I know most travelers have scheduled time table for each and every trip unless you are vagabonding and has abundant the whole concept of time. Not that much of a rare scenario though. I’ve met quite a few Vegabonders who absolutely has no To-Do-List what so ever.
Anyways I think I’m qualified to give you some insights about Kandy as I’m a Kandyan myself and have gone tours around the city with my foreign friends few times.
Even though I live in Colombo, Western Province, my hometown is Kandy. I’ve notice Kandy people to be nicer and “innocent”. So Kandyans might just be the friendliest locals you’ve ever experienced.
So my foreign friend from Sweden arrived in Colombo and called me to inform that the “eagle has landed”. The night after that, he arrived in Kandy and we were supposed to meet. He booked a hostel in Kandy and we met in Kandy town, KCC, Kandy city center to be exact. This is what we did for the 2 days he had planned in Kandy before moving to Ella.
Kandy City Center
Since we met there I’ll start from there. Kandy City Center mostly commonly referred as KCC by locals is the most modern shopping complex/ Commercial center that you will find in Kandy. It has been incorporated with ultra-modern features, but still conserving the ancient Kandyan architectural values. I remember when my friends from Colombo visited Kandy city center they said “It’s nothing like Colombo, Okay? I didn’t expect this in Kandy”. For you information, if you didn’t know, Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka and Kandy is considered the second major city.
There are a variety of stores inside the center, including a fully equipped supermarket, an entertainment zone, a food court and variety of restaurants.
My Friend, Mathew said that he didn’t want to see just European type stores in Kandy too. So I took him to following places in KCC which I though was quite Sri Lankan.
The first place we visited was Mlesna tea center. He said he was expecting to buy tea from Sri Lanka and so he did. There are so many flavored and unflavored tea varieties in this tea center. Then we went to Spa Ceylon, in which I personally am a regular customer. In this store, you can find Sri Lankan herbal beauty creams, oils etc. We had a nice bite of cashews at Royal Cashew which is new to the KCC. You can find the cashew shop at the ground floor, next to the supermarket.
Besides, there are bookshops if you want to buy books. Mathew wanted to buy a tourist guide book on Sri Lanka. So we shopped at Sarasvati book shop too.
Temple of Tooth Relic
Next, we visited the most important landmark in the city, Temple of the tooth relic. The complex includes a series of smaller temples, shrines, and museums. It was quite crowded that with tourist. As we enter the premises it felt like we were entering a new world. Because it is surprisingly calm inside the walls of the premises. It’s great to escape from the rush of the city outside. We had to go through the security. We had to remove our shoes too as the temple of tooth relic is of great religious value to Buddhists all around the world. At the entrance, I got to enter free but the security asked my friend to buy a ticket as he was a foreigner. He was pretty mad about it, but later he understood that nothing can be done and bought a ticket of around 9$. Since we are talking money, I should tell you that there are freelance guides available, who will show you around the premises with details for something less than 10$. The paintings and the statues are amazing and each tells a story about the country and its culture. We were really impressed by the separate section in the palace where there is a preserved body of an entire elephant. This elephant was loved by the locals as it carried the Relic in Esala Perahera. His respect for the Temple of tooth relic and the relic itself are heard by all locals here. Once it is said that this elephant stood still for hours because he felt that the relic on this back was loose and he was afraid that the relic would fall down.
There are much more stories to the place and if you are ever in Kandy, even with a limited time Temple of tooth relic is not to be missed.
This is also a main feature in the city. It’s good thing that lake is situated right next to the temple of tooth relic because of the limited time thing. We took a boat ride around the lake which cost both of less than 20$. But the cost varies according to the number of people, number of rounds etc. You have to talk to the boat people at Joy Boy Service which can be easily found, which is situated on a side of the lake. Besides that, we also fed the fish in the lake. There are so many fish in there as it is prohibited to fish in the lake. We bought fish food from local sellers who can be found around the lake. There are other aquatic related animals too such as ducks, swans, water monitors etc. It was like an escape to nature right in the middle of the city.
I will strongly recommend visiting in the forest especially if you like to wonder off into the woods. The forest is to the north of the Kandy Lake. Honestly, I still remember how I felt when I was walking through the forest. There are two main paths you can follow, and smaller tracks too.
It was like a whole new world. It was cool and quite inside the forest. Not a clue of human inhabitants. Only the sound of birds, howling monkeys and blowing winds. Such a mind calm-ner. Anyway, you would have to start the day a little bit earlier if you are planning to visit the sanctuary. But I’ll 100% guarantee that you will get an experience of a lifetime. You can hire guides and bird watchers for less than 6$ too at the ticket office. The ticketing office will be closed around 4.30 pm. I would recommend visiting with few friends or people as visiting alone can be risky. There is news about muggers, but very rear. Still, it’s good practice to practice safety.
These are easy to cover as most of them are situated around the Temple of tooth relic. National museum will cost you around 6$ per adults without cameras. If you want to take pictures or videotape you going to have to pay more.
I didn’t particularly enjoy the museums as I’m not a fan of museums. But my foreign friend enjoyed it immensely. Thus it’s in the list. The museum represents pre- European Sinhalese life. Another most impressive exhibit is king Raja Sinha II’s golden crown. If you are a fan of this kind of facts you can also pay a quick visit to Sri Dalada Museum. You can visit this with the same ticket you buy for the temple of tooth relic too. So why not!
So those are my top 5 things to do in Kandy. This tour will take maximum 2 days. If you are a fit person has a lot of stamina you can even cover the list within one day.
Shoot me with any questions you have. I’ll be glad to help you out.