Kandy is a city located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, and globally renowned for housing the sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. It is also popular for its scenic views of mountains and tea estates, as well as the city’s cultural value. Recently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Kandy city has preserved the traditional essence from the ancient kings’ era of Sri Lanka to date.

Among countless experiences you can gain at Kandy, here’s our top 8 things to do in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

1. Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa)

  • Entrance: Free
  • Open Hours: 5.30am – 8.00pm, daily

Kandy is best known as the home of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. The magnificent, golden-roofed temple which houses the Tooth Relic is one of the most sacred places of worship among the all Buddhist shrines in the world. Even though the temple is open to all devotees as well as tourists, every day, the relic is not on display at all times except for a few minutes on each day for the daily rituals and almsgiving. The relic itself is covered with a solid gold dagoba structure so you can’t see the actual Tooth Relic.

Note: You will have to go through a security check when entering the temple premises. Be sure to wear non-revealing attire when you visit the temple. You will also have to remove your shoes before entering the temple. You can safely keep your removed shoes at the shoe keeper service for a very small hourly fee.

You can find more details on the official website for the Temple of the Tooth Relic here.

2. Kandy Lake

  • Entrance: Free
  • Open Hours: –

In the center of the Kandy city lies the Kandy Lake. This artificial lake was built by the last ruler of the Kingdom of Kandy, King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, with a small island in the middle of the lake for his personal use. A stroll around the lake in the evening or at dawn would be a pleasant experience, as well as a great photo op. It would not be peaceful nor pleasant during the daytime as the lake is surrounded by the bustling city and traffic.

Note: There is a boat service to get to the island on the lake. The availability and operating hours may vary depending on the weather.

3. Esala Perahera

  • Entrance: Free

Esala Perahera, also known as Sri Dalada Perahera, is an annual Buddhist festival in Sri Lanka, held in honor of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. Dating back to the 3rd century BC, this procession is one of the grandest Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka. The celebrations comprise of various events and processions that lasts up to 10 days, and takes place around the Temple of the Tooth Relic. The perahera is complete with traditional Kandyan dancers, performers, fire-breathers, and magnificently dressed elephants and tuskers. It’s an experience of a lifetime you wouldn’t want to miss.

Note: Hotels along Dalada Weediya, the main street where the procession is lead, offer special packages with accommodation and a viewing place within the hotel during the Perahera season. Queens Hotel, Kandy, is one such place. For more places to stay in Kandy, check out our complete guide to Kandy, Sri Lanka.

4. Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya.

  • Entrance: $$
  • Open Hours: 8.00am – 5.30pm, daily

Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens are located about 5.5km west of Kandy city. Dating back to 1371, the garden is spans across 147 acres which includes the banks of the Mahaweli river. The garden hosts more than 400 species of flora and fauna, and is globally renowned for its collection of orchids. It is open all year around the ticket fares are as follows:

AdultsChildren (age < 12 yrs)
(approx. USD 11)
Rs.1000/= (approx. USD 5)
LocalsRs.100/= (< USD 1)Rs.20/= (< USD 1)

Note: The food is unnecessarily overpriced at the restaurant inside the garden as well as the restaurant at the gate. Pack some food when you are visiting and make it a picnic! Also, be sure to visit the orchid house, the great lawn, and the palm avenue!

5. Udawattakele Forest Reserve

  • Entrance: $
  • Open Hours: 7.00am – 6.00pm

Udawattakele Sanctuary, also known as Royal Forest Park of Kandy, is located on the hillside just behind the Temple of the Tooth Relic. This forest reserve extends across 257 acres, and is houses a wide variety of plant species, including ancient lianas that forms a dense canopy covering the forest area.Udawattekele is also considered as a bird watcher’s’ paradise, and you can hire a guide from the ticketing office at the entrance for a small fee.

Note: Entrance cost a small fee. Tickets are issued until 4.30pm. It is not advised to wander off the two main paths in the forest. And always be mindful of your surroundings if you are visiting alone.

6. Bahirawakanda Temple

  • Entrance: Free

Bahirawakanda Temple, otherwise known as Sri Maha Bodhi Viharaya, is located approximately 2 km from the Kandy city center. The Buddha statue erected in this temple stands at 88 feet tall on top of Bahirawakanda hill, and you can see it in all its glory from almost anywhere in Kandy in. This statue is also one of the tallest Buddha statues in Sri Lanka.

Note: You can take a tuk tuk to the top of the hill or ask the hotel you’re staying at to arrange an excursion. It is better if you can wear non-revealing clothes since it is a religious place but no one would force you to do so.

7. Hanthana Mountain Range

  • Entrance: Free

Hanthana mountain range is a highly popular trek in Sri Lanka, among both local as well as foreign hikers. Located just South West of the city of Kandy, it consists of seven peaks, in which the highest peak is Uura Kanda, standing 3800 ft high. The hike is somewhat difficult and it’s important that you take a local guide with you since it’s very easy to get lost during the hike to Hanthana, especially on foggy days. But the struggle is worth the spectacular view waiting for you at the top.

Note: You will need more than one day to explore all seven peaks of Hanthana. And remember to take extra care to protect yourself from leeches while on the trek. It is also important to note that some hotels on the path to Hanthana, such as Amaya Hills, offer excursions to hike to Hanthana mountain range. They would arrange a well-experienced guide and other needs, for an additional service fee.

8. Ambuluwawa Biodiversity Complex

  • Entrance: $
  • Open Hours: –

Approximately 1 hour (15km) from Kandy, stands Ambuluwawa Tower, a must-see attraction in a small town called Gampola. Ambuluwawa is 3567 meters above sea level, and it is a haven of biodiversity, where almost 200 different kinds of flora and fauna from 80 plant species reside. The climb to the top of the Ambuluwawa Tower is a bit of a struggle but it gives an unmatched, panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and lush green valleys as far as the eye can see. Ambuluwawa is the only peak in Sri Lanka from which you can clearly observe more mountains from all four directions:

  1. North: Knuckles mountain range
  2. South: Adams’ Peak (Sri Padha)
  3. East: Piduruthalagala Mountain
  4. West: Biblerock (Bathalegala)

Ambuluwawa tower also serves as the first multi religious centre in Sri Lanka, depicting the unity and harmony among Sri Lankans. You will come across a temple, a church, a mosque and a hindu kovil at the same place.

Note: Climbing Ambuluwawa on a clear, sunny morning would give you the best views and an easier climb. Also, the stairs leading to the top of the tower becomes very narrow as you reach the top, so do be careful.

Planning to visit Kandy soon? Check out our complete guide to Kandy, Sri Lanka!

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