travel agencies. A tourism more focused on resorts, boutique hotels, heritage houses, tea states… were most of the tourist travel by taxi, being unusual see foreigners in buses or train, except at the railway lines that cross the Hill County and the tea plantations.

Although Sri Lanka attract quiet some backpacker and solo travellers, specially the ones looking for surf spots and others choosing this island as a stopover between India and southeast Asia.
However, despite not being “backpackers friendly”, travel in Sri Lanka may be an option even for small budgets, as far as you stick to public transports (bus and train), sleeping in guesthouses or homestays and avoid the most popular tourist attractions like monuments, temples, natural parks… basically travel by yourself!
The food is very cheap, and local restaurants offer enough quality at very low prices. The street food is still cheaper and usually with enough quality.

The transports, buses and trains, are also very cheap, but slow and uncomfortable.


This value was obtained by taking into account:

  • All trips were made by train or bus; only two tuk-tuks.
  • Nearly all meals were in local food restaurants or street food; including at least a rice and curry, snacks, fruit and a “king coconut” a day.
  • Water was mostly from tap, as in Sri Lanka is safe drinking.
  • The accommodation was in guest houses, homestays and some budget hotels; mostly in rooms with en-suite. Never air conditioning, or breakfast included.
  • Some stays were in shared room.
  • No accommodation was booked. On site it is almost always possible to bargain the rates, especially if you are traveling in low season.
  • Stays in the coastal beaches This was in low season; in the west coast it was during peak season.
  • Includes only one entry in one of the many tourist sites: Sigiriya, about 28 € … the most expensive by the way!
  • Does not include excursions, guides, sports activities or visits to national parks.
  • does not include visa fee.


Example of some prices in January 2016:

  • Single room costs at least 1000 LKR
  • Train ticket Kandy-Colombo (2nd class): 190 LKR (normal) or 280 LKR (express)
  • Bus ticket Kandy-Colombo(115 km): 160 LKR
  • Rice and curry: 100 to 200 LKR
  • King coconut: 50 LKR
  • 5 apples: 100 LKR
  • Veg Roti (street food): 30 LKR
  • Kottu: 70 LKR

LKR= Sri Lanka rupee

Visa fee

35 USD

see more detail at: //www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/visainfo/fees.jsp?locale=en_US


see also:

Arriving to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka food

6 Responses

  1. Hiroso

    hey did you use agency to help with your 30 day travel bookings, etc if yes what was it ?

    • Stepping out of Babylon

      Hello. I did all this trip by myself, alone!. Didn’t use any booking and any travel agency! The most difficult in Sri Lanka are the bus trips: they are uncomfortable… but you can always rent a taxi!!

  2. Arqi - Ology


    I live in Sri Lanka and run a Social Enterprise Travel Company which is working with the Locals Communities.
    A few things have changed in comparison to your budget. First A single room for 1000 is easily offered if the walk in guest is a Female. Usually a Decent Single Accommodation is between 1500 – 2000 Rupees now.

    A King Coconut is now 70 – 80 Rupees.

    And Bus ticket prices have increased by around 25 -50 Rupees for Long Distance Bus Tickets.

    Just sharing so people budgeting can consider this before planning.

    The best I recommend is to use Tuks & Trains – As Trains connect many main destinations. and Tuk Tuks are a cheaper and more adventurous Local experience.

    Let me know if you require any further assistance planning 🙂

    • Stepping out of Babylon

      Hello! Thanks for the update… is always good to share more information as in this countries things change quickly.
      The train is a love way of traveling in Sri Lanka but is almost impossible to get a reserved seat as they run out with more than one month in advance (mostly due to the travel agencies that re-sell this ticket later with a higher price); so i made just three train trips al always in the unreserved class that was always too full: impossible to get a seat and even very hard to get inside the train! The scenic trip from Kandy to Ella I did partly seated on the floor of the coach or standing! 🙂

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