If you are interested in visiting Sri Lanka, you should consider going in deep in the local culture. Visit Kandy for a full immersion in the history of an amazing Country. This post will inspire you to organize an amazing trip in the middle of the pearl of the Indian Ocean. Those are the best 10 things to do in Kandy, the cultural Capital of Sri Lanka.
Nestled in the green hills of Sri Lanka, surrounded by mountains and embellished by a lake that enhances unique and unspoiled landscapes, Kandy is a place to visit in Sri Lanka.
This city has been the Capital of Sri Lanka for over 200 years, today is the second-largest city after Colombo. This is your Ultimate Kandy Travel Guide. We will help you to plan your trip to Kandi ahead. With more than 10 things to do in Kandy, this is one of our best guides of Sri Lanka.
- FUN FACTS ABOUT KANDY
- MAP OF PLACES TO VISIT IN KANDY
- KANDY BOTANICAL GARDEN
- STROLL AROUND THE BUSY STREETS OF KANDY OLD TOWN
- OLD ROYAL PALACE OF KANDY
- VISIT THE TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH RELIC
- HIKE UP THE HILL TO SEE THE BIG BUDDHA STATUE (BAHIRAWAKANDA)
- A WALK ALONG KANDY LAKE
- JUMP FROM A TEMPLE TO TEMPLE | THREE TEMPLE LOOP
- LOCAL COMMUNITIES AT TEA PLANTATION
- ASSIST AT LOCAL TRADITIONS | ESALA PERAHERA
- OUR EXPERIENCE AT THE ESALA PERAHERA FESTIVAL IN AUGUST
- EXPLORE THE LOCAL MARKET
- SPICES SEEKING AT THE SPICE GARDENS
- SEE THE TEMPLE OF TOOTH RELIC AT NIGHT
- Watch a Kandyan Dance Performance
- WHERE IS KANDY?
- BEST TIME TO VISIT KANDY IN DETAILS
- Expensive way to reach Kandy
- HOW TO GET FROM COLOMBO TO KANDY, SRI LANKA
- From Colombo to Kandy by train
- PRIVATE TRANSPORT FROM KANDY TO COLOMBO
- HOW TO GET AROUND KANDY
- WHERE TO STAY IN KANDY
- MID-RANGE HOTELS
- SIGIRIYA FROM KANDY
- VISIT PIDURANGALA FROM KANDY
- SAFARI AT MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK AND KAUDULLA NATIONAL PARK
- DAMBULLA CAVE TEMPLE
- VISIT THE ANCIENT CITY OF POLONNARUWA
- DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SRI LANKA? CHECK OUR GUIDES
A BIT OF HISTORY OF KANDY
Once upon a time, this strip of internal land inside this beautiful country was a Kingdom itself. When the rest of Sri Lanka was ruled by Portuguese and Dutch colonisers, through the 1500s and 1600s, Kandy was able to hold off the advancement of both sides.
The protected geographic position of the city made it difficult to access from the outside, giving the chance to proliferate undisturbed. In those years, Kandy was the last standing place of Independent Ceylon. When the British ruled the country, even Kandy fell.
Despite this, Kandy has preserved its peculiarities and is today one of the most active and interesting cultural centres in the country. Over than just the attractions you can find in this guide to Kandy, Sri Lanka, it is worth visiting the city for its vibes.
There are so many attractions in Kandy from different times, very well preserved. From the most important, the Temple of the Tooth Relic, to the Botanical Garden of Kandy. But the authenticity of this place is something to experience.
Kandy is today considered a must-do in your trip to Sri Lanka. Tourists are attracted here by one of the most scenic train rides in the world, the Kandy to Ella Blue Train. Besides that, the city in the middle of the hill has many things to visit.
FUN FACTS ABOUT KANDY
THE NAME OF THE CITY | Kandy is the result of “Kanda” which means “hill” in Sinhalese.
HIGH ALTITUDE | Kandy is nestled in the hills, at an altitude of 488 metres. Thanks to this position the weather condition can change quickly.
LAST CAPITAL BEFORE BRITISH RULE | Kandy is what many assume as the last very Capital of Sri Lanka. The Sinhala Kingdom lasted over 2,300 before being embedded in the British Colonies in 1815.
Interestingly, the name of this city was given from the word ‘Kanda’ (means a hill) in Sinhala by the colonial rulers.
RELIGIOUS SITE | It is a sacred place for Buddhists. A holy city, pilgrimage destination to the Temple of The Tooth Relic.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE | The Temple of the sacred tooth of Buddha has also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is part of the 8 Sri Lankan Sites awarded with this honour.
ESSENTIAL KANDY TRAVEL GUIDE
- Kandy Botanical Garden
- Stroll around the busy streets of Kandy Old Town
- Old Royal Palace of Kandy
- Visit the TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH RELIC
- Hike up the hill to see the big BUDDHA STATUE (BAHIRAWAKANDA)
- A walk along the Kandy Lake
- Jump from temple to temple
- Local Communities at Tea Plantations
- Assist at local traditions – ESALA PERAHERA
- Explore the local Market
- Spices Seeking at the SPICES GARDENS
- See the Temple of Tooth Relic at night
MAP OF PLACES TO VISIT IN KANDY
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN KANDY, THE SECOND LARGEST CITY OF SRI LANKA
KANDY BOTANICAL GARDEN
This is one of the most interesting things we have seen on our visit to Kandy. The Botanical Garden of the city is the best example of culture mix on the Island. This place has been built-up by the ancient Kings of Sri Lanka as a personal garden, then it was refurbished by the British, adding more species and making it look like a proper garden.
YOU SHOULD KNOW…
Entrance fee | 1,500 LKR, about 8 $ USD | Buy your ticket!
Location | Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya
How to get to the Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya |
By Bus. From Kandy’s clock tower take the Bus 644, and stop at the gardens. Bus tickets cost 20 LKR 0,10$ USD.
By Tuk Tuk. The ride will take about half an hour and will cost about 400 to 600 LKR, about 2-3$ USD
SUGGESTED TOURS | Gardens + Tooth Relic Temple
STROLL AROUND THE BUSY STREETS OF KANDY OLD TOWN
The best thing you can do once you arrive in Kandy is to have a little stroll around the old town. Other than just the amazing heritage of this place, it is well to get in touch with locals soon you arrive. This city is amazing and rich in architecture and history.
The Old town opened just 15 years ago, in 2005 after 12 years of construction. This is the best place to do some shopping and get souvenirs back home.
YOU SHOULD KNOW…
Location | Kandy old town
OLD ROYAL PALACE OF KANDY
You can’t miss visiting the Royal Palace of Kandy. Often placed among the other many things to do in Kandy, for us visiting this compound is an awesome spot in the city.
CULTURAL EXPERIENCES TO DO IN KANDY
VISIT THE TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH RELIC
Once you step forward from the Royal Palace of Kandy, you will see how many locals are queuing to get into the white stunning temple. This is one of the most significant attractions of Kandy. Inside the worship is kept the Buddha’s teeth, making it a pilgrimage site.
You can visit this temple at certain times of the day. During the Puja, daily offerings and prayers time it is open to worshippers and also tourists. Bear in mind that the place gets crowded soon. If you want to see Buddist functions you should head here before they open the doors of the guarded room where is enshrined the sacred tooth of Buddha.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to see the tooth, which is actually kept in a gold shaped stupa. The atmosphere instead is unique, making your experience a once lifetime memory.
HIKE UP THE HILL TO SEE THE BIG BUDDHA STATUE (BAHIRAWAKANDA)
If you are a fan of beautiful views and an amazing scenario, hiking up the hill will not be a problem for you. The big Buddha of Bahirawakanda is on top of a hill with the mountain ranges in the background, the city and the lake just in front.
The beautiful Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue is on top of Bahirawa Kanda Hill and oversees the city and the faithful below.
This statue was built in 1972 and is one of the most impressive statues in the country, standing 27 metres. The monument and worship can be seen from anywhere in Kandy. It is a temple, so you should follow the rules entering here, like remove the shoes, cover your shoulders, don’t take selfies with the statue at your back.
A WALK ALONG KANDY LAKE
Seems so real this lake, surrounded by mountains and incredible architecture. The Kandy Lake is instead an artificial dock right next to the Sacred Temple of the Tooth.
SRI LANKA NATURE LOVERS PLACE | Go on a Safari in Minneriya National Park
JUMP FROM A TEMPLE TO TEMPLE | THREE TEMPLE LOOP
Arriving in Kandy you will definitely feel something different in the air. The daily life of the city, the people are completely interconnected with religion.
It was maybe the first complete city where we were feeling that. Despite being one of the largest cities in Sri Lanka, Kandy still preserves its status of a little cute town. Despite the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is the most important worship place in Kandy, there are other temples worth visiting.
The three temple loop is a common way to jump from a temple to another. In one of the most hidden parts of Kandy, there are authentic gems of the Kandyan-era. A series of temples relegated to a few tourists because of the position outside of the city centre.
Those temples are standing despite being really old. The Gadaladeniya Viharaya, Embekke and Lankathilaka are the “three temple loop” paths.
LOCAL COMMUNITIES AT TEA PLANTATION
As you can understand all around Kandy there are tea fields, and the best things you can do in Sri Lanka is experience how tea is made by a local. It is insane the way they make it, and the taste is unique, the best we had in our life.
Sri Lanka is the main producer of quality tea in the World. Kandy is one of the best places to try the variety of this, thanks to the many renowned tea gardens.
In these kinds of tours, you don’t just try tea, but learn how it is produced, the way locals sustain their economy and how old the production of this precious spice is. Check for a day trip to Nuwara Eliya Tea Factories.
ASSIST AT LOCAL TRADITIONS | ESALA PERAHERA
It is maybe something that we don’t want to include in our tour guide. Neither we want to see humans using animals for religious traditions or making business. While we explored Sri Lanka, in an awesome 10 days itinerary, we were introduced to the most important festival for the country.
Often associated as the “Festival of the Tooth” is an annual procession held in Kandy from the 1st to 15th August. The Esala Perahera Festival is the way faithful pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.
This Festival is believed to be dated back to the 3rd century BC, was a ritual enacted to request the gods for rainfall. When the Teeth of Buddha was brought back from India in the 4th Century BC, it became the actual Esala Perahera.
The procession is going along the streets of the city centre of Kandy. If you want to see the best of this festival, you should take your place early in the morning and wait until evening. You will see typical local dancers, flag bearers, Kandyan Drummers and fire games.
A herd of about 10 to 12 elephants are adorned with colourful costumes and taken across the road by mahouts, the elephant riders.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT THE ESALA PERAHERA FESTIVAL IN AUGUST
We were reluctant to experience this festival, because the millennial tradition, provides for the use of elephants. Alessia was in the hotel, while I was under the pouring rain, just outside of the temple of the tooth of Buddha.
Personal opinion is that the festival itself is amazing, and you will feel the power of a millennial tradition, and what the grasp on the locals.
From a western point of view, it is hard to understand why elephants need to be treated like that, forced by chains to slide through the city. For locals, this is a way to demonstrate powerfully, Elephants despite the chains are revered and protected.
When we are visiting a country we have to choose if we want to take with us our western inheritance, or do tabula rasa and open our arms to a new culture. That time, despite being reluctant I was open to a new culture. Today I don’t regret it, I wanted to experience Sri Lanka as much as possible, and I did.
EXPLORE THE LOCAL MARKET
A mix of colours, flavours and smells in the local market of Kandy. Like every same place in the rest of the country, is where you can meet the real-life locals. In our guides of Sri Lanka, we always invite you to visit the local market. This is not just in search of products unique for the region, but also to see how local life goes.
An open-air space with many foods stands, what we suggest you check out are the local handicrafts stalls, which are the perfect way to take unique pieces back home.
YOU SHOULD KNOW…
LOCATION | Kandy Market Hall
OPEN HOURS | Every day from 7 am to 9 pm.
HOW TO REACH KANDY MARKET | From Kandy Train Station you can follow the main road toward the city centre. Within 10 minutes of walking, you will be at the local market of Kandy
SPICES SEEKING AT THE SPICE GARDENS
Kandy is renowned for lots of spice gardens. Sri Lanka is not just tea, but in ancient times was well known for the high-quality cinnamon.
Visiting a spice garden you will learn a lot about the natural property of usual plants and spices. We didn’t know before that some can be so good for typical migraines or pains. In a spice garden, you will find cinnamon, aloe vera, Fennel, Garlic, paprika, saffron and many others.
SEE THE TEMPLE OF TOOTH RELIC AT NIGHT
Already mentioned in many parts of this guide to the best things to do in Kandy, you can’t miss visiting the Temple of Tooth Relic at night.
This worship is amazing during the day, with a pure white that gives it a surreal atmosphere. But, it is during the night that the scenario changes, giving a completely different atmosphere to this awesome spot of Kandy.
Strolling around the streets of the old town of Kandy is completely safe to walk around in Sri Lanka. If you are a passionate photographer like us, you will love this spot so much. Come here at sunset to see the best lights. Check when the sunset is in Kandy.
Watch a Kandyan Dance Performance
If you don’t have the pleasure to be in Sri Lanka in August, during the Esala Perahera, you are missing one of the most incredible cultural experiences in Sri Lanka. But don’t worry there is a way to enjoy the local performances even out of the festival period.
Watching a Kandyan dance performance is one of the best things to do in Kandy. Some of them are coming from a generation of dancers, growing up in the most remote villages on the island. There are many tours that will take you to a local performance. Check it out.
KANDY TRAVEL GUIDE | ESSENTIAL THINGS TO PLAN
A scenic train ride from Kandy to Ella on the Blue Train
Nowadays travels dreams are persuade by contents shared on Instagram, most of the time. Some of the best contents creators in the world have been inspired by the train track from Kandy to Ella. The instagrammable blue train that is passing by one of the most beautiful scenarios in the world, the Nine Arch Bridge.
In the middle of the green Sri Lankan Jungle, there is a long path of nine arches. This bridge is gorgeous and has quickly become one of the photos on the cover of the Sri Lanka guides. We have been on that train too, which pass also by Nuwara Eliya, the central region famous for tea fields. This just to give you a clear idea of what your trip would look like.
WHERE IS KANDY?
You can’t miss Kandy from your travel guide of Sri Lanka. The city itself is stunning but is then surrounded that makes it incredible. Kandy is located in the central province of Sri Lanka, which can be assumed as the hearth of the country.
The position of this city, that counts 110,000 inhabitants, has favoured exchanges with the other cities of the island, making it an economic, cultural and political hub in the country for centuries.
From Kandy, you can reach Colombo in about 3 hours and a Half. This city is also the main gateway to amazing experiences in Sri Lanka, like the Pidurangala Rock Hike, or the climb of Sigiriya, the Unesco World Heritage Site. Other places easy to reach from Kandy are Polonnaruwa and Dambulla.
WHEN TO VISIT KANDY SRI LANKA, SRI LANKA
It is easy to say that travelling to Kandy in August will give you the chance to meet local traditions. Despite that, what we will suggest here is to travel when the weather conditions are at the best. The location of Kandy in the middle between hills and mountains and the elevation of over 500 mt above sea level, making it an unpredictable place to visit in Sri Lanka.
Despite the rest of the country, Kandy experiences the dry months from December to April, with average temperatures never over 30 degrees, a bit chill at night. During the Monsoon season, from May until August (when we have been here), the temperature is still high with an average of 25° C to 27° C.
Below we have targeted the seasons in three different periods, hoping this can make a huge difference planning your trip to Sri Lanka. It is also better to have a clear idea of the weather beforehand, so check this before heading to Sri Lanka.
BEST TIME TO VISIT KANDY IN DETAILS
JAN-APR | For many, this is the perfect time to visit Kandy. Mostly dry during the first period of the year, you should consider February or March for your visit. It will also be the best time to go for an adventure and visit Sigiriya, Pidurangala or the National Park of Minneriya.
MAY-SEPT | This is the period when the weather is more unpredictable than never in Kandy. Those five months coincide with the Yala monsoon. It says that it is not raining heavily, but still, we experienced mid-august and was pouring. I had to throw away a pair of shoes.
OCT-DEC | You should not consider visiting Kandy in this period. It is the wettest time of the year in Kandy.
HOW TO REACH KANDY?
We have already mentioned before that the position in central Sri Lanka, advantage Kandy to gather with the rest of the country. There are many options to reach Kandy from the airport, and below you will have all the information about.
BUS | Cheap and easiest way to reach Kandy from the Bandaranaike International Airport of Colombo. From the Bus Terminal of the airport to the city centre of Kandy, you have to change buses. Take the bus 5/245 directed to Kurunegala, then change with the No.609 to Kandy.
The journey will take around 3 hours and a half. The ticket will cost you around 400 LKR which is 2.5$ USD. There are many other options to reach Kandy but will take longer and the service is not that frequent. From the arrival terminal, there is a free shuttle to the bus terminal of the airport. The ride will take around 20 minutes.
TRAIN | While travelling by bus is cheap and adventurous, you can easily switch to travel by train to reach Kandy, which is way cheaper and comfortable. This is also the fastest way, reaching Kandy travelling by train, and it will be far easier.
Expensive way to reach Kandy
TAXI | Going up prices, the taxi is the most comfortable and quick way to go from the airport of Colombo to Kandy. You can hire a taxi from the terminal of the International Airport to your accommodation in Kandy.
HOW TO GET FROM COLOMBO TO KANDY, SRI LANKA
After the transport from the Airport, the other main request is how to go from Colombo to Kandy. Like before there are many ways to reach the beautiful city in the middle of Sri Lanka. We have tried to help you to choose the one you would like at the most.
BUS | The bus is the most affordable way to reach Kandy from Colombo. The journey will be a bit harder compared with the train, but absolutely worth it. There is a direct bus from Colombo which takes three hours and 15 minutes, running through the dusty and hot roads of Sri Lanka.
You can catch bus number 1 from Mawatha Central bus station and it departs every two hours more or less every day. You can catch this bus even at night, which we will suggest you avoid, you will miss a lot of your trip during dark hours.
Around Pettah Bus Station there are many shops, we suggest you take water and a few snacks, sometimes the bus will take a bit longer to reach the destination.
From Colombo to Kandy by train
TRAIN | We have to start saying it is not easy and is not for all. The main train station of Colombo Fort is one of the busiest in Asia. This railway takes onboard over 2million travellers every day and you can understand how crowded your train can be to Kandy.
Despite that, the journey from Colombo to Kandy is the most scenic one. This is the main gateway to start your fabulous experience on board of the instagrammable blue train from Kandy to Ella. You will pass by tea fields, spectacular narrow bridges and impenetrable dark green forests. An incredible view for over 3-hour journey.
If you want to experience the best of this country you have to take a train. This is the main transport way of locals, and far easier compared to buses. Your journey from Colombo to Kandy by train will cost from 180 LKR to 500 LKR.
YOU SHOULD KNOW…
LOCATION | Colombo Fort Railway Station
Below is the cost per class.
1st class | 500 LKR – 2.5$ USD – Air-con and assigned seat
2nd class | 280 LKR – 1.5$ USD – No assigned seat
3rd class | 180 LKR – 1$ USD – Busy class, you could be standing
DEPARTURES | every day at : 5:00, 7:00, 8:30, 10:35, 12:40, 15:35, 16:35, 17:45
PRIVATE TRANSPORT FROM KANDY TO COLOMBO
TAXI | If you have a bigger budget than just a backpacker has, there is a way more comfortable to reach Kandy from Colombo via taxi, or private transport. To be honest, if you are looking for holidays we can understand the expenditure, but if you are in Sri Lanka for an adventure, you take off a lot from your trip going for a private taxi instead of train or bus.
However, if you want to reach Kandy by private transfer there are ways to book your trip in advance. Check this. Alternatively, you can deal with a local taxi, but the fee will be high, anywhere between 30$ and 40$, which are 6,000 LKR and 8000 LKR.
HOW TO GET AROUND KANDY
BUSES | This is the most common way to travel everywhere in the country. It is the best alternative to tuk tuks and also the cheapest one. You will find many buses running through the streets of Kandy. You can reach the remote sightseeing of Kandy by bus just going to the main bus station in the city. From there you can grab any bus going in the westbound direction. The ride will take about 10-15, and will cost about 150-200 LKR, 0.80$ to 1$ USD, per person.
TUK TUK | The picturesque way to travel through the country is also our favourite way to get around Kandy. Thanks to Pick Me App and Uber you will be able to hire a tuk tuk for your trip. It is the safest way to go around Kandy without crashing your budget.
WALKING | There is no cheapest way to go around cities than walking. Kandy is a really enjoyable city while walking. If you want to appreciate the best things to do in Kandy you should go walking, at least through the streets of the old town and lakeside. Kandy is a safe city, apply just common sense while travelling, like any other city.
WHERE TO STAY IN KANDY
There are many accommodations in Kandy for every pocket. Unfortunately, this city is not cheapest like other places in the country. For sure the best accommodation at the right price is to look around the Airbnb options. If you are looking for unique accommodation, Kandy has got some of the most gorgeous locations in Sri Lanka.
Being a well-known spot through backpackers, the city is full of hostels. Below you will find our suggestions for every kind of accommodation.
There are many hotels in the city and is often the best way to combine an adventure with comfortable accommodations. The city has got mid-range hotels, and high-end accommodation, which makes you choose just regarding prices and amenities. If you have a budget, Sri Lanka is maybe the best place to spend luxury accommodation.
We have been just a bit outside of Kandy Center. This was one of the favourite hotels for Toti. The Mahaweli Reach Hotel is stunning with an amazing pool and continental cuisine. It also offers shuttles from the airport which is really good if it is your first time in Sri Lanka.in one of the best hotels Check the best options in the city using hotels.com.
KANDY VIEW GARDEN HOTEL | The best view of Kandy, just outside of the chaos of the city centre. Check availability and prices.
MY CITY HOTEL | This is one of the highest-rated hotels in Kandy. Thanks to the central location it is one of the favourites by travellers. Within minutes walking you can visit the main things to see in Kandy. Check availability and prices.
UNIQUE HOTEL EXPERIENCES
OZO KANDY | The most incredible view of the city and an amazing pool. The Ozo Kandy should be your first choice while looking for accommodation in Kandy. Check Availability and prices.
QUEEN’S HOTEL | This is the most scenic hotel in the whole city. The classical style and the good restaurant make it one of the first choices for travellers. It is an old hotel, in colonial style within a few minutes from Kandy Lake. You can also enjoy the hot weather in the outside pool. Check availability and prices
MAHAWELI REACH HOTEL | This was our accommodation in Kandy, and was a 10/10 stay. The incredible feature of this hotel is going directly in the best experiences ever in a hotel for Toti. See prices and rooms.
This is the cheapest way to stay in Kandy, there are so many hostel accommodations in the city that it wasn’t easy to choose. The Hostel is always the best way to go for an adventure in a new country. Often while in a hotel you will meet like minded travellers, many are becoming friends for life. We sorted a few hostel options ready for you. The average price is going from 5$ in a bunk bed in a shared room to 30$ for a private room.
Jay’s Bunks-Kandy Hostel | (wi-fi)
The Village Hostel | (wi-fi and Breakfast)
Hipsters Hideout Lounge | (one of the best – wi-fi)
We always suggest checking out Airbnb for your next trip. Through this useful app, you can find cheap accommodations, but not also, you will start your adventure in the new country getting in touch directly with the local culture. Through a guesthouse or proper holidays condo and bungalows, we have met so many local families, and enrich your trip with even more stories.
If you check AirBnb you will see the many offers available in Kandy. Below are some of our suggestions about the best accommodations on Airbnb in Kandy. Booking using our code will help you to save on your next trip, receiving up to 40$ off your next booking.
BOUTIQUE VILLA | Amazing One bedroom villa with a stunning pool, within walking distance from the city centre.
VILLA 66 KANDY | A stunning private room with a view. The best solution for those who want to relax outside of the chaos of the city centre.
GREAT VIEW HOME | Imagine yourself having breakfast on a gorgeous patio, with an amazing landscape view over the valley.
SIDE TRIPS FROM KANDY
SIGIRIYA FROM KANDY
Visiting Kandy without winking at another amazing piece of history of this country. Visiting Sigiriya from Kandy is easy. If you are keen to take side trips from Kandy it is suggested to stay in the biggest city and afford travelling in central Sri Lanka for your adventures. The ruins of the Royal Palace of Sigiriya or Lion Rock is an ancient rock fortress sitting on top of a monolith in the middle of nowhere.
Surrounded by grassland, forest and jungle, this rock is 200 metres high. To climb to the top of Sigiriya you should go up to over 1,000 steps. Sigiriya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited attractions in the country. Check out our dedicated post on how to climb Sigiriya Rock.
VISIT PIDURANGALA FROM KANDY
Just in front of Sigiriya, there is another monolith similar to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pidurangala is a sacred rock, which at the entrance there is a Buddist Temple. This place is becoming popular among travellers, for the wild path to reach the top, the stunning view and the cheap entrance. If you are interested in a trip to Pidurangala from Kandy, you might be interested in reading our guide to Pidurangala Rock Hike.
You can combine your hike to Pidurangala with a visit later on to the ruins of Sigiriya Rock. We have done it in a day, watching the best sunrise over Sri Lanka, from the top of Pidurangala.
SAFARI AT MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK AND KAUDULLA NATIONAL PARK
After a busy morning with early wake up to watch the sunrise over the jungle from the top of Pidurangala, and midday from the summit of Sigiriya, we spent our afternoon on a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park. It was an amazing day in Sri Lanka and we had a close view of wild Asian Elephants.
Minneriya National Park is just next to Kaudulla National Park, the Elephants will cross the line between the two parks following the dry season. Check out when is the best time to go for a Safari in Sri Lanka in our guide.
DAMBULLA CAVE TEMPLE
Dambulla Cave Temple is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and is close to Kandy. Just 2 hours drive from the main city in the centre of Sri Lanka. The Dambulla Cave Temple is a well-preserved site in Sri Lanka, it is a connected network of caves, popular for the presence of 153 Buddha statues and the painting that shows the whole life of Buddha.
This site is covering an area of about 2,100 square metres. It is a unique masterpiece in Sri Lanka, and we wish you could visit it while staying in Kandy. You can also combine this visit on your trip to Sigiriya, while the two sites are just half an hour away from each other.
VISIT THE ANCIENT CITY OF POLONNARUWA
Continuing our suggestions on Trip from Kandy, you can’t miss in your tour to visit the ruins of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. It was once a Capital of the Country, so you will understand the importance of the archaeological site for Sri Lanka.
Like the others in this area, Polonnaruwa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that you can reach through a 4 hours bus from Kandy. We suggest treating it as a one day trip from Kandy due to the distance. Or alternatively, you can combine it with a visit to Dambulla Caves, while both centres are just an hour and a half away, served by frequent buses.
HOW TO APPLY FOR AN ETA TO SRI LANKA
So far Sri Lanka has opened the door to travellers, giving free visas to many countries in the World. We are Italian and had the chance to apply for a free visa, but unfortunately, we requested it before that was going on and paid 35$ for our access to the country.
Generally, a Sri Lanka online Visa will give you access for 30 days to the country but is renewable two times for another 30 days each. Even if your country is on this list of free visas, you must request it. Applying for an ETA to Sri Lanka is easy, Getting a Visa for Sri Lanka is easy. Just follow the steps on the local government website.
We did apply for our ETA online and within half an hour we had it accepted. It is so easy and quick that we suggest you do it prior to your trip. There is a chance that you can do a Visa on Arrival at the airport, but obviously it will cost you a bit more, 40$ and you should queue for it.
ESSENTIAL THINGS TO PACK FOR YOUR TRIP TO SRI LANKA
If you are packing your bags, there are a couple of things that you need to have with you.
COMFORTABLE SHOES | Those will save your life if you are looking to hike Pidurangala and Sigiriya Rock. But also strolling around the cities.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE | Humid and Hot could be beaten just drinking a lot. Buy a reusable water bottle in advance of your trip to Sri Lanka.
SUNCREAM | Sun will be direct and you need sun cream to don’t get burnt.
TRIPOD | Everyone loves taking pictures and sometimes with a tripod it can be easier than asking someone else.
SANITISER WIPES OR HAND SANITISER | Spending your day always around you won’t be able to wash your hands frequently and this is why you should have a hand sanitiser.
POWER BANK | Your phone battery is very important especially if you love taking pictures with your phone. So, don’t forget to pack a power bank.
CAMERA | It can be the most incredible adventure of your life. Go on a safari in Sri Lanka could be the perfect time to take back that old dusty camera you wish always to use more. This is our Camera Gear, have a look.
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