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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for The First-Timer’s Kandy Travel Guide - Tips for Exploring Kandy for the First Time
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The First-Timer’s Kandy Travel Guide - Tips for Exploring Kandy for the First Time

The hill capital of Sri Lanka is not only a cultural hotspot but one of the most scenic regions of the tropical island. From exploring its main highlights to finding its off the beaten path attractions, here are some tips on how to tour Kandy for the first time.


Time the Visit

Those who wish to make their first trip to Kandy a pleasant and memorable experience should time their holiday to coincide with the best weather conditions. The months between January and April are deemed the ideal time to head to Kandy as sunny skies dominate this time of year in Central Sri Lanka. This means hiking in the hills and outdoor excursions large and small are not only safe and available but also easily accessible. Avoid the period from October to November as Kandy can be quite overcast and rainy during this time of year while the May to September period is also known for its sudden thundershowers.


Visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on the Way

All holidaymakers heading to Kandy must make it a point to stop by the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on their way to the hill capital. Quietly nestled within close range of Kandy, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is one of Sri Lanka's foremost conservation hub dedicated to providing a home to injured and abandoned elephants of all ages. One can witness elephants taking their daily bath or take part in feeding baby elephants at this one of a kind nature sanctuary.


Start with the Temple of the Tooth

Tipped to be among Sri Lanka's most popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the main reason most travellers head to Kandy in the first place is to pay homage to this iconic temple. The Sri Dalada Maligawa as it is locally known is home to the dental remains of Lord Buddha who passed away in India back in 543 BC. Contained within a former palace, the Temple of the Tooth is a larger than life compound full of history and wonder.


Go for a Boat Ride

No trip to Kandy would be complete without a boat ride across Kandy Lake. Located within view of the Temple of the Tooth, some of the riverside activities one can engage in before or after a boating excursion include jogging around the lake or feeding its duck population. Having been the site of a tragic beheading of a courtier's family in the ancient past, the Kandy Lake remains one of the most picturesque bodies of water in the hills.


Explore the Udawattakele Forest Reserve

Nature lovers that explored Kandy Escapes and other websites concerning Kandy, Sri Lanka would have come across details regarding this expansive forest reserve. Indeed, a hike around this 104ha sanctuary is a must for all visitors as it is home to a diverse collection of plant and birdlife.


Catch a Traditional Performance

Witnessing a Kandyan dance recital is another must for first-timers. Head to the Kandy Lake Club to watch ornately dressed dancers perform a traditional dance item in all its grandeur between 5 pm and 6 pm daily.