KandySri Lanka 125 km away from Colombo and is generally recognised as the island nation's cultural capital. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
This is the last kingdom of the country. Since it was conquered by the British only around 1815 you can still see the living traditions. Kandyans are usually proud of their heritage. Since the western elements has played a comparatively little role in the city most Kandyans uphold Buddhist values. Since it is in the cultural triangle the authorities try to retain this values as much as possible. Situation had changed recently because of many immigrants coming from other parts of the country. So don't expect to find the honest Kandyans they describe in the colonial literature now. Be careful with your belongings and the people whom you associate with. But this is a peaceful city compared to most other parts of the country with a lesser crime rate.
The train line goes further to Badulla, passing on its way Nuwara Eliya (Nanu Oya station from where one needs to take a short bus or tuk-tuk ride to Nuwara Eliya proper), Haputale and Ella.
If you are in Negombo you will have to take some bus, taxi or tuk-tuk to some of the cities where the Main Line train goes to Kandy Ragama, Gampaha or Veyangoda, on the trip you will see the Bible Rock, which resembles the more famous Sigiriya citadel to the north of it.
From Ella, a spectacular train ride across the hills and the tea plantations, 5-6 hours.
When you arrive, watch out for the tuk-tuk mafia at the railway station – better catch a tuk-tuk some distance from the station, or even better use Uber, PickMe or the like (again, some distance from the railway station tuk-tuk stand, as otherwise the tuk-tuk mafia there will threaten and chase your driver away).
By busFrom Colombo take bus #1, more than 70 per day, 3¼ hours. Alternatively get on Intercity air-conditioned bus from Colombo, which is the next best option to the train. If you are female and travelling alone it is best to either sit next to another female or try to sit as close to the conductor as possible (i.e. up front) to avoid any unnecessary surprises.
From the Colombo airport. Walk or take a tuktuk to the bus terminal, where the friendly locals will direct you to the bus to Kandy, 3½ hr, Rs 150 (as of Jan 2013).
From Dambulla bus station there are direct bused to Kandy. No train run on this route. A non-air-con bus will cost Rs 100 and take about 3 hours. Air-conditioned buses are also available on this route but they stop only briefly in Dambulla and they usually stop somewhere outside the bus station.
If you're just arriving in Sri Lanka, heading for Kandy, you can hire a taxi from one of the stalls in the arrivals hall at Colombo airport for about Rs 6,000. The journey takes about 3 hours. This saves the hassle of going into Colombo, and is a lot quicker and easier.
By hired mini-vans
Hired mini-vans with a driver are available from Colombo through travel agencies and hotel concierges. The road to Kandy is astonishingly chaotic and frightening even for seasoned travellers. Be prepared for a long slow slog in traffic, or, if your driver decides to make the journey at a more practical speed, a hair-raising adventure replete with passing around blind corners and games of chicken with the ubiquitous intercity buses. A day trip from Mt. Lavinia to Kandy, including seeing the sights in Kandy, costs around Rs 10,000 (May 2011).
Air Taxi (from Colombo) is the latest option to travel to Kandy. The De Havilland Twin Otter float planes operated by Sri Lankan Airlines leave Colombo at 9AM (from Kelani River) and touch down at Mahaweli River in Polgolla, Kandy at 9:30AM The travel time between Colombo and Kandy is 30 minutes. It costs Rs 25,000 (2016).
Cinnamon Air operates daily scheduled flights that depart from Colombo (Bandaranaike International Airport) which reaches Polgolla Reservoir, Kandy in an hour and from Colombo City (Waters Edge) which reaches the destination in 30 minutes. One-way fare per person is listed as US$153 (without tax).
The local "Three-Wheelers" ('Tuk-Tuk) are an amazingly cheap (if you know how to haggle) and exciting way of seeing the city, and they run virtually all night long. However, beware of the Tuk-Tuk mafia at the Kandy railway station – they are likely to rip you off (and they threaten Uber or PickMe drivers when they collect passengers near their stand).
Walking is also recommended - the centre is not that large - as a way of seeing temples, shops, shopping area and other sights around the lake. You can visit the Temple of the Tooth by on foot as well but you'll have to ask for directions.
There are plenty of suburban buses that pass through the city center.
phone: +94 812234226It houses a tooth relic of the Lord Buddha, and is consequently considered one of Sri Lanka's most holy shrines. Although you may not view the actual tooth itself, the casket within which it is said to be is displayed twice a day. The first is at 5:30AM and the second which could be the best time to view this ornate casket is around 6:30PM. Besides, Sri Dalada Maligawa museum can be found on its second and third floor.
Royal Palace of KandyIt now houses archeological museum.
phone: +94 81 2 234226address: Sri Dalada MaligawaWorld's first International Buddhist Museum.
Raja Museumaddress: Temple Square
St. Paul Church
phone: +94 81 2223867Houses an interesting collection of Sri Lankan relics. It is usually quiet and the museum workers are more than happy to provide a free tour.
British Garrison CemeteryHere lie the remains of several dozen, mostly British, soldiers who died from various causes during the colonial era. The cemetery is extremely well-maintained by its caretaker, who will gladly complement some of the more fascinating tombstones with a little back-story.
Bahirawakanda templeaddress: Bahirawakanda Lane, MulgampolaThe ominipresent Buddha statue seen from everywhere in Kandy city. Take a tuk tuk ride to the Temple or walk, just 1 km away from the Kandy city. The way to the temple may not be easy to locate, you might have to take a three wheeler or ask a local, when in doubt just walk up and follow the colourful Buddhist flags over the road. This Buddha statue is best viewed from far away. Once you get onto the premises it is no longer easy to see. Plus it is not a very peaceful place as temples go.
Buddha statue high is 88 feet (26.8 m) and it's on the top of a hill about 850 feet (259 m) from the city level.
Udawattakele Royal Forest SanctuaryThe forest was planned and maintained as the part of the Royal palace complex of the Sinhala Kings. A patch of tropical rain forest still survives and if you don't come across it, it is still a wonderful walk. You are guaranteed to come across plenty of monkeys and some tranquil ponds. Wear long trousers after rain, and take some salt as there are lots of leeches about.
South of the lake
Arthur's Seat Viewpointaddress: Keerthi Sri Rajashinge MawathaIt offers panoramic view of Kandy and its artificial lake.
Royal Palace ParkSmall little park with pond with dozens of kissing couples who try to hide from everybody else under their umbrellas.
phone: +94 81 2 388088address: Peradeniya RdThe best botanical garden in Sri Lanka and one of the best in the region. It dates back to the ancient kings of the country although the British changed the look of it. The British are said to have used the gardens to grow trees that could not be grown at south-west London Kew gardens. The large banyan tree, the orchid house, the suspension bridge, and the bats are some of the main attractions.
Take bus No 724 from the clock tower.
phone: +94 77-1351931It is a place to see and learn about Sri Lankan spices and herbs. After seeing around the garden (which consists of no more than of 10 plants), spices can also be purchased as a souvenir,but there is no obligation to buy. It is much easier to visit New Ranweli Spice Garden for those who visit Peradeniya Botanical Garden. Simply take the suspension bridge inside the botanical garden and make it to the other side of the river, take the road (Gannoruwa Muruthalawa RD) right opposite the suspension bridge, from there it is just around 800 m to New Ranweli Spice Garden.
University of PeradeniyaThe second university of Sri Lanka, established in 1942 in affiliation with former 'The University of Ceylon'. This has the largest university library in South Asia which is seven storyed. Tremendous beauty of this university has been appreciated over decades. Off the university bounds, Hanthana mountains can be hiked. On the opposite side, largest river of Sri Lanka, the River Mahaweli flows. The beauty of site can be markedly seen in March–April season.
Commonwealth War Cemeteryaddress: Deveni (2nd) Rajasinghe mawatha down by the Mahaweli riversideFormerly known as Pitakande Military Cemetery, it is one of the most beautifully landscaped and maintained war cemeteries in the world. There is one Commonwealth burial of the World War I and a further 196 Commonwealth burials of the World War II commemorated in the cemetery. In addition there are four Foreign National and two non world war burials. The range of nationalities laid to rest comes from the records of the War cemetery, and include 107 Britons, 35 East Africans, 26 Sri Lankans, 23 Indians, six Canadians, three Italians and one Frenchman.
phone: +94 81 3 803204address: Hantana RdThe ancient Tea Factory of Hantana Estate located 5 km away from Kandy has been converted into a museum dedicated to the history of Sri Lankan tea, run by the Sri Lanka Tea Board. Museum excursion takes about 15 minutes and finishes with cup of complimentary tea, after everybody is thrown into a tea shop with quite inflated prices.
phone: +94 35 2 265284It has about seventy semi-tame elephants roaming freely around this wonderful sanctuary. Feeding and bathing times are especially enjoyable. You can either hire a taxi to take you there or, if travelling on a budget, get a bus to Kegalle (about an hour away) for about Rs 40, asking the driver to drop you off at the turn for Pinnewala which is 5 km or so before you reach the town, and catch another local bus for the last 6 km or so. Definitely worth the trip especially if you have children.
Gadaladeniya Templephone: +94 71 761 9036address: Gadaladeniya Junction, Daulagala-Pilimathalawa Rd
Wattarantenna Purana Gal Len Templephone: +94 81 2 233208
Embekka Templeaddress: Embekka Pilimatalawa Road, Embekka
Dodanwala Devalaya Temple
Degaldoruwa Templephone: +94 71 364 2765address: Sirimalwatta
Hindagala Templeaddress: Hindagala
Madawala Rajamaha Templeaddress: Katugastota - Madawala - Bambarella Rd, Madawala
- Kandyan dancing — traditional form of dancing, which can be seen in the "Kandy Cultural Centre" near the Kandy lake.
phone: +94 81 2 237283address: 54 Sangharaja MawathaYou can participate in discussions about Buddhism, meditation or you can buy some introductory materials about Buddhism.
address: GalahaA Buddhist retreat which offers experiences of a monastic lifestyle. You can engage in daily activities including yoga classes, meditation and discussions.
address: +94 77 226 9192If there's a cricket match on, spend a day at the Asgiriya Stadium, possibly the world's prettiest test match venue, and certainly the only one that for most of the year is simply a school sports ground (Trinity College).
- Within the Kandy city the short walk of Asgiri Maha Viharaya via Bahirawakande hill is an interesting.
- Udawattakelle forest reserve has lots of treks.
- The secret Walkers Forest upper Hantane trek is on special permission from the Municipal Council of Kandy.
- The famous Western Shrines of Kandy Gadaladeniya, Lankathilake temples and Embakke shrine are connected by a very scenic footpath.
- Other part of the west of Kandy, a part of Portuguese War Route, via Ihalakotte railway station to Dodanwala Devale shrine is passing forest reserves, Alagalle Mountain, tea estates and kandyan traditional villages.
- East of Kandy city the temples of Gangaramaya, Galmaduwa, Degaldoruwa are all well known for paintings, sculptures and architectural techniques.
- Knuckles Mountain Range and its forest trails are the most suitable for trekking in Sri Lanka.
- South of Kandy the longest rice field scenery of the island, Lamasuriyagama the rice field was belonging to royal court of Kandy a spectacular trek. It is undisturbed from electricity wires for photographs and with terrace rice fields by a Loggaloya river with watch huts of farmers. Loggaloya riverine forest trail to Victoria – Randenigala – Rantambe sanctuary is also a very interesting trekking.
- Perahera is the most famous festival in Kandy and one of the biggest festivals in Asia. It usually takes place in August and lasts 10 days. The intensity, duration as well as number of participants (>1000) and elephants increases from day to day. The last five days are most intense with the last day being the longest and craziest procession. It's a pageant where many elephants participate (maybe 50-70). Many elephants will show behavioural disorders and will be led by their mahouts. Specially trained local vets and international doctors will be present.
You can buy expensive seats or can see it with the crowd. Buy a seat from the Queens hotel, which costs around US$40. Buy the tickets from the officials as otherwise through middlemen you will be paying exorbitant prices. Seats in restaurants or cafes on the route will cost around Rs 5000, touts on the street will approach you. People sitting in the street line up early, around midday in front of Queens Hotel and around 4-5pm at other places along the route. Come early to secure a spot. People sit during the whole procession and it standing up is discouraged. Locals usually have a sheet to mark their "spot" and buy food/drinks from the many street vendors.
The perahera starts around 7:30PM (the second cannon shot indicates the start of the procession) and can last well over three hours. A typical procession from one of the last five days consists of dancers, musicians, artists and elephants, separates into five distinct groups (one for each temple). A massive array of police will be present. Special forces will search for explosives before procession.
Laksalaaddress: Sangaraja MawathaState owned handicraft shop. You will be able to buy a lot of genuine handicrafts made by traditional artisans (don't be deceived by the fake products available with most tourist shops).
phone: +94 81 2 202850address: Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe MawathaUltra modern shopping complex opened in 2009 with space for over 400 shops. By the time of its opening it is the country's most modern and biggest shopping complex.
Waruna Antiquesphone: +94 777710013address: 761 Peradeniya RdKandyan masks, jewellery, coins, plates, textiles, etc.
phone: +94 81 2223100address: 72 Sangaraja MawathaVisitors can see how these articles are made. This is a centre for traditional arts and crafts with a government-sponsored sales room and fixed prices.
phone: +94 777833938address: No.192/2, Dharmashoka Mawatha, LewellaHigh quality modern batik.
Central MarketStocking the same range of foods, spices, herbal tonics, crafts, textiles and factory-reject designer-brand clothing, it caters to the locals and is government run so there is one price and it is 200-300% cheaper than the tourist shops. Sri Lanka is known for its fabulous spices in diversity, quantity and quality. Cardamon and cinnamon, nutmeg and chili, pepper and turmeric and amazing smelling vanilla.
Green Leaf Hotel and Bakersaddress: De Soyza LaneGreat local eatery just one block back from the main street. Full range of rottis, rice and curry and hoppers (evening only). Good service and very affordable prices.
White HouseFor Sri Lanken short meals. Good quality food and inexpensive.
BakehouseFor snacks or traditional Sri Lankan meals. Scenic view of the City, from its first floor balcony, where they serve a Sri Lankan buffet, but this tends to sell out by about 19:30.
Devon RestaurantFamous for quality snacks. Captain's Table is upstairs FROM Devons. Good Sri Lankan and South Indian food.
AvanhalaGood food and best scenery.
Sriram Indian RestaurantOffers nice south Indian food.
Flower Song Chinese RestaurantIt sells excellent Chinese food with huge portions of rice or noodles. It's clean, air-conditioned, and serves beers and wines.
Dog LoversGood quality Western short meals available here with fair prices and high quality. Located in Peradeniya Road Kandy, just off Hindu Vidyalaya.
DinemoreJust opposite to the Anniewatta tunnel. On the top of Nihal's Super. Good quality Mid-Eastern and South-Indian food for affordable prices.
LyonsRestaurant located in front of the Hindu Kovil. Serves good quality food, both Western and Eastern.
The Empire cafeLocated just near the Temple of the tooth serves good wraps and western and eastern food in a nice environment.
- There are two popular bars on the main street (Dalada Vidaya), The Pub and The Pub Royale. The former serves quite good (but pricey, perhaps R700/-) meals, has a large screen for sports inside and a 1st floor outside verandah.
- There are a number of cheap bars (Rs 100 or less for a 650 ml bottle of beer) scattered throughout the sidestreets near the town centre. They can be rather seedy and unaccompanied women could be made to feel very uncomfortable. (Usually Local women do not drink)
- Victory Hotel, 79 Colombo Road This bar is a great way to see real Sri Lankans and what they do, downstairs is full of locals knocking back Arrack the atmosphere may be less than salubrious, in fact it gives the Sidney Hotel, Galle a run for its money, but the people are friendly. Upstairs is slightly less dingy as it serves food, Arrack starts at Rs 700 , beer Rs 195 and a cigarette from a waiter Rs 30.
BudgetThere are lots of cheapish guest houses to the south and east of the lake, all an only a short walk from the town centre, and generally clean and friendly.
Rosendale Villaphone: +94 771015665address: 85/A Upul Mawatha,Primrose GardensIn a secluded area of Kandy, Rosendale Villa offers a unique experience where you can relax, in true up country style. The climate which is cool mornings and evenings, with fairly warm day times offer a splendid environment to enjoy the calm ambiance at the Villa and explore the surrounding sites and other places of interest. Located on the Primrose Hill with a panoramic view of the famous Mahaveli River and close to Kandy. Serves breakfast, lunch & dinner. Offers WiFi, laundry, tuk tuk rides, telephone, hit water etc.
Burmese RestThe cheapest option in the cityThe Buddhist monks are friendly and the building is a quiet retreat from Kandy's noisy streets. You'll find it after one kilometre on the right hand side, on the road which begins at the Tooth Temple, leading away from Kandy Lake.
Kandy City Houseaddress: No 25/1, Hospital LaneFamily run little guest house. Three rooms only. Less than 5 minutes' walk to the train station.
Kandy City Missionphone: +94 77 2 203040 (Contact Tobi)address: 125, DS Sennanayake VeediyaThe cheapest, safest & best en suite accommodation in the centre of Kandy managed by some of the members of the churches of Kandy.
phone: +94 77 2 203040 (Tobi)address: 160 Lady Gordon DrEco-friendly retreat for writers and artists, but it also welcomes general holiday makers with facilities from laundry to laser printing. Although it nestles in a little hollow adjoining a tiny virgin forest 'Udawatta Kele Royal Forest Sanctuary' - it is only ten minutes' walk from the city centre. It has two double rooms and one family suite, all of them enabled with broadband internet.
phone: +94 812232584address: 47/10 Louis Pieris lane and other entrance 44 firstlane Dharmaraja mawattaA pleasant 20 minutes stroll by the lakeside from the centre of town. The owners, Mr & Mrs Atapattu, are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Breakfasts include heaps of fresh fruit, all the toast you can eat and good rich tea.
Golden View Restphone: +94 81 2239418address: Saranankara RdView on the lake and a part of the city. Hot water and very clean rooms. Air-con and non air-con rooms. The breakfast is not included in the price if not asked. Beware of the owner's "free" tuk-tuk scam your driver will demand an extortionate sum of money once you arrive at your destination.
phone: +94 81 2224162address: 200/21, Bahirawakande Peradeniya RdTwo star hotel. 73 standard rooms. The onsite restaurant serves a variety of local and international dishes.
McLeod Innphone: +94 81 222 2832address: 65A Rajapihilla MawathaThe couple who run the place are all smiles and very helpful. Rooms are sparkling clean, comfy beds, en suite with hot and cold water. Some beautiful views across Kandy from their balcony and from a couple of rooms, room 6 especially has floor to ceiling windows. No air-con, but you do not need it.
phone: +94 81 2233026address: 124 Srimath Kuda Ratwatte MawathaOne of the oldest hotels in Kandy. Offers ideal geataway spots to watch the Maligawa Perahera (the procession).
Riverdale Hoteladdress: 32, Aniwatte Road, Kandy, Sri Lanka
phone: +94 755915211address: 23/a arangala nattharanpotha kandyHeavens Holiday Resort is a nice clean guest house near the Kandy city. They have 3 rooms and 3 bathrooms. One room has a private balcony and others with public balcony. Home made foods are offered the 1st floor restaurant.
phone: +94 81 4474022, +94 77 77772237address: Heerassagala100 rooms. All rooms and suites have private balconies overlooking the sweeping valley or lush mountainside. Offers Ayruvedic spa treatments
phone: +94 81 2234365address: 124 Srimath Kuda Ratwatte MawathaOffers a stay that takes you back in time. The four star hotel is away from the hustle and bustle of the city but near enough to access the cultural marvels that Kandy has to offer.
phone: +94 81 5873305-7address: 84 Tenna KumburaThis 100-room five-star luxury hotel has restaurants with a variety of international cuisine, 24-hour room service, a coffee shop, Ayurvedic health centre, shopping arcade, a sauna and wedding, conference and banquets facilities. Evening entertainment includes disco, karaoke, live bands, oriental bands, bingo and cultural shows.
phone: +94 81 2234107address: 185 B, Rajapihilla MawathaForest Villa provides the comfortable amenities of an urban lifestyle. It offers rooms equipped with bathroom amenities, Welcome pack (water, tea, coffee or fruit juice) and coffee/tea maker. Some of its facilities and services are Restaurant, dining areas, business centre, housekeeping and 24-hours back-up power supply.
phone: +94 81 4940320address: ElkaduwaThe hotel is in a breathtaking setting overlooking the Hunas Falls. The hotel has nine superior rooms, 19 deluxe rooms and suites. Room facilities include a mini bar, satellite TV and IDD telephone. All rooms are centrally air conditioned. The hotel offers conferencing and banqueting facilities.
phone: +94 777710013address: Kukuloya Rd NarampanawaNature resort.
phone: +94 81 4472727address: 35, P.B.A. Weerakoon MawathaFive star hotel.
phone: +94 81 2217741The panoramic view from this resort is one of the better ones in the area, decked in Kandyan décor, all rooms do not have its own private balcony and bathrooms.
phone: +94 81 81 2233024-5address: 30, Sangarajah MawathaColonial hotel. 93 rooms.
Swiss Residence Kandy Hoteladdress: 23 Bahirawakanda Ln40 rooms.
Hotel Topazphone: +94 81 7 389000address: Anniewatta Circular Rd, මහනුවර77 tastefully furnished air-con rooms with piped music and hot and cold running water. 40 of them include a TV, a mini bar and bath.
phone: +94 817-389000-6address: AniwatteFour-star 29 deluxe room hotel.
Tourmaline Hotelphone: +94 81 4473551-5address: 55, 2nd Lane, Pushpadana MawathaThe hotel has 29 furnished rooms with modern amenities.
Outside of the city
phone: +94 777-426321address: Haragama6 deluxe rooms. Ideal for family holidays who like to stay in a relaxed and peaceful area
phone: +94 081 2054400address: No 4, Spring Hill Estate, BowalawattaSpacious rooms, suites and garden chalets. The bungalow maintains its Victorian era architecture and furnishings.
Kandy Tourist Police
Major Hospitals and health care centres:
General Hospital Kandyphone: +94 81 2222261
Teaching Hospital - Peradeniyaphone: +94 81 2388001
Sirimavo Bandaranaike Specialised Children's Hospital - Peradeniya
Suwasewana Hospitalphone: +94 81 2222404address: 532, Peradeniya Rd
- phone: +94 81 2222652, +94 81 2223786address: 31, Rajapihilla Mawatha
- Dambulla is 60 km north of Kandy and air-con buses to Dambulla costs 150 LKR. With a driver it is possible to do a day trip to Sigiriya (2.5 hour from Kandy)- Dambulla - Matale.
- Knuckles Mountain Range and its forest trails are the most suitable for trekking in Sri Lanka. It has many nature trails cleared trough the forest by forest department with campsites.
- Matale is 25 km north of Kandy and connected by train
- Take the scenic train to Ella (or stop at Nuwara Eliya or Haputale along the way)