Just a few hours’ drive from Colombo, the hill town of Kandy is a must-visit for travelers eager to experience Sri Lanka’s heartland. Framing a lake and surrounded by rainforest-clad hills, the Unesco World Heritage Site warrants an outing. Here’s what to expect from a Kandy day trip.
- Visit the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy’s 17th-century Buddhist shrine and royal palace to see its sacred tooth—said to have belonged to Buddha himself.
- Chart Kandy’s history as Sri Lanka’s hill capital and its time as an independent kingdom until 1815.
- Admire Kandy Lake, a beautiful artificial lake in the city center, framed by rainforested mountains.
- Stroll the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens to see exotic plants, towering palms, and trees hung with fruit bats.
- Watch a Kandy cultural show featuring Sri Lanka’s traditional dances, ceremonial drumming, and fire-walking.
- See Kandy’s woodcarvers at work and perhaps buy some Sri Lankan gemstones at the city’s gem galleries.
Things to Know
- Kandy lies 78 miles (126 kilometers) northeast of Colombo, a 3.5- to 4-hour drive.
- Day trips are typically private and include round-trip air-conditioned transport, a driver-guide, and, occasionally, a buffet lunch.
- Kandy’s attractions are quite dispersed, so you need transport around the city to explore them in a day.
- Excursions usually take about 12 hours, including travel time; and 14 hours if they visit other attractions en route.
- Tours often include stops at the nearby Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, as well as tea factories and spice gardens.