Introducing the city

£1.00 | Rp 194.90


Gasoline £0.61 | Rp 118.50

One-way ticket £0.06 | Rp 12.00

Beer £1.67 | Rp 325.00

Main Course £1.28 | Rp 250.00

About Kandy

Known as the 'cultural capital of Sri Lanka' this central island city is full of ancient sights, mist capped hills and the famous Temple of the Tooth.

Kandy is both literally and metaphorically at the heart of Sri Lanka. Away from the bustle of the coastal hubs and tropical beach resorts, this elevated city boasts its own allure - a sense of history and spirituality. Surrounded by rain-forest, the centre is an eclectic mix of brightly coloured houses, rickety market stalls and packed out restaurants. Once the capital of the last Sinhalese Kingdom, the sense of history steeped in its ancient temples and shrines is evocative, although the frenetic bars that come alive at night add a contemporary feel.

Arguably the main draw is the famous Buddhist Temple of the Tooth, home to a casket that is said to contain the revered Tooth Relic. The centre of town is dominated by Kandy Lake, offering tranquil scenes amid bouncing tuk-tuks and congested roads. The Ceylon Tea Museum is great for an afternoon tasting or tea ceremony; if you're looking for something a bit more substantial try one of the many cafes for local curry and jasmine rice. After, walk it off with a hill trek between shrines.

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When Should You Visit?

February - it's peak season but you'll enjoy the best of the weather.

Sri Lanka as a whole has a tropical climate, but Kandy's high altitude elevation means that it is classified as being in a tropical rain-forest zone. The hottest month is April with an average temperature of 26 degrees Celsius and the coolest month is January with an average temperature of 23 degrees Celsius. The wettest month is November.

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Travioor top tips


Insider Info

  • Buses are the best way to get around - from Bandaranaike Interantional Airport there's a free shuttle bus to the main bus station.
  • If you visit the Temple of the Tooth and casket display, make sure you cover up below the knees and entirely on your shoulders.
  • There are some wonderful treks and hikes around the area. The route that leads between the Western Shrines of Kandy Gadaladeniya, the Lankathilake Temples and Embakke Shrine is one of the best.

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Food and drink

Main Course £1.28 | Rp 250.00

3-Course Meal £4.62 | Rp 900.00

Cappuccino £1.54 | Rp 300.00

Beer £1.67 | Rp 325.00

The Scene

Kandy is a great place to try authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, with plenty of home-style restaurants serving regional dishes. Milk tea is a popular local drink; you'll also come across plenty of places serving 'rice boxes', made up of basmati rice, chicken or vegetable curry plus sambol (a coconut based side dish). Maldive fish is also often found on the menu as is koththu (fried roti, egg, vegetables and spices). Other curries are also in abundance (and varying in spiciness) - they are usually served with beautifully fragrant jasmine rice.

There's a surprisingly vibrant nightlife scene in and around Kandy with several bars, lounges and pubs (there's also one club which is rather ominously named 'Blackout'). Many places do happy hour (usually from 5pm to 6pm) and some offer lake views; our pick of the bunch is the expat-haunt, the 'Slightly Chilled Lounge Bar' or the Royal Bar & Hotel' for a swankier tipple.

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Kandy's Story

The city was believed to have been the seat of the first king of the Kingdom of Kandy and remained so past 1592 when all other kingdoms on the island had been conquered by the invading Portuguese and subsequently the Dutch. The Dutch let the Kingdom remain at the centre of the island for nearly two centuries before offensives were launched and battles broke out between the two opposing forces; Kandy's forces eventually won. The Kingdom was again invaded, this time by the British in the latter half of the 18th century. Kandy managed to stay independent until the 19th century, when, in 1815, a treaty was signed between the elite Kandy classes and the British. This stated that Kandy was a British Protectorate. During the years that followed, Kandy developed hugely as large buildings and infrastructure was built. Today it is unified with the rest of Sri Lanka.

Kandy is also the site of the 'Temple of the Tooth' and home to the 'Tooth Relic' one of the most important objects in traditional Buddhism.


හලෝ (halō) | Hello
ඉස්තුති (istuti) | Thank you


The main language spoken in Kandy is Sinhala which belongs to the Indo-Aryan group of languages. Tamil is also spoken but to a lesser extent. English is widely spoken and most tourist signs will be in multiple languages. If you want to give the local lingo a go then try the following phrases in Sinhala:

  • Excuse me: සමාවත්ත (samāvena)
  • Please: කරැණාකරල (karunakarala)
  • Do you speak English? ඔබ ඉංග්රිසි කථා කරනවාද (oba ingreesi kathaa karanavadha?)

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Need to know


Get The Low-Down

  • Public displays of affection are not considered culturally acceptable - be discreet. 
  • Don't turn your back on statues of Buddha. Photography is okay but observe how others position themselves. 
  • Be wary of tourist touts who try to flog special tours which they will then overcharge you for. 
  • Avoid the back alleys of the centre and around the lake after dark which can attract a somewhat seedy crowd. 



Find out about the visa requirements for Sri Lanka here.

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Travioor Recommends


Planning a visit during Esala Perahera Festival? Book accommodation months in advance - the final five days are the liveliest.


The famous Tooth Relic Casket is shown twice daily - the best time to visit is the 6.30pm viewing. Get there early if you fancy your chances of getting close.


If you take a tour of the Ceylon Tea Museum not only will you learn about vintage tea production, you'll also get a free cup of your favourite blend at the end.


Save your pennies by visiting Cargills Food City for some culinary delights and nip round the back where you can buy cheap, takeaway beer.


Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, about four miles southwest of the centre features 147 acres of lush greenery, macaque monkeys and (supposedly) the largest tree in the world.

See What's On In Kandy  

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