The major reason people to go to Sigiriya is to hike Sigiriya Rock, a rectangular-shaped large rock described by Lonely Planet as 'Sri Lanka's single most dramatic sight.' Sigiriya Rock has ancient ruins of what was once the kingdom of Kassapa and hikers can head up the near-vertical staircases that scale the rock's flat sides. All this comes at a staggering cost of 4650 Rs per person.
Alternatively, you can head next door to the much less traveled Pidurangala Rock, where entrance costs a mere 500 Rs per person. Not only that, but the hike is slightly easier, much more fun - rock scrambles and shoving your body through boulder crevices included - but then you get to actually see the famous Sigiriya Rock from the peak. It's similar to going up the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and not the Eiffel Tower, when it's really the Eiffel Tower you want to see in the skyline.
We spent two nights at Sinhagiri Villa in Sigiriya, a lovely and newly-built large guesthouse with workers who saw to our every need. The Green Hut Restaurant operates out of their main lodge and produced one of the best curries of our trip. From the top floor of the open-concept main building you have a stunning view towards Sigiriya Rock. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, and left our mark on the wall where guests are encouraged to draw a doodle of their stay. See if you can find the mermaid on the left-hand side if you ever go here!
What we enjoyed most about our stay at Sinhagiri Villa is that they prepared a New Year's Day hike for us. A tuk tuk picked us up at 5:00am to drive us along winding jungle roads to the base of Pidurangala Rock. The hike was about 35 minutes up to the top guided by our tuk tuk driver who also volunteered to lead the way so we wouldn't get lost in the pitch black of dawn. Then, at the top, we witnessed the most beautiful sunrise, the first one of the year, with the famous Sigiriya Rock still in the skyline. Perfection.
PIDURANGALA ROCK HIKE DETAILS
Difficulty: intermediate - often done in the dark before sunrise so use caution
Length: 35-40 minutes each way
Directions: see above - often hiked with your tuk-tuk driver as a guide in the dark
Cost: 500 Rs per person