The Pidurangala Rock hike in Sigiriya was one of my highlights of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.
But it’s often overshadowed by its neighbor, Sigiriya Rock. Otherwise known as Lion Rock.
So, which is better? Piduranga Rock or Sigiriya Rock? And is the Piduranga Rock hike worth it?
I’ve covered that and so much more in this detailed guide to Pidurangala Rock in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka.
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Pidurangala Rock hike summary
- Location: Just outside the town of Sigiriya here
- Pidurangala hike time: 30 minutes to the top
- Difficulty: Medium difficulty
- Costs: 500 KLR
- Times: 5 am – 6 pm daily
- Where to stay: I stayed at Shen Residence and loved it
- Note: The trail starts at a temple, and you must cover your arms and legs here
Pidurangala Rock or Sigiriya Rock
Pidurangala Rock is a stone’s throw away from the famous Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
It’s not as popular, but it sure does offer a scenic hike with a more natural feel.
From the top of Pidurangala Rock, you’ll have impressive views of Sigiriya Rock and the village below.
I was looking to immerse myself in nature during my trip to Sigiriya. Considering that Pidurangala Rock is cheaper and attracts a smaller crowd than its neighbor, I decided to go for the Pidurangala Rock sunrise hike.
Guide to the Pidurangala hike
You can easily plan your Pidurangala hike independently, and a guide isn’t necessary.
But make sure you come prepared and know where to go and what to bring.
Best Time To climb Pidurangala Rock
I opted for a sunrise hike up Pidurangala Rock to escape the heat and the crowds.
I suggest you do the same, as it gets scorching hot during the day.
I started my Pidurangala hike at 5:30 a.m. and made it to the top just in time to catch the sunrise.
Because this is the best time to plan your hike, you’ll notice a few other tourists on the trail. But it’s not nearly as busy as Lion Rock, which you’ll see in the distance.
Sunset is also a popular time to hike Pidurangala Rock. If you’re not too keen on the early morning wake-up call, opt for a sunset hike instead.
The Pidurangala opening hours are 5 a.m.-6 p.m., so as long as you get there before sunset, you’re good to go.
How To Get to Pidurangala Rock from Sigiriya
Pidurangala Rock is situated about 10 minutes from the center of Sigiriya.
If you’re staying in Sigiriya, you can either ride a bike, take a scooter, or hop on a tuk-tuk to get there. The tuk-tuk ride will cost you 200 LKR.
If you’re planning the Pidurangala sunrise hike, make sure you organize your transport the day before. But be careful of wild elephants!
I stayed at a local homestay in Sigiriya and was planning on riding a bicycle to the entrance of Pidurangala Rock for my sunrise hike.
However, this plan went out the window after my host warned me of wild elephants that roam the area before sunrise.
So instead, I rented a scooter for the day.
How to Get to Pidurangala Rock from Dambulla
Dambulla is the biggest town situated close to Sigiriya.
Many travelers use this as their base for exploring the cultural triangle and hiking Pidurangala.
If you have the choice, rather stay in Sigiriya as it has a small village vibe whilst Dambulla is quite busy and chaotic.
The distance from Dambulla to Sigiriya is 20 km and it takes 30 minutes to get between the two towns.
The easiest way to get from Dambulla to Pidurangala Rock in Sigiriya is with a tuk-tuk which will cost around 1 300 LKR ($7) for the trip.
The cheaper option is to take a local bus to Sigiriya. Bus this will take over an hour, and the bus can be tricky to find.
Pidurangala Rock Entrance Fee
The Pidurangala entrance fee is 500 LKR ($3) per person which is pretty cheap in contrast to Lion Rock.
This fee is a small donation to the monks for the upkeep of the temple grounds, and the hike is worth every penny.
Pidurangala Rock Hike Time
Reaching the top of Pidurangala Rock takes 30 – 45 minutes, depending on your pace.
It’s not a difficult hike, and people of all ages and fitness levels will be able to get to the summit.
You’ll probably spend an hour at the top before hiking back down, which will take about 15 minutes.
What To Pack For Your Pidurangala climb
- Headlamp: If you’re going for a sunrise hike up Pidurangala Rock, don’t forget a headlamp. You could use your phone, but there are areas where you have to climb and crawl, and holding a phone may not be ideal.
- Sarong/ shawl: You’re going to have to cover up when you go on your Pidurangala hike. This applies to ladies and gents. Pidurangala Rock is a sacred site so respect the heritage and the monks who live there. The monks do provide sarongs if you forget to bring. But when it’s busy, they may run out.
- Trainers or comfortable shoes: If you have hiking shoes, great, but they aren’t necessary. There are parts where you have to climb, and trainers work best.
- Snacks and water: If you want to enjoy the sunrise without going hungry, pack some snacks and enough water.
Take a look at my Sri Lanka packing list. It has everything you need to pack (and what you can leave at home).
Pidurangala hike: Step-by-step directions
Here’s a run-through of what to expect during your Pidugangala hike.
Arriving at Pidurangala Sigiri Rajamaha Viharaya Temple
A white temple marks the start of the Pidurangala Rock hike.
This is where you pay the $3 entrance fee and receive a sarong to cover your legs.
But take note that at busy times, all the sarongs will be in use. This means that you might need to wait for people to return so you can use the sarong they were given.
After walking through the temple grounds, the Pidurangala hike starts off with a steep flight of stairs and progresses into a moderate climb along a rocky path.
The Royal Cave Temple and climbing Pidurangala Rock
As you get closer to the top of Piduralgala Rock, you’ll pass the Royal Cave Temple.
This houses a giant reclining Buddha statue. This statue has been reconstructed, but most of the original structure is still there.
After passing the Buddha statue, the real climbing starts!
For the next 5-10 minutes, you’ll have to weave your way past large boulders that block the path.
This area may be challenging for some. There are arrows painted on the rocks, so keep your eyes out for those if you lose your way.
Reaching the top of Pidurangala Rock, Sigiriya
Once you’ve scrambled past the last boulder, you’ll have unbeatable panoramic views of Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the distance.
Take a moment to enjoy it, but don’t stop there!
Keep walking around the massive boulder behind you, and you’ll get to a large platform.
Here, you can walk around the top of Pidurangala Rock and enjoy the scenery and abundance of greenery in the distance.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Sigiriya Rock, otherwise known as Lion Rock, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s an ancient rock fortress with a rich history.
It’s the main attraction in the cultural triangle and is one of the best places to visit in Sigiriya.
Along with this title comes a steep $30 entrance fee which allows you to explore the fortress. This is very expensive compared to Pidurangala Rock and is the reason why so many backpackers in Sri Lanka choose to give it a skip.
Lion Rock gets extremely crowded during the day, and so considering that and the high price, I recommend doing the Pidurangala climb instead.
Where to stay near Pidurangala Rock, Sigiriya
Although Dambulla is the biggest town closest to Sigiriya, it’s best to stay in Sigiriya itself.
Sigiriya is a small village offering you a unique experience and unmatched beauty.
I stayed at a homestay called Shen Residence in Sigiriya, and I highly recommend it.
The owners are extremely friendly and helpful, and the price is affordable. You must eat the curry here – it’s absolutely delicious and one of the best meals I had in Sri Lanka. They also rent bicycles for 200 LKR ($1.5) and scooters for 1500 LKR ($8) per day.
Alternative Accommodation in Sigiriya
Luxury: Water Garden Sigiriya is the best place to stay near Pidurangala Rock if you’re looking for a more luxurious option. The hotel is set in the lush countryside and the rooms have unspoiled views of Lion Rock. There are even options for private plunge pools, a spa, and a fitness center.
Mid-Range: Il Frangipane is just a stone’s throw away from Pidurangala Rock in Sigiriya. Coming home for a swim in their beautiful pool has to be the biggest attraction here.
Backpackers: Roys Villa Hostel provides unique accommodation suited for backpackers looking to stay in a chilled yet social environment. It’s the best place to stay in Sigiriya if you’re looking to meet other travelers and the location couldn’t be better.
Other places to visit in Sigiriya
Situated in the heart of the cultural triangle, there are so many things to do in Sigiriya.
I recommend you spend two nights here. This will give you enough time to explore all these incredible sights.
Get lost in Sigiriya
One of the best things I did in Sigiriya was hiring a scooter for the day and taking a ride through the local villages.
With no tourists in sight, I was greeted with excitement by a number of children.
Although we were struggling to communicate with them, they still welcomed us into their home, showed us their treehouses, and offered us the most delicious tea I’ve ever had.
There are vast spaces around every corner, and they’re all yours to explore!
Do a cooking class
Sri Lankan food is some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. Seriously!
For a unique experience in Sigiriya, you can book this local cooking class.
The family reached out to me about their small business, and after reading all of the positive reviews here, I couldn’t not include this in my post.
You’ll be welcomed into their family home where you’ll learn how to make delicious curries and other Sri Lankan food. It’s a genuine and authentic experience that will leave you with a full belly and a full heart.
Take a Trip to the Ancient Capital City, Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.
It’s a 90-minute drive from Sigiriya and a great activity for a day trip if you’re looking to learn more about the history of Sri Lanka.
READ MORE: THE BEST KANDY ITINERARY
Support Sri Lanka cricket in Dambulla
Cricket is a craze in Sri Lanka. Big international games are often played in Dambulla.
We watched the Sri Lanka vs England, and it was such an awesome vibe!
Be sure to check out the schedule, and if there’s a big game on, don’t miss it!
Check Out the Ancient Ruins’ of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa is just 60km from Sigiriya. It’s a great option for a day trip if you’re looking to see more of the cultural triangle.
The best way to explore Polonnaruwa is by bike. These can be rented from outside the ruins’ entrance.
Restaurants in Sigiriya
- Milis: The best Khotto Roti I had in Sri Lanka and super cheap.
- Shenadi Restaurant: I had the most delicious, well-priced curry here
FAQS about Pidurangala hike
How long does it take to climb Pidurangala Rock?
2 hours in total. The hike to Pidurangala Rock takes 30 to 45 minutes. It’s best to give yourself an additional hour to enjoy the views from the top. It will then take 15 minutes to descend.
How much does it cost to go to Pidurangala Rock?
It costs 500 LKR per person to climb Pidurangala Rock.
How hard is it to hike to Pidurangala?
The hike to Pidurangala Rock is medium difficulty. There are a lot of stairs and boulders, but it’s a short hike that’s incredibly scenic.
READ MORE: ELLA ROCK VS LITTLE ADAMS PEAK
Where to next
Hiking Pidurangala Rock is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka and I highly recommend you add it to your itinerary.
After your trip to Sigiriya, continue east to Trincomalee and spend a few days exploring Nilaveli and Uppuveli Beach, two of the best beaches in Sri Lanka!
If you’re short on time, head to hill country and explore Nuwara Eliya and spend your days visiting tea plantations and waterfalls.
Looking for more Sri Lanka travel information? Check out my other posts!
- Hiriketiya Beach: All You Need to Know About Sri Lanka’s Paradise
- Midigama Beach: Why You Should Stay & Surf Here (Not Mirissa)
- Guide to Climbing Adams Peak in Dalhousie