See Sri Lanka in Six Days for Less Than AU$100 (10000 Rupees)

First things first, this guide obviously does not include the costs of getting into Sri Lanka (which is likely to be by air – since even from India, there have been no ferry services for many years).

Its a whirlwind visit but totally worth it.

If coming from India, consider taking a flight from Madurai, the closest international airport to Colombo.

I will be referring to costs in LKR, the local currency – do your currency conversions yourself to get the most up-to-date costings.

Here’s how you can see Sri Lanka in Six days for less than AU$100 – its a whirlwind visit but totally worth it.

In the following six days we will cover these locations and sights:

  • Colombo City
  • Sigiriya, Lion Rock
  • Kandy City
  • Temple of the Tooth
  • Adam’s Peak
  • Tea Plantations
  • Waterfalls
  • Rolling Hills and Lofty Mountains
  • Arugam Bay and its beaches
  • Wild elephants, peacocks, buffalo and monkeys

Approximate costs
Transport: 1600 – 2500 LKR
Accomodation: 350-1000 LKR per night / 1500-5000 five nights
Food/Drinks: 150-300 LKR per meal / street food cheaper than this
Sightseeing: 0 – 5000 LKR (Lion Rock is Optional, The Temple of the Tooth is Optional, Adam’s Peak is by Donation)


Day 1 –Early start from the Central Bus Stand in Colombo

Take the express bus to Dambulla (final destination is Trincomalie) : Bus 49, from Bus Stand 35.

4.5 hours

Bus fare 260 LKR

Once you reach Dambulla, from the same bus stop, take the next local bus to Sigiriya (the locals can always help you identify the bus).

30 minutes

Bus fare 32 LKR

From the bus stop in Sigiriya, take an auto-rickshaw to your guesthouse.

I stayed in a nice place 100m from the rear-entrance to the Lion Rock. Start climbing around 2:30-3PM, you will have plenty of time to take photos and explore the place before the sun sets – but I would strongly recommend to descend before sunset.

Entry fee for Foreign Traveler into Lion Rock 3900 LKR


Day 2 – Long day ahead of travelling and hiking

From the bus stand in Sigiriya, take any bus going to Dambulla.

30 minutes

Bus fare 32 LKR

In Dambulla, there is a bus terminal with AC buses – but from the main road you can take a local bus going directly to Kandy.

2.5-3 hours

Bus fare 95 LKR

The bus will drop you at the Central Bus Stand in Kandy, which is right next to the railway station. Depending on your arrival time into town, you may be able to visit the Temple of the Tooth – which purportedly houses a tooth belonging to the Buddha. In any case, you will definitely have time for a lunch break here.

Entry fee for Foreign Traveler 200 LKR into the Temple of the Tooth

Take a bus to Hutton (last one will leave from the central bus stand at 17:00).

4 hours

Bus fare 100 LKR

Once you reach Hutton, take the last bus (21:00) to Delhouse (Dalhousie), which is right at the foot of the mountain leading up to Adam’s Peak.

1 hour

Bus fare 24 LKR

There are many auto-rickshaw drivers who will try to tell you that the bus will not take you all the way and that the only option is to go with them – this is NOT true!

I found a hotel in Delhouse who allowed me to leave my bags there for a small fee (250 LKR) as I would go straight up the mountain instead of staying the night in the hotel. You may need to talk to a few places to find the right person, someone you feel comfortable leaving your bags with.

Start climbing around midnight – but no later than 2AM, as you will need at least 3-4 hours to reach the summit in time to see the spectacular sunrise at 05:30-06:00. The trail is fully paved and stepped, so its not rough bushwalking. However, you should take your time, don’t exhaust yourself too early and unnecessarily. 5,500 steps await you, with an accrued ascent of more than 1000m over a distance of 7km – the incline at some points is nearly vertical! Allow yourself at least 2-3 hours to descend the mountain.

Donation to the Buddhist monks (typically 1000 LKR, but based on your generosity)

Photography tip: Reach the summit before sunrise. You’ll see the sun pierce the sky like a burning ball of fire and on the other side of the peak directly opposite the sunrise, a distinctive triangular shadow will be cast from the sunlight!


Day 3 – No rest for the wicked, straight to the beach for us.

Collect your bag (and if the hotelier is kind enough, he might permit you to shower for free) and head to the bus stand – take the bus to Hutton railway station. You don’t need to rush over there, as the ticket counter for trains won’t open until 13:00.

1 hour

Bus fare 24 LKR

At the railway station, line up at the ticket counter 12:45 so that you can be at the front of the (very long) queue. Purchase 3rd class tickets to Ella – don’t worry the train is comfortable, try to get a seat if possible.

4-5 hours

Train fare 90 LKR

The stops are not announced so be ready to jump out at the correct location. In Ella, stay overnight – there’s a cheap place about 50m from the station, the woman running the place is really lovely.

This is a rest stop rather than a place for sightseeing – although there are some lovely mountain views, which you may have seen from the train anway.


Day 4 – Beach day!

From the bus stand on the main road in Ella, take the direct bus to Arugam Bay at 06:30. If you miss that one, then you will need to take a few local buses, which makes for a more interesting journey. Take any bus going to Wellawaya.

1 hour

Bus fare 30 LKR

From the central bus stand in Wellawaya, you will have some time for breakfast and a short break. You will then take the bus going to Monaralaga.

1.5 hours

Bus fare 68 LKR

In Monaralaga, I recommend a little café/restaurant that sells a cool, fizzy drink called Portello. Probably the best thing I drank in Sri Lanka!

Only one more bus to take and it’s the one going to Pottuvil (the V is pronounced as a W).

2.5 hours

Bus fare 248 LKR (including a baggage fee, per bag stowed in the back)

The bus will drop you on the Main Street of Arugam, which is right along the beach (some 50m from the sand itself). You can find many cheap places to stay here, beach front.


Day 5 – Head back to Colombo or Negombo Beach

There is a direct bus from Arugam Bay to Colombo city. It leaves 05:30 from the Main Street. If you miss that, then you will need to take a few buses – but again the journey is very interesting and you will see a lot more of the southern part of the country and the possibility of wild animal sightings (like elephants, mongoose, buffalos, monkeys, peacocks, etc).

Take an auto-rickshaw into Pottuvil to the bus stand (there are only a few buses from Arugam Bay to Monaralaga and Pottuvil).

10 minutes

Auto-rickshaw fare is typically not more than 100 LKR

Jump on the bus going to Monaralaga.

2.5 hours

Bus fare 248 LKR (including a baggage fee, per bag stowed in the back)

In Monaralaga, find yourself a bottle of Portello, before jumping on a direct bus to Colombo. There are a few, I think one every hour – we got on at 13:15 and the bus arrived into Colombo at 21:35.

7.5-8.5 hours

Bus fare 297 LKR

Stay in Colombo city this night.


Day 6 – Beach day!

You’ll likely be taking a flight out of the country (to continue your adventure or to go back home), so staying near the airport is a good idea. Take the train from Fort Colombo railway station to Negombo.

1.5 hours

Train fare 40 LKR

This is a really nice beach with plenty of good places to eat and drink. You’ll find many places to stay for very good prices and you’ll be 50-100m from the sand itself. Chill out here, let your legs recover and prepare for your onward flight tomorrow.


Day 7 – Last day, let’s fly away.

Take an auto-rickshaw to the airport, wave goodbye to Sri Lanka.

20-40 minutes (based on where you stay)

Auto-rickshaw fare 200-800 LKR (based on where you stay and how good you are at negotiating with auto-rickshaw or taxi drivers)

2 Comments on See Sri Lanka in Six Days for Less Than AU$100 (10000 Rupees)

  1. Hey Sean,
    I hope you can remember me. Thanks for writing this, even though I live in Sri Lanka for past 22 years I didn’t know that you can explore this many places for around LKR 10K. Keep writing have a great trip 🙂

  2. Muhammed! Of course i remember you! I really had a great time (though short) in Sri Lanka, we’ll have to catch up somewhere in the world, where shall we go?

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