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Climbing Pidurangala Rock was amazing and we think it’s something every visitor should do while traveling in Sri Lanka. So, if you want to check out Pidurangala Rock for yourself, we wrote this blog with ALL of the info you should know before you go!
Sigiriya is one of the most popular towns in Sri Lanka, so it was a no-brainer that we decided to visit on our recent trip. But, we wanted more from the town than just a trip to Sigiriya Rock, therefore, we decided to spend much of our time exploring the less touristic things to do in Sigiriya.
That led us to places such as Ritigala and, of course, Pidurangala Rock.
Although not necessarily off the tourist trail in Sri Lanka, Pidurangala Rock is certainly not as popular as Sigiriya Rock (aka Lion Rock.)
After seeing many amazing ruins around Sigiriya including the ancient monastery of Ritigala, we were craving a viewpoint that we didn’t need to explore.
One to relax at and watch the sunset.
Pidurangala Rock was perfect for this, and to us, it’s a must-do! In fact, it was one of the best things we did in Sri Lanka and made our trip to Sigiriya one to remember!
So here we go…everything you need to know before you go climbing Pidurangala Rock!
Quick Facts About Climbing Pidurangala Rock
Just in case you’re in a hurry, here are a few things to know about hiking up Pidurangala Rock!
- About a 30 to 40-minute hike
- 500 LKR entrance fee
- You MUST cover up shoulders, knees and remove shoes at the temple at the start of the trail
- Cover-ups are sometimes available but bring your own for busy periods – find out below what happened to us!!!
- Best for sunrise and sunset
- Pidurangala Rock opens at 5 am and close at 6 pm (this is the ticket office, you can stay up at the rock until dark)
- Snakes are in the area so be careful
- Medium difficulty hike
- No plastic allowed (not strictly enforced)
- No toilets at Pidrangala Rock or on the trail
What is Pidurangala Rock?
Pidurangala Rock is an almost 200m tall rock that sits to the north of the much more popular Lion Rock (which is only 1 meter taller.)
Pidurangala Rock which translates to “offered piles of Gold” is an important place for Buddhists and was first used as a Buddhist monastery. It is believed to date back to the reign of King Kasyapa before the first and second centuries – that’s pretty old!
These days, the cave temple / Buddhist temple near the top of the hike is still visited by locals and tourists alike but most visitors come for the spectacular views of the surrounding area and Lion Rock!
Getting to the top of the rock is done by hiking along a manmade staircase and path.
In my opinion, it’s a must-do especially since it’s much cheaper than other attractions like Lion Rock.
How to get to Pidurangala Rock?
Pidurangala Rock is located in the small town of Sigiriya only a short 200 LKR tuk-tuk ride from the town center. If you’re visiting the rock from Sigiriya then a tuk-tuk is the best way as it’s a little far to walk from town and there are no buses.
From Dambulla, we recommend getting the bus to Sigiriya and then getting a tuk-tuk. This is the most budget-friendly option as a tuk-tuk from Dambulla to Sigiriya will cost around 1000 LKR each way. The bus, on the other hand, will only cost around 50 LKR each way and then the 200 LKR for a tuk-tuk to the rock.
If you’re not worried about saving a little bit of cash then you can organize a tuk-tuk from Dambulla to Pidurangala rock return for around 2,000 LKR and they’ll even wait for you at the bottom. They will usually wait for 2 hours so if you want more time be sure to negotiate it beforehand!
Rather take a tour? Browse lots of different Pidurangala Rock and Sigiriya tours available to book online.
It is common for people to travel to Sigiriya on a short trip to from Colombo. If you plan on doing this then the best way is to get a private driver.
Other methods (such as the bus) are slow and if your time is in Sri Lanka is short then this is your best option. Colombo to Sigiriya takes around 3 hours by car and it’s pretty much the same from Negombo.
Check out information about a day trip to Sigiriya from Colombo!
Hiking Pidurangala Rock
The hike to the top of Pidurangala takes around 30 minutes to complete. If you don’t consider yourself fit then allow 45 minutes to an hour.
The path to the top is well maintained up until you reach the Pidurangala Cave Temple. After the cave temple, the “hike” becomes more of a scramble and you must find your own path to the top over some large rocks and boulders.
To help, there are some spray-painted signs to direct you to the safest way.
For me, the climb was no problem, however, if you are injured or not as young as you used to be (we all get there) it may be a challenge. So please take your time – the view isn’t worth hurting yourself for!
Be careful on the climb and watch your footing. Many of the rocks are loose and we saw a snake on our way up while we still had our shoes off!
What I wish I knew before hiking Pidurangala Rock
At the beginning of the trail, you will need to pass through a Buddhist Temple. This means you MUST cover your shoulders, knees and remove your shoes.
This is strictly enforced!
I wasn’t aware of this and Bailey wasn’t allowed to start the hike! We had to wait for someone else to come down with a covering until we could start the hike!
If you don’t have your own covering there are some on loan but during busy times you need to bring your own (so you don’t have to wait for one to be returned.) They literally won’t let you start the hike unless you’re covered!
The temple is only the first 100m of the hike and you will be able to put your shoes back on and uncover yourself once you leave the temple grounds.
Related read: Check out all the best things to do in Haputale, Sri Lanka
Pidurangala Cave Temple
The cave temple is another temple only a few minutes from the top. Here you don’t’ have to cover up or take off your shoes.
Although much of the Pidurangala temple buildings have been destroyed, the remains of this ancient monastery are still very cool to see.
At the cave temple, there is a reclining Buddha that must be some 30 feet long. This Buddha statue is actually very well preserved in comparison with the other ruins.
You can’t miss the temple on the way up unless it’s dark so be sure to look out for it on the way down or up if you’re hiking for sunrise or sunset.
What it Costs and Other Important Info
There is a 500 LKR entrance fee (around $3 USD) to climb Pidurangala Rock. This is paid at the entrance gate after you have entered the temple.
What time does Pidurangala Rock open?
The entrance gate opens at 5 am and closes at 6 pm. However, you can be up at the rock after that time but not before.
Best time to hike – Pidurangala Rock Sunset or sunrise
The best time to hike Pidurangala Rock is at sunrise or sunset. Many people say sunrise is better, however, looking at the position of the sun it doesn’t really matter. We visited for sunset and loved it.
If you want to hike for sunrise or sunset then be sure to check the sunrise time and take a flashlight. After or before you will be hiking in the dark and the path isn’t the greatest – not to mention the snakes!
What to bring?
Water – You will need water for the hike. Unfortunately, there is a rule that doesn’t allow plastic bottles on the hike. This is because people leave them behind. If you’re not one of those people (I really hope you’re not) then bring yours in a backpack or get a reusable bottle.
Shoes – You will need them when it comes to the last bit of climbing. Thongs (flip flops) won’t be ideal.
Cash – There is no payment method other than cash at the entrance
Torch/Flashlight – if you’re hiking at sunrise or sunset
Where to Stay near Pidurangla Rock
If you’re looking for a guesthouse or hotel not far from Pidurangala Rock, there you’re luck because there are plenty of choices! Most accommodation is located either in the town of Sigiriya (which is the closest) or the city of Dambulla (about a 30-minute drive away.)
Below are some great options for places to stay in both Sigiriya and Dambulla to suit all different budgets!
Where to Stay in Sigiriya
Sigiriya Lion Lodge – This was one of the best places we stayed in Sri Lanka. For $15 we got a private double room with aircon and the owners were so lovely. The rooms are basic but the service is outstanding.
Sigiriya Rock Hide Home Stay – We actually tried to book here but they were fully booked. This hotel has such amazing reviews especially considering there are over 1,000 on booking.com alone! It’s a budget place and rooms are $30 a night with breakfast.
Hotel Sigiriya – This is a very famous hotel in Sigiriya with a beautiful pool that has views of Sigiriya. It’s perfectly located and a great option if you have the budget!
Where to Stay in Dambulla
New Peacock Resort – A budget hotel that is within walking distance of town. The reviews are really good especially for the price of $11 a night without breakfast.
Sayare Inn – This is where we stayed. Although a little out of town there are some restaurants nearby. The owner is also a tuk-tuk driver so he’ll do you cheap deals getting around town or find a friend who will.
Jetwing Lake – This place is gorgeous and although a little out of town, we recommend it if you have the budget for the $80 a night! Jetwing owns some of the best, most romantic hotels in Sri Lanka so they’re always a great choice!
Related read: Check out all the best beaches in Sri Lanka
Sigiriya Rock vs. Pidurangala Rock
In all honesty, after visiting Pidurangala Rock I decided not to visit Sigiriya Rock. We visited lots of ruins in Sri Lanka and we were after the view more than anything! We were also turned off by the $30 USD price to hike Sigiriya Rock.
If you also are turned off by the price then read our things to do in Sigiriya blog and check out the ancient monastery of Ritigala we visited. It only cost $2 to visit and was a great example of Sri Lanka’s ancient ruins. In fact, it was really impressive and the stonework was similar to that of Machu Picchu.
Below are some comparisons of Pidurangala Rock and Lion/Sigiriya Rock:
The Views – The views are the same as both rocks are almost the same height. However, from Pidurangala you get the view of Sigiriya Rock!
Cost – Pidurangala costs $3 and Sigiriya costs $30
Hike – Sigiriya takes a little longer to hike up than Pidurangala
Quality of ruins – Pidurangala has one small section of ruins at the Buddha statue and that’s it. They aren’t that impressive. Sigiriya is home to the remains of the ancient palace. So for sure Sigiriya is better for that.
Related read: Check out the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka
Getting Around Sri Lanka
To visit all of the best places in Sri Lanka, you’re going to need a mode of transport. You have a few choices when it comes to getting around Sri Lanka:
Rent a Tuk-tuk
Easily the most popular (and most fun) way to travel around Sri Lanka. We actually rented a tuk-tuk on our trip and absolutely loved it! Tuk-tuks are easy to drive, cheap to rent, and the freedom that comes with your own wheels is unmatched.
If you do decide to rent a tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka, be sure to go with a reputable company that provides quality tuk-tuks, such as Tuktuk Rental (who we rented from.) These guys not only offer an amazing service, but their tuk-tuks are actually rented from local families, providing income for the local community.
If you decide to rent from Tuktuk Rental, be sure to use the coupon code ‘DEST‘ for 5% off!
For more info, read our blog: The Truth about Renting a Tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka.
Hire a Driver
If you’re only planning on going to a couple of destinations, then a private driver is not a bad idea. In the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle, your driver can take you to your next destination. All you have to do is sit back and relax!
You can hire highly-rated drivers in advance to pick you up right from the airport when you arrive in Sri Lanka. This driver will take you to your hotel in Mirissa, Galle, Bentota, or Unawatuna. Whereas, this driver will take you to Kandy.
Of course, every time you want to change destinations you will have to arrange for another driver (unless you book this driver who will drive you around for an entire week). Car transfer can easily be organized through your hotel.
Take Public Transport
This is a choice I only recommend for those on a very tight budget and with plenty of time. Public transport is everywhere in Sri Lanka in the form of public buses and trains. It is also very cheap, costing less than a couple of dollars per journey.
However, it isn’t the most comfortable way to travel. The buses don’t have air conditioning and neither do many train services. They can also be slow-moving, stopping every couple of minutes to pick up more passengers.
With that said, public transport is popular with budget backpackers, and it is mostly safe. This is one way to travel for those who want to get around as the locals do!
Before you go…
Climbing Pidurangala Rock was an awesome experience and the views from the top are stunning. Both Bailey and I thought that for the price, views, and experience, this is one of the best things to do in Sigiriya by far.
Do yourself a favor and check it out!
Want more information about traveling around Sri Lanka? Browse all of our Sri Lanka blogs, or, some of our popular articles below:
Best Beaches in Sri Lanka – The most amazing beaches spread across the country from calm bays to surf beaches, this post has it all!
Things to do in Ella – Ella is without a doubt one of the most visited places in Sri Lanka. Find out all the awesome things to do here!
Things to do in Trincomalee – in this blog we not only tell you the things to do in Trincomalee but the things others suggest to avoid!