Sri Lanka has been one of the world’s hottest destinations – both literally and figuratively – for a while now.
It’s no wonder travellers are foregoing more well-trodden Asian destinations like Bali and Thailand. You can get a vitamin D fix on the beach in Mirissa, admire the Dutch-inspired architecture in Galle Fort, visit ancient temples, and eat all the hoppers, rice and curry your heart desires. You can travel on some of the most scenic railways on earth, spot wild elephants in Udawalawe National Park, and be utterly spoilt by the kindness and hospitality of the Sri Lankan people.
And then, there’s Kandy, nestled in the up-country hills in the heart of Sri Lanka. It’s an increasingly popular spot for travellers – here are six reasons why we love it too.
1. The climate
Because you’re in the hills, you get some pretty sweet relief from the constant humidity of Colombo. While you’re still likely to experience some mugginess during the day, Kandy has crisp mornings, and refreshing breezes in the afternoon. In the late afternoons and evenings, you may actually need a light jumper.
2. Kandy Lake
Situated in the centre of town lies Kandy Lake, an artificial lake constructed in 1807 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. A stroll around the lake is a pretty nice way to while away an afternoon; a lap of the lake is just over three kilometres, so should take most wanderers around half an hour. There are plenty of benches along the path, if you need a rest.
3. The snacks
What’s the perfect accompaniment to a stroll around Kandy Lake? A snack (or four). A local favourite is a bag of chilli salt mango or pineapple, which you can pick up from vendors around the lake. Trust us, it’s delicious. Stroll a little further afield to a local bakery, filled with a variety of curry-stuffed buns, rolls and breads (and plenty of sweet treats too). Kandy is also filled with Sri Lankan favourites, like kottu roti, treacle-soaked undu walalu, and hot fried tapioca root.
4. The landscape
Forested hills, colourful houses, morning mists clinging to the trees, impossibly beautiful views… What’s not to love? The city is small enough to explore on foot, but if your feet need a break, wave down a tuk tuk to get you around.
5. The temple
Set on the edge of Kandy Lake, Maligawa Temple – more commonly known as the Temple of the Tooth – houses the relic of one of Buddha’s teeth. Legend has it that the tooth was stolen from Buddha’s funeral pyre in India and, years later, smuggled into Sri Lanka inside a princess’s hairdo. Keep in mind you can’t actually see the tooth – it’s locked inside a box and held behind glass – but the temple itself is an interesting place to visit.
6. The Botanic Gardens
A short tuk tuk ride out of Kandy, the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens is a lovely spot for a walk and some quiet time. Once reserved exclusively for royalty, the gardens are the largest in Sri Lanka, and are home to coconut palms, a fragrant spice garden, orchids and bamboo groves. Spend a few hours exploring (or sitting in the shade with a book), then head back to Kandy for some rice and curry and a refreshing Lion beer.
Explore Kandy for yourself on a small group adventure in Sri Lanka with Intrepid.
Feature image by Ryan Bolton.