Kandy is the second biggest city in Sri Lanka by population. Once known as the kingdom of Kandy, today it is a cultural and historical capital of the country. This is the place where the last kings lived and died. Kandy is full of history and amazing places to visit if you want to get more familiar with the culture of this nation. This list of what to do in Kandy should give you enough stuff to do for a few days in this beautiful city.
The lake is located in the center of the city and you are probably not going to miss it even if you didn’t know about this tourist attraction. The lake offers a beautiful view and a quiet place to have a nice stroll.
There is a walking path around the lake so you can just take your time and enjoy the view without being disturbed by cars. On the walking path you can find many benches to have a rest or to enjoy the sunset around 6:30 PM during season.
Many vendors will offer you a cool water or a spicy mango for example (taste better than sounds). The prices are not higher than at the stores so you don’t really need to haggle here, which is nice since it seems like it is a custom here to haggle before buying anything.
The temple is located near the lake on the north. It is in the royal palace of the former kings of the kingdom of Kandy. The relic is very important in the Buddhist religion and in the politics due to belief that the power of the country belongs to those who have the relic.
Right now Kandy is a UNESCO heritage site mainly due to the temple. You can visit most parts of the temple. The ticket cost Rs 1500 ($8,5) which is a lot cheaper than Sigiriya for example.
Before going to the temple you better prepare exactly Rs 1500 for the ticket and some small money as a tip for the people who keep your shoes while you are exploring sights (it’s not allowed to wear your shoes inside the temple). Before going inside be prepared that a guide will approach you and offer an excursion. If you don’t mind that better to negotiate the price right away. They usually ask for a Rs 1000 but can be more or at the end or they can tell you different price than you agreed to. So it’s better to let the guide know that you have certain amount and won’t or can’t pay more. Or just politely refuse and go inside by yourself with an open Wikipedia on your phone. This is what I did and I don’t feel like I missed anything.
To visit the temple you are required to follow the dress code. For women and for men shoulders and knees should be covered and no shoes inside. Men should not wear hats inside as well.
The temple itself very beautiful and big. There are two floors in the main part, where people put the gifts (flowers). There is also a museum on the territory of the temple that you can visit (it is included in the ticket). And don’t miss a spacious courtyard with a small fountain and majestic architecture.
Another religious sight is a temple of Buddha. It is located on the top of the hill and you can see it basically from every point in the city. You of course can walk there, it will take 30-40 minutes to get up the hill or you can pay Rs 100-150 to take a tuktuk.
Even if you are not interested in religious sights it still worth your time to visit. The temple offers a fantastic view of the city. You can climb the ladder behind the statue of Buddha and have a look inside it. There are a few rooms that you can see through the window on the top level, or enter the bottom one.
The cost of the ticket is Rs 250 plus a small tip to keep your shoes safe outside the temple. Inside the temple we were asked for donation although with no pressure with how big the donation should be. You need less than 30 minutes to explore the temple and take all the pictures.
Location: Bahirawa Kanda Rd, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Although there are many things to do in Kandy you also can do a day excursion to Sigiriya rock and the Dambulla Cave temple. That was on my bucket list to do in Sri Lanka and Kandy is just three hours away from the Sigiriya, so it all worked out pretty well.
It wasn’t difficult to find a private driver who would take us to see those famous places, we just hired our taxi driver who took us from the train station to the hotel. He asked for Rs 9000 for 8 to 10 hours journey, which was a good price we thought since online we didn’t find anything cheaper than $40 per person.
On the way to Sigiriya we stopped at the Spice garden and on the way back at the cave temple. The whole trip took actually 11 hours but the driver didn’t charge us extra.
Sri Lanka is a place where tea grown and it would be a crime not to visit a tea factory or a tea museum in Sri Lanka. There are a few places where you can do the trip to the tea factory including Kandy. On the hill, 20 minutes from the center of the city there is a Tea Museum that was once was a factory itself.
Since it is a museum you will have to spend Rs 800 per person on the entrance ticket. One of the workers will take you around the building and explain what all the machinery does and how from the same tea leaf they can make different teas.
The excursion lasted around 40 minutes after which we went on the top floor were we were offered a cup of tea included in our ticket price. The tea museum also has a tea shop, but I wouldn’t advise you to buy the tea there, the prices are way higher than in supermarkets for example.
Location: Hantana Rd, Sri Lanka
If you are staying overnight in Kandy than you should visit the Slightly Chilled Bar around the sunset. It is a rooftop bar with a magical view of the lake and the city. It is a perfect place to get a drink and watch a fantastic sunset colors reflecting on the lake.
Get there a half an hour before the sunset and get a table near the edge of the rooftop bar facing the lake, it is the best spot for watching the sunset.
The food was average, but they did give large portions. They have a happy for drinks our before 6 PM, so it’s another good reason to get there a bit earlier. The food is basic but the portions are massive, I ordered the fried rice and could not finish even 1/3 of it (and it was a small plate, can’t imagine for how many people is the large one). I’d recommend planning on eating before or after sunset, and just getting drinks at Slightly Chilled Bar
You can find a spice garden almost everywhere in Sri Lanka including of course Kandy. There are a few of them around the city that you can visit. And although it is an interesting to see how all the spices grow, the visit itself can be tricky.
So I want to give you a few tips how to visit a Spice garden in Sri Lanka. First of all almost every taxi driver will try to take you there. The reason is that they are getting commission out of stuff you buy. Second: the prices at the stores are high, so if you really want to buy something try to haggle. Third almost all the spices that you see in the spice garden you can buy in the supermarket for much cheaper.
I suggest doing a spice garden tour since they are free, but don’t be suckered into buying the overpriced spices they sell. If you do feel bad for the tour guide you can tip them a couple hundred rupees directly.