A trip to the fantastic Sigiriya Lion Rock in Sri Lanka is something you should do if you happen to be in the central part of the country. We had stayed in Dambulla the previous night and done the sightseeing round there. Then it was timeto hit up Sigirya – Lion Rock. This is worth seeing and to be honest on mytravels I haven’t actually seen anything else like it. It’s like a lost city on a rock in the middle of nowhere!
How to get to Sigiriya
OK you have two main options – 1. Stay in Sigiriya Village (a small place right by the rock) or 2. Stay in Dambulla Village. We stayed in Dambulla, we didn’t really have a reason why – just that we wanted to make sure we did the Cave Temples there as well as Sigiriya. To get to Sigiriya from Dambulla, we took a tuk tuk.
These are easy to find and locate. Just make sure you bargain with the driver to get a good price. Given the extortionate price tag for the entrance to Sigiriya (which can’t be bargained or waivered by the way), you need to cut back on costs elsewhere so get a cheap ass tuk tuk/ three wheeler from Dambula out to Sigiriya.
If you’re already staying in the village of Sigiriya then it’s walkable. Even in extreme heat.
How much does it cost to climb Sigiriya?
The bad news it costs a whopping THIRTY US DOLLARS. That’s $30 US. Non-negotiable. It’s a one off payment and you pay it at the entrance to Sigiriya. Yes, I know you’re all saying how can I budget for this? And to be honest, it hits the wallet hard – Sri Lanka is cheap and you can get a 5 hour bus ride for under $2 US yet have to fork out fifteen times as much to see (and climb up) a rock.
Even the locals in Sigiriya Village disagree with the price. If you’re from Sri Lanka, you get it cheaper, but quite frankly the $30 US Dollars price tag is ridiculous and if it wasn’t for my love of travel and being caught in the moment, I wouldn’t have bothered. However, this is Lion Rock. And you won’t be here again. So pay it and think about the money later. But take your own food and water and don’t give them any more money.
What is Sigiriya Lion Rock?
It’s a massive rock with a lost city on top. It’s not quite Machu Picchu and in many ways, it’s out on it’s own. This rock is in the middle of nowhere – wilderness surrounds it. It is a unique landscape city created in the 5th Century by King Kashapa.
Since 1982 it has been rightly declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are over 1,000 hand written poems on the wall, all written between the 7th and 14th century. Visitors to Sigiriya walk around the grounds before ascending to the peak of the rock for sensational views and to see the old city.
How Long Should You Spend At Sigiriya Lion Rock?
OK so you need to get to the entrance, then walk all the way to the top, savour the views, walk around then come back down. You can also visit the museum and gift shop. All in all the shortest time you should allow is 2 hours, but that’s rushing it – do is properly and leisurely like us – 4 to 5 hours and you’ll have your fix of it. The top of Sigiriya is somewhat inspirational and you really need to savour the moment at the top and contemplate where life has taken you.
What is there to do at Sigiriya Lion Rock?
OK well basically you climb to the top of the rock and then head back down. Honestly that’s the gist of it. On the way up you can admire the walls, some minor stone structures, some monkeys and the views back down. The museum and gift shop are only there to make money if truth be told and you’ve already given them $30 US.
An Unusual thing that happened to me at Sigiriya Lion Rock
OK picture the scene and remember the facts. Northern Ireland is a tiny country. 1.7 million people. So I’m stood at the entrance flying my Northern Ireland flag for the website, when a guy comes over and says “get me in that” – it turns out he’s also a traveller and from Banbridge in Northern Ireland so we pose for a photo together! Quite amazing, after that it was onwards up to the top. I was flabbergasted!
In short Sigiriya Lion Rock in Sri Lanka is an excellent place to go and visit BUT I really do not agree with the $30 US price tag – it’s a joke. Make up your own mind if you want to pay it and visit…
My videos from Sigiriya Lion Rock:
Arrival at Sigiriya Lion Rock:
Sigiriya Lion Rock in 10 parts:
9 thoughts on “Visiting and Climbing Sigiriya Lion Rock, Sri Lanka”
Love this part, “savour the moment at the top and contemplate where life has taken you.”
It definitely looks like the place for that.
Maria recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – Lord Howe Island
A great place Maria. I felt I perhaps should have included more photos from the top Maria as the views and emotions you get there are just amazing – if you check the videos from the top you will get a feel for it. It’s the places you’ve never heard of beforehand that you never forget afterhand. Jonny PS – not even sure if “afterhand” is a word, but I like it…
I this is great. I visited Sigiriya in 1980 when there was only one house/guest house. I only took a few photos. No films. I can see how much it has all been developed and improved. So much as been excavated since 1980 when it was mostly flat and you could just see the tops of the stone work. The $30 is not too expensive when you consider that there is a lot more work to do in the area. As you say Sri Lanka is a cheap country to visit and can get around for a few £, $ or EUs. You get a feel for what it was like when the top of the rock was the kings palace high above the leopards and snakes. Thanks for the posting very much appreciated, I need to pay another visit
Hi Peter thanks for the comment. Perhaps I confused people with this article, I never meant to dress Sri Lanka up as cheap, I found it to be quite dear in fact. But I am sure back in 1980 it would have been cheap. These days it is even dearer than Malaysia, India and Thailand. Safe travels. Jonny
I am going to Sri Lanka beginning of next year too. But I heard from a Sri Lankan friend that the roads are under construction nowadays, so it is taking much more hours to travel. He said that what figures in web are not correct 🙁 and going to Sigiriya from Colombo is like a 1,5 days journey. Have you heard if it is possible to go and come back from Colombo in one day? Go by train and come back by… bus?
In time, I also loved this sentence “savour the moment at the top and contemplate where life has taken you.”
Thanks in advance!
Hi Celma, I was there in 2013 and had fun – certainly at that time – getting from Colombo to Sigiriya in one day would have been easy. However, we ended up staying overnight there anyway. So I cannot say for sure if the same thing applies now, as you say if there are roadworks on, this can affect it. I hope you work it out and get there, Safe travels. Jonny