Our first stop on our ten day adventure around the beautiful Sri Lanka was Kandy, a large city inland and one full of culture, bustle and nature. When looking at a map of Sri Lanka, Kandy is relatively central, giving a contrast to the very popular coastal locations. We arrived into Bandaranaike International Airport and had a pre-booked car to drive us to Kandy on our first day and we arrived just before sunset to relax, freshen up and enjoy the hotel before a full day of exploring in the morning!
We woke up early in our delightful hotel (more to follow on that later!) and headed out early to walk to the big Buddha statue or its formal name, Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue. This was about a 30 minute walk from our hotel, it was a good choice to go early as you do need to venture up a pretty steep incline to get there. The statue was built in the late 80’s and finished in 1992 and is a breathtaking 88 feet tall white Buddha statue sat in the Nirvana pose and surrounded by the most stunning landscape of Kandy, with views of the city and the lake in the background.
The views from the statue are beautiful and as are the views as you make your way up so I would advise to walk if you have the ability to do so. You have to pay to enter the statue, we paid 500 LKR for two people which works out around £2.25. We also had to take our shoes off and leave these in a small shack at the bottom, but it’s manned and they give you a numbered token to retrieve the correct pair. We had to take usual temple procedures and ensure shoulders and knees were covered, if not they provide you with a wrap around for free.
Walking through the city early morning is fascinating, watching everyone opening their stalls and shops for the day. I will never get over beautiful fruit stalls in these countries, the colours are mesmerising and the choice is amazing!
Throughout the city you will find an abundance of Buddha statues like this. They are incredible but just hidden amongst the chaos, the locals taking no notice. I managed to snap a photo of this one as we were flying around on a tuk tuk.
After heading back to the hotel and freshening up (yes, it was so hot we needed to already!) we headed out to Kandy Lake. Our hotel was right by here so it was perfectly situated. The lake is sometimes also known as ‘Sea of Milk’ which is interesting. It’s an artificial lake which was made in the early 1800’s and although it is minimising in size, it’s protected and fishing is banned here. You can walk around the entire lake if you choose to, there’s a cool air around here and it’s a peaceful stroll.
Something I was most excited to do in Kandy was visited the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. This is a very popular attraction and is a temple located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. It was moments away from our hotel which was a big selling point to the hotel and we had every intention to visit. Whilst at the lake, we had a look at the site as it’s right next to it and it seemed very busy and rather large. Whilst back in the hotel I was doing a quick search on Tripadvisor and found a few reviews advising against it. A lot of the reviews mentioned that you have to hand your shoes in as you enter, which is fine and I aways respect it but the site is large and you have to stumble along with boiling feet on the concrete. That and also mentions of it being expensive, we decided against visiting the temple.
Instead of the temple, we wanted to enjoy a bit more peace and natural beauty so we jumped in a tuk tuk and headed to the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are located in a suburb of Kandy called Peradeniya so getting a lift down is advised. The Botanical Gardens is the largest garden within Sri Lanka and has over 4000 species of plants including a very impressive orchid collection. We paid 1100 LKR to get to and from the Gardens and 4000 LKR to enter which works out as around £23.04 for the entire trip, well worth it because we loved it. It was such a nice contrast to enjoy the quiet and the tranquility of the gardens and we sat here a while to take it all in. Be sure to wander down the palm tree avenue for that Insta shot!
We only had one full day to explore Kandy and managed to fit in eating out the following day after a day trip to Sigiriya so I have three food places to recommend for you! The first place was Cafe Secret Alley, one I knew I wanted to head to after finding it online. Despite the bright colours, it was hard to find at first but we got there! This lovely cafe has a super cool vibe and very friendly staff. We shared a breakfast bowl and French toast, so good! There’s some delicious bowls on the menu, pancakes, pasta and loads of juices and smoothies.
One evening we headed out before the sun went down in search of some to fill our empty bellies. I found Mulberry online and saw photos of their pizzas so I was sold! This place is Tranquil Rose by day and Mulberry by night, we had the Hawaiian pizza and a burrito bowl.
Last place we went to was Buono, this place is tucked down an alley near the bus station and luckily we stumbled upon it. Upstairs offering a nice view of the people below, we had avocado on toast and a chicken wrap. The menu here wasn’t as big as the other places but still something for everyone and I saw some people tucking into the burgers which looked good!
As with everywhere we stayed in Sri Lanka, location was the most important for us. We had limited time in each place so somewhere walking distance was key and staying at The Radh, I couldn’t have been happier. This stunning hotel is based right by many attractions, eateries and walking distance to the bus and train station. We had a beautiful double bedroom with balcony looking out over the street. I’ll have a full review on my Sri Lanka travel tag if you want to hear more!
Overall, I really loved Kandy. It was the perfect place to start to throw you straight in to the hustle of the city but also be captured by the culture and the people. I could easily have spent longer here and would certainly return if and when I come back to the island, do not miss it off your itinerary!