My last two days in Kandy were spent sightseeing the remaining spots in Sri Lanka’s “culture capital,” while also finding time to recharge from navigating this bustling city.
Day 6: Kandy viewpoint + spice garden + botanical garden
The two previous days, I saw as many sites as I could by foot, but there were a few attractions outside the city that I wanted to check out. So I hired a tuk tuk driver for one day for these remaining sites.
The first stop was Kandy viewpoint. We drove up a mountain to a small observation deck with sweeping views of the city. I’m glad I had a tuk tuk to bring me here as it would have been a looong climb by myself.
Next, we headed to Dumbara Spice Garden. Kandy has several spice gardens you can tour, and I asked my driver to pick any one. This garden was quite small as it was just used for tours while the main farm was further north in Dambulla. I took a free tour and learned about a wide variety of different spices and plants. It was interesting to see/smell different spices in its plant form – a lot of them looked very different from the dried version you would buy in the supermarket. The garden was also right next to the river which provided a peaceful vibe.
My tour guide showed me a bunch of different herbal remedies that they made, treating everything from hair loss, insomnia, chronic back pain, and even eczema. I really enjoyed this aspect of the tour, as I’ve recently been more interested in exploring eastern/homeopathic medicine.
While the tour was free, there was some pressure to buy an item at the end, so I purchased some aloe vera cream and moved on.
Next, I headed to the Botanical Garden in Kandy. I was really excited for this attraction as my love for gardens has grown substantially in recent years, especially after meeting Joe who is a talented gardener. 🙂 This garden was HUGE, and it was such a peaceful escape from the busy city. The plants were very well-manicured; literally every tree was sculpted to perfection. It had a formal/regal vibe versus some of the more lush/over-grown botanical gardens I’ve been to.
There were plenty of walking paths to explore and get lost in. I spent a few hours at this garden, and it was the highlight of the day!
I spent the rest of the day relaxing at my hotel, drinking tea on their rooftop, reading, and watching Netflix.
Day 7: hike in Udawattakele Forest Reserve
After multiple days of sightseeing, I was excited for a chill day away from the busy city. My hotel was right next to a forest reserve called Udawattakele Park, and I thought some time in nature would be a great way to spend my last day in Kandy.
The park was wooded and shaded, full of life with birds chirping and small monkey-like mammals swinging from the trees. The trails were pretty flat, and I soaked in the relaxing vibes while having the space to reflect. I feel like walking is a form of meditation for me which is why I love hiking so much. I fell into a trance, and before I knew it, I hiked 4 miles (~6.5 km).
These cuties are everywhere in Sri Lanka! They even stole a piece of my bread at breakfast. 😛
After my hike, the rain poured in as monsoon season is just starting. I holed up in a cafe in the afternoon and treated myself to some ice cream. 🙂
After 5 days in Kandy, I feel complete and ready to move on. I gained a lot by learning about Sri Lankan culture as well as gaining appreciation for the people here. Among the hundreds of people I saw every day, I never saw anyone get angry at anything. Sri Lankans are very helpful and expressive people, and it certainly helps that their English is quite good here.
I thought the attractions were wonderful in Kandy – the ceremony at the Tooth Temple, the dance show, and the botanical garden were such highlights for me – yet I have to say, Kandy wasn’t my favorite city in the world. It was everything in between that was stressful – crazy traffic, aggressive vendors, harassment, etc. I could only do a few hours in the city per day before needing to find comfort at my hotel. I am grateful for spreading out the sites over 4 days as I definitely would feel burned out if I tried to cram it all together.
Nevertheless, I have no ill feelings towards Kandy – it was never a surprise that I was not going to love a big city. One thing I’m learning from traveling is putting my expectations aside and appreciating things for what they are.
Next, I’m heading out of the city and into the mountains. I’m excited for a change in scenery and to hopefully find solace in nature and hiking. 🙂