Let’s talk about money. You have 10 euros in your pocket and a day to explore as much as possible of Kandy, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. Is this possible?
Sure, that works!
(Prices are for 2 people, alone a bit more expensive)
Overnight at Burmese Rest House- 2.05 Euro
Attention, prices are changing fast and this article is a bit older. For a city sightseeing and savings, the route is still a great clue.
An oasis of calm in downtown Sri Lanka, Burmese Rest House is a cheap and probably sustainable place to stay. About 10 minutes’ walk from the city centre, there are double rooms for 700 rupees, drinking water included. Burmese Rest House is right by the Trinity University Bus Station. A bus from the bus station takes about 10 minutes. Unlike the tourist area by the lake, this is the heart of the city centre and you do not have to walk 20 minutes to get to the city. Cheaper than the lake, it is also.
The YMCA is a great alternative for solo travellers or if the Burmese rest is full. The YMCA is probably the most centrally located property in Kandy. For 600 rupees you get a single room with drinking water and a milk tea in the morning. For a double occupancy of the single room you have to pay 200 rupees extra. In both accommodations, there is no Wi-Fi and you cannot reserve in advance.
(350 Rs double room per person)
Tip: Accommodations in Sri Lanka
Civil war has been raging in Sri Lanka for decades and tourism is slowly gaining momentum. There is no such backpacker infrastructure outside of Galle and some beaches as in India or Nepal. There are also a few other YMCAs, for example in Colombo and Jaffna. Only in Galle have I seen a dormitory for solo travellers.
The cheapest accommodations in Sri Lanka are often homestays, so guest rooms at a private family. You often do not find these accommodations on the internet or in travel guides, and Wikitravel is also lagging behind. No problem, as soon as you turn up at the bus station, you will be addressed. If necessary, you can always ask a tuk-tuk driver for a homestay. They are not so naughty in Sri Lanka as elsewhere. You can always find accommodation!
Tip: Internet in Sri Lanka
Wi-Fi is still very rare in Sri Lanka. Get the best at the airport in Colombo (CMB) already a SIM card with a data plan. Unlike Sri Lanka, this is completely straightforward in India and takes only 5 minutes. You have Internet access from the first minute. The accessibility is very good in the whole of Sri Lanka, the tariffs are very cheap and recharge goes on every street corner.
Masala Dosa and coffee/tea – 0.63 euros
Dosa is a South Indian speciality, similar to a pancake and just a perfect breakfast. In the centre of Kandy, there is a Dosa restaurant with all kinds of Dosa. You can watch at the entrance how the Dosa is made and there is also a lookup for sauces. Order a coffee or tea and a Masala Dosa or, if you like, one of the more extravagant Dosa.
(60 Rupees Masala Dosa and 50 Rupees coffee)
Temple of the tooth
Most people come to Kandy to see the Temple of the Tooth. This is because most visitors are Kandy’s Buddhist pilgrims who worship the Buddha’s tooth. Besides, countless school classes are daily passed through the temple. We save ourselves from being shooed through the temple like a sheep.
There is no evidence of Buddha’s tooth anyway, and it is doubtful whether it was not during the colonial days that the Portuguese destroyed him and whether the tooth ever came from the Buddha. Anyway, Buddha would turn around such idolatry in the grave, with or without his tooth.
The site of the temple, on the other hand, is very interesting. You will find here as a good alternative to the circus in the Temple of the Tooth 3 beautiful, orphaned temples and a beautiful tree shrine near the church, completely without human hordes and entrance fees.
International Buddhist Museum-2,87 Euro
Behind the Temple of the Tooth, there are 2 museums, the National Museum and the International Buddhist Museum. Both cost the same amount of admission. The latter is much more interesting in my opinion, especially if you have been to the much larger National Museum in Colombo. In the former High Court building, you will find exhibits on Buddhism from 16 Buddhist countries from Japan to Thailand plus Tibet.
Sri Lanka is the oldest Buddhist country after India and sees itself as the keeper of Theravada Buddhism. India, the country of origin of Buddhism, largely returned to Hinduism and northern India after the Buddhist flowering of Emperor Ashoka 2,000 years ago, and was conquered by Islamist Mughals. Only in the mountains of Ladakh, West Bengal, Assam and Sikkim do Buddhism still play a role in India today. Sri Lanka has also brought Theravada Buddhism to Southeast Asia, via Burma to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
In the extensive museum, you will learn much more about the history of Buddhism. There is an incredible number of interesting exhibits, from a miniature model from Borobudur in Indonesia to a miniature model of Boudhanath in Nepal. If you are interested in Buddhism then this museum is an absolute highlight in Kandy.
(500 Rs admission Museum)
Short Eats and ice cream at the YMCA-0.86 euros
Walk from the Buddhist Museum on the lake back to the city centre. In front of the YMCA are two huge plastic ice cream cones. They are part of the snack with vegan short-Eats and delicious ice cream next to the YMCA. Short Eats in Sri Lanka is typical snacks for lunch and afternoons. For 100 rupees you get several short Eats and for 50 Rupees you get ice cream for dessert. On the veranda, it eats beautiful with a view.
(100 Rupees Short Eats, 50 Rupees ice cream)
Hindu Buddha Temple Kataragama
Hindu temples are rare in Kandy, the Buddhist heart of Sri Lanka. Lord Kataragama is revered by both religions in Sri Lanka, and in this temple, in the city centre, Buddhist monks and Hindu pilgrims meet. Great picture impressions are available at for 91days.
Market Street Castle Lane
The Castle Lane is a typical, narrow Asian market street that leads from the Kataragama temple to the big market: clothing, electronics, music and much more. The fewest articles are originals.
The tourist market of Kandy
Continue towards the clock tower and take the underpass under the road to the market. The market here is very neat for South Asian conditions, strangely quiet and deserted. Up here is the tourist market, so to speak. If you go further back, you’ll hear an unbelievable commotion on the overpass over Market Street. Especially in the otherwise quiet Kandy, this rush is all the more impressive.
The local market of Kandy
After you have gone up the stairs, you enter a huge market hall with turmoil like in an anthill. The traders stand on the tables and constantly scream their goods. From the left “Skirt Skirt Skirt Skirt” comes in staccato and from the right a male choir answers a little quieter “Pants Pants Pants”. The barkers run around on their garbage tables like frightened chickens and you feel a little like a madman.
People watching with coffee/tea –0.29 Euro
This is the market where countless locals go shopping, especially for second-hand clothes. Behind the market, the hall is also the fruit and vegetable market. Have a cup of coffee/tea in the snack bar and watch the hustle and bustle from afar. If you want to buy cheap clothes, you are right here. The prices here are orders of magnitude smaller than in the tourist market on the street.
(50 Rupees coffee/tea)
Walk on the lake
If you want to experience a stark contrast to the hectic market, then visit the modern shopping mall on the main road on the way to Kandy Lake. There are also 2 large supermarkets. Arrived at the lake, take the beautiful footpath counterclockwise to the other end of the lake. After about 15 minutes you walk over a small bridge, past a sports field and at the first opportunity right up the hill to the unique hotel Helga’s Folly.
Beer at Helga’s Folly-2.33
The Helga’s Folly is in the Atlas Obscura, so be prepared for a crazy house. A room in the Boutique Design Hotel costs 150 euros and more per night. Do not worry, we just want to drink a beer. You can enjoy the unique ambience and great views of Kandy and Kandy Lake, all the way to the Temple of the Tooth. Maybe even Helga herself will come by. A big 0.66 Three Coins beer costs 800 rupees share it with your companion.
(400 rupees half beer)
Kottu in the “Hotel”
Back in the city centre, you are sure to be hungry. A typical dish in Sri Lanka is the super delicious Kottu. For Kottu Roti is cut into strips and mixed with a variety of meat and vegetables and fried. The preparation of kottu is incredibly loud, because the cutting takes place on a metal plate in the narrow dining room, with the help of metal knives. Heavy metal drummers have probably been inspired in Sri Lanka.
Kottu is available in almost every “hotel”. You need to know that hotels in Sri Lanka and South India have no rooms, but are just local restaurants. That was probably once a misunderstanding and has become naturalized. Kottu is next to Short-Eats a typical dish for Sri Lanka and only there and very rarely available in South India, for example in the Hotel Wheat in Triplicane, Chennai. Kottu is only available as an evening meal because it serves as a second pass for the not eaten rotis of the day.
(160 Rupees Beef Kottu)
Total Expense 1720 Sri Lanka Rupees or 9.89 EUR at the current rate of 174 LKR.