The best time to visit Sigiriya? (What I Did)

Best time to climb sigiriya with pictures

If you’re planning a trip to Sri Lanka, you’ve likely come across Sigiriya Rock in your research. This ancient rock fortress, also known as Lion Rock, is a must-see attraction located in the northern part of the country.

The best time to visit Sigiriya (lion rock) is during the dry season from May to September. The walk itself takes 1.5-2 hours and provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape. You should wear comfortable shoes with good grip and dress modestly and allow 3 hours for the whole experience.

In this blog post, I’ll share my experience climbing Sigiriya Rock and provide a comprehensive guide to help you plan your own visit.

Why is Sigiriya Called Lion Rock?

Before we dive into the details of climbing Sigiriya Rock, let’s first explore why it’s called Lion Rock. The name comes from the large lion paws that once flanked the entrance to the fortress. Unfortunately, only the paws and a small portion of the lion’s head remain today.

Monthly Weather in Sigiriya

The weather in Sigiriya can vary greatly depending on the time of year you visit. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect each month:

MonthAverage Temperature (Celsius)Average Rainfall (mm)Overall Ranking
January2765Good
February2850Good
March3190Average
April32150Poor
May32175Poor
June3160Good
July3140Best
August3160Good
September30135Average
October28300Poor
November27320Poor
December27175Average

1. Dry Season

The dry season in Sigiriya runs from May to September, with June and July being the driest months. During this time, you can expect hot temperatures and minimal rainfall, making it the ideal time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds.

2. Rainy Season

The rainy season in Sigiriya runs from October to April, with November and December being the wettest months. During this time, you can expect high humidity and heavy rainfall, which can make climbing the rock more challenging.

When Is the Best Time To Visit Sigiriya (Lion Rock)

Now that we’ve covered the weather, let’s dive into the best time to visit Sigiriya based on other factors.

FactorBest Time
Avoiding CrowdsDry Season (May-September)
Opening HoursEarly Morning or Late Afternoon
Best WeatherDry Season (May-September)
Where to StayWater Garden Sigiriya (Luxury), Sigiriya Village Hotel (Mid-Range), Sigiriya Hostel (Budget)
Climbing Time1.5-2 Hours
Entrance Fee30 USD (Foreigners), 15 USD (SAARC Nationals)
What to WearComfortable Shoes with Good Grip, Modest Clothing
HighlightsThe Gardens, The Frescoes, Sigiriya Rock, The Mirror Wall, The Lion Palace, The Monastery
Nearby ActivityHiking Pidurangala Rock
Frequently Asked QuestionsDress Code, Photography Ban, Accommodation in Dambulla

The Best Months To Avoid the Crowds

As mentioned earlier, the dry season is the best time to avoid the crowds. If you’re visiting during the rainy season, try to arrive early in the morning to beat the rush.

The Best Time Of Day (During Opening Hours)

Sigiriya Rock is open from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm. Arriving early in the morning or late in the afternoon can help you avoid the midday heat and crowds.

I’d recommend going first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds, and the heat of the sun. You’ll also see it in all its glory during golden hour.

The Best Time Of Year For Weather

If you’re looking for the most pleasant weather, visit Sigiriya during the dry season.

Where to Stay Nearby

Sigiriya has a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets. If you’re looking for luxury, check out the Water Garden Sigiriya. For a mid-range option, consider the Sigiriya Village Hotel. If you’re on a budget, check out the Sigiriya Hostel.

My Guide To Climbing Sigiriya Rock

Now that we’ve covered the logistics of visiting Sigiriya, let’s dive into the details of climbing the rock itself. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

1. Timing

It takes most visitors between 1.5 and 2 hours to climb Sigiriya Rock, depending on your fitness level and how crowded it is.

To make the most of the whole experience, including the gardens and the museum, I’d allow 3 hours for the trip.

I also recommend leaving first thing in the morning (arrive at the ticket office at 7:30am) to beat the crowd and the heat. Tour busses will start rolling in from 9:30am

Tristan Balme walking through the sigiriya gardens to lion rock at sunrise

2. Cost

At the time of writing, the entrance fee for Sigiriya Rock is 30 USD for foreigners and 15 USD for SAARC nationals.

It’s pretty steep, and a lot more expensive than other Sri Lankan attractions, but well worth the price tag IMHO.

3. What to Wear

Wear comfortable shoes with good grip, as the steps can be steep and slippery. Dress modestly, as the climb involves walking up a set of stairs that go directly past the frescoes.

It’s also exposed most of the way so make sure to cover up from the sun if you’re going later in the day. Bring sunscreen and water.

4. The Gardens

Before you reach the rock itself, you’ll walk through the gardens at the base of the fortress. Take your time to explore these beautiful gardens, which were designed over 1,500 years ago.

When i went i wanted to get the top before it got too busy so spent more time in the gardens on the way down.

Tristan Balme the Sigiriya gardens

5. The Frescoes

As you climb the rock, you’ll pass by a set of ancient frescoes (ancient rock paintings). Unfortunately, visitors are no longer allowed to take photos of the frescoes due to past incidents of vandalism.

6. Sigiriya Rock

Once you reach the top of the rock, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Take your time to explore the various ruins and structures at the top, including the Lion’s Paw Terrace and the Throne.

7. The Mirror Wall

As you descend from the top of the rock, you’ll pass by a section of the rock that’s been polished to a mirror-like finish. Visitors used to write graffiti on this wall, but it’s now protected.

8. The Lion Palace

The Lion Palace is where the king who built Sigiriya once lived. Unfortunately, only the foundations of the palace remain today.

9. The Monastery

At the base of the rock, you’ll find a set of ruins that were once a Buddhist monastery. Take your time to explore these ruins and soak in the history of the area.

10. Thank your guides

When i went up Sigiriya there were monkeys EVERYWHERE. I figured these cute little guys were there to show us around, but it turned out they had a more nefarious motive.

Keep an eye on your valuables. Hats, sunglasses, phones, cameras, backpacks. These are all fair game for the monkeys!

Tristan Balme the monkeys on sigiriya

My Guide To Climbing Pidurangala

If you’re up for another climb, consider hiking Pidurangala as well. This smaller rock is located nearby and provides a different perspective on Sigiriya Rock.

To get to Pidurangala, you can take a tuk-tuk from Sigiriya or Dambulla. The ride takes approximately 20 minutes and should cost around 1,000 LKR. Once you arrive, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee of 500 LKR. Cheap!

The hike to the top of Pidurangala takes about 20-30 minutes and involves some scrambling over rocks. Wear comfortable shoes with good grip and bring plenty of water. If you’re climbing Pidurangala at sunset, bring a flashlight or headlamp as you’ll be descending in the dark.

Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of Sigiriya Rock and the surrounding landscape. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the sunset.

Overall, the climb to Pidurangala is relatively easy and offers a unique perspective on the area.

I took this photo of Sigirya from here!

Tristan Balme wide angle of sigiriya rock in sri lanka at sunset

How to Hike Pidurangala and Sigiriya Rock in One Day

If your time is limited, you can still experience both Pidurangala and Sigiriya Rock in one day. One suggestion is to start with Pidurangala at sunrise or in the morning, then head to Sigiriya Rock once you’re done. This way, you can avoid the crowds at Sigiriya and have a quieter experience.

When climbing Sigiriya in the morning, it’s important to wear comfortable shoes with good grip, as the steps can be steep and slippery. Dress modestly and bring plenty of water. Starting early in the morning can help you avoid the midday heat and crowds.

If you’re climbing Pidurangala at sunset, bring a flashlight or headlamp as you’ll be descending in the dark. The hike to the top takes about 20-30 minutes and involves some scrambling over rocks. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of Sigiriya Rock and the surrounding landscape. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the sunset.

Overall, both climbs offer unique perspectives on the area and are a must-do for any visitor to Sigiriya. Just make sure to plan ahead and come prepared for the hikes.

FAQ

Here are answers to some common questions about visiting Sigiriya:

How long does it take to visit Sigiriya?

Most visitors spend between 2 and 3 hours exploring Sigiriya Rock and the surrounding area.

Is there a dress code?

Yes, visitors are asked to dress modestly out of respect for the cultural significance of the area.

Why is it not allowed to take photos of the Sigiriya frescoes anymore?

In the past, visitors were allowed to take photos of the frescoes. However, incidents of vandalism led to a ban on photography.

Is it better to stay in Sigiriya or Dambulla in order to explore the cultural triangle?

While Sigiriya is closer to the rock itself, Dambulla has more accommodation options and is still relatively close to Sigiriya.

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