Top 10 things to do in Kandy, from the best hotel to traditional Sri Lankan dance and a Buddhist festival

Immerse yourself in culture at a colourful festival or the arts centre, take a scenic train ride to Colombo, chill out at the lake, then stay in a beautifully styled hotel

The best view across Kandy: Giant White Buddha

Kandy is one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka. For the best views across it, visit the Giant White Buddha statue, perched upon one of the highest hills in the region and visible from everywhere in the town. You can either hike up the hill or take a tuk-tuk.

Kandy. Kandy Lake. Flickr CC Ronald Tagra
A lakeside stroll: Kandy Lake

The lake is a beautiful protected lake in the heart of the city, running alongside the Temple of the Sacred Tooth on one side. A stroll around the lake is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours.

Kandy. Festival of the Tooth. Buddhist festival. Flickr CC S B
A colourful festival: Temple of the Sacred Tooth

A highly significant festival in the Buddhism culture, the Festival of The Tooth, takes place every August. It is a time of great celebration for both local people and visitors, who join together at the city’s Temple of the Sacred Tooth relic within the grand Kandyan Royal Palace.

The relic is a major epicentre of Sri Lankan Buddhism and was specially built to house a tooth believed to have belonged to the Buddha himself. According to legend, when Buddha was cremated in the fifth century BC, one of his followers kept one tooth and in the fourth century AD it was smuggled to Sri Lanka, where it has been worshipped ever since.

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The tooth is buried deep, within a casket and can’t be seen, but every year in August there are a series of processions in its honour using an adorned replica casket. Locals take to the streets with drums, whips and fire, parading alongside herds of elephants dripping in silks, embroidery and glitter, creating a spectacular sight.

The celebrations culminate on the night of August’s full moon, before a symbolic spectacle the following morning where a religious official draws a sword through the Mahaweli Ganga River. The act is both to ensure a plentiful water supply and to separate pure from impure

All year round, the Temple is a must-see sight on any Kandy itinerary. Get there early to miss the crowds and see the sacred statue.

Ozo Kandy Sri Lanka. Hotel interior

A smart international hotel

OZO Kandy is the town’s first international hotel opening for 30 years, and ONYX Hospitality Group’s second Sri Lankan OZO property. The hotel is located just minutes from the town centre and has uninterrupted vistas of Kandy Lake and the surrounding hills, including Knuckle Mountain.

Ozo Kandy Hotel Sri Lanka. Dream Lake room interior

There are 122 cosy guest rooms, each smartly designed to keep travellers well connected, including free Wi-Fi and a multimedia connectivity panel for gadgets. OZO Kandy has everything a visitor could wish for after a full day of exploration.

Kandy. Train to Colombo Sri Lanka. Flickr CC Andy Nobes

A scenic journey: the train ride to Colombo

To explore more of the country, take a two-and-a-half hour journey starting from just £13 return with ExpoRail. The scenic journey across the colourful country provides stunning views of the surrounding Highlands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The journey is one of the greenest you will see and worth the trip if only to experience the views. For those looking to stay over in Colombo, try OZO Colombo Sri Lanka.

 

A day in nature: Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya

About five kilometres from the city centre is the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens of Kandy. It is home to more than 4,000 species of plants and most well-known for its collection of colourful orchids.

A local dance show: Kandyan Art Association & Cultural Centre

At this popular dance and arts venue, local dance groups put on shows throughout the days and evenings. It can get very busy so it’s best to arrive early.   

Kandy. Ceylon Tea Museum. Drying floor. Flickr CC Dave Lonsdale

Sri Lanka’s best tea: Ceylon Tea Museum

Where better to learn the history of tea than in Sri Lanka? This project has been refurbished by the Sri Lanka Tea Board and the Planters’ Association of Sri Lanka. There are exhibits on tea pioneers James Taylor and Thomas Lipton, and lots of vintage tea-processing paraphernalia. Knowledgeable guides are available and you can sample Sri Lanka’s best teas in the sweet tea room.

Kandy. Dambulla Cave Temple. Flickr CC SJ Pinkney

The most unusual temple: Dambulla cave temple

An hour and a half drive from Kandy is the Dambulla cave temple, a well-preserved cave temple complex and a World Heritage Site.  

Ozo Kandy hotel Sri Lanka. Splash rooftop swimming pool

A rooftop lounge at sunset

After a brilliant day exploring all that Sri Lanka has to offer, chill out on OZO Kandy’s rooftop lounge, BOMMU. It’s an ideal place for cooling drinks and poolside bites while taking in the stunning sunset.

OZO Kandy has a special opening offer with rates starting at $99 a night (approximately £65). Offer includes breakfast, early check-in and late checkout, and an upgrade to the next room category (subject to availability). Exclusive of taxes and service charges. Valid for stays until 31 July 2015. Visit Ozo Hotels  for more information or to make a reservation