Kandy is one of the must-see destinations on a trip to Sri Lanka. The main attractions are the Temple of the Sacred Tooth of the Buddha e l'Esala Perahera.
Kandy is located approx 115 km from Colombo and rises in a hilly area on the banks of the Kandy Lake, a small artificial lake.
Personally I found it a city too chaotic and busy and I would say that 1 or 2 days are more than enough to visit it.
In this article we see how to reach Kandy, what to see in addition to the well-known Temple of the Sacred Tooth and where to sleep.
How to Reach Kandy
You can reach Kandy from Ella with the famous panoramic train (about 6/7 hours), or from Colombo, always by train (about 3/4 hours).
Find all the information regarding the panoramic train in the Hill Country article.
What to do in Kandy
Temple of the Sacred Tooth - Sri Dalada Maligawa
Temple of the Sacred Tooth of Buddha
The main attraction, for which Kandy is really worth visiting is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, where the relic of Buddha's tooth is said to be kept.
The ticket to visit the Temple costs 1.000 rupees per person (about € 6) you enter barefoot and with suitable clothing, knees and shoulders covered.
The relic is inside one golden casket in the shape of a stupa, so it is not possible to see it. The casket is kept in a well-guarded room, open to the faithful and tourists during offerings and prayers.
The casket that holds Buddha's tooth
What is most striking about this temple is the strong spiritual atmosphere that reigns, with devotees in prayer bringing lotus flowers as an offering to the Buddha.
Located next to the lake, it is recommended to visit it at sunset, when the atmosphere becomes even more suggestive.
An event that brings many tourists to Kandy is the Esala Perahera, a great parade of elephants, dancers and percussionists, which takes place for 10 days between July and August, to pay homage to the tooth of Buddha.
La Perahera it is a historical event that has been occurring for many centuries, considered as the most important and extraordinary spectacle of Sri Lanka and all of Asia.
If you go to Kandy during the Perahera, book your hotel well in advance, also to get a more reasonable price, as hotel costs can triple in this period.
Keep in mind that the first 6 nights the party is still quite quiet, but in the last few days it gets completely filled.
The Perahera is free, but I recommend arriving early, at least a couple of hours before, to take a seat on the side of the road.
Otherwise there are gods paid seats on the balcony which you can buy directly in Kandy, paying them from 5.000 to 7.000 rupees (about 30/40 €).
Or there are some Guest House, with rooms with panoramic views from where it is possible to attend the Perahera.
You can also buy the balcony seats online but, unless it is the final days of the ceremony, I recommend buying them on the spot to save some money.
Another place worth going to if you are in Kandy is the Botanical Gardens, Royal Botanical Gardens, are located in Peradeniya 7 km from Kandy. You can admire an incredible variety of flowers, plants and trees, a greenhouse of orchids and many animals, such as monkeys and bats.
Unfortunately we were not able to go there, but now taken from the cultural tour we visited the umpteenth temples, in particular three complexes, located about 10 minutes by tuk tuk from each other, known as Three Temple Loop.
The three temples are: Embekka Devalaya, Lankatilaka Temple e Devalaya, Gadaladeniya Temple.
The entrance fee for each temple is less than € 2 per person.
In general it is a pleasant visit, recommended if you have time available, calculate that it will take you at least 2/3 hours, of course not comparable to the temple of the tooth and the historical beauties of the cultural triangle.
Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Vihara.
Where to Stay in Kandy
You can choose whether to stay in chaotic Kandy, or as we did opt for one elegant boutique hotel, located on the hills surrounding the city.
The hotel we selected for our stay was the Villa Shenandoah, beautiful boutique hotel, located in the hills, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and with breathtaking views over Kandy.
The room was wonderful, comfortable and huge bed, mezzanine with a balcony from which to admire the view, large and clean bathroom. Excellent wi-fi connection.
The friendly and helpful staff did everything to make our stay fabulous, welcomed us with a fresh welcome cocktail, ideal after several hours on the train.
The hotel restaurant is very good, although not exactly cheap, we enjoyed dinner alone by candlelight, romantic atmosphere, excellent Australian red wine and dishes prepared with care and served well. Please note that the hotel is not close to any other restaurants, in case you have to travel by tuk tuk.
The breakfast is also good. Overall hotel recommended for those looking for a quiet place surrounded by nature. Kandy can be reached in about 15 minutes by car or Tuk Tuk, at a cost of 500/700 rupees (about € 4).View the price of Villa Shenandoah on Booking
If you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka and you have doubts or you need some advice to plan the itinerary, comment on the article or contact me in private.
Sunset view from our room at Villa Shenandoah