Photo of Dambulla

About Dambulla

Dambulla is a loud and frantic city in the Matale district of Sri Lanka, part of the country's Cultural Triangle - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and the spiritual heartland of the nation. Surrounded by a complex of 80 caves used frequently by monks as places of worship, she is especially famous due to her Rock Temple - a two thousand year old historic site full of ancient statues - a site that people come from all over the world just to see. Steeped in a rich cultural heritage, from ancient burial chambers to forest sanctuaries, and full of quirky charm, from her ramshackle marketplaces to the monkeys that freely roam the temples, Dambulla is a fascinating place to visit. Our collection of the best places to stay in Dambulla have something for everyone from chic boutiques to luxury properties.

Walking through Dambulla is an experience. The streets are chaotic and brimming with people, the roads are lined with rickety street vendors and overflowing marketplaces, with people selling everything from bicycles and household utensils to fresh fruit and spices. In the backdrop of the city is the Rose Quartz Mountain, a massif of the highest mountains in all of South Asia, flowered with white roses and boasting beautiful panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.

Of course, the real charm of Dambulla lies in its wealth of historic sights. The Dambulla Rock Temple is the highlight of the city: 5 caves, their use dated back to the 1st century BCE, full of 153 Buddha statues, busts of kings, gods and goddesses. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, towers loom above the caves standing stark against the city. Monkeys roam freely about the caves and the temple, causing mischief and mayhem. The Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a 5th century fortress on an enormous rocky outcrop looming above the city, is also worth seeing.

The Iron Wood Forest should also be a high priority on your sightseeing list. A sanctuary allegedly created by the 10th century King Dappula, it is bearded with Sri Lanka's national tree, the Naa, and is an important ecological site in the country. Be sure to book a guided birdwatching tour: Dambulla, like the rest of Sri Lanka, boasts a great many rare and exotic birds. The Menikdena Archaeological Reserve is also worth checking out, an ancient Buddhist temple on the outskirts of town; the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tombs are also worth seeing, burial tombs dating back to 500 BCE.

What not to miss

  • Visit the ancient Dambulla Rock Temple and marvel at the 153 statues of Buddha, the busts of gods and goddesses, and immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the place.
  • Spot monkeys as you traverse the complex of 80 caves surrounding the city.
  • Book a guided birdwatching tour of the city.
  • Climb Rose Quartz Mountain, the highest mountain in South Asia.
  • Climb to the top of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
  • Find some solace in the Iron Wood Forest, a holy sanctuary created in the 10th century.
  • Visit the Menikdena Archaeological Reserve, an ancient Buddhist temple.
  • Walk amongst the burial tombs of a people living 2500 years ago at the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tombs.

Browse through our options of the best places to stay in Dambulla to start planning your trip.

The best places to stay in Dambulla

Value for money

  • Amaya Lake Kandalama: a total steal, price-wise. This contemporary and eco-friendly hotel offers a pampering spa, swimming pool, amazing restaurant and cocktail bar. Ideal for young people.

Chic boutique

  • Lake Lodge Boutique Hotel: ideal for wildlife enthusiasts or keen explorers, it is ideally placed in the city by a lake. Minimalist and airy rooms have private balconies, panoramic views of the hills and a lovely swimming pool.

Luxury living

  • Heritance Kandalama: a stunning modern hotel boasting a spoiling spa, whirlpool baths and private balconies. There is a games room, tennis court, bike hire and the opportunity of horseriding. Ideal for large families.

For an apartment or villa

  • Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and apartments in the nearby area.

Travel information

  • The best time to go is during March, the driest and certainly one of the warmest months.
  • Fly to Bandaranaike International Airport, then fly to Kandy, and then get a bus to Dambulla.
  • If you want to rent a car we recommend contacting our partner Rentalcars.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in Dambulla

  • Amaya Lake Kandalama 106 rooms from £67

    Dambulla (Kandalama)

    Contemporary and eco-friendly Amaya Lake provides stylish cottage accommodation at a steal of a price. Suites boast private terraces complete with pool and separate lounge area. Samara Restaurant dishes up a modern Sri Lankan affair whilst cocktails can be enjoyed at Lake Bar. Don't miss the spa!

    Families  -  Family cottage accommodation makes it great for those wanting to stay together
    Romantic Break  -  Cottages with your very own pool are perfect for those seeking solitude
    Great walks  -  Guided nature walks and jungle treks can be arranged
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Check prices
  • Heritance Kandalama 152 rooms from £136

    Dambulla

    Stunning, modern architectural hotel overlooking Kandalama Reservoir. Sultry rooms enjoy mod-cons, whirlpool baths and private balconies. Boasting a Six Senses Spa, unique cave dining experiences and plenty of on site activities: wellness enthusiasts, couples and families alike will love it.

    Foodies  -  Gourmet dishes at The Kanchana Restaurant and a unique cave dining experience
    Spa breaks  -  Boasting a Six Senses Spa the most ardent wellness lover will be wowed
    Architectural  -  Designed by legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa
    Sights nearby  -  Just a twenty minute drive from the 2000 year old cave temple at Dambulla and the Sigiriya rock fortress
    Recommended by  -  Tablet
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  • Lake Lodge Boutique Hotel 12 rooms from £147

    Dambulla (Kandalama)

    A charming B&B well placed for sightseeing in the Cultural Triangle, overlooking a Kandalama Lake. Simple airy rooms with large balconies and panoramic views of the hills, a swimming pool and leafy terrace. A great spot for enjoying Sri Lanka's abundant wildlife.

    Total relaxation  -  Indulge in spa treatments and yummy cuisine in this tranquil haven overlooking the Kandalama reservoir.
    Birdwatching  -  Make the most of the fantastic location and head off on birdwatching tours, arranged from the hotel.
    Sailing  -  Take a romantic boat ride across the picturesque Kandalama Lake.
    Swimming Pool  -  Lovely Outdoor Pool
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