Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second largest city in Sri Lanka. Kandy is the island’s undeniable cultural and historical centre. Located in the mountainous centre of the island, Kandy attracts visitors to witness its glory, heritage and experience the local culture, cuisine and living traditions.
Colourful saris worn by local women, hustle, noise, and an inexpressible mixture of oriental flavours fill the streets of Kandy making this majestic city – a former capital of the last Sinhalese kingdom – an utterly unique and appealing.
Kandy’s city centre is a quite small area fringed by the imposing tropical rainforest-clad hills on all sides teeming with exotic animals, such as impudent monkeys running around the city in the wild. The downtown is a home to wonderful fashion stores, great restaurants, fascinating natural and cultural attraction and beautiful boutique hotels to stay a night or two.
Being island’s cultural and historical centre, Kandy is a far more than an ordinary tourist destination. The fascinating sightseeing, natural scenery and a reasonable development stand out the city drawing travellers to experience the real Sri Lanka, feel its exotic charm and understand the reason why Kandyan are so around to be born in this glorious town.
WHAT WE LOVE
The Temple of the Tooth
The amazing Bogambara Lake
Fantastic shops and restaurants
Endless treks for walking in nature
Milder and cooler climate
Situated towards the east of Colombo International Airport (a.k.a Bandaranaike International Airport) in the central Sri Lanka, Kandy boasts archaeological, cultural and historical heritage sites, scenic natural attractions and exudes the timeless feel.
Although it is possible to get to Kandy, Sri Lanka over land or water, the best way is to fly:
It can take anywhere between 3 hours to 3,5 hours to reach Kandy from Colombo International Airport depending on traffic. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa.
Alternatively, there is a taxi desk at the arrival level which arranges one-way fares at a fixed-price. It is recommended to negotiate about the price before getting into the car, as metered taxis do not travel long distances from Colombo.
The intercity express train is hassle free and picturesque. The comfortable first-class features with a decent observation saloon providing dramatic scenery along the way. It is recommended, though, to make a reservation, especially if you are travelling on weekend or holiday. Second and third classes tend to be crowded, and seats cannot be reserved in advance.
INTERCITY AIR CONDITIONED BUS
Intercity air conditioned bus is another affordable way to get to Kandy with a comfort. Buses depart at regular periods from Colombo and arrive in Kandy city centre.
Public buses depart from the bus terminal and serve almost all destinations. It is an affordable way to get to Kandy, though, if you want to have a seat (highly recommended, as the trip can take more than 3 hours), you might need to get to the bus station instead of waiting for the bus in front of the arrival terminal.
If you are travelling in a larger group, hired minivan is the best option to reach Kandy. The service is available through the travel agencies in the Colombo airport at the arrival level.
A relatively new, fast and super comfortable, yet, expensive way to get to Kandy from Colombo International Airport is by the float plane operated by Sri Lankan Airways. The plane leaves Colombo airport at 9 am and touches down at Mahaweli River, Kandy at 9.30. The one-way fare from Colombo to Kandy is approximately LKR25,000.
There are plenty of options, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers:
Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. Depending on which villa you are staying in, the cost for the private car and chauffeur can vary, so it’s recommended to contact our Ministry of Villas team to get the complete information about the private transfers.
Kandy downtown is quite compact and small area and can be easily covered on foot. Furthermore, walking around the busy streets is the best way to see temples, shops and amazing sights of the Bogambara Lake.
Tuk-tuk is a hassle free way to travel further afield. Although, due to the very chaotic and congested traffic it is not recommended to move around by tuk-tuk in the city centre.
If you prefer moving around on two wheels, there is no shortage of motorbike rental shops in Kandy. Though, the traffic is very chaotic, so a certain level of experience is required. Moreover, you should have an international driver license on your person at all times, and for your safety always wear a helmet.
The cheapest and the least comfortable way to visit nearby places is by local buses. There are three bus stands in the city, and each of them services both private and government buses, which serve set routes.
There are no Ministry Approved Villas in the city. Kandy is a predominantly one-day-trip destination, and most of the travellers prefer staying in the coastal resort towns during their holiday, and take a short trip to this cradle of culture. Still, you can expect to find a fair number of boutique hotels and affordable accommodations in the city centre or beyond to spend a couple of days.
Kandy dining scene is as diverse and attracting as the city itself. Housing a sheer selection of the high-end restaurants, midrange venues and local eateries, Kandy can be considered not only the cultural centre of the island but also its culinary hub.
The city centre boasts endless dining venues, where the delicious local cuisine is represented in the elaborated menu along with international dishes. It is recommended though to give preference to Lankan cuisine, as you will be amazed by the incredible combination of flavours and tastes of local food.
A couple of trendy restaurants located in the foothills of Kandy serve an eclectic mix of Chinese, Western and genuine local cuisines offering unique dining experience at the laidback and elegant setting.
Kandy is a cultural and religious capital of Sri Lanka offering a fascinating sightseeing and historical places of interest, however, you should not expect a vibrant nightlife there.
Though, there are still some attractive establishments to chill out with the glass of wine, cocktail or a fresh juice. Represented by several friendly bars, authentic English pubs and trendy lounges Kandy’s bar scene will keep you entertained even if you are travelling alone.
Kandy features with a relaxed nightlife, so you can expect to find a laidback and atmospheric establishments with a friendly ambience and impeccable service rather than hectic nightclubs and bustling drinking establishments.
Kandy is a major shopping designation where quality clothes, accessories, shoes, housewares, natural cosmetics, products and, of course, jewellery can be purchased at a very reasonable price.
The city houses one massive shopping mall – Kandy City Centre – that gathers high-end fashion boutiques, international stores and local and foreign chain shops under one roof.
Authentic Lankan souvenirs, high-quality batik and natural spa products sold in the street markets are excellent gifts to bring back home. Kandy is also a home to the numerous tea shops, where you can purchase a delicious genuine Ceylon tea.
Kandy boasts the cultural and historical sites, natural attractions, tea plantations and other must-visit places. One of the most famous and not-to-be-missed religious sights is the Temple of the Tooth sanctuary that houses a tooth relic of Buddha.
Besides the temple itself, there is a beautiful natural surrounding around the sanctuary, with the splendid Bogambara Lake in the centre – the favourite place among both locals and foreigners to wander around.
If you prefer to relax in the lap of nature, head to the Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya, which often appears in the list of the most famous and beautiful gardens of Asia. Tea Museum, Spice Garden and Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage are other must-visit places when in Kandy.