For my first taste of Sri Lanka the small town of Dambulla welcomed me well, showing off its large golden Buddha as I arrived around 4pm, a bit jetlagged and anxious to see something outside of a taxi (we drove directly from the Colombo airport to Dambulla in under 4 hours).
No one can miss the giant Buddha since it stands as tall as the surrounding hillsides, but if I hadn't listened to my travel companion I would have accidentally skipped the wonderful cave temples behind it. Walking barefoot up the hill we wondered inside caves believed to be temples dating as far back as the 1st century BC.
Even a skilled photographer couldn't capture the spiritual awe of these ancient caves, each of the five rooms filled with statues and paintings on every walled surface.
Entry to the Buddha is free and it's worth the 1500rps (and the extra 500rps for an informative guide) to visit the temple caves.