Sri Lanka Travel Guide
This Sri Lanka travel guide will help you plan your best vacation in Sri Lanka. This island country located south of India, in the Indian Ocean was one of the most diverse locations we’ve visited thus far. Sandy beaches, lush jungles, great animal life and super friendly locals are just some of the things you’ll see on your trip to Sri Lanka.
The best way to visit Sri Lanka is on a 2-3 week trip. In this time you’ll manage to visit all the major tourist destinations, such as Unawatuna, Ella and Sigiriya, but also make a few stops for the beautiful (and not as touristy) places.
We spent the first week in Dalawella and did most of the trips from there. All the day trips, as well as amazing things to do in Sri Lanka are gathered right here on my blog, but also on my travel Instagram posts and Sri Lanka stories.
Things to See and Do in Sri Lanka
- Udawalawe Elephant Safari
- Ella Train Spotting
- Tea Plantations in Nuwara Eliya
- Visit Kandy
- Surf in Mirissa
- The Galle Fort
- Sigiriya Lion Rock
- Palm Swing in Dalawella
Typical Costs When Travelling
Accommodation – During our two week travels around Sri Lanka we spent $700 USD on hotels and guest houses. We booked mid-range double rooms in 3-4 star hotels, where all of them had breakfast included in the price. The average hotel night in a 3-star hotel costs $50, but you can of course splurge on a fancier place for $100-150 a night, or book a bed in a dorm for $15 per person per night.
Food – We loved Sri Lankan food! The cheapest is, of course, eating local – Sri Lankan curry for around $2 USD and getting some baked good, such as roti, from the street vendors for around $0,10 USD. If you’re keener on western restaurant meals, then be prepared to spend around $7-15 for a meal and around $2 for a beer. A king coconut will cost you $0,50 USD and it’s a must buy while on your Sri Lankan adventure!
Transportation – While there are some brave souls out there who take the public buses in Sri Lanka, we are not them. It’s the cheapest mode of transportation ($1 USD per person) and a good way to learn how the locals do it, we were keener on lugging our stuff and ourselves around on tuk-tuk’s and used a private driver for the long-distance travels.
On our very first day in Dalawella, we met Disa – a tuk-tuk driver who also owned a minivan. We booked him for all our trips, except Sigiriya to the airport and couldn’t recommend him more. If you want to book Disa for your travels in Sri Lanka you can reach him on WhatsApp +94 77 114 0727.
Suggested daily budget
50-60 EUR / 52-62 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
1. Ride the bus instead of private driver Public buses are the cheapest way to transport yourself around Sri Lanka.
2. Eat local street food Avoid western restaurants and only eat local, to spend 3 times less. Sri Lankan food is yummy and you can find lots of good street vendors everywhere.
3. Happy hour cocktails Most of the beach bars offer happy hour cocktails, where you get two for one. So, if you are skipping the coconuts and opting for booze, happy hour is the best way to save!
4. Pidurangula instead of Lion Rock Visiting Sigiriya’s Lion Rock is one of the most expensive things to do in Sri Lanka. Opt for hiking Pidurangula Rock instead and get amazing views with a third of the price!
When to visit Sri Lanka
The best time to visit Sri Lanka depends on where you want to travel in the country. If you are looking to explore more than just one side, then you can come any time of the year. Some parts will be sunny and hot and others colder and rainier.
The South Part is where the beaches and surfing happens and is best to visit December to March. The North has it’s best weather from May to September and the Central part in January to April.
We visited at the end of July/beginning of August and had great weather everywhere, except in Nuwara Eliya, where the temperatures dropped to below 20 degrees Celsius and it rained a few times a day.