What You Could Get in Colombo for $10 – So Many Ways to Spend Your Bucks in the Capital City of Sri Lanka!

On the last Asian Games when I volunteered as a protocol assistant, I got a chance to assist a representative from Sri Lanka.

Throughout the event, not only did I get a chance to connect with my client emotionally as well as professionally but also I got a chance to deal with all other entities such as their embassy. It didn’t always spark joy as I gotta do it in terms of work, but then this connection made me put Sri Lanka into one of the countries that I’d like to visit one day.

It was never on my bucket list, but now it is. So, when I got a chance to connect with Yulia of That’s What She Had and she told me that she could cover Colombo on the $10 series… I was super excited!

What You Could Get in Colombo for $10 - The BeauTraveler

So, here I present you Yuliya and her story of how you could spend your bucks in the capital city of Sri Lanka, a country that was formerly known as Ceylon during their British colonial period.

Ever Wondered How Far $10 Can Take You in Colombo, Sri Lanka?

I am the worst writer in history to start a story with “ever wondered”, but to answer this question, it can be very, very much or very-very little.

On the one hand, Sri Lanka is a developing country with affordable accommodation and cheap, yet with so many delicious foods that are loved by so many budget travelers. On the other hand, Colombo is also the capital city in which it is also one of the most fast-developing cities in Asia.

Some Alternatives to Do to Spend Your $10 in Colombo

$10 USD equals to around 1825 Sri Lankan rupees (LKR), and there are some various options that you could choose to buy with it.

Some must-try Sri Lankan food.
  • 25 traditional Sri Lankan fresh loaves of bread or 3 European-style sourdough loaves.
  • 50 egg hoppers (local pancakes for breakfast at a roadside shop or 2 avocado toasts for breakfast at a modern cafe.
  • 38 cups of tea from a hole-in-the-wall kinda shop by the road, or 3 cups of coffee at a fancy coffee shop.
  • Almost 3 movie tickets!!
  • Almost 2 tickets to see the house of Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s most famous architect
  • 152 bus tickets (given that you are traveling the shortest possible distance, but I doubt that you’d like to take the bus!)
  • One bottle of arrack (local spirit) or half a bottle of European wine (if you’re lucky, because imported alcohol is incredibly expensive!)
  • 7 hours of cleaning the house and cooking by a local maid.
  • 76 little mangoes or 7 huge mangoes.

As you can see, the range is quite amazing.

You should remember that Colombo is the capital, and pretty much the only city on the island where social life is bustling.

Restaurants, bars, and clubs are competing to get the attention of ever-busy-city-dwellers. Chefs come up with modern twists on traditional Sri Lankan dishes, bartenders serve the finest spirits delivered from all over the world despite high taxes.

Five-star hotels organize events and parties on a weekly basis, all of which is exciting but costs a pretty penny!

Pettah neighborhood in Colombo.

So, What Would I Do With My Sri Lankan Rupee?

When I first came to the island in 2010, lunch cost me 150 LKR. I didn’t have too many options to begin with, as my lunch almost always came from a small road-side shop or a simple restaurant.

In 2019, you can still buy lunch for 150 LKR, given that you don’t mind eating vegetable fried rice every day… But now, you have all these gorgeous modern spaces that serve organic avo toast with locally sourced ingredients. And sometimes, avo toast is all you need but suddenly your lunch costs 900 LKR instead of 150.

Tea, anyone?

Well, it’s still affordable if you come from a first-world country, but the difference is staggering.

The good news is that outside of Colombo, food, hotels, and attractions are usually more affordable, and if you travel around Sri Lanka, you are likely to spend only a couple of days in the capital.


Contributor: Yulia from That’s What She Had

Yulia is the she in That’s What She Had, a Russian girl who starts some research of a new country by googling “What to eat in…” instead of “What to do in…”, doesn’t mind staying in line for cronut under pouring rain for hours, and reads on the history of pecan pie before trying one. She hopes one day you’ll visit a place she recommended and order what she had. 

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