Set amidst enchanting forests, rivers, historic temples, monuments and breathtaking views of the mountains, this city is simply beautiful! Steeped in the rich heritage and natural beauty, Kandy is definitely the culture capital of the island.
Since its was my mother’s 50th we all wanted to do something special and decided to take five days off and travel to Sri Lanka. With such limited amount of time we planned to explore two cities, Kandy and Bentota. Here are all the details and pictures from my Kandy trip:-
Where to stay:
Kandy has very few luxurious hotels out of which Cinnamon Citadel is one of them. You can read the hotel review here. You could also check Earl’s Regency, Amaya Hills, Elephant Stables. If you want you can also spend a night in Nuwara Eliya.
–Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic: This golden roofed Temple houses Sri Lankas’s most important Buddhist relic- a tooth of the Buddha. A trip to Kandy would be incomplete without a visit here. Make sure you dress up in covered clothes or you will be denied entry.
-Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage: Situated halfway between Colombo and Kandy this orphanage provides a lifeline to orphaned baby and adult elephants lost in the wilderness. It’s the most popular place to see these beautiful animals relaxing in their foster home. You can watch them bathing and also feed them but make sure to check the timings on their website beforehand.
-Nuwara Eliya: Known as Little England and located 2000m above the sea level, this hill town is simply beautiful and famous for its lush tea plantations. I would recommend you to spend an entire day here and visit one of the tea factories. We spent a day at the Mackwoods Tea Estate and learnt everything about tea picking and filtering. It was a great experience but make sure to carry food with you as there aren’t any good restaurants up in the hills. Also, the drive is about 2 hours from Kandy.
-I also visited the Kandy Lake but honestly it was nothing worth seeing.
-If you have extra days in hand do visit Sigiriya, Adams Peak, Yalla National Park and the Dambulla Cave Temple.
-Since there is a lot of traffic in the main city centre plan your day accordingly.
What to eat
Eating is always one of the main concerns when travelling. For lunch we tried the local restaurants in the city but for dinner we would be back in our hotel and relished the meals there. (Check pictures here)
But you definitely cannot leave Sri Lanka without trying their local meal. Though the local food is similar to the one in South India, yet it has adapted its food culture in different curry conconations and other dishes. Things you must try are the Deviled Chicken, Pol Sambal (coconut relish), Hoppers(appam), Lamprais(lump rice), Kukul mas Curry (Chicken curry), Kotu (Roti), Pitu (Flour and Coconut cakes), Fish curry, Wambatu moju (eggplant pickle), Beetroot curry. Because of its tropical climate you will find a lot of coconut and fish. Their Ceylon milk tea is a must try too!
Kandy is not really known for its nightlife. It’s more of a peaceful destination. We spent our evenings in the hotel bar, which had some amazing live music and they served excellent food and sheesha. If you still want to explore then Le Garage, Slightly Chilled Lounge Bar are the places I’ve heard about.
What to pack
Since I travelled in the month of April, the days were warm and nights were pleasant. For sightseeing days and the city tour you can wear long skirts, shorts with sneakers, tunics or anything ethnic, basically, keep it simple. Incase you’re planning to trek then don’t forget the sneakers. This is a very casual city where people don’t really dress up. Also, for the temple I recommend you wear full sleeves and cover your legs too or else you’ll be denied entry (applies for men too).
Don’t leave without
-A trip to Nuwara Eliya. Also go to the Tea Factory and buy some local tea.
-Trying the local Sri Lankan food
-Sitting in the tuk tuk(if you’ve never tried it before)
-Make sure you book a car prior to your visit in Sri Lanka as it’s a little difficult roaming around or exploring the city in a tuk tuk. We had hired a car and driver for 6 days, he fetched us from Colombo airport and was there with us throughout Kandy and Bentota and then dropped us back to Colombo.
-Honestly, I loved the South of Sri Lanka more than Kandy, but this was beautiful too. If you only have three days then visit the south. If you have more days in hand then I would recommend you explore Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Pigeon island and other places in the north.
Fly– If you’re flying from Dubai or Mumbai, you will have to take a flight to Colombo and then drive to Kandy (takes around 2.3hours) or you can also take a train.
Day 1- Checked in the hotel + Temple of Tooth Relic + City Tour
Day 2- Breakfast + spent the day in Nuwara Eliya and visited the Mackwoods Tea Estate+ Dinner in the hotel
Day 3- Breakfast + Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (after which we drove to Bentota)
If you have extra days in hand do visit Anuradhapura, Pigeon Island National Park(the best for snorkelling) and Trincomalee.
Click the gallery below to view pictures!