Kandy on a shoestring budget

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Sri Lanka is a fantastic place to travel through, whether you’re a backpacker on a shoestring budget or a luxury traveller in search of excellent value. Travelling has lately been a luxury, thanks to the economic crisis and rising inflation. Almost everything has doubled in price, however that does not mean you can’t find nooks and corners to travel on a budget. I recently visited Kandy and here is a guide on how you can plan your next trip to Kandy on a budget.

Always take the train, it is cheaper than taking the bus and the view is quite spectacular. I would recommend making a reservation at least a week before to ensure you get a seat, making a reservation for a second would give you a comfortable seat and a smooth journey.

Surrounded by tea plantations and mountains from all over the place, you will never run out of options for the things to do in Kandy. From visiting the sacred places to hiking in the mountains to exploring the International Buddhist Museum to watching local performances to visiting the Botanical Gardens, Kandy offers you a wide range of activities that suits the itinerary of everyone. Even the wildlife and exotic flora and fauna are in abundance in this cultural capital of Sri Lanka.

A comforting nature walks around Kandy Lake is a must. The areas around the lake are mostly thronged by loving visitors. A peaceful walk in the morning hours with the beautiful Sri Dalada Maligawa and rainforest looming in the backdrop make for the perfect setup to go for a leisure stroll around the Lake. Most importantly, it will be absolutely free of charge and won’t cost a dime.

The streets in Kandy centre are filled with old colonial buildings and street vendors. Start from the Temple of the Tooth and wander around the old streets, enjoying a fresh coconut from one of the many colourful fruit stands.

You can pay a visit to the Kandy City Centre (KCC) Mall. The city centre mall is distinguished for its ultra modern features, and unique architecture.

Apart from well-laid restaurants, supermarkets, and entertainment areas; the centre also has plenty of showrooms featuring designer wear, handicraft stores and accessories shops.

There is no entrance charge but everything at the mall is quite pricey. You could always take a stroll around and drop by at the Keells – KCC, surprisingly they have way better discounts and a selection of products compared to Keells in Colombo. You can also explore the Kandy market for some shopping. Personally, I think the Pettah Market is cheaper.

For those looking to experience, some tasty Sri Lankan cuisine, Kandy Muslim Hotel offers some of the best samosas, kottu and curries in the city. Perfectly spiced dishes are served at reasonable prices. You can also visit small cafes and hotels in the vicinity of Kandy Town.

Kandy’s Royal Botanic Gardens is a beautiful place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The gardens lie in the western part of the city, near the flowing Mahaweli River. Blooming orchids, towering palms, and more than 4,000 species of flora and fauna can be seen in the gardens.

The Udawattakele Sanctuary is about 15 minutes from the city and is a historic forest preserve that protects about 250 acres of land. Visitors come to take a stroll through the lush grounds where fantastic bird-watching opportunities abound. The sanctuary also offers a home for other wildlife like deer and monkeys.

Located on a hill, overlooking the city, lies Bahiravokanda Vihara, the giant Buddha statue and one of the city’s most notable religious monuments. You can climb to the top of the hill within an hour or two, but be aware of the rising temperatures at noon. Once you have reached the peak, Bahivara Kanda or Devil’s Hill offers panoramic views of Kandy and its surrounding area. The statue itself can be seen from most places throughout the city and is particularly enchanting at night when it is bathed in light.

By Shafiya Nawzer