Food in Sri Lanka is a pain! Prices and Tips 2022

Prices in Sri Lanka in 2022: how much money to bring

Sri Lanka is quite an expensive country compared to other Asian resorts. For example, prices at the resort are higher than in India in Goa.

November-March is the peak tourist season, so you need to take more money at this time. In May and June, prices fall and remain at about the same level until mid-October.

How much money to take on a trip of 7, 10 and 14 days

The amount you need to take on a trip depends on personal needs and how many days you plan to spend in Sri Lanka.

Also, the expenses will very much depend on the type of meals at the hotel. Here will be approximate costs for vacationing in hotels with only breakfast, as this type of tourist accommodation is the most common in Sri Lanka.

The visa fee for an e-visa to Sri Lanka is $37 if you fill out the visa application form yourself.

You can get a turnkey visa with our Visasam visa center, see the video for more details.

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  1. On average, a one-week tour for two (without any special restrictions) will cost about $600-700. US. If you take into account buying souvenirs and incidental expenses, you should count on $1,000. IT IS BETTER TO TAKE FOR 10 DAYS FOR TWO PEOPLE.
  2. For 10 days for two people, it is better to take the amount of $800-1200.
  3. For 14 days, a comfortable vacation will start from 1000 to 1500 dollars per couple.

What currency is better to take in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, it is better to take dollars . In the country, you must pay in Sri Lankan rupees.

On arrival, you should immediately exchange your money at the airport. The exchange rate is the best there.

National currency

Sri Lanka uses the Lanka Rupee. Its exchange rate in relation to world currencies changes gradually, without sharp jumps.

Residents of Sri Lanka use banknotes of denomination from 10 to 5 thousand rupees. Coins of 1-10 rupees are also in circulation. Coins of 25-50 cents are used very seldom.

The exchange rate of the Lankan rupee against the dollar is 0.000051326. This means that almost 195 rupees are given for 1 dollar. Exchange rate of Lanka rupee to ruble is 0.39 (2.6 rupees are given for 1 ruble).

Other currencies in circulation

It is more favorable to take dollars in Sri Lanka, you can also take Euros, the exchange rate will be less favorable. At the airport you can exchange any currency.

Tourist services can be paid in dollars, but it is not profitable.

It is not worth paying in dollars at the market, in a restaurant and a store. Sellers accept them, but the change is given in the local currency and at a very competitive rate.

If you have Asian money (for example, Thai baht), they can also be exchanged on arrival. You can even exchange rubles, but the rate will be very unprofitable.

Where to exchange foreign currency

  1. At Colombo Airport. Currency exchange offices are located immediately after the baggage claim area. Here you can also buy a SIM card. The exchange rate at each exchange office is the same.
  2. At the bank. This method is also reliable, the exchange rate in banks is favorable. The disadvantage is the large amount of paperwork, which must be filled out. Because of this, the exchange procedure takes a long time.
  3. Currency exchange offices. They operate in almost every tourist area. The exchange is fast, the rate is often favorable, passport is not required. But the money after the exchange must always be recalculated.
  4. In hotels, stores. Often there are situations where, for one reason or another, banks and currency exchange offices are closed. In this case you can go to the hotel reception or to the nearest grocery store. The rate may be profitable only in jewelry stores.

The best way to change money is at Colombo Airport. In the banks of the island the exchange rate is about the same. Therefore, you can exchange 200-250 dollars on arrival, and if necessary, go to the bank.

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When exchanging currency you must have your passport.

How to withdraw cash from a bank card

You can pay for goods and services by card in Sri Lanka only in large retail outlets. Generally, payment is accepted only in cash.

Withdraw money from a bank card in Sri Lanka is simple enough, because virtually at every step there are ATMs. There are especially a lot of them in tourist areas.

The average fee for cash withdrawal is 400 Sri Lankan rupees.

Sberbank cardholders are better off using an HSBC ATM. It is most advantageous to withdraw cash with a Tinkoff Black card.

  1. Insert the card.
  2. Choose English.
  3. Enter the pin-code.
  4. Choose CREDIT CARD.
  6. Enter required amount.
  7. Withdraw money from the credit card.
  8. Get a check.

You can withdraw money only from Mastercard and Visa cards. MIR and Maestro cards are not accepted in the country.

In the same ATM you can find out the balance of the card, but this procedure is not free.

An ATM may refuse to dispense money. In this case, it “spits out” a check with stars.

Before traveling, it is worth contacting your bank and asking to turn on the mode in which card transactions abroad are possible.

Be sure to ask the manager not to block the card for the entire period of stay in another country. If the blocking does happen, you need to call your bank’s hotline or the number on the back of the card.

The fee is about 200 rubles. It is the same for any withdrawal amount.

Payment by Bank Cards

When going to Sri Lanka it is advisable to take a card with a foreign currency account. This way you can avoid the additional shoulder currency conversion.

Banks in the country work with VISA International and MasterCard WorldWide. If there is a daily limit on the amount withdrawn and the number of transactions, it will remain unchanged.

For cash withdrawal it is advisable to use a debit card. You can pay with a credit card.

Before the trip you should ask the bank about the possibility of an emergency cash withdrawal. You should have a photocopy of the card.

Cases of fraud in Sri Lanka are not uncommon.

  1. Use Internet banking only from your own mobile device. It is not necessary to do it in Internet cafes.
  2. It is desirable to have an additional debit card for payments. The account must hold a small amount of money. Limit – daily, account – separate from primary.
  3. Connect the service SMS-informing. All incoming messages are free while roaming.
  4. Top up the card online.

It is advisable to take a microprocessor card to Sri Lanka. Unlike magnetic cards, they are virtually impossible to copy.

Tinkoff Black in Sri Lanka

Tinkoff Black card is one of the most advantageous cards for travel, including to Sri Lanka. You can use a ruble or foreign currency card. Of currency cards, it is better to choose the dollar card. In Lanka rupees in Tinkoff account can not yet open.

Money can be withdrawn without a fee at ATMs of Nations Trust Bank. With the dollar account will not withdraw interest if the amount is more than 100 dollars.

Cashback and interest on the balance you will receive on any account you use.

Prices in Sri Lanka in 2022

Sri Lanka is a rather expensive country. Tickets for excursions here are 2 times higher than in other Asian countries. Housing is about 35% more expensive than in Vietnam.

A month of living in the country will be cheaper than a few days. Rent for a few days is not very interesting for the locals, and they are reluctant to haggle.

Good accommodation can be found at a price of $20 per day. 1 night in a hotel with a good rating costs about $35. The price includes breakfast.

The cost of groceries

In the market you can and should bargain, in stores and supermarkets – do not even try.

On average a week to eat for two if you do not eat meat and do not drink alcohol, and eat only in stores, goes about $ 100.

Table: The average cost of food in Sri Lanka

Name Weight/volume Price in rupees
Water 1,5 л 42-72
Chicken breast 1 kg 800
Milk 1 л 190-240
Beef 1 kg 942
10 eggs 10 pcs. 224
Cheese 0,5 kg 800-1,1 thous.
Bread 1 pc. 49
Coconut oil 0,5 л 210-410
Butter 250g. 410-510
Apples 1 kg 197
Oranges 1 kg 350
Bananas 1 kg 202
Tomatoes 1 kg 335
Potatoes 1 kg 173
Cucumbers 1 kg 195
Rice 1 kg 122
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Prices in cafes and restaurants

The cost of food in cafes and restaurants in Sri Lanka is relatively low. However, you should remember that the food here can be particularly spicy, so it is best to ask in advance to prepare food without chili peppers and other hot spices.

Dish name Price in rupees
English breakfast 990
Hamburger 950
Fish tacos 950
Spicy pasta 1290
Avocado salad 890
Lime pie 500
Juices 500
Tea 550
Cappuccino 450
Cold Coffee 500
Grilled chicken 1650
Beef with rice 1250
Chicken in curry sauce and rice 1600
Caesar salad 1100
Greek salad 950
Mushroom cream-soup 500
Espresso 560
Americano 560
Mocha 720
Latte 690
Mango Smoothie 720
Ceylon tea 420

Prices in Sri Lanka are more expensive than the cost of food in Goa cafes.


The cost of tickets for excursions is quite high, especially if you will be accompanied by a Russian-speaking guide.

Type of entertainment Cost in US dollars
Elephant riding 15
Sigiriya 30
Tea plantation tour 5
Polonnruva 26
Golden Temple 16
Temple of Buddha’s Tooth 16
Excursion to Colombo 70
Kandy excursion 100
Blue Whale Watching 150
Uda Walawea Safari 120
Kelaniya Oceanarium 4
River boat safari 20

Cost of visiting other popular attractions:

  • Anuradhapura – $25.
  • Fort in Galle – 5.
  • Medirigiriya – 5.
  • Kataragama – 5.
  • Avukana – 2.
  • Ambuluwawa – 2.5.
  • Museum of Buddhism in Kandy – 3,35.

A sightseeing trip for two would cost about $250. THE COST OF A SIGHTSEEING TOUR FOR TWO PEOPLE IS ABOUT $250.


There are three carriers in the country:

  • “Etisalat;
  • “Mobitel;
  • “Dialog.

It is better to buy a tourist package, which includes the Internet, domestic and international calls.

Calls to Russia are cheaper at Airtel and Hutch.

Buy a travel package at the Colombo airport. To buy a SIM card, you will need a passport.

You can pay for cellular communication in 2 ways:

  • Prepaid card;
  • in a personal office.

To pay for communications need to register on the site of the selected mobile operator. After that, it will be possible to pay by card or electronic currency.

Prepaid cards can be purchased at any resort location in the country. The payment scheme is standard: buy a card, enter a code.


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Average ticket prices in U.S. dollars:

  • train – 2 to 7 (depends on car class);
  • tuk-tuk – 1.5 to 3 (depends on distance);
  • Bus – 1 to 2 (travel between cities).

How to save money for budget tourists

Here are some tips for tourists to save a lot of money:

  1. Do not rent accommodation in touristy places.
  2. You can eat at “local cafes”. They differ from tourist cafes with a lack of frills and, of course, price tags. But it is not very comfortable and dirty enough.
  3. Souvenirs should buy in supermarkets and local stores: Lovers city, Dressmo, Keels, Arpico.
  4. Tea is better to buy at the tea factory. It’s cheaper, tastier, and there will be no fakes.
  5. On excursions you have to go on your own. The minus is the lack of comfort.
  6. You should not use a tuk-tuk often. Buses in the country run regularly, and the fare is cheaper.
  7. It is advisable to buy Ayurvedic cosmetics in pharmacies. The prices there are 1.5 times lower.

It is best to travel to Sri Lanka with two people. That way you can save money on lodging.

If you plan a budget trip, then you should choose out of season. In this case, the cost for absolutely everything is reduced by 20-40%. You can also go to the Velvet season in the first half of spring or fall, when there is still no rainy season, but there is already less demand from tourists.

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If you have health insurance, which all tourists must have, then call the phone number.

If you don’t have insurance, then go to any public health clinic. There for the treatment charge is purely symbolic. Private clinics are tourist-oriented, and treatment there is more expensive.


There is no cult of tips in Sri Lanka. Tips can be given to cab drivers, hotel porters, maids just like everywhere else. The tip should not exceed $1-2.

Meals in Sri Lanka. Prices for food in cafes and photos of dishes

November 2018 (updated: 14.04.2019) 27

In Sri Lanka, you definitely will not go hungry. But you have to be prepared for a lot of local peculiarities. Which we’ll tell you about today, based on our fresh experience traveling in Sri Lanka in 2018.

Sri Lanka has many cafes and restaurants


Cafes are styled like European cafes, but they are most often a far cry from the comfortable and cozy restaurants where you can sit in soft chairs and sip a cocktail while waiting for your meal.

In fact, many cafes are not exactly what we think of as a restaurant. It is usually a diner with plastic and perhaps not always clean tables and chairs, with stained menu pages.

In general, we were almost always lucky and found places to eat normally and not squeamish. But the key word is “found. Such cafes you have to look for, they are not at every step. In articles about the beaches of Sri Lanka, we always describe proven restaurants.

In establishments for locals probably you will not eat. At most once, for the extreme. After all, the menu will only be curry, noodles, rice. But on top of that, a bunch of local men in the surroundings, stuffiness, sticky tables, and flies.

It is better to choose a cafe for tourists. On his stomach in Sri Lanka is better not to save, and even more so do not experiment on the body.

Very long service.


So what, 30 minutes, it’s still very fast in Sri Lanka!

If you can get your order in 20 minutes, you are very lucky!

In three weeks of traveling around the country, this has happened to us only a handful of times. Fast in Sri Lanka is when the food is ready in 20-30 minutes. Most of the time you wait 40-50 minutes for your order.

It happened more than once that we were cooked a simple dish like french fries or spaghetti for a whole hour in the absence of people in the restaurant.

There was a record when we waited 1 hour and 20 minutes for an order. This is the case when you first get really hungry, then you get angry, then you already want to eat 10 times, that’s when they finally bring you your food. At such moments, it can be especially frustrating if it is not good or brought not what you ordered.

So wherever you vacation in Sri Lanka, come to eat before you are really hungry. About 40 minutes before your usual lunch time.

I don’t know what the reason for such slowness is, but this is the case in 90% of establishments. And even with Sri Lankan airlines this happens.

Tipping in Sri Lanka


You can tip when the food is beautiful and delicious and the service is outstanding. But this is not always the case.

It is a paradox, but the country with the slowest service and the slowest serving of food is almost always the one where the tip (service fee 10%) is added to the receipt.

Surprisingly, in the country with the worst service, restaurants add a service charge to the bill by default and sometimes some other taxes as well. For what? For not getting what you ordered? For waiting 45 minutes for food? For putting onions in your omelet and not being able to eat it? For “spaghetti” without sauce and cheese?

The restaurant should tip you for bad service, not you.

Sri Lanka has few beach cafes.


To eat, vacationers have to walk to the road, and sometimes even cross the train tracks to the nearest cafe

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Even in the resort areas to find at least one beach cafe – is already a great joy. Otherwise you have to go to the dusty and noisy road in search of something decent.

This peculiarity is very incomprehensible, because people come on vacation to have dinner on the beach, with a view of the sea, not the view of the construction site or the whizzing buses and tuk-tuks.

You could say there are beach cafes only in Mirissa, Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna. In other areas there is a lot of tension or complete absence of them. For example, in the no less popular resort of Bentota there is not a single cafe with a view of the sea.

Portions and Serving


This is what “grilled chicken” looks like for 2,000 rupees ($11.5) at Red Lobster Diner near the AVANI Hotel in Calutara

Big portions of food everywhere, in some places so big and unappetizing that seeing your dish even makes you want to eat. The association is piled like cattle. The aesthetics of food in Sri Lanka? No, not heard… If there was less food, but its appearance would be more attractive and whet the appetite.

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French fries in all dishes.

eda-v-sri-lanke-9 eda-v-sri-lanke-10 eda-v-sri-lanke-8

Whatever you order, whether it’s meat or fish, it will most often come with fries on the side. Sometimes the side dish is included in the price, but it is not mentioned on the menu (clarify: does it come with fries?).

Rice is not as common in Sri Lanka. If you can not eat fries and you want rice, you must say in advance and thus slightly adjust your order. You will be changed from fries to rice at no extra charge.

After 2 weeks on fried potatoes, we couldn’t even look at them anymore, but we still held on. Because rice in Sri Lanka is not only tasteless, but they also do not know how to cook it properly. How many times have we ordered rice, most of the time it was not good, and sometimes even disgusting.

Often the Lankans can chop onions or garlic into the rice, which is impossible to put in your mouth. Only once I got delicious rice, it was a real holiday and a break from potatoes.

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Flies in cafes and restaurants


Lankans do not know how to cook spaghetti. You eat pasta with one hand and swat away flies with the other.

Sri Lanka is home to probably half of all flies from our planet. There are so many flies, you can’t eat in outdoor cafes or eat breakfast in hotels in open rooms. Flies constantly distract you from your food, you have to eat everything quickly while working with your hands to drive them away from your food and drinks.

In rare places, the area is treated and you can eat without waving your hands and constantly straining.

Tea and Coffee in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka has bad coffee and good tea. Even the bagged tea is good. We advise you to order tea from untested places, not coffee. Because coffee in restaurants in Sri Lanka tastes like coffee from a Soviet canteen. Something brown, diluted with milk, that we were poured out of large aluminum kettles as children.

Real coffee in Lanka can only be made in coffee houses and restaurants with a coffee machine. They will have cappuccinos and lattes on the menu. If you don’t have a coffee machine, get tea.

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Freshly squeezed juices, frèches, and shakes.


We really liked the Lankan drinks – milkshakes, smoothies, shakes, lassis, and freshes. Prices averaged 300-400 rupees per glass ($2 / 140 rubles). The banana lassi and vanilla milkshake are especially good. Sometimes they put ice cream in a milkshake. Unlike in Thailand, the drinks don’t just contain ground ice alone.


Alcohol prices in cafes are inexpensive. A bottle of local Lion beer costs an average of 300-400 rupees ($2 / 140 rubles). In Pinavelle was the most expensive beer at 700 rupees.

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Prices in cafes in Sri Lanka and photos of dishes


Grilled fish with vegetables and rice for $10

Now we’ll make you happy because the prices at restaurants in Sri Lanka are affordable!

This doesn’t mean that you can eat here for pennies on the dollar, but you can certainly afford to eat out and order whatever you want. Food in Sri Lanka is not the cheapest in Asia.


Five huge shrimp with rice and salad for 2,000 rupees ($11.5).

Our average bill for a lunch or dinner for two at a tourist restaurant is 3500-4500 rupees (20-25$ / 1300-1800rub). This is certainly more expensive than in Thailand or Vietnam, but there is a weighty but. In Sri Lanka, seafood is inexpensive.

  • Big grilled shrimps with side dish and salad will cost $8-12
  • Grilled fish with mashed potatoes and greens will cost $8-10


A huge piece of tuna, which I couldn’t eat, cost 1,900 rupees ($11 / 730 rubles).

All sorts of plates of assorted seafood for 2-3 people will only come out at $30-35. That’s very cheap. Even with the current dollar exchange rate is cheaper than in Russia or Ukraine.

Maybe that’s why many people forgive Sri Lanka the extreme tardiness and limited choice of really tasty dishes, because seafood for pennies really pays off for most people.

You don’t come to eat spaghetti and salad in a faraway land.

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Fresh white fish for 1500 rupees (8,5 $ / 580 rub) Fish fillet with sauce for 1200 rupees (6,8 $ / 460 rub)

Photo menus of restaurants in different cities of Sri Lanka


Breakfast in Sri Lanka. What do they feed tourists in the hotels

Separately, we want to tell you what is included in the price of the hotel breakfast. In Sri Lanka, most hotels have breakfast included in the price. It is very convenient, we advise to choose the option of breakfast.

But there are peculiarities. You will have a choice of a Lankan breakfast or a European breakfast, the so-called English breakfast, though without half of the ingredients included.

English breakfast

The most delicious English breakfast we had was at the KAI Hikkaduwa Hotel The most modest standard breakfast was at a cheap geste in Negombo

More often than not, a standard breakfast looks like this: 2 fried eggs or scrambled eggs, 4 toast, jam, butter, fruit plate, tea/coffee of your choice (take tea!).

This kind of breakfast is made all over Sri Lanka. You can’t call it varied, it lacks bacon and sausages, but overall, breakfast is quite hearty.

In large hotels, breakfast is a buffet system, it is better, more choice of food.

Traditional Lankan Breakfast


The Lankan breakfast is what the locals eat every day. They eat mostly white curried noodles and all kinds of tortillas, samosas and other cakes also with curry. Everything is served cold.

There are people who like it, but it’s not for everyone. It is better not to be tempted and choose a standard European breakfast, because the curry in the morning, even with cold tasteless noodles – exotic for aficionado.

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Food in Sri Lanka: Our Reviews

Let’s be honest, we thought the food situation in Sri Lanka would be much worse than it turned out to be. We tried different foods and went to different places in a dozen resorts in the country and made do with only two packs of charcoal pills for 3 weeks of travel

Prices in cafes in Sri Lanka are more expensive than in Thailand, but generally reasonable. Portions are large, seafood at an affordable price is plentiful. The pluses, as you can see, there are.

Despite the minuses, such as the slowness of staff, stupid, not always fried fish (ask in advance, as you need, well done or medium), the abundance of flies and tips are unclear why, with the food we have almost never had problems on any beach.

To summarize, you can say that there is no problem with the food in Sri Lanka, feel free to come and do not have to worry about food.

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