What to do in Kandy – Sri Lanka?
Kandy is in the middle of the Island surrounded with jungle and hills. The best way to get there from Colombo is with the train. You can also go by bus, but the train provides you a better view, especially when you are near Kandy. The people are mainly religious. You must note that entering temples with shorts is not allowed. You have to cover your legs and shoulders. What we noticed was that unlike Colombo, you get more stares on the street if you where short clothes. Therefor we could say that the people are more conservative.
Attractions in Kandy
You could easily visit Kandy in 1 day, however make it 2 if you would also love to see the culture a bit more or visit the places near to Kandy such as the Pinnawala elephant orphanage and the New Ranweli spice garden. You can reach every place in Kandy by walking, however do note that there are a lot of steep hills. Especially with the Bahirawakanda temple it is wise to take a tuk tuk.
Temple of the Tooth relic
The most important place to visit is the Temple of the Tooth relic. The entrance fee of the Tooth Temple is 1,500 LKR per person (9.76 USD) and the visiting hours are between 5.30 am and 8 pm. We highly recommend for you to go when there is a ceremony (with offerings or prayers for Buddha). This daily so called ‘’Thewawa’’, takes place 3 times a day. The first one is the morning at 05.30 am, there is one at 9.30 am and one in the evening at 6.30 pm.
The temple actually houses a tooth of the Buddha. Next to the main temple, there is also a museum in the complex where you can see how the tooth is saved during the years by different kings. It was believed that whoever owns the tooth relic would also be the leader. You can also visit the smaller temples and shrines. These contain interesting objects such as ancient handwritings and books.
The Bahirawakanda temple is located at the top of a steep hill. You can see it from a distance, this is the white colored gigantic Buddha statue. The best way to get there is to take a tuk tuk. We got a tuk tuk for 150 LKR (0.98 USD) to the top. The entrance fee of the temple is 250 LKR (1.63 USD). The temple is build in 1972, so it’s not an old temple. It contains a chamber where the story of the Buddha is told. From his early childhood to his final rest place.
Near the tooth temple there is a lake with big fish in it. It is a protected lake, with fishing banned. There is a small island in the middle which was used as king Sri Wickrama Rajasinha’s personal harem. It’s nice to simply sit down and have a rest while you look around and maybe have a snack. It is not recommended to walk around after dark.
How to get to Kandy from Colombo?
We have traveled from Colombo to Kandy by train. There are two kinds of trains. The ‘normal’ one and the intercity/ express train directly from Colombo. The intercity/ express train costs 280 LKR (2nd class) and the normal train costs 190 LKR (2nd class). We highly recommend taking the intercity train. In the intercity train you have a seat number and you can be sure to sit. In the other train you don’t have a seat number and if the train is crowded you might end up standing. Also the normal train takes 3.5 hours and the intercity only 2.5 hours. The train tickets can be bought at the train stations, just make sure you are there on time. The departure times of the daily trains available from Colombo to Kandy are: 7.00 am – 10.35 am – 03.35 pm. Additional on Saturday, Sunday and holidays 9.00 am and only on Fridays at 05.00 pm. And back from Kandy to Colombo the train schedule is: 6.15 am – 3.00 pm – 3.30 pm. Additionally on Saturday, Sunday and holidays 4.55 pm and only on Monday Saturdays 5.50 pm.
Another option is going by bus. However we recommend the train due to the beautiful views. The bus costs between 187 – 400 LKR (depending on luxury such as A/C). It takes 3 to 4.5 hours to get to Kandy from Colombo by bus. The busses drive frequently, you just have to be at the bus station in Colombo (Pettah – Fort station). Please note that there can be very loud music in busses even at night. When we took the bus from Colombo to Dambulla we had a night bus leaving at 1.30 am and we could’t sleep due to loud music and uncomfortable chairs.
Where to stay in Kandy?
Please note that Kandy is a city with steep hills. Consider this while choosing your hostel, it’s really hard to climb up the hills. Don’t spend your energy and money on the hills. You will have to take a tuk-tuk every time if you take a hostel on a hill. When you book a room trough booking sites, it can be misleading when it says that it’s close to the city center. It may be in km but it doesn’t mention the heights. You can make a choice between different hostels around 1,000 RP (6.51 USD) per person with breakfast. We took a private room for 2,300 LKR (14.97 USD).
How much money will you spend in Kandy?
So here is a summary of costs you probably will make during your trip to Kandy.
Temple of the tooth relic: 1500 LKR (9.76 USD)
Bahirawakanda temple: 250 LKR
Hostel’s: 1,000 LK (per person)
Water (1lt.): Around 60 LKR
Tuk-Tuk one way (city centre): around 150 LKR
Train: Colombo to Kandy 280 LKR one way
Food: on average round 300 LKR per person (less if you go to a less touristic place)