Head to Sri Lanka’s cultural heart–set in a mountain guarded valley at an altitude of 500 meters above Sea level—to taste world-renowned Ceylon tea, traditional dance performances, wildlife, shopping and sacred left eyetooth of Buddha.
We are writing a lot about Kandy, which is the cultural heart of Sri Lanka. Recently a reader of our blog questioned me “Can we have a Sri Lanka holiday package without Kandy?,” which is something that I never thought of, but I had to make a sensible answer though, so I wrote back “Yes you can have a Sri Lanka tour without Kandy, but we strongly recommend visiting Kandy, because it offers a lot more to travellers than any other city on the island.”
It is impossible to think of a Sri Lanka tour package without considering a visit to Kandy—Sri Lanka’s cultural heart. There is no shortage of travel companies on the island that offer interesting sightseeing tours to Kandy promoting Eat, Drink, Prey “experiences”, however, there is a lot more in Kandy than Tea plantations, rice paddies and spirituality.
Usually, the Sri Lanka trips that we organize to our customers around the world include only a few days in Kandy unless you have the luxury of endless time. For that purpose, below is an itinerary — Sri Lanka tour 4 Days – for this scenic location.
Going to Kandy and settling in
If you head to Kandy directly from the Katunayake international airport, Colombo, it is advisable to hire a taxi. A one way trip to Kandy from the airport cost around 20,000 rupees (US$ 115) and the chauffeur will take you straight to the hotel or guest house. When it comes to accommodation in Kandy, the choices are endless, whatever the accommodation type you prefer there is a place for you.
The cost of accommodation varies from few US$ to few thousands of US$ a night, giving the travellers a wide range of options when it comes to the money factor. However there are few popular choices for most repeated travellers, who come by this fascinating city, those places are affordable, clean and provide some killer views over the city.
Kandy is known as one of the most beautiful cities on the island that settle amid beautiful mountains; therefore most travellers look for a photogenic view from their room. Knowing the fact most hotels add a supplement for the view and usually the rooms with Mountain view and River view are pricier than the rooms with city view.
Day one: Getting a feel for the place
Downtown Kandy is the touristiest part of the city, where hundreds of shops, hotels, restaurants are lined up along the roads. There is a high possibility of encountering touts and hawkers here, especially the foreign travellers, offering tours, excursions or entry to their shops. It is best to be relaxed while interacting with them –they just try to make a living, they just leave you alone when you politely refuse their offer, if it seems to be things getting bit overwhelming, try to avoid the scene and leave the place.
Head to the Sacred tooth relic temple located towards the eastern corner of the city, just in front of the Kandy Lake better known as “Kiri Muhuda” or Milk Sea. Tooth relic temple is the most sacred Buddhist temple on the island and frequented by a large number of foreign and local travellers. Especially in the morning, afternoon and evening, during the Pooja hours, thousands of travellers gathering to the temple to make offerings. During the weekends and holiday, the number of visitors at the temple is increased by a large number due to the pilgrims, who make trips to the temple from faraway cities on the island.
You should try to eat at the Gannoruwa Agri farm restaurant, which is by far the best restaurant in Kandy to sample typical Sri Lankan food, the food is served in nature-friendly reed plates. The Agri farm restaurant sits near the Mahaweli River, within the borders of Gannoruwa Agriculture research centre. The food is handled very hygienically and served fresh; most food is prepared just before the customers.
Many dozens of food stalls selling different food varieties are arranged in a buffet type of a display, each stall run by a local family and prepare one or a few varieties of local food. Only the vegetarian food items are sold in the restaurant and typical local food items such as Wade, milk rice, hoppers, string hoppers, and many other food varieties of food are been sold here along with herbal soup, fruit juice, tea and coffee. The restaurant is under the purview of Gannoruwa agriculture research centre and runs solely as a welfare project to serve the people.
Kandy is a city that attracts a large number of foreign as well as a local tourist every day; therefore, Kandy has no shortage of delicious food, which is offered by hundreds of restaurants in the city. If you wish to gobble down European, Indian, Chinese food it is best to drop into one of the tourist restaurants, which are specially prepared to cater to foreign travellers. These restaurants also serve popular local food items such as rice and curry as well as seafood specialities.
Day two: Culture meets bliss
Sri Lanka is a country with one of the oldest cultures in the world and the richness of Sri Lanka’s culture duly manifested in the various dance forms available on the island of Sri Lanka. The Kandyan cultural show is a great opportunity for travellers to experience rich culture and tradition of Sri Lanka, which is a unique and very vibrant performance to showcase the Sri Lankan dance.
Visiting a spa is one of the best ways to unwind you after long days of work and there are many spas and Ayurveda treatment centres in Kandy. Most hotels are equipped with Ayurveda spa centres and provide various massage treatments such as full body massage and scrubby luxuriant in a rose petal herbal bath, to the in-house as well as outside customers. Usually, it is essential to make an advanced booking to get a seat at the spa centres but the hotel or the travel company that arrange your tour can make it for you.
Udawattakele forest reserve
A lush green forest reserve, just behind the sacred Tooth relic temple, is full of cheeky macaques all looking for your attention (and food). Usually, the monkeys are always in search of food, if they smell food or fruits they will behind you until they get the treat, so check your bags and pockets before entering the forest reserve. Udawattakele forest reserve is one of the best places to spot many species of avian fauna species and the visitors can found about 80 species of different birds in the forest.
Some of the birds visible in the forest are very rare and endemic such as Layard’s parakeet, brown-capped babbler and, Yellow-fronted barbet. Three-toed kingfisher (Ceyx erythacus), which is one of the rarest bird has been spotted in the park often. Some of the regular birds occurring in the forest are blue-winged leafbird, Golden-fronted leafbird, Common hill myna, emerald dove, spotted dove, white-rumped shama, Tickell’s blue flycatcher, brown-headed barbet crested serpent eagle, Crimson-fronted barbet, and brown fish owl. Apart from the bird many species mammals as well as vertebrates also can be spotted here.
Day three: Adventure
Although Kandy has a reputation for the cultural, religious and historical bliss, there are many activities on offer for thrill-seekers. Seerendipity tours offer various activities for the traveller, who looks for adrenaline-pumping activities, from waterfall abseiling to white water rafting along the Kelani river, rock climbing, mountain biking and river kayaking, there is plenty of activities to get your heart racing. Those who look for less exhilaration can head to Elephant Park 40km eastward from Kandy.
Day four: Winding up Sri Lanka tour 4 Days
This is the time for you to engage in the last-minute shopping tour and find lucrative deals on gems and jewellery, clothing, handicrafts, and batik. There are many wonderful shops along the Kandy-Colombo main road where you can buy batik sarongs, gems, wooden statues, murals, wall hanging, tea, spices brooches and mementoes of your stay, and reflect on the magical Sri Lanka tour 4 Days, you have just enjoyed.