The Sri Lankan town of Dambulla is small yet offers some decent tourist options. The biggest tourist pull in this area is undoubtedly Sigirya, other wise known as Lion Rock. But Sigiriya is outside the town of Dambulla and merits a full post of it’s own at some point, first we headed to Dambulla. So we spent a day in Dambulla to check it out, as tourist wise there are a few options here too, some really fascinating places!
How to get to Dambulla
We arrived by bus from Kurunegala, though I must say that is not an obvious backpacker route – we were the only foreigners on our bus – yes we like to get off the beaten track a bit.
The bus was crowded, packed, dirty and stuffy but got us safely to Dambulla for less than one US Dollar.
Where to Stay in Dambulla
We wanted to stay in Healy’s Inn (it may have had something to do with the Northern Irish footballer of the same name!) but it was full so we ended up staying in Summerset Inn. It was quiet and busy but it did the job. They had mosquito nets and hot showers. But no internet or wi-fi.
What to do for sightseeing in Dambulla
Right if you do happen to stay at the Summerset Inn, it’s close to the three main sights – the Temples, Caves and Museum. They’re all fairly unmissable on Matale Road. This isn’t a top 5 though, it’s just a top 3, you’ll have had your fill of Dambulla with this quick and easy hat-trick then it’s off to Sigiriya! They’re all within metres of each other!
1. The Golden Temple
This sits prominently and noticeably as you walk through Dambulla. Yes it’s away from the shops and residential area on the Matale Road but it’s worth seeing.
Walk off the main street and you’ll be confronted by the Golden Temple! There’s a massive 30 metre high Buddha at the top of this one – it’s pretty on the eye and worth a visit. Sorry to be so cliched here, but I’ve been to hundreds of temples in Asia and yes this is just another temple! It was only finished in the year 2000…
2. The Royal Rock Temple (Cave Temples)
This is the main attraction, also off the main Matale Road and is at an elevation of over 100 metres up. But it’s an easy walk. You will be asked for a ticket when you start to walk up the steps so just go to the ticket office outside the Golden Temple to get your ticket – the entrance to both is the same place. Inside you can take photographs, but you can’t photograph people for some reason. There are 5 caves in total. Do a bit of research into their history beforehand as they all have their own representations.
It costs 1,500 Rupees to enter, though children are free. You’ll need a few hours if you want to see it in detail.
3. Dambulla Museum
Not the best museum you’ll ever see to be honest! But if you’re in Dambulla you might as well do all three of these things! The museum is also on the main Matale Road.
So that’s basically all there is to do when you’re sightseeing in Dambulla – after that get a tuk tuk to Sigirya and get ready to climb to the top of Lion Rock!!
My videos from sightseeing in Dambulla, Sri Lanka:
On the bus from Kurunegala to Dambulla:
At the Golden Temple in Dambulla, Sri Lanka: