If you are a tourist visiting Sri Lanka, you may have been caught off guard at the cost of travelling in Sri Lanka. The popular tourist cities such as Colombo, Negombo, Kandy, Mirissa all have plenty of dining options. However for a developing country you would be surprised to know that these restaurants are pretty pricey. Especially if you are comparing Sri lanka to other middle income destinations such as Thailand, Vietnam or India. So it is not a surprise when you search “backpacking” and “Sri Lanka” to come across countless blogs of astonished travellers discussing the high price tag on food and accommodation.
Last September we travelled to Sri lanka conducting research for Ceybit, we wanted to see if Sri Lanka was as expensive as what people made it out to be. Instinctively when we were hungry the first thing we did was search “restaurants near me” or visit trustworthy sites such as tripadvisor for some good choices. We weren’t disappointed, immediately we were presented with countless lunch and dinner option all generally in one particular area. We decided to pick ones with good ratings and venture out to see what it was like. The food was good, the environment was clearly aimed at tourists and we were immediately comfortable. However we were disappointed not to be thrown out of our comfort zone as this did not present the challenges we wanted to experience in Sri lanka.
When the bill came it was more or less like a meal in Melbourne costing about $20 to $25 per person. As we proceeded with our trip researching the country we were incredulous to find out that it didn’t matter how hard we researched or where we went, we were paying prices similar to Australia when eating out in restaurants that was curiously only packed with tourists. How was this possible? We found ourselves asking; the locals surely have to eat right? Where do they go? And how come we cannot find these shops?
We decided to explore this issue and talk to the locals and force ourselves out of our comfort zone. What we discovered was that there were countless little local grocery and food stores that do not appear on Google Maps or on online sites. These stores have multitudes of food options ranging from fresh local vegetable curries to pastries and mixed rice with all the flavours that the country has to offer!
We would have a fresh curry with yellow rice big enough for two people with a coconut juice for less than $4 a day!
We soon realised that these small merchants could not afford to advertise online or was unaware and people only discovered them through word of mouth. This gem hidden in plain sight looks like an ordinary small grocery store and is frequented by the locals.
Our research indicates the quality of the food and beverages were much more superior in these small stores than the tourist aimed ventures advertised on Google.
Ceybit has decided to bridge this gap and partner with these merchants from these small local stores to enable them to reach out to the tourists.
As a Cebit holder you will get access to our wallet that will have a map of these small grocery/food stores that are generally unavailable online. This will give the tourist and locals the option to find a store nearest to them that will be able to provide you with some delicious authentic, cheap Sri lankan food that we all crave so much!