Kandy – the very center of Sri Lanka from where all the adventures begin. Well, okay, adventures begin from Colombo where you will fly in, but Kandy is the exit point to many amazing destinations around Sri Lanka. However, it does not mean that there are not plenty of things to do in Kandy. So we have created the best guide around Kandy and what to do in Kandy, Sri Lanka. But first, we need to figure out what is the cheapest and fastest way to get to Kandy!
- How to Get to Kandy from Colombo?
- What to Do in Kandy | Sri Lanka
- Where to Stay in Kandy?
How to Get to Kandy from Colombo?
From Colombo to Kandy by Bus ☆☆
Buses from Colombo to Kandy run often. Buses from Negombo to Kandy go every 30 minutes as well. There is even a bus from Bandaranaike International Airport to Negombo and then another one from there. A bus from Colombo Bus station to Kandy will take around 4 hours and cost around 350 RP ($2) but it will stop often and almost certainly be very packed. The same goes for the bus from Negombo to Kandy. (Ours took 5 hours!) From the airport, you can jump in the bus 245 which goes directly to Negombo ($0.80) and from there you can catch a bus to Kandy.
There are A/C buses as well, which are slightly more expensive but run from Colombo to Kandy. You will get a seat and the ride is more enjoyable, so if you prefer that at the bus station ask where the A/C bus departs from. (They change the location often).
From Colombo to Kandy by Train ☆☆☆
Getting around Sri Lanka by train is the most popular way of transportation amongst tourists. It is adventurous, you can meet and befriend many locals and enjoy the beautiful views along the way. It is also the cheapest form of transportation and a ticket will cost you anything between 10 cents in the 3rd class to 80 cents in the 2nd class. 1st class tickets are not always available and have to be booked weeks in advance, so we recommend sticking with 2nd or 3rd class as they both are quite similar. On busy routes, the 3rd class will be quite packed, so the 2nd class is the way to go.
From Colombo to Kandy by Car ☆☆
Going from Colombo to Kandy by car is the easiest and fastest way to get to Kandy. However, it is also the most expensive option. But, we have to share an incredible app with you, that will make the ride way cheaper and your travels around Sri Lanka super easy. The app is called PickMe, and it is a Sri Lankan version of Uber or Grab. Here’s the download link for the app, which, honestly, is a lifesaver! A ride from the airport to Kandy cost us $30, and if you are traveling in a group this is the best and most convenient way to get to Kandy from Colombo, directly from the airport or Negombo. The ride takes roughly 3 hours and is very comfortable.
Hiring a driver will be around 3 times the price and the drivers around the airport are usually charging a premium. If you are on a very tight budget, the best option for you would be the train, which takes the longest time but saves you a lot of money. Other than that, we would suggest saving the train ride for the Nuwara Elya – Ella route and take the car via the app.
What to Do in Kandy | Sri Lanka
The Temple of The Tooth Relic
This must be the most popular attraction amongst Sri Lankans and other Buddhists. The Temple of The Tooth is a gorgeous, big temple located in the Royal Palace. The name of the temple is self-explanatory and pilgrims visit it to be close to the Tooth Relic of Gautama Buddha. The tooth is not on display every day.
However, once a year a huge celebration is held with around 70 elephants parading through the streets and the last elephant carrying the Tooth Relic. The legend says, if the people will not go on this parade every year the Kandy lake will flood the city.
Kandy Lake Viewpoint for the Sunset
If you are looking for a beautiful place for the sunset you have to drive up to the Kandy Lake Viewpoint! The viewpoint overlooks the whole lake and the sunset is truly beautiful here! It is a very popular spot amongst tourists and locals alike. if you prefer you can walk up the road, it will take roughly 15 minutes, or hail down a tuk-tuk for Rp. 150 ($1).
Udawattakele Forest Reserve
If you are looking to have a beautiful walk and enjoy the nature Udawattakele Forest Sanctuary is the best place! Breathe in some fresh air, observe monkeys swinging in the trees and listen to the birds singing! The park offers different walking paths, but the longest loop takes around 2 hours. Entrance is 750 Rp ($4). Make sure to bring plenty of water with you! There are several viewpoints which give you a beautiful look at the Royal Palace and the Kandy lake.
Ranweli Spice Garden
Visiting at least one spice garden in Sri Lanka is a must! So when you are writing down “What to do in Kandy” make sure to note a visit to a Spice Garden. The closest to Kandy and the most popular one is Ranweli Spice Garden, where you can learn about different spices and plants that are used in cooking and in Ayurveda healthcare.
IMPORTANT: There will be many spice garden employees trying to get you to go on a guided tour with them. The tour is free. However, in the end, the person will try to sell you “free” massage services, saying that the masseurs are students and love performing massages for practice. Then they will ask you to pay as much as you want, indicating that 10$ is a good price for a 15-minute massage, right there on the spot. Then the person will also try to sell you very overpriced products, like body and hair care essentials. You can easily find these products at local supermarkets, so we would not recommend spending much money at the spice gardens. Also, the person taking you for a tour will explicitly as for tips at the end of the tour.
We recommend going and exploring the spice garden on your own, as every single plant is labeled and you have some sample products you can try out at every “station”. If you want to, you can take the tour, just be aware of the little tourist traps!
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
This is one of the most popular elephant sanctuaries in the country! Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is famous for a reason, they rescue abused elephants and elephant babies who have become orphans due to poachers. They also take care of injured and traumatized animals. The place has become extremely popular, so get ready to face some crowds. The entrance fee is Rp. 3000 ($20 or EUR 15). You can help feed the elephants, pet them and observe their rehabilitation process. We would recommend avoiding visiting on the weekends as it gets really busy, and rather visiting during the week.
Bahirawakanda Temple (The Big Buddha)
The largest Buddha statue around! It can be seen from anywhere in Kandy. We had been eyeing this statue for days before we had the change to go up. The Temple is very close to the town and can be easily reached with a tuk-tuk. It will cost roughly Rp. 350 ($4.20) up and down. This Buddha statue looks exceptionally beautiful at night! We recommend visiting for sunset as well. The entrance fee is Rp. 500 ($3). However, if you are visiting in the midday, be warned that the steps are very hot! So either go early or come for the sunset!
Enjoy the Sri Lankan Cuisine in Kandy
Rice and curry are staples in Sri Lankan cuisine. Almost all local meals consist of rice and curry. The curries, however, have different flavors and ingredients. Meat, fish, and vegetables are all prepared as curries. Sri Lankans add all the possible spices in their curries so often you can taste black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon. cardamon, cloves, saffron and onions in your dishes.
Be adventurous and ask locals for their recommendations and what are the must-try foods. We are sure you will be recommended egg hoppers as snacks and great fish curry with rice as a main. They also have an amazing curd dessert which is often soaked in amazingly fresh honey. So you are asking, what to do in Kandy? – EAT!
Where to Stay in Kandy?
When you have planned what to do in Kandy it’s time to figure out where to stay in Kandy. We always have the best recommendations for you and this time we are sharing our all-time favorite hotel, read on!
The Radh Hotel
The most modern hotel in Kandy, with an impeccable sense of style and outstanding hospitality throughout. The Radh price/quality ratio is amazing! As with many accommodations in Sri Lanka, you can stay at an amazing place for a reasonable price. The staff will be there to accommodate your every need and they are the best local guides. Actually, we spend one evening chatting with the receptionist for more than an hour and ended up becoming friends and receiving the best tips about traveling around Sri Lanka. Also, The Radh is located right in the heart of the city, so everything you need is just around the corner.
If you want to have a look at other accommodation options in Kandy, make sure to search via:
We hope you have set up a plan on what to do in Kandy and chosen where to stay in Kandy! So, remember to wander around the city a bit as well. Allocate some time to enjoy the local cuisines and getting to know the local life in Kandy. Explore the amazing Temple of the Tooth Relic as it is a very important pilgrimage place for Sri Lankans and other Buddhists alike. Also, make sure to enjoy nature around Kandy and explore one of the beautiful parks!