Top 10 Things to do in Kandy Sri Lanka
There are many things to do in Kandy if you plan to stay a few days in the city of Kandy.
Kandy Sri Lanka is a 3-hour drive from Colombo and it’s the second-largest city in Sri Lanka.
It, historically known as Senkadagalapura, served as the last capital of Sri Lanka’s last independent monarchy that endured for almost 400 years until succumbing to British rule in 1815. Further,
Kandy Sri Lanka is central to the history of Sri Lanka and is home to many of the island’s cultural gems.
The city is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO and is considered one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. It can be beautiful, loud, and peaceful depending on where you go.
The world-famous Temple of the Tooth houses in the city of Kandy and it is the main attraction of the city for anybody who visits Kandy.
Snuggled between the imposing mountains, tea plantations, sacred temples, meditation centers, exciting trails, and verdant peaks are some of the best places to visit in Kandy that are defined by calmness and serenity.
Unlike the island’s West coast cities, Kandy withstood dozens of attempted invasions carried out by Portuguese and Dutch colonists whose goal was to dissolve its monarchy and exploit its resources
10 Things to do in Kandy Sri Lanka
Explore the city like a pro with this handy guide on the best things to do in Kandy Sri Lanka!
- Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.
- Royal Botanical Gardens Peradeniya
- Kandy Lake Walk
- Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue
- Ceylon Tea Museum
- National Museum of Kandy
- Udawattakale Sanctuary
- International Buddhist Museum
- British Garrison or Kandy War Cemeteries- The Commonwealth Cemetery
- Traditional Kandy Dancing
Well, these are a few of the most interesting tourist attractions in Kandy Sri Lanka known for hundreds of years throughout the world.
So, why not take a closer look? Now, I’m going to describe each attraction one by one making it easier for you to reach them on your tour.
Visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is one of the best things to do in Kandy
The temple of the Tooth or locally known as ‘Dalada Maligawa’ is probably the most important place of worship for Buddhists all over the world.
It’s the place where Lord Buddha’s sacred Tooth Relic is deposited. Buddhists regard it as the heart of the country.
In the time of kings, the ownership of the Tooth Relic had been considered as the main qualification a person needs to be the king of the country. This shows how important it is to Sri Lankans.
The structure of this huge building is unique in shape.
It takes you back to the era of kings in the ancient Kandyan Kingdom. The awe and majesty it generates cannot be seen in any other building in Sri Lanka.
Temple of the Tooth is situated at the heart of Kandy bordering the busy area of the city.
It’s located in a place where everybody can easily approach.
It takes you only a few minutes tuk-tuk ride from the central bus station of Kandy. And it’s even closer to the railway station.
If you prefer to take a stroll through the Kandy city, you need not hire a tuk-tuk as it’s situated within a walking distance.
By the way, you have to obey certain specific unwritten cultural rules about your dresses when you enter the Temple of the Tooth.
Some Rules to be watched out for Before going to the Temple of the Tooth Relic
You are not allowed to enter the premises open shouldered. Shorts must be below the knees.
If your dress is one that exhibits your shoulders, at the entrance, you will be given a piece of cloth to cover them.
The sacred Tooth Relic is covered by seven caskets.
You can see the outermost golden Relic casket 3 times a day;
at 6.30 a.m., 9.30 a.m., and
at 6.30 p.m.
They are the times of service where they honor the sacred Tooth Relic that lies within by making a great sound with tom-tom beating, drumming, and blowing of horns.
History says that king Vimaladharmasooriya was the one who deposited the Tooth Relic in the present three-storied Temple with veneration.
Dalada Perahara is a great, colorful, cultural pageant held to honor the Tooth Relic in the month of July every year.
It abounds in a wide variety of cultural dances and amazing feats like fire dances.
Wouldn’t you like to have such an experience in Kandy Sri Lanka?
If so, you’re most welcome to this ancient city, especially in the season of Dalada Perahera!
Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya
Kandy Sri Lanka offers you a colorful experience amidst the lush green vegetation and multi-colored flowers in Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens.
This is the biggest botanical garden in Sri Lanka that covers 147 acres in extent.
And it provides space to over 4000 species of plant life attracting millions of tourists to visit it all year-round. When you travel from Colombo, you find this wondrously beautiful location 6 km before you find the city of Kandy.
The history of Peradeniya Botanical Garden runs to the time of kings. It was then used as a pleasure garden meant for queens to spend their free time.
King Keerthi Sri Ranasinghe is said to have developed it.
Anyway, it was made into a botanical garden in 1871.
The main aim of nurturing this botanical garden is to preserve rare varieties of plants, herbs, flowers, birds, and butterflies.
When you enter the garden premises, you will feel the comfort of a cool, serene environment fully covered with an eye-catching greenness as far as the eye could reach.
It’s the house for a large number of indigenous plants and animals.
The Special Places in The Botanical Garden in Peradeniya
Apart from that, foreign bamboo trees, palms like talipot, orchids, cannas, anthuriums, and a wide variety of roses add a lot of color and value to the place.
In certain places, the woody climbers and sprawling roots resemble a tropical rain forest.
Famous people such as Indira Gandhi and Yuri Gagarin have shown their gratitude to Sri Lanka by planting trees in the Memorial Garden.
And the artificial lake created in the middle of the garden adds a variety to the place.
One can have easy access to Peradeniya Botanical Gardens since it is situated beside the Kandy-Colombo highway.
The nicely arranged beds of flowers carefully trimmed hedges, and lawns are strewn with flowers of different colors that fall from huge trees.
All these would create an everlasting experience in you.
So, never miss the opportunity to visit Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens.
Such a place gives you plenty of time to enjoy nature which is one of the most unique things to do in Kandy.
Walking around Kandy Lake is the best thing to do in Kandy in the evening.
Kandy Lake is yet another attraction for tourists situated next to the Temple of the Tooth in the city of Kandy Sri Lanka.
It’s one of the most significant water bodies in the hill capital.
And the history says that it has been built by the last Sinhalese king, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1807. It’s said that the idea to construct the lake had been a bit controversial from the very beginning.
The subjects have opposed the king’s idea as he excavated the paddy fields in order to build the lake.
Anyway, it seems to be yet another privilege enjoyed by the royal family throwing aside the common opinion of the general public.
Kandy lake is nearly 3.2 km in the perimeter. There’s a decorative wall which is 628 meters in length halfway around it. Due to the foreign invasions, the construction of the wall is said to have come to an end.
However, even today, this lake is one of the major tourist attractions in Kandy Sri Lanka.
But, swimming in the lake is prohibited. Instead one can have a boat ride enjoying its scenic beauty.
The huge trees that surround the lake provide a good shelter for those who take leisurely walks. One can even enjoy its serenity while feeding the fish with popcorns.
Do you feel like enjoying at Kandy lake? If so, never delay it. Make it a point to visit it just after visiting the Temple of the Tooth.
Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue
If you wish to meditate or be in silence for a while, this place is one of the best things to do in Kandy
Bahirawakanda vihara Buddha Statue is really a breathtaking destination for everybody.
Since it’s located in a relatively higher place, you can have a nice panoramic view of the Kandy city from there.
Especially, if you visit the place in the evening, you are sure to catch a few nice snapshots of the setting sun together with the calm view of the statue in the background.
Bahirawakanda Buddha statue is only a 20 minutes’ drive from Peradeniya.
This 88 feet high pure white statue is a proud religious monument for Buddhists.
And it’s an ideal location for scenic photography for everyone else irrespective of the religion. Bahirawakanda which means ‘Devil’s Hill’ in Sinhalese, is especially known for this Buddha statue which is one of the tallest statues in Sri Lanka.
Although it’s a considerable height, you can travel right to the top of it easily with a taxi or a tuk-tuk.
There’s a flight of stairs behind the statue to climb higher in order to have a better panoramic view of the city.
One can see the Kandy lake, tea factory, Temple of the Tooth, etc. from here.
Since it’s a religious place, keep in mind to dress in decent clothes. Also, you must take off your shoes, slippers, caps, and hats before entering the vihara premises.
The entrance fee is LKR 250.
It’s a nice place to visit on your tour to the city of Kandy Sri Lanka.
Ceylon Tea Museum
This is a fine place to understand the struggle the ancient people have gone through in order to produce the best black tea in the world. In fact,
It’s worth watching the machines which were used to produce tea in the past.
Also, you can learn a lot about the history of tea plantation in Sri Lanka.
The friendly staff and guides will definitely make you feel comfortable in this museum and the nice scenery on the way will highly impress you.
The meandering road that takes you to this ancient place will provide beautiful sightseeing enabling you to take a few nice photos.
Anyway, some tourists seem to have an idea that it’s worthless watching this museum with machines which are not working today.
Some say that it’s worthier watching a real working tea factory to have a perfect understanding of the long process of producing tea.
But, just by visiting a present-day tea factory, you can never have a good knowledge of the way how tea was produced in the past, especially in the colonial era.
Therefore, why hesitate to have a tuk-tuk ride to the tea museum in one of your tours to this old city, Kandy Sri Lanka?
National Museum of Kandy
National Museum of Kandy Sri Lanka is one of the best places you can know how things have gone on during the Kandyan regime.
You can seize the opportunity to visit it on your way to the Temple of the Tooth, because, it’s situated just behind the Temple itself.
So, just spend an hour to visit this important place and enjoy the smell of the utensils and lifestyles of the great Kandyan era.
Also, well-preserved exhibits like crowns, gems, jewelry, ancient weapons, gun powder caskets, and most of all, the possessions of the last king were there for the visitors to see.
So, if you are in Kandy, you must definitely have a look at all these artifacts at least as an honor to the proud history of Sri Lanka.
It will cost you LKR 600 to enter the place. But, you don’t have to spend a separate fee for transportation since you can visit it on your way to the Temple of the Tooth.
Also, they do renovations of the place from time to time. So, you will feel it an interesting place to visit. I hope it’s worth the money you pay.
Exploring Udawatta Sanctuary is certainly one of the best things to do in Kandy if you can allocate 1/2 day.
Udawattakale in Kandy Sri Lanka gives you a fine jungle walking experience in the middle of a busy and rather noisy city.
You can spend an enjoyable 2 hours’ time strolling along the paths watching the greenery and listening to the chirping of birds.
Early morning is the best time of the day to visit Udawattakale Sanctuary since it’s less crowded and rather free of noises by that time.
You can enjoy watching certain wild animals like wild boars, monkeys, mongooses and birds of different colors here.
It’s just a stone’s throw from the Temple of the Tooth.
Make it a point to visit these adjacent places such as the sacred Temple, Kandy Lake, National Museum of Kandy, and Udawattakale Sanctuary all in one drive.
Then you have only to pay the entry fees as you can just walk from one place to the other.
Therefore, do not hesitate to have this nice experience among the great Sri Lankan wilderness in the city of Kandy Sri Lanka.
International Buddhist Museum
International Buddhist Museum is one of the must-visits in the city of Kandy Sri Lanka. In fact, that’s a fine place to have a better knowledge of the way how Buddhism expanded throughout Asia and in the whole world.
This is probably the only place in the world you can get such knowledge about Buddhism.
A large number of photographs, models, and descriptions enlighten the visitors of how the expansion of Buddhism took place throughout the world.
The International Buddhist Museum is located next to the National Museum of Kandy within the Temple of the Tooth complex itself. Seventeen countries have contributed to establishing it.
On the first floor, you can have a general idea of the Lord Buddha. Upstairs, you get knowledge as to how Buddhism is spread throughout the other contributing countries.
Anyway, it’s worth visiting this important place by just paying LKR 500 as the entry fee.
British Garrison or Kandy War Cemeteries
Well, in my opening, visiting a cemetery is not the best thing to do but the place has become one of the best things to do in Kandy
Commonwealth War Cemeteries situated in Kandy Sri Lanka is a fine place to see and understand how ancient people have sacrificed their own precious lives to keep others happy and peaceful.
These monuments are well maintained and kept in a way not to wear out in the sun and rain.
The surrounding is beautiful and the serenity of the place can never be surpassed by any other place in Sri Lanka.
There’s a moving story behind each and every monument.
Most of them are of the people who were killed in the second world war when the Japanese bombed Sri Lanka.
Don’t forget to contact the curator for more details about these monuments and of the people who lie beneath them. He’s willing to give you the information you need about the tombs.
These war cemeteries are situated within a 15 minutes tuk-tuk drive from the city of Kandy Sri Lanka.
So, it won’t cost you much for transportation either. Never miss this calm and beautiful place. Pay your respect to those who lie there.
Traditional Kandyan Dancing
Exploring Traditional Kandyan Dancing is certainly one of the best things to do in Kandy.
It’s a colorful and rather noisy experience with all the drumming and music. Kandyan dancing is a specific category of dances in Sri Lankan culture. Most of these dances are based on certain natural phenomena like animal behaviors, weather, etc.
Both men and women take part in them and each dance is supported by the loud beating of drums and other music such as the blowing of conch shells. Most of these dances are associated with a bit of acrobatics. The beautiful, rapid, timely body movements of the dancers together with drumming will amuse you a lot.
There are places in the city of Kandy Sri Lanka where you can get a show of Kandyan dancing arranged. You can get your cab driver or persons in hotel management to get tickets for you.
Well, this is an important part of the Kandyan culture.
Some tourists say that these Kandyan dance shows are not a must-visit. But, if you can devote your time and a little money as well, do not miss this chance to have a fine cultural experience.
It’s such an amazing thing to view them performing firewalks, fire eating, acrobatics, and certain astounding feats you can never ever see in any other place in the world.
So, these are the top 10 Things to do in Kandy Sri Lanka. Enjoy your stay in this beautiful city and get closer to a culture that takes you several hundred years back to the colonial era.