What can be considered the most iconic landmark in Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is located in the center of the island. This is considered hill country, and if you plan on driving around the area, the winding roads will offer fantastic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. However, there is another hill right next to Sigiriya called Pidurangala, and in my opinion is the better choice. Hiking Pidurangala is more fun, and it actually offers a fantastic view of Sigiriya.
If you can hike both, I say go for it. They both offer a different cultural atmosphere. However if you can only do one, I’d say hiking Pidurangala is better solely because of the panoramic 360 degree vista.
If you are staying in Sigiriya village, you can hire a TukTuk from your accommodation for around 200 rupees.
If you are staying in Kandy and want to visit Sigiriya and Pidurangala, then you can hire a driver for the day to take you there and back. We hired a great driver for 9000 rupees (about $50) who took us from Kandy to Pidurangala, the Dambulla Caves, and a spice garden in Matale. While we didn’t need the spice garden, it is still a great value for about a 10 hour excursion.
We departed our wonderful guesthouse (seriously, one of the best in Sri Lanka in my opinion) at 7:05 and after about 4 hours driving (with an hour stop at the spice market) we made it to the base of Pidurangala.
The best part about hiking Pidurangala instead of Sigiriya is how much you can save. Sigiriya costs $30 per person to hike up, whereas Pidurangala is only 500 rupees (about $2.50).
I know this is a once in a lifetime trip for many people, so I still think you should do both if you can. But, if you are on a budget, or only have time for one, Pidurangala is better.
Pidurangala is not that difficult to hike, and it can be done by most people. It is almost entirely steps, so you won’t be doing any actual rock climbing except for one small part right at the very top. We saw kids as well as overweight people making the full trek to the top, so just bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
Just one week before hiking Pidurangala we hiked Ijen volcano in Indonesia, and that was much harder (still fairly easy as far as hiking mountains goes though).
I also think this is a more fun hike than Sigiriya because there are far fewer people. To me, hiking isn’t about standing in a line on stairs waiting to go up.
The entire hike up takes just about 30-40 minutes, and hiking down is about half that. At the top of Pidurangala you’re met with the most magnificent view for Sigiriya and that’s really the reason that Pidurangala is better than Sigiriya in my opinion.
Price: 500 Rupees ($2.75 USD)
Duration: As low as one hour if you don’t stop to admire the views.
Best Time To Go: Sunrise or Sunset
Location: Sigiriya, Sri Lanka