Lets just start by saying- don’t make the same mistake we did.
The journey to Sigiriya from Colombo could either be a piece of cake or it could go completely wrong, so I’m going to make sure you have your piece of cake and avoid all the problems we got ourselves into during our 19 hour day.
The day before our mission, we asked our hotel concierge every question under the sun to figure out how to best approach the situation. Looking back, there are things we probably should have listened more closely to, but hey! We made it back alive and did it all in one single day, which was our goal.
We were basing ourselves in Colombo, which is the big city in Sri Lanka, where you won’t get to witness the beauty the country really has to offer. In order to be able to do that, we had to do day trips, and we had a few options to choose from. Being pretty active, we love taking hikes in as many countries as we can. When our hotel listed off ideas, they searched “Sigiriya” and up popped the most beautiful and dense green jungle with a monstrous rock which we could hike up. It took about two seconds for us to decide that this is what we wanted to do.
We were quoted around approximately $120 for a personal driver to take us there, so you bet that was out of question! We were told that it would be a 5-7 hour bus ride each way- cue the start of regrets. Oh well, we wanted to do it no matter what, so no turning back now! Oh, theres a pretty town called Kandy along the way? Let’s stop there at some point and casually walk around some temples to kill all the extra time I’m sure we will have- cue more regrets… Ohh, the last bus that takes us straight back from Sigiriya stops running around a certain time we don’t remember and the transportation system is really confusing!?? -cue… yeah you get the point.
So that next morning we started our journey at 5 AM to take a tuk tuk to the main bus station to catch the first bus to Kandy where we switched busses to one that took us to Dambulla, the closest town to Sigiriya. From there we took a tuk tuk to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya….. JUST to find out it costs 4455 Rupee, or $30 USD each that we didn’t have, nor did we want to spend, to climb up a rock. AND, the nearest ATM is back in Dambulla, a 20 minute tuk tuk ride away. So now what?
We found everything to do in this area for free, which you can see in the video we made, but we also stumbled upon another hike at a nearby rock that just so happens to give you the most beautiful view of the heritage site we almost paid to stand on top of. For just 500 Rupee each (about $3.35), we climbed up Pidurangala! There are people at the bottom offering to be guides for another 1000 Rupee, say no. This is such an easy hike to figure out, and they are trying to squeeze every last Rupee out of you. There is a bit of bouldering and it can be a tad bit tricky at times [and possibly very windy!], but there really is no need for a guide at all.
If you see our little friend Dobby, give her some love for us! We’re not sure if she knew how to get down, but she sure made our time at the top a little bit better.
Pro tip: Make sure you have enough food, water, and money to last you if you get stranded for longer than you plan and just incase every ATM is broken in town.
Then to get back to Colombo, reverse all of the steps and expect to arrive back home around 11PM. So if we could do this all over again, well… we probably wouldn’t. BUT, it is worth seeing so we recommend doing it. The only thing is that we would go halfway and stay in Kandy. We didn’t have the chance to explore Kandy and we wish we could have, so get an accommodation for a night or more in Kandy, and that will split up your journey so you also hopefully won’t have to take any sketchy night busses back!