View over Kandy

Kandy, the perfect start of a trip to Sri Lanka

Kandy was our first stop on the trip, and a good introduction to Sri Lanka. It doesn't get as hot in the hills, and the views were spectacular. We also went to the main tourist attraction, the temple where Buddha's tooth is stored.

We landed at the Bandaranaike International Airport outside of Colombo and were picked up by a driver from the accommodation we had booked in Kandy. We arrived in the afternoon and didn’t want to spend a night in Colombo before traveling to Kandy, so this was a much more convenient way which probably saved us a day.

The driving time to Kandy was around three hours, so we arrived in the dark and went to sleep immediately. In the morning, we opened the curtains to an amazing view over Kandy and the hills on the other side. We were ready for vacation!

What we did in Kandy

The main attraction in Kandy is the Temple of the Tooth Relic, a temple where Buddha’s tooth is said to be stored. We visited on a public holiday along with the rest of the country it seemed, and the lines were long and the temple crowded. Locals brought lotus flowers and all kinds of offerings. The temple grounds are quite large with various buildings, and we found some refuge from the crowds in the galleries out back. I did enjoy seeing the thick cloud of smoke coming from the room where everyone lit their incense, but from a distance.

The entrance is the same for tourists and locals, but there was a separate automatic ticket machine for tourists at the side of the temple, not at the main entrance. There was also a separate storage for tourists’ shoes. Ask the guards to make sure you don’t wait in the wrong line!

Shade at Kandy lake

Another attraction is the Kandy Lake, or Kiri Muhuda, just outside the temple in the middle of town. It has a promenade around it with trees for shade, which makes for an excellent afternoon stroll.

There is so much to just look at in the Kandy, monkeys everywhere and lively shopping streets. The traffic is a bit much sometimes, but it’s still easy to walk and there are sidewalks almost everywhere in the center.

Where we stayed

We booked our stay in advance with Blinkbonnie Inn, a place up the hill offering good value for money and also a competitively priced airport pickup service. We chose one of their nicer rooms with a private balcony, because you don’t get a view like that everyday. Still, all guests could enjoy the view from the terrace by the restaurant.

The walk down the hill to the lake takes about ten or fifteen minutes, and it’s also possible to walk back up but many opt for a tuktuk. There are many other hotels around, but we had dinner at our hotel, which was excellent. Just make sure you close all windows up there, because monkeys are everywhere in Kandy.

Decorated tuktuk

If you’re taking the train to Ella

We later came back to Kandy for one night to take the train to Ella in the morning, and stayed at Kandy City Rooms and Hostel very close to the train station in order to save time. Traffic outside is a bit on the heavy side, but the room was very clean and had a luxurious feel to it even though it was a cheapie. The walk to the train station from there was about five minutes, very straight-forward.

The scenic but busy train ride from Kandy to Ella

Pinnable picture from Kandy
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