This post was last updated on April 9th, 2020 at 01:42 pm
The ruins of Sigiriya are not only the most impressive geological formations of Sri Lanka but also one of the largest cultural treasures of the country. Sigiriya is a 200-meter (656 feet) high rock in the middle of the jungle with the ruins of one of the most spectacularly situated shrines in the world on top of it.
Sigiriya; the Most Famous Rock in Asia
The ruins of Sigiriya are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The rock must have always been there, but according to legend, the palace at the top was built by King Kassapa I who was king of Anuradhapura between 477 and 495 AD. After the death of King Kassapa I, the palace would have become a monastery.
Please note that you have to pay a US$30 per person entrance fee to climb the rock and that it is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Others say that King Kassapa I completed the complex after his father, King Dhatusena, had started the construction. No matter how it came about, it must have been a breathtaking structure with one of the most beautiful views you can imagine.
Not only the view here is of an unprecedented level, but the surrounding complex is also stunningly beautiful. The complex has beautiful symmetrical gardens, surrounded by canals that point the way. This garden is the oldest garden in Asia.
Tips on Visiting Sigiriya
This is one of the most famous sights of Sri Lanka and, therefore, easy to reach. It is just 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from Dambulla. It is the ideal day trip from this city. You don’t have to book a tour (although you can) because this rock can easily be reached on your own.
How to Get to the Sigiriya Ruins
It is located about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the Inamaluwa intersection on the main road between Dambulla and Habarana. Buses run to and from Dambulla every 30 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
It will cost you around 30 rupees (US$0.17) and the journey takes 45 minutes. However, the most popular way of traveling is the tricycle, the Sri Lankan variant of the tuk-tuk. They cost a bit more; a round trip costs 800 rupees (US$4.55).
Once You Get There, What’s Next?
When you enter the park you will find enough information, as well as the remains and ruins of the buildings that surrounded the rock itself. Expect around three hours to explore the rock and the surrounding area. And don’t go at 1:00 p.m. as you will melt into a puddle of sweat.
To reach the summit of Sigiriya you have to climb 1,860 steps before you can enjoy the spectacular view. During the climb, you walk past the remains of Lion’s Gate to which Sigiriya owes its name.
Sigiriya means lion rock. There used to be a large stone lion, but today there is little left of it. It serves as a gateway to the top.
TIP – Go as early as possible to prevent extreme heat.
Rent a Bike (or a Scooter)
Of course, you cannot cycle on the rock itself. But there is still plenty to see around Sigiriya. You can do that on foot, but you can also rent a bicycle or a scooter to explore the area. It is less strenuous (in our opinion) and you can explore a much larger area.
TIP – Renting a bike costs about 300 rupees (US$1.70) a day, a scooter costs 1,500 rupees (US$8.50).
Balloon Flight Over Sigiriya
Bagan in Myanmar may be known as one of the most beautiful places in Asia to make a balloon flight, but Sigiriya is certainly not an inferior experience. A balloon flight here shows the grandeur of this place extra well.
The rock protruding from the jungle, the surrounding gardens and the setting sun ensure an unforgettable experience. A helicopter flight is also possible, but this is a bit more expensive.
Although most think it’s a palace, it’s not entirely clear. Some think that it was a monastery.
Best Areas to Spend the Night
Most people spend the night in Dambulla because from here you can be at the rock in a day. However, it is also possible to stay overnight near Sigiriya Village. There is plenty of accommodation nearby.
It is easier to sleep in Sigiriya Village if you want to make the most of your day. You can stick to the rock from start to finish. Check Booking.com for good accommodation.
We believe these are great options:
- Sigiriya Village ➜ about US$30 p. night (overlooking the rock)
- Nelu Villa Sigiriya ➜ about US$30 p. night
- Sigiri Saman Home Stay ➜ about US$25 p. night
- Iwamisou ➜ about US$20 p. night
Best Time to Visit Sigiriya
In theory, you can visit Sigiriya throughout the year. The high season in Sri Lanka runs from December to March, but this is also the period that most rain falls here. You could also easily travel in the mid and low season.
The least rain falls in the months of February to September. However, keep in mind that it will be very hot and dry.