Our month in Sri Lanka was a massive highlight of our last 12 months of non-stop travel. We love this little island. This was our 4th visit and we’re certain to be back again next year, but before we arrived in Sri Lanka I was worrying myself into a lather thinking this country was going to destroy our budget ( which, incidentally, was a super low $40 to $50/day in Asia). Long term travel necessitates cheap travel, we’d never spent so long travelling on such a tight budget before. Could we do it? Searching online I was seeing no cheap family accommodation in Sri Lanka at all, just fairly up-market places. But we pulled it off, we found out how to do it without breaking the bank and overall we think Sri Lanka worked out to be our best value country so far.
I wanted to book somewhere near the airport for our arrival day, and somewhere either in Kandy or on the coast south of Colombo for a few days after that. We were all suffering from terrible Malaysian flu and I knew nobody was going to be up to door knocking with backpacks in the heat. Booking online was our best and only option.
I managed to find a couple of places that worked out fine for us for our first week but by the time we got to Mirissa, we’d hit our stride and were finding lovely places to stay for under $20/night..
There are three factors that make booking family accommodation in Sri Lanka online more expensive.
First is maximum occupancy rules. If you search the internet for a room for 4 people, you will only be shown rooms with 4 beds. That cuts your options right down.
There are plenty of 3 bed triple rooms in Sri Lanka, most with an enormous double and a single plenty big enough for a family of 4 or even 5. Guest Houses have kindly offered to put an extra bed in a room for us if we needed it.
Second is the fees the agents charge. One guest house owner told us the agent he uses charges $24 per booking, so a person turning up on the doorstep is going to get a much better price. He charged $27/night for a 3 bed room online. He charged us $16 for the same room. I don’t know if the figure he gave us was accurate, but he certainly seemed to think it cost a lot.
Third is fact that many hotels and guest houses aren’t listed online at all. Some don’t even have websites.
Not Booking Ahead Doesn’t Suit Everyone.
Not everyone is happy to wing it as we do, it can be hard work carrying packs in the heat. For peace of mind booking online wins.
At peak times Sri Lanka gets very full . I would recommend booking ahead. In November everywhere we went was empty, as we got into December and the peak Christmas period there were a lot more people about.
That said, it is very easy to find accommodation on arrival in Sri Lanka, we had plenty of choice.
Accommodation in Sri Lanka is Good.
We’re finding that the standard of accommodation in Sri Lanka is very good generally.
Watch out for mosquitos. Sri Lankan homes generally aren’t screened up against bugs, they leave doors and windows open for ventilation and, as a result, are lovely and cool. We never used air-con in Sri Lanka in November or December. If you shut the windows ( often shutters, not glass) before dusk, not many mozzies get it, the mosquito nets give extra peace of mind. Most places come with nets fitted but we have used our own nets occasionally.
Where rooms have ventilation panels that can’t be closed at night, don’t leave the lights on! We left a bathroom light on one night and woke to at least a million mosquitos in the room in the morning. I carried a can of bug killer with me in Sri Lanka and used it a lot.
Cost of Accommodation in Sri Lanka
We payed around $20/night for a family of 4. Sri Lanka worked out very cheaply for us indeed.
Of course, the sky is the limit with luxury accommodation. Our last trip was for our wedding, we got married at the stunning Lighthouse Hotel near Galle, it was a blissful week of comfort and great service.
Note on Getting Around Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has to be the easiest and cheapest country to get around that we’ve visited. Buses and trains are fabulous and so cheap they’re almost free. We highly recommend using public transport rather than expensive taxis and tours. They’re very good, we’ve taken them many times, but you can do it cheaper if you try. I’ll post more about this later.
Our Where We Stayed and What We Payed Posts for Sri Lanka
People have been asking for this information, these accommodation posts are proving very popular. I’m not particularly recommending these places, just giving you an idea of what you’ll get for your money in Sri Lanka and in all the other countries featured in this series of posts.
Just click the links to the individual towns we stayed in below.
Our Cheap Family Accommodation Sri Lanka: