25 March 2019
Here are 9 of the best things to see and do in Kandy, Sri Lanka
Kandy, the last kingdom of ancient Sri Lanka, is both historically significant and naturally beautiful. Set in a plateau and surrounded by the hills it is the biggest city after the country’s capital, Colombo and considered as the hill capital of the country too.
It has many tags including: one of the most visited places in the country by tourists as well as locals, venerated by locals, and as one of the favoured cities to live in Sri Lanka.
Being popular has its own disadvantages including pollution, over-crowding of the city itself and rush hour traffic to name few. Beyond these Kandy still offers many wonderful opportunities to explore and experience including many photographic opportunities for avid travellers.
Kandy is one of the stops included in our 15-day suggested itinerary Classic Sri Lanka.
It’s impossible to discover all that Kandy has to offer during a brief stay as part of a tour of Sri Lanka.
So we’ve come up with a list of the top things to see and do in Kandy, to help you decide how many days to stay and what you want to see in Kandy.
Here are our recommendations on the must see places to visit in Kandy and the best things to do in Kandy, based on a two day stay in the city.
#1) Visit the Temple of the Tooth
An obvious choice that heads the list. The UNESCO World Heritage listed Temple of the Tooth is an all-important and highly revered place of worship for local Buddhists. It also attracts devotees from around the globe that come to pay homage at this sacred site.
The Temple houses the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha that is open to public and tourists during the ‘Pooja’ – the religious ceremony. These ceremonies are held daily in the mornings and evenings – three times a day. (5.45 a.m. – 6.30 a.m. / 9.30 a.m. – 11.00 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. – 8.00 p.m.). It’s great if you can visit the temple during these times to get a complete experience of the temple as it includes the ancient and traditional ceremonial rituals that are woven around ceremony itself.
Like the locals if you want to be part of the proceedings you may offer flowers and incense sticks, which are easy to purchase at the small stalls surrounding the temple.
And one final tip if you do visit the temple – make sure that you are appropriately dressed. Ladies need to wear tops with sleeves (either short or long but no sleeveless tops or singlets) and legs; while gents it’s recommended that you wear long shirt and pants.
#2) Stroll around Kandy Lake
Can you take a walk around the lake in Kandy? Yes – it’s one of the city landmarks and an experience not to be missed. The Kandy Lake sits next to the Temple of the Tooth, so you can combine the two. As with most parts of this ancient city, the lake has its own history dating back to 1807 where Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, the last king of Sri Lanka, constructed the lake. The pavilion in the middle of the lake is said to have been the bathing place for the King’s harem.
It is a beautiful stroll around the lake taking approximately 40 minutes to an hour depending how slow or fast you walk. Early mornings and late evenings are good times to walk and enjoy bird life and the cooling breeze. Daytime can be quite hectic due to traffic that passes by.
#3) Visit Udawattekele Sanctuary
A popular destination with tourists, researchers and school children, Udawattekele Rainforest Reserve can be seen behind the Temple of the Tooth. It’s well known for avifauna, many different plant species and small mammals. You may even spot reptiles and snakes!
#4) Trinity Chapel
Trinity College Chapel is one of Kandy’s prides, situated below the principal’s bungalow at Trinity College, it is the epitome of indigenous architecture on an Anglican Church. Set in a hilly terrain amid a large garden, it is a place worthy of visiting, especially if you are keen on architecture and design. One of Kandy’s best-kept secrets! Ask us about arranging a visit to Trinity Chapel in Kandy during your private tour in Sri Lanka.
#5) The Kandy Market
A wonderful place to witness local market activities in the city of Kandy! Morning hours are the best to take in all the hustle and the bustle of this busy local market in Sri Lanka. The market can be divided into three key areas – the fish market, the vegetable and fruit market and stalls where anything from clothes, to handbags and ornaments are sold. There will be large wholesale shops that specialise in groceries including spices.
You can visit a local market as part of a cooking class in Kandy during our upcoming small group tour for women travellers – Sri Lankan Discovery. Sri Lankan Discovery is a 14-day tour of Sri Lanka led by an Australian female host and Sri Lankan National Guide. The tour departs in August 2019 and has been designed by our team of female travel specialist for women travellers to Sri Lanka. This tour will allow women to discover some of Sri Lanka’s top sights, experience unique activities and stay at accommodation ranging from personal to luxurious with the support of a small group tour and in the company of like minded female travellers. Download the trip itinerary here.
BEYOND THE TEMPLE – WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN KANDY?
HERE ARE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS AND TIPS FOR PLACES TO SEE IN KANDY AND SOME OF OUR MUST DO ACTIVITIES IN KANDY IN SRI LANKA.
#5) Kandy’s historic buildings
Kandy is a heritage city and proud of it. You can discover in Kandy a few masterpieces of old colonial architecture in its skyline. Capture these for your Instagram uploads or just take some photos for your collection and memories of your holiday in Sri Lanka. Some of the historic buildings worth visiting in Kandy include The Cargills Ceylon Building, the General Post Office and Queens Hotel. Most are within your reach around the city.
#6) Experience Kandyan Sweets
Tantalize your sweet tooth with Kandyan Sweets. Kandy has its own specialities of Sri Lankan sweets. The locals mostly make these annually in their homes. It is a process by itself and fantastic to watch if you get the opportunity. These sweets are made in homes during April for the Sinhala New Year although in the villages you may find these regularly as an accompaniment for tea. Some of Kandy’s best sweets to try include:
- Undu / Pani Wallalu: a delicious doughnut type sweet that’s fried and soaked in hot Kitul Treacle.
- Weli Thalapa: a soft cake like sweet that’s made with rice flour and coconut treacle that melts in your mouth.
- Mung Kavum: you may find this throughout Sri Lanka; however, this is a traditional sweet of the region. Made out of Mung beans and coconut treacle and fried to perfection.
- Aggala: sweet balls made out of rice flour and Kitul Treacle; some may add a splash of grated coconuts.
Head into one of shops that sells sweets in the city and you can taste them all! If you can’t find one of the best sweet shops in Kandy, ask your driver/guide to recommend a place if you are on a private custom made tours of Sri Lanka designed by us at Sri Lanka Unbound.
#7) Royal Botanical Gardens Kandy
To the west of the city lies the Royal Botanical Gardens. The gardens are around 5 km from the main city of Kandy, or roughly a 15-to-20-minute drive in traffic. It’s a large tourist attraction with manicured gardens, a remarkable orchid collection and plenty of space to stroll and picnic. It’s very popular with locals during school vacations. Entrance fees apply!
#8 ) Visit the Embekke, Lankathilake and Gadaladeniya temples
These temples are lesser visited but offer some of the best experiences in terms of history, art and culture. You will find all three temples 2-3 km apart from each other, roughly 10 km from the city of Kandy. The three temples were built during the time of King Buvanekabahu IV. While Gadaladeniya and Lankathilake are built from stone, Embekke is built from wood. The décor of all the temples are influenced by Indian design and architecture – another interesting aspect to see. Ideal for a half a day trip from Kandy.
#9) Kandy brass works
If you are visiting Embekka, Gadaladeniya and Lankathilake Temples, do remember to stop by along the roads of Pilimathalawa to see the many works of brass. Production of items in brass has been mastered in this region and you will find small to large items that are stunning. Some can be carried home as souvenirs.
Some of the best places to stay in Kandy
So if you are planning to visit stay in Kandy – what are the best hotels in Kandy?
Here are just a few of the places we like to include in our private tours of Sri Lanka with a stay in Kandy.
# The Kandy House – deluxe accommodation in Sri Lanka’s hill country
# Urban Castle
# Kings Pavillion
Kandy can be included in any of our custom made private tours of Sri Lanka. It also features in the following of our suggested itineraries:
Classic Sri Lanka: a 15-day private tour of Sri Lanka including Kandy, Yala National Park, Sigiriya, Galle and Colombo.
Sri Lanka in Style: A 12-day private tour of Sri Lanka which features some of the countries’ finest hotels, select sights and leisure time to experience it all.
Honeymoon Sri Lanka: The ultimate honeymoon – a 13-day private tour of Sri Lanka. One of the best honeymoon ideas.
You may also like to read our other Sri Lanka travel blogs:
Top 10 places to visit in Sri Lanka in 2019
16 Things About Sri Lanka You Should Know
6 of the best hotels in Sri Lanka to Splurge On
If you’d like to know more about travel in Sri Lanka or speak to one of our Sri Lanka travel specialists about a custom made itinerary of Sri Lanka for your next holiday – contact us at Mail@srilankaunbound.com.au or call toll free from anywhere in Australia on 1300 449 709