Budget for Sri Lanka
Discover the currency of Sri Lanka and some exchange rates (this is for informational purposes only. Please consult a bank for more accurate details).
The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR). It’s issued by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and has dealt with various fluctuating interest rates throughout history. One rupee is divided into 100 cents. The rupee is available in coins (1, 2, 5 and 10) as well as in bank notes (10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 1000, 2000 and 5000). Cent coins are available but are rarely used due to their negligible value. When you are in Sri Lanka, you will have to make all transactions within the country in the Sri Lankan Rupee. Local shops and eateries outside of the international airport do usually not accept foreign currencies.
Cash is still the mainly used form of currency in the country. You will need cash in bills 1,000 rupees or less to pay tuk tuk drivers, shop keepers and roadside vendors. Many sellers do not usually give out change for large 2,000 rupee or 5,000 rupee bills. Keep smaller rupee bills in hand to pay for train rides, entrance fees and king coconut drinks on the way.
Credit and debit cards are widely used in Sri Lanka. Many larger shops and supermarkets accept credit or debit cards. However, many small businesses and retailers only accept cash. Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted types of credit cards. American Express and Diners Club are not as commonly used. Credit card fraud is not particularly widespread in Sri Lanka compared to other countries in the region, but it is best not to use your card at small, hole in the wall shops if they offer the service. Take the usually precautions against credit card fraud while in Sri Lanka.
ATMs are common in all major cities like Colombo and Kandy, tourist areas and some small towns. ATM machines are available 24/7. Be aware that when you withdraw money from an ATM machine using a card not issued by the bank the ATM belongs to, hefty charges may incur. Therefore, it’s best to withdraw all the cash you need in one go instead of making many minor cash withdrawals multiple times. Many ATMs only distribute bills that are 500 rupees or higher. You will not have trouble changing a small bill to even smaller bills at a local store.
All rates are approximate. This budget will give you a general idea about costs in Sri Lanka. Do not take it as an exact budget. Your costs will depend on your accommodation, activities, where you eat and what you buy.
Need Approximate cost in LKR
- Rice and curry meal at a local eatery 250
- Street food snack 50
- Lunch at a decent restaurant per person 1,000
- Dinner at a good restaurant per person 2,000
- Average entrance ticket to a national park for an adult 3, 700
- Tips for chauffeur-guide per day 2,000
Tipping in Sri Lanka
It’s common in Sri Lanka to leave a small tip if you are satisfied with the service. Hotel and restaurant staff will expect a small tip (depending on the service and the size of the bill).
At hotels, baggage holders expect a tip of around Rs. 100-200. Jeep drivers and other guides will expect around Rs. 1000. You can calculate your chauffeur-guide’s tip depending on your satisfaction at the end of the tour (around Rs. 1000 per day).
Your chauffeur will expect a tip at the end of the tour. Consider around Rs.1000-2000/day. It can vary depending on your satisfaction.
Don’t forget to tip guides in case you use any. The amount depends on your satisfaction.