Sri Lanka

Kandy, Sri Lanka: The 7 best things to do in Kandy

Published: 09-02-2021

Kandy is located in the heart of Sri Lanka, The Hill County. Colombo is the political capital of the country, but Kandy is the cultural capital. In addition, besides Pollanaruwa and Anuradhapura, Kandy is one of the three royal cities of the country. The town has a perfect location between the mountains at about 500 meters altitude and is mainly known for the most important temple in the country and is located on the artificial Kandy lake. What fun things to do in Kandy? We list seven highlights in the cultural capital of Sri Lanka.

Kandy is a city in Sri Lanka where you can easily entertain yourself for a few days. Even if you are not a big fan of cities, the area has plenty to offer. If you want to see more of the surroundings, make sure you get a spot on the train from Kandy to Ella. One of the most beautiful train journeys in the world and one of the coolest things to do in Sri Lanka. 

#1. The temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is clearly the most important temple in the country and one of the most important temples for Buddhism worldwide. In this temple is one of the remaining teeth of Buddha. In addition to the tooth in Kandy, there is another tooth in India and one in Thailand.

History of the temple of the tooth in Kandy

The tooth appears to have been smuggled into the hair of a princess in 483 BC from the Buddha’s Funeral Pyre. In 1283 the tooth was seized by India, but eventually it returned to Sri Lanka. The tooth of Buddha became so important that the person who had the tooth in his / her possession became the boss of Sri Lanka. The tooth now seems to be in the Sacred tooth Relic, the temple of the tooth, in Kandy, but whether this is really the tooth is not at all certain. There are stories that the Portuguese have burned the tooth in the 16th century, but Sri Lankanen are convinced that that was a replica. So, a real tooth of Buddha or a fake? We will probably never know ..

Entrance fee for the temple of the tooth of the Buddha

The entrance fee for the temple of the tooth is 1000 rupees per person. You will not see the tooth, however. This is safely stored in a golden box which is stored away in an excellent security room. The complex of the temple of the tooth is beautifully situated on the lake of Kandy. Three times a day rituals are performed by the monks at the temple and the tooth is bathed on Wednesday. The water in which the tooth is bathed is distributed among those present. It is believed that the water has a healing power.

We ourselves have not been in the temple. We have only seen the complex from the outside, since the admission price is on the high side.

Read more about the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

#2. What to do in Kandy: Esala Perashere festival

Unfortunately, we were not in Sri Lanka at the right time to experience the Esala Perashere festival (the feast of the holy tooth). This festival lasts 10 days every year and takes place in July or August. During the festival, the tooth of Buddha is worn by an elephant by Kandy. There is also a procession along with the elephant with dozens of dancers, musicians and decorated elephants. The festival is a big attraction in Sri Lanka, so it is important to buy a ticket in time if you want to be present. The best seats cost you about 6000 rupees, but if you are less demanding it can also be a lot less. In 2015, the festival will take place from 20 to 30 August.

#3. Kandy sightseeing: Kandy lake

Kandy is beautifully situated on the artificial Kandy lake. In 1807 the lake was built by the last king of Sri Lanka, Sri Wikcrama Rajasinha. Exactly in the middle of the lake lies an island (see featured image). This island was formerly used by the king to let his harem stay. The lake is a great location for a lovely walk or to relax with a view over the water. Around the lake you can spot different animals such as cows, monitor lizards and monkeys.

Kandy lake

#4. Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue

You can see this Buddha statue from the lake of Kandy. It is a huge image and an important religious monument in Sri Lanka. From the center of Kandy it is about 30 minutes walk to the picture. The statue is on a mountain, so it’s climbing for a while, but from there you have a great view over the city. The entrance fee for the complex is 200 rupees per person.

#5.Visit the local market in Kandy, Sri Lanka

We love visiting local markets. We try to pick up at least one market at virtually every destination. Similarly in Kandy. Every day you can go to the local market in Kandy. Here we trade in vegetables, fruit and other foods. The market is a huge chaos, but that makes it special. Try out the most tropical pieces of fruit and get in touch with the locals. The market is located on the main road in Kandy.

Local market in Kandy Sri Lanka

#6. The National Museum

This national museum belongs to the palace complex of Kandy and is just like the temple of the tooth on the Kandy lake. The museum does not pose too much, but is nice to pick up. The most important and interesting attraction is the document that states that Sri Lanka came under the British regime (Ceylon).

#7. Travel by train to Ella

As you might know one of the most amazing train rides in the world takes place in Sri Lanka. Once you’ve explored all of Kandy, please make sure to take the train to Ella. Ella is an amazing city in Sri Lanka which you should definitely visit during your holiday in Sri Lanka.

Train from Kandy to Ella

The best places to stay in Kandy

Of course we haven’t been able to check out all accommodations, but we still managed to put together a list with amazing places to stay in the city.

Click here to compare all accommodations in Kandy.

What do you think are the best things to do in Kandy?

Kirsten - Even when I was a child I already knew I was going to explore the world. Now, in my early thirties, I have done pretty well in following my dream. In 2014 Erick and I started Travelaar.nl, a Dutch blog on which to share our adventures with the world. In 2017 we started Travelaar.com to share our articles with the rest of the planet.