Not everyone heads further North than Kandy on their trip to Sri Lanka, but if you have the time, it’s been one of the best parts of our trip to the country. Read all about it now…
Stop 12 – Kandy
Spend – We spent two nights in Kandy but could have stayed longer. There’s so much to do in the city but it also feels very chilled and was a nice place to reflect on everything we’d seen and done in Sri Lanka so far.
Getting there – We took the train from Nuwara Eliya, which cost 400 rupees (£2). Read all about it here.
Stay – We stayed at The Best Hostel, a really fun and relaxed hostel near the lake. The two brothers who run it were lovely and even made us a special dinner for free when they found out it was our honeymoon. We paid about £15 per night for a room with a fan and breakfast.
Eat – There was a really great little cafe near to the hostel on the lake, which did a very cheap but tasty vegetarian curry and rice for lunch. If you’re looking for a place for a beautiful view of the city at night, head to ‘Slightly Chilled’. A pub run by an English ex-pat which also serves food. Their roof garden is always bustling.
Do – Kandy was a huge highlight of our time in Sri Lanka. Full of beautiful temples, including the incredible Sri Dalada Maligawa or the ‘Temple of the Sacred Tooth’. It’s a Buddhist temple in the Royal Palace of the city, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. It is a serene and very special temple with enough rooms and museums to keep you busy for a good few hours.
As well as the Temple of the Tooth, we took a tuk tuk to the Giant Buddha, high in the hills of Kandy and other nearby temples. We also shopped in the big central market for souvenirs and strolled round the big lake in the heart of the city.
Stop 13 – Dambulla and Stop 14 – Sigiriya
Spend – We visited Dambulla on the way to Sigiriya and then spent one night there before heading up to the North East Coast of Sri Lanka. If you’re only in Sri Lanka for two weeks or have little interest in going further north than Sigiriya, then you could visit both of these stops in a day before returning to Kandy.
Getting there – We got a bus from Kandy to the Dambulla Cave Temples for 120 rupees each (60p). You should be able to get a bus from Dambulla to Sigiriya but we were unable to find any that were going in that direction, so then got a tuk tuk to our guesthouse in Sigiriya for 1000 rupees (£5). Looking back, we probably got a little overcharged there as it only took about 20 minutes.
Stay – We stayed at Green Bamboo House for £12 a night with a fan and breakfast. The family who ran it were really lovely and welcoming.
Eat – The villages around Sigiriya rock are all very small and in the jungle and we were warned against walking outside in the evenings in case we came across snakes, aggressive stray dogs, or – wait for it – elephants! So we ended up having dinner at the guesthouse for 700 rupees each (£3.50), rather than venturing further out. It was a selection of vegetarian curries and was delicious. Breakfast there was also really yummy.
Do – Dambulla is the home of a number of temples carved into caves in a mountain. It was a fascinating stop and well worth the journey from Kandy. Once we were done exploring the caves, we watched the local monkeys playing and took in the view from the top of the mountain.
Sigiriya Rock is the main draw in the area but it’s also pretty pricey. Right next door is a much cheaper rock which you can climb for 500 rupees each (£2.50) for similar views. I had an old knee injury that was flaring up, so we decided to go for the very lazy option and got a tuk tuk from our guesthouse to take us to various viewpoints around both rocks. We then headed to Trincomalee on the North East coast. Our tuk tuk for the day, including our Sigiriya visit and then our trip to Trincomalee cost 5,000 rupees (£25). Our driver even stopped at a local kurd and honey stall to treat us to a snack and show us how it’s made. I’m not a huge fan of Sri Lankan kurd – a kind of yoghurt made by keeping buffalo milk in a hot room – but it’s a must try.