Sigiriya is a captivating destination in central Sri Lanka that seamlessly blends history, nature, and culture. Known for its iconic Sigiriya Rock Fortress, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers breathtaking panoramic views and a glimpse into ancient civilizations. Here you can immerse yourself in the lush greenery of the surrounding landscapes, encounter wildlife in national parks, and experience the warmth of Sri Lankan hospitality.
Travelling from Negombo to Kandy
We took a tuk-tuk for the 2km ride to Negombo bus station. From there, we asked around for the first bus to Kandy. We would have to change buses in Kandy, then take another bus to Sigiriya, via Dambulla.
There are plenty of buses running between Negombo and Kandy, so we wasted no time finding one. The bus was pretty basic and the journey took around 3 ½ hours, with frequent stops. Kandy bus station is spread out and fairly chaotic.
By the time we got off the bus, it had started to drizzle.
Though I’d changed a little money on arrival at the airport, I didn’t have much local cash. We therefore searched around the streets in Kandy for a money-changer. We would be heading out into rural areas for the next few days, and it would be difficult to change money easily.
After I’d exchanged a few hundred euros for a massive wad of grimy, thickly-textured local currency we headed back to the bus station.
Kandy to Sigiriya
The second stage of our journey involved finding another bus – this time heading to Dambulla. From there we would take another bus to Sigiriya. Our plan was to spend 2 nights at the Paradise Inn Sigiriya guesthouse, not far from the Lion Rock.
Using the Paradise Inn as our temporary base, we should have easy access to the Dambulla Cave Temple and possibly Polonnaruwa, as well as the nearby Lion Rock. It all depended on making the best use of our limited time, and of course the weather…
I had contacted the owner of the Paradise Inn guesthouse by email 2 weeks before arrival and confirmed our booking for 2 nights.
Once in Sri Lanka – and 6 hours before reaching the Guesthouse – I sent another email just to make sure they would be ready for our arrival. I’d checked the map, and decided we could find the Guesthouse on foot, after getting off the bus in Sigiriya.
The bus journey from Kandy to Dambulla took around 3 hours. We then hung around the bus stop waiting for another bus to take us the shorter distance to Sigiriya.
So far, so good.
Paradise Inn, Sigiriya
We finally arrived in Sigiriya around 4:30 pm in the afternoon. After a short trek with our rucksacks, we saw a signpost for the Paradise Inn guesthouse. It was located down a narrow track from the main road. The rain was now coming down fairly heavily.
We met the owner’s wife on the porch, but she didn’t seem too concerned to see us. I explained who we were, but she apparently didn’t speak much English. She called her daughter to translate. It appeared they had guests who had decided to stay an extra night, and therefore the room we had booked was not available.
As we were to find out later in our Sri Lankan trip, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Many guesthouses overbook if they get the chance, then hope they can fob you off with alternative (invariably much inferior) accommodation.
Milton’s Paradise Inn
In this case, the wife offered us an unused empty storeroom with just a bed in the middle. For toilet and washing facilities, she walked us 60 yards through a muddy garden to a small stone outdoor loo and open-air garden shower (and I mean “open”). This, for a reduced price of 1,800 rupees. By now it was dusk and had started to pour down, so our options were rapidly becoming limited.
Ok, so for me it’s just “one of those things” that happen on holiday, and on this trip we weren’t budgeting for luxury, but Lena was not at all happy about the room, or the prospect of wandering around in the mud, in a pitch-black garden trying to find the loo in the middle of the night. Of course, it would also be impossible for her to wash under this open shower for the Sri Lankan family and neighbors to see.
In these circumstances, with little option to find alternative lodgings, we accepted the room for one night – on condition that we got the room we booked for our 2nd night. As I was feeling tired, grotty (having spent 8 hours on buses) and by now somewhat hacked-off, I expressed my dissatisfaction to the husband, Milton, when he got back home later.
So our first night was definitely not good, but things improved from then on.
As others had reported, the food at the Paradise Inn is good, and the room we had booked (when we finally got it) was modern, spacious and clean. If you are a beer-drinker, stick to juices as you’ll pay 350 rupees a bottle here. They also tend to turn their internet router off after dinner, which means you won’t have an internet connection.
During our short stay here, we visited the impressive Lion Rock as well as some unusual local temples.