The island’s last royal capital, which withstood two tumultuous centuries before finally succumbing to British colonial rule in 1818, Kandy is a must-visit location in Sri Lanka for anyone interested in exploring the country’s culture and history. We have put together a range of unique experiences in and around Kandy which allow travellers to connect intimately to Kandy’s fascinating past and explore its vibrant present.
Take our guided tour of Kandy town, passing through the lively local markets on the way to the magnificent Temple of the Tooth, after which you can rest and relax at the historic Queen’s Hotel with a cup of Ceylon tea. We also offer a guided tour of the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya and a visit to the nearby Kadugannawa Tea Factory.
Head further afield from Kandy town centre and there is still plenty to sink your teeth into. Go on a nature walk around an extensive plantation followed by a typical planter’s lunch; learn about the part elephants play in Sri Lanka’s culture at the Millenium Elephant Foundation; explore the Buddhist temples in Gampola which are filled with stunning examples of Kandyan art; visit the home of a local batik artist, or take the train into the Hill Country, one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world. If you’re looking for something more rigorous, try out the half-day trek in the Knuckles Mountain Range.
The Best Things to Do in Bentota
01. The Three Temple Loop
Three temples, all offering different stories to capture your imagination. Start at Gadaladeniya and step into the 12th century. In this temple, you will find out about the influence that Buddhism has on Hinduism and vice versa. Here notice the grandeur of the architecture, the incredible size of the Buddha statue and the remarkable artistry in the detailing of the artwork. Enjoy a tuk-tuk ride through paddy fields and reach the second temple, Lankatilaka. Your knowledgeable guide will talk you through the foundations of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and the role it plays today for 75% of the population. Before reaching your third and final temple of the experience, you will stop at a plantation to take in the sights and smells of how coffee, tea, and pepper are all grown side by side. Embekka hosts a Hindu shrine unlike many others and a view of its surroundings that is seemingly endless.
02. Udawattakele Forest Walk
After meeting at the entrance, your guide will walk you through the 4km stretch of well-preserved land. Placed on a hill ridge, Udawattakele forest reserve which translates to “the garden above the royal palace” is home to a varying number of flora and fauna species. Mere moments into your walk, you will notice the area is rich in diversity. You will come across varying species of trees, all of which help you to breathe in the majesty of your surroundings. One of the most accessible parts of the park is that it is well sheltered by the varying canopy, so you can find shade whenever you need it. Your knowledgeable guide will talk you through the history of the reserve, and bring alive stories that still resonate through Kandyan culture today. Let the macaques charm you as they playfully sway from branch to branch, all set to the backdrop of birdsong. About two-thirds into the walk are the viewpoint of the Kingdom of Kandy, a stunning vista which takes your breath away. Sip on refreshments as you drink in the view which includes the lake, temple of the tooth and the city in all of its splendour.
03. Kandy Botanical Gardens
Banked by the beautiful Mahaweli river lays Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. The 147-acre site is composed of endemic plants mixed with species brought from as far as the famous Kew Gardens in England. Steeped in history, it has evolved through colonial rule to become one of the most popular botanical gardens in Asia. Your guide will meet you at the main entrance gate, and walk you through the garden’s evolution from inception to the present day. Walk through several stunning tree-lined avenues and catch a glimpse of the troop of monkeys that have made the guava tree collection their home. Other wildlife in the park includes a colony of fruit bats and various species of endemic butterflies. Pay attention to the magnificent fig tree at the centre of the grand lawn which sprawls for meters on end and provides good shade under its canopy for a rest. Before you leave, take a look in the orchid house which gives shelter to many varieties and colours of orchids native to Sri Lanka. These beautiful gardens will serve as the oasis required after spending time in the hustle and bustle of Kandy city.
04. Kandy Temple & City
Pristine golden beaches and stunning sea views are all yours. Bentota is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka, an idyllic place to soak up the sun or swim in the waves.
05. Visit Kande Viharaya
This walk begins alongside Kandy Lake, at the centre of the city and bounded by a distinct “cloud wall”. As your host guides you around the lake, hear stories of Sri Lanka’s last kingdom and follow the footsteps of countless Buddhists through the ornate grounds of the Temple of the Tooth, peppered with monuments to significant times in the island’s history. Explore the streets on foot, visiting a local church, passing the busy shops of Ali Mudukkuwa and the city’s impressive clock tower. Drop in for a drink at the Empire Café and end your walk at Kandy Market surrounded by local life and an exciting array of exotic fruits and vegetables.
06. Trekking in Knuckles
Hiking in the Knuckles with our trekker, an outdoors enthusiast, and knowledgeable naturalist, you are unlikely to see another soul along the way. This part of Sri Lanka is valued by scientists and anthropologists alike for its biodiversity and native people. The rugged and often mist-shrouded area is home to 40 hidden villages and a plethora of endemic wildlife. The best months are March – April, and June – August and there is the choice of a half-day (8km) or full-day (18km) trek. This is one of those mystical regions of the island, still off-the-beaten-track, with views and remote scenery that make a hike extremely rewarding.