The Local Guide to Sri Lanka: Kandy

In this Article


Guide to Kandy, Sri Lanka Overview

  • Must-Do Cultural Events

  • What and Where to Eat in Kandy

  • Local Tips

  • Local Tours

Welcome to Sri Lanka, a land of ancient cities, misty mountains, and pristine beaches. Nestled in the heart of South Asia, it’s quickly making its way to the top of the must-visit travel bucket lists for conscious travelers all over the world.

While the country is best known for its rich history and stunning natural beauty, Sri Lanka’s culture is equally fascinating and unique. It’s a country with a fascinating history and vast influences from Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and the colonial history of the country, it’s truly a cultural melting pot that needs to be experienced at least once in your lifetime.

Today Sri Lanka’s culture is a blend of ancient traditions and modern innovations, reflecting the country’s diverse history and people. Traditional culture in Sri Lanka can be seen in various aspects such as dance, music, art, and festivals. Contemporary culture is seen in the modernization of Sri Lankan music and fashion, especially among the country’s youth.

In this guide, we will explore the cultural delights of Kandy— a charming hillside city in Sri Lanka where tradition meets modernity in a delightful blend.

Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy was the last capital city of the ancient Kings’ era of Sri Lanka. It’s a city of great historical and cultural significance. Located in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, Kandy is surrounded by lush green hills, tea plantations, and the tranquil waters of the Mahaweli River.

Must-See Cultural Events and Sites

Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth and is known for its vibrant cultural festivals, including the world-famous Esala Perahera. There’s no shortage of things to do and see in Kandy, but a few will give you the best insight into Sri Lankan culture.

  • Esala Perahera

    If you happen to be in Kandy during the Esala Perahera festival, you’re in for a treat. There is a grand parade featuring dancers, musicians, and elephants. It happens yearly usually in July or August.

  • Temple of the Tooth

    The Temple of the Tooth, which houses the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha is one of the most important religious sites in Sri Lanka.

    It’s not only an important religious site but is also considered a masterpiece of Sri Lankan architecture. The temple complex consists of several buildings and shrines, each with its own unique history and significance.

  • Kandyan dance

    Another cultural activity is attending a traditional Kandyan dance performance. Kandyan dance is a beautiful and intricate art form, characterized by its fast-paced movements, vibrant costumes, and rhythmic drumming.

    You can experience it at the Kandyan Arts Association or the YMBA Hall in Kandy.

  • Markets

    Lastly, visiting a local market such as Kandy Market or Good Market is an experience that showcases the vibrant culture of Kandy. These markets are a hub for local commerce, and visitors can find anything from traditional textiles to contemporary fashion.

    The Kandy Market, in particular, is famous for its fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices, as well as traditional handicrafts and souvenirs. One of the highlights of visiting Kandy is trying out the local cuisine.

What to Eat in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its distinctive flavors, rich spices, and diverse range of dishes, but there’s three local foods you should try while in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

  • Kandyan Chicken Curry

    Kandyan chicken curry is a traditional Sri Lankan curry that originated in the city of Kandy in central Sri Lanka. It is a rich and spicy curry that is typically made with bone-in chicken pieces and a variety of spices

  • Polos Curry

    Polos curry is a traditional Sri Lankan curry made with jackfruit. Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is native to South and Southeast Asia, and it is commonly used in Sri Lankan cuisine as a vegetarian alternative to meat.

  • Kiribath.

    Kiribath is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made with rice and coconut milk. It is often served at special occasions such as weddings, religious ceremonies, and festivals, with a variety of side dishes such as coconut sambol, seeni sambol, and chicken curry.

Where the locals eat

Katu Mati Gedara Bath Kade is a rustic eatery that offers a truly authentic Sri Lankan dining experience. Here, you can enjoy white rice with lake fish, Gotukola sambola, dhal curry, and papadam, accompanied by kithul pani with skimmed milk as dessert.

Local Tips

  • Bahirawakanda Temple

    A local insider tip for Kandy is to take a tuk-tuk ride up to the Bahirawakanda Temple. The temple is located on a hill overlooking Kandy, and the view from the top is breathtaking, especially during sunset.

  • Royal Botanical Gardens

    The Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy is a stunning natural attraction that houses over 4,000 species of plants. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and enjoy the serene beauty of nature.

  • Udawattakele Forest Reserve

    Take a hike in Udawattakele Forest Reserve: Udawattakele Forest Reserve is a protected nature reserve located in Kandy. It is a great place to go for a hike and explore the natural beauty of Sri Lanka.

  • Kandy Lake

    Kandy Lake is a man-made lake located in the heart of the city. It is a great place to relax and take a peaceful walk, especially during sunset.

Local Tours and Excursions

Local Guide Written By: Kasun Malinda

Kasun is a blogger and video editor from Kandy, Sri Lanka. Who is passionate about writing and creating engaging content that connects with readers and viewers from all around the world.

Through his work, he strives to share stories, insights, and ideas that inspire and inform, while also entertaining and engaging his audience.

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