After traveling India and the coast of Sri Lanka, when I arrived in Kandy it was the first time I had the feeling of being in an organized and quite nice town. I was a bit surprised considering it’s the second biggest city in Sri Lanka. The traffic was decent and the town way cleaner than others in the country.
How to get to Kandy
Getting to Kandy is an easy task as the destination is very popular in Sri Lanka.
Train: You can arrive by train to Kandy from most parts of the island. You can check the official railway website to get a better idea of the schedules.
We took a train from Aluthgama and arrived there in around 5 hours. It was a comfortable ride, as we got on the train at a not so popular station. Once we arrived in Colombo, there was literally no more space, not even to throw a needle and it lasted for a few stops.
Bus: As I said many times in my articles about Sri Lanka, you can get by bus everywhere, even if sometimes you must change 1,2 or even 3 buses. Although it’s not a very comfortable way of traveling, you can always count on it.
You can check here my guide on How To Use Public Transportation In Sri Lanka.
Private driver: There’s always the option of hiring a private driver in case you want to be completely hassle-free, or you’re simply constrained by time. and don’t mind spending some money on that (around 40€/day).
Things to do in Kandy
Take a walk around the Kandy Lake
A walk in the city is impossible without checking out the lake, as it’s more than half of it. It’s a very peaceful walk and you can spot all the birds and fishes around.
Also, be careful, around this area is where most tuk-tuk drivers will try to approach you and sell you different kind of tours.
In my opinion, there’s barely anything to do around the lake, so a short walk it’s more than enough.
Visit the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue
This was one of the nicest temples we’ve seen around Sri Lanka. It’s located on top of a hill just outside the city center. On top of the temple, there is an enormous Buddha statue and the view from there over the city is beautiful.
The entrance fee for the temple is 250LKR (1,27€), which was the most decent price we encountered in Sri Lanka in order to enter a Buddhist temple.
This is probably the only temple I recommend in Sri Lanka, as I am totally against their commercialization of religion. I consider this thing happens also at the famous Temple of the Tooth. The price to get in is 30$ (!) for foreigners and free for locals. It’s crazy to pay that much money to go inside a temple, which, after all, is a sacred place to find peace. Not to mention that, in this case, you don’t even see the tooth of Buddha, but a box.
You can read all about the topic of Sri Lanka’s way of commercializing religion in this article.
Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya
I didn’t expect to enjoy my time here as much as I actually did. The gardens are impressive and I’ve seen plants and trees that I never knew they existed. There is also an area where famous people planted their own trees. Among these people are Indira Gandhi, Queen Mary and much more.
You can easily get there in less than half an hour by public bus from the main bus station in the city center.
The entrance fee is, indeed, too expensive for Sri Lanka. It is also discriminative, as most things on this island. The price is 1500LKR (€7.65) for foreigner and 50LKR (€0,25)for locals. I know this is crazy and absurd, especially when we’re talking about a park.
Don’t visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage!
Before going to Sri Lanka, I did some research about places to visit and I found Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on many lists. So I also added on my list. But when I was in Sri Lanka, I started doing some deep research about whether this place is a real orphanage or just an Instagram place and I found what I was afraid I will find. You can check online articles about the sad truth and try to help by avoiding places like this.
How to spend less money in Kandy
- Negotiate for accommodation. Kandy is a very friendly place for backpackers and budget travelers. You can find very decent accommodations for a few euros only. Is no myth that Sri Lankans love to negotiate and it’s no exception for accommodations.
- Eat where locals eat. You will find plenty of good local restaurants to eat without paying a tourist price. Don’t forget to check the Complete Guide for Food in Sri Lanka to know exactly what to order.
- Walk or use the bus. Don’t forget that a bus ticket is only a few cents to almost anywhere on the island, so if you’re planning to save some money, tuk-tuk is really no deal.
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