Sri Lanka isn’t a super-cheap destination in the same way as India, Nepal or most of South East Asia. Accommodation and food are more expensive than neighbouring countries, and the entrance fee to major attractions for foreigners is disproportionately high. Here are a couple of tips to help you save money on a vacation to Sri Lanka:
Use public transportation where possible. Compared to most Western countries, Sri Lankan taxis are quite cheap, but nevertheless, if you want to save even more money, opt out for buses and trains – they’re ridiculously cheap in Sri Lanka. You can also use tuk-tuks but don’t forget to negotiate the price with the driver before taking off.
Don’t be afraid to eat street food. If you are looking to keep your budget low while traveling through Sri Lanka, food will come to your rescue. The street food in Sri Lanka is very inexpensive and tasty. If you are a market lover and would like to experience a food market without plenty of tourists and where all the local people go for shopping, you should not miss the one in Kandy. It is amazing; vegetables, fruits, dried fish, meat, nuts, and many more items are available here. But remember – cash only. Vegetarian meals are the cheapest, but seafood and fish are still quite affordable and chicken is a little more expensive.
Don’t rush to visit all the touristic sights. Compared to everything else in Sri Lanka, they’re very expensive. An entrance ticket to a national park is 1800 LKR (10 USD) and entry to Sigiriya will cost you 3300 LKR (18 USD)! Plan out your trip and think about what you really want to see. If you decide to visit only one temple, pick the Temple of the Sacred Tooth as it holds great cultural importance and is very famous.
Bring your own sunscreen. It's hard to find high quality sunscreen (anything over SPF 30 is impossible to find) in local shops, and shops that do stock sunscreen charge exorbitant prices. Reef-safe sunscreen is also a rarity. If you’re traveling to the beaches along the south or east coast of Sri Lanka, come prepared and bring your own.