Here I am, again, back in Asia. We’re currently traveling through Sri Lanka and I wanted to give you an update on how to travel from Kandy to Sigiriya with a stop in Dambulla (including depositing the backpacks). As most of the tourists do Dambulla and Sigiriya as a day trip from Kandy, the route we took wasn’t described as such in the web. We found the route pretty convenient and so we share our experience here.Get up early. Our guesthouse was on the South side of the Kandy Lake so we needed a Tuk Tuk to get down to the main bus station. We arrived at the bus station at 6:55 because we were told that there is one direct bus to Sigiriya at 7:30. Turned out, that the direct bus was nowhere to find. Good for us, because that’s how we came up with this route…
Once you’re at the bus station, just walk around and shout the name of your destination. The Sri Lankan people are very helpful and will point you (hopefully) to the right bus. Our new bus left Kandy bus station at 7:45 and was packed. Fortunately, we had seats. The ticket for the bus was only 100 RPS. [one thing about traveling in Sri Lanka in general: if you’ve been to other countries in SE Asia, you’ll probably be familiar with minivans that bring you from A to B and are only filled with tourists. Not in Sri Lanka. Here, you share the same bus/train etc. with the locals. It’s a unique experience but less luxurious).
The bus was heading towards Dambulla and it took about 2 hours and 45 minutes to get there. The streets in Sri Lanka are comparatively in good condition.
The bus attendant (the man who collects the money all the time and is fighting his way through the packed bus all the time) will tell you when to get off. Be reminded that you’re supposed to exit the bus QUICKLY.
Dambulla’s main attraction, the cave temple is about a 5 minute tuk tuk ride away from the bus station. We hired a tuk tuk and the driver was so kind and offered us to take care of our backpacks while we visit the temple. He gave us his phone number so that we can call him once we’re finished. We were a little bit suspicious at the beginning but since we haven’t payed a cent yet, we thought that this guy won’t rob us.
The cave temple in Dambulla is extraordinary. We were lucky and didn’t have to pay the entrance fee (normally 1500 RPS) because it was a holy month or something like that…
The climb up to the temple is strenous but doable. You’re supposed to take off your shoes at the entrance. There is a fee for one pair of shoes (25 RPS).
Once we finished visiting the temple, we called our driver and minutes later he arrived with his tuk tuk and our backpacks. We wanted to take a tuk tuk to Sigiriya anyway, so we bargained a good price. The whole trip with our driver only cost us 1000RPS including his waiting time, the ride from the bus station to the temple, the ride to Sigiriya and the deposit of our backpacks.
We arrived in Sigiriya at about noon and climbed the Pidurangala Rock at 4 pm. In between, we relaxed at the Sigiriya Hotel pool (admission fee: 500 RPS including Wifi password and towels), had lunch and napped a little bit. We stayed at Relax Guesthouse for 14€ the night. It’s a basic but clean accomodation centrally located. The owner is very nice and provides you with a lot of information.
The climb up to Pidurangala Rock is amazing! The last bit is pretty tricky to climb but everyone with a little fitness should be fine. The view of Sigiriya rock is amazing! We were only a bunch of people up there (maybe 10) and could really enjoy the view from there.
We can recommend our route to anyone who wants to head north anyway (to see Pollonaruwa or Anaradhapura) or who doesn’t want to spend more than 5 1/2 hours in a bus just to see Sigiriya and the Dambulla cave temple in one day.