Our recent trip to Sri Lanka was an interesting experience, the start of which was not so impressive, but once we left the big city and dived into the nature, we started feeling satisfied with our choice.
Kandy is very suitable for being your base, if you are lacking time and don’t want to sleep in a different place every day. The city itself, in my opinion, doesn’t have much to offer, so you literally just have dinner and sleep there. You can easily organize a day-trip to the famous Sigiriya Rock and the Elephant Orphanage, which are located within 1-2 hours distance with a car or tuk-tuk.
When we arrived at Kandy train station from Colombo we started negotiating a tuk-tuk drive to our hotel, which was quite near. Of course, they tried to rip us off, but at the end we found a guy willing to take us to the hotel for a decent price. We then arranged a tuk-tuk drive with him to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage for the next day. In the late afternoon we went to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. It is located in the royal palace complex and houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha.
Since ancient times people believed that those who have the relic are the ones to control the country. I would recommend that you visit around 6 p.m. to be able to see the rituals with drums accompanying the unveiling of the casket. It will be crowded.
Entrance fee: 1000 Rs
Working hours: 5:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
The second day we dedicated to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. We decided to go for the tuk-tuk instead a car, as it is located relatively close to Kandy. We arranged a driver, who was super nice and positive. If you are interested, you can contact him on WhatsApp: +94 758 316 393
We were lucky to go there right before the elephants were taken to the river for a bath. This happens twice a day – once around 10 a.m. and then around 1:30-2 p.m. so you definitely want to be there around this time to see them in the river.
Some of the elephants are in chains and honestly, it is such a touristic spot that you get a feeling you are in a zoo, where the animals are trapped. I hope, though, the elephants in the orphanage are well looked after, but the whole experience left a bit of a sour taste.
Entrance fee: 3000 RS
Working hours: 8:30 – 17:30
Tuk tuk drive: 2500 Rs
For the third day we organized a car which to take us to Sigiriya. On our way we also visited the Dambulla cave temple, a World Heritage site since 1991. This is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Major attractions are spread over five caves, which contain statues and paintings related to Buddha and his life.
Entrance fee: 1500 Rs
Working hours: 7 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Our next stop was Pidurangala rock. We decided to climb it instead of Sigiriya, which is surely more crowded and much more expensive to visit. The ticket fee for the Lion rock (Sigiriya) is 2250 Rs while the one for Pidurangala just 500 Rs. In the beginning our aim was to visit both but we ended up spending more time at Pidurangala where you have an absolutely fantastic view of Sigiriya and the lush flora surrounding it. It is a steep climb which gets a bit difficult at the end so you have to make sure you are not wearing slippery shoes or flip flops, although people also managed with such shoes.
Entrance fee: 500 Rs
Working hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Driver with a non AC car for the day: 7000 Rs