Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon. Is a country to the south-east of India. With a large variety of landscapes made up of rainforests, semi-arid plains, mountain ranges and sandy beaches.
Its tourism is growing in popularity as the country provides a platform for an affordable and diverse adventure. This short guide gives visitors a good overview of things to do in Kandy, a large city in central Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s city in the rainforest, Kandy, has lots of historical sites to visit such as ancient temples, natural parks and interesting fruit markets. Many of these fruits are rarely available in the Americas, Europe and Africa and can prove to be an exciting task to discover new tastes.
Most of the places to visit can be reached on foot, but a quick tuk-tuk ride is always an option for those looking to preserve some energy for other ventures.
Places to see in Kandy
Table of Contents
These areas are some of the best places when looking for what to do in Kandy.
Markets in the city centre
The many fruit markets found in the centre of the town prove to be some of the best places in the world to try new and exciting fruit. The fruit is well priced and the salesmen are engaging and open to some bartering which is a standard found across Asia.
The mangostin and rambutan are at the top of our list. Being very similar to the more well-known leechee with a Sri Lankan twist.
Jackfruit, seen in the surrounding forest, can also be bought at the markets. Eating it raw is an acquired taste as it has a very particular and pungent odour. This fruit is best served in a stew when the cooked flesh can be easily confused with mutton due to the similar texture. We highly recommend you try some of this stew during your time in Sri Lanka.
The start of the most beautiful train ride in the world is found in Kandy. Visitors and locals use this train route to travel through the mountains to the tea areas of Nuwara Eliya and Ella.
The train has the option of 1st, 2nd and 3rd class, with some trains having an observational carriage at the front of the train. We have found that 1st and 2nd class can be too crowded and that the 3rd class ride allows for the best viewing of the passing scenery.
Vendors walk past during the ride which allows travellers to try some Sri Lankan street food. Peanuts, pastries and fruit make the rounds and won’t leave you hungry during your trip. Bathroom facilities are not great, so try to sneak in a last minute round before boarding the train!
Walking through rain-forests
The Udawattakele Forest Reserve is an extraordinary half-day activity and considered to be one of the most beautiful places in Kandy. The forest was used as a hiding spot for the last ruling royal family of Sri Lanka when the country was invaded by colonisers. Visitors to the forest can follow the various foot-paths and have the opportunity to see some wild pigs, antelope, monkeys and incredible flora.
The path is covered with wild jackfruit that monkeys have claimed for an easy meal. Wearing closed shoes is recommended, as the path contains some extremely ambitious mud leeches that jump onto your foot if given half an opportunity. These leeches are not a serious concern, some hikers may find them extremely interesting to observe as they lie motionlessly on leaves pretending to be leafstalks.
Due to the forest being situated above the city, a fantastic look-out spot can be found that gives visitors a 270-degree view of the city. At dusk, visitors have a chance of glimpsing some flying foxes leaving the safety of the trees to go find food for the night.
Places to visit in Kandy
These include some landmarks and iconic sites that are the most beautiful places in Kandy.
The city is built around a large lake that can be easily circumvented in less than an hour. This pleasant walk gives you the opportunity to see what life is like living in Kandy. Kids walking to-and-from school, tuk-tuks whizzing past and cricket matches being played.
The lake itself hosts a bunch of wildlife such as monitor lizards, large fish and waterfowl. Feeding of the fish is allowed and creates an exciting feeding frenzy which is a great photo opportunity.
Traditional Kandyan Dance
Along the shores of the lake, you will walk past the traditional Kandyan dance halls. These halls have a daily performance that depict a traditional art form indigenous to the Kandy area.
Dancers are clad in beautiful frailing garments that trail the dancer as they move to the rhythm of the drums. Dances are traditionally done by mostly male dancers, but the modernisation of the dance has incorporated female dancers. The show comes to its zenith with a live fire-coal walking scene.
The Temple of Tooth
The temple of tooth is a popular tourist attraction. The local monks have three ceremonies daily which give visitors an opportunity to see the sacred golden relic said to be Buddha’s tooth. These ceremonies happen at 05h30, 09h30 and 18h30.
When speaking to locals you will quickly find out that the best time to go see the relic is during the earliest time slot as the number of people going to visit the temple is significantly less.
Depending on the time of year, some of the performances include tame elephants that are dressed in the elaborate style of the Kandyan royals.
The entire surrounding area is understood to be an area of worship with churches, hindu shrines and buddhist temples all intertwined with religious and spiritual practice. Some shrines are flooded by violet light, said to appease some of the Hindu gods, which provides a picturesque scene, as the sun starts to set.
Kandy is a thriving and exciting city to visit. The forests and lake give visitors a taste of the natural beauty of the world. The museums and temples allows you experience some of the rich cultural history of Sri Lanka. The markets and train routes allow tourists to discover new tastes and to find interesting things to eat.
It is definitely a must see location in Sri Lanka. The combination of tourist attractions and natural beauty gives Kandy a spot on the what to do list in Sri Lanka. Try to incorporate kandy in your adventures through this little tropical island paradise.