Top 5 Things To Do In Kandy, Sri Lanka & How To Do It As A Vegan!

Kandy is a wonderful city to explore in Sri Lanka if you have a day or two.  You can see how locals live as well as travel as a tourist with a variety of different things to see and do including visiting the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the grand Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue, Kandy Lake, a traditional Kandyan Dance and Drum Show, and dinning out at vegan friendly restaurants!

How To Get To Kandy:

It is around a 3 hour drive from Colombo to Kandy (if hiring a driver) or a 4 hour train ride.  The trains from Colombo to Kandy are cheaper than renting a car and a great experience although they do break down a fair amount.  These trains are part of an authentic Sri Lankan experience and are definitely worth your money if you don’t mind a slightly slower trip.

Cost: Colombo to Kandy costs around 600 – 1000 LKR per person equivalent to $3.30 – $5.50 USD

Check out the Sri Lankan Railway here!

kandy train

Another option is renting a Tuk Tuk for a few days which can be really cheap if you find the right deal considering you could drive it around Kandy and back or to another city and not have to book, pay for, or organize other transport.

Cost: 3000-4000 LKR total (depending on the deal and how long you are renting the Tuk Tuk for) equivalent to $16 – $22 USD

Where To Stay In Kandy:

Accommodation in Kandy is really affordable and can be really nice.  When backpacking, my partner and I always stay in hostels as it is the most affordable, usually has some type of restaurant attached and is the best way to meet other travellers from all over the world.  Some days when we are travelling we just want a day to be lazy and chill out and if you’re staying at a hostel there is usually people around to play cards with or hang out with.

We stayed at the Kandy Backpacker’s Hostel which we found on our favourite and most reliable website hostelworld.com.

We were super happy with our stay there as they provided clean bunk beds, a group dinner every night where you can watch and learn about the dishes being cooked (and also get the recipes), as well as a simple but decent breakfast of toast with jam and/or butter, a banana and eggs.  As a vegan I just ate the toast with jam and made sure to have a big lunch somewhere where I could get vegetable curry and rice (all Sri Lankan vegetable curries are vegan by default), samosas, vegetable roti and/or a smoothie.

Cost at the Kandy Backpacker’s Hostel:  We paid $34 USD for 2 people & 3 nights stay which breaks down to just $5.60 USD a night per person.  Super affordable price.

If you check out hostelworld.com or booking.com, you can look at the other hostels in Kandy and their ratings & reviews as there are many to choose from.

Things To Do In Kandy:

There are some super great things to see in Kandy but it is not a place where you would want to spend more than 2-3 full days as there are not endless things to do.  We found 2 full days was sufficient before moving on to Ella.

Top 5 Things We Recommend Trying In Kandy:

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1. The Royal Botanical Gardens

These gardens were incredible!  We stayed there for a full day without even feeling like we made a dent in the park.  It is built like a small city with sidewalks leading you throughout the park in a variety of different directions.  It is extremely well done considering they host over 2 million visitors a year! At the entrance they give you a map which shows you all the different types of trees you will see and a bit about them which we found super helpful.  Our favourite was the giant bamboo and learning how fast they grow! This experience made Kandy for us and satisfied our desire for a bit of nature. The park is also home to the most incredible orchid house, cactus house, and lake shaped like Sri Lanka.  It is a beautiful and romantic place to spend a full day if you want to pack a lunch or go to the cafe there for lunch (although it is more pricey than other cafes).

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Check out more about the Royal Botanical Gardens here!

Cost: 1500 LKR per adult over 12 yrs (overseas tourist) equivalent to $8.20 USD

 

 

 

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2. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

This temple is one of the most sacred in Sri Lanka as well as Kandy’s main tourist attraction.  This temple is special as it is home to one of the Buddha’s teeth as well as some gorgeous architecture.  Many tourists come from all over the world to Kandy to see this 16th century temple (which has had many additions since then).  The evening is the busiest time to see the temple, although there are various rituals and offerings carried out throughout the day.

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Dress:  Make sure to dress appropriately when visiting the temple.  No shorts, short skirts or muscle shirts. Make sure your shoulders and legs are covered.  Take off your hat and shoes before entering into the temple.

Cost: 1500 LKR plus 100 LKR to mind your shoes (this is mandatory at the temple although it shouldn’t be necessary – When my partner and I were there, we seen a family not pay for their shoes to be minded and they left them outside the temple.  After the family walked in, an irritated man working at the shoe storage area came and chucked the shoes out of the entrance area and onto the sidewalk below.) We suggest for a 100 LKR, you just pay for your shoes to be minded so nothing happens to them.

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3. Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue

The Big Buddha can be seen from almost anywhere in Kandy is located on top of a hill giving you a magnificent view of the town below.  Be sure to dress appropriately and enjoy the sightseeing from the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue.

Dress:  Make sure to dress appropriately when visiting the temple.  No shorts, short skirts or muscle shirts. Make sure your shoulders and legs are covered.  Take off your hat and shoes before entering into the temple.

Cost: 250 LKR plus a small tip to mind your shoes (around 50 LKR)

Here is an interactive 360° video of the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue.

4. Kandy Lake

Kandy Lake was built in 1807 in the center of the town.  It is quite large and beautiful to take a walk around. There are lots of street vendors around the lake selling pineapple with chillies, fresh fruit, roti, and samosas for you to enjoy while you take a stroll.  Make sure to keep an eye out for different types of birds, fish and monitor lizards that have made the lake their home.

Cost: Free

 

5. Kandyan Dance and Drum Show

Every evening in Kandy, there are live Kandyan Dance and Drum shows.  They are very lively, beautiful, and colourful although targeted at tourists, it is exciting to watch a Sri Lankan traditional dance where they play with fire.  The traditional dance is said to have come from Kohomba Kankariya which is an exorcism ritual which came from Indian shaman who came to Sri Lanka, later being adopted by the island people.  The show is performed by percussion only using a Geta Beraya (drum) and semi-repetitive. If you are into live performances or dance, be sure to check out a Kandyan Dance and Drum Show.

Cost: 1000 LKR ($5.5 USD)

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Where To Eat Plant Based In Kandy:

Use www.happycow.net or the mobile app to find vegan and vegetarian options wherever you are! (not sponsored)

  • Soya Food Center (mainely wraps, sandwiches and ice cream – suitable for vegans and vegetarians)

Hours: 8am – 6:30pm

Location: 116, E L Senanayake Veediya, Kandy, Sri Lanka

  • Shri Bhawan Dosa (variety of south indian dosas including pol roti, vada, aloo bonda, and dal vada suitable for both vegans and vegetarians)

Location:  Yatinuwara Veediya, Kandy, Sri Lanka

  • Ganga (traditional Sri Lankan vegetarian food buffet including curry and rice, coconut sambol and lots of greens!  Most is naturally vegan)

Hours: 6:30am – 5pm Mon – Sat

Location: Colombo St, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Hours: 9am – 9pm

Location: 77 Colombo St, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 20000

  • Cafe Secret Alley (All day breakfast including smoothie bowls, avocado toast, waffles, speciality coffees, and juices.  Suitable for vegans and vegetarians.)

Hours: 7:30am – 6pm

Location: 10/1 Kotugodalle St, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 20000

I hope you enjoyed tips & tricks on what to do in Kandy, Sri Lanka as a vegan.  You really can make plant based living doable anywhere. Comment below and let us know what you would like to see and do in Kandy or if you are planning to go there!

Cheers!

Exploring Galle, Sri Lanka In One Day, Plant Based!

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Galle is a beautiful coastal city, 130 km south of Colombo.  It is definitely high on my list when visiting southern Sri Lanka, as it is the perfect mixture of history, beach, and culture.  There are some amazing things to do in Galle, even if you are just there for one day, like we were. I hope this guide helps you experience Galle for the charming seafront city it is.  Here is a list of our top things to see when you are in Galle:

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1. Take a Walk: In the 17th century Galle was controlled by Dutch merchants who built it up for the purpose of running the East India Company out of it.  During that time, Galle was a walled city surrounded by thick ramparts that were so large people could walk along them. The city was heavily guarded, you will still be able to see some of the old canons propped along the wall.  

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When in Galle make sure to take a walk along these ramparts and throughout the Fort.  You will be able to see the lighthouse, an old prison, the clock tower, and will even get to watch school children practicing cricket.

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2. Experience the Dutch Architecture: When walking through Galle you will notice how the city feels very european.  The extremely impressive Dutch buildings are still used today giving Galle a very charming and unique feel.  Make sure to walk along the Dutch Hospital, the Groote Kerk, and the Amangalla hotel.  

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If you are into museums, the Maritime Archaeology Museum also is quite fascinating and has lovely Dutch Architecture as it used to be a Dutch warehouse.

3. Have lunch at Coconut Sambol:  This all you can eat Sri Lankan curry & rice buffet is definitely worth a try.  It is extremely delicious and authentic. They have 7 different Sri Lankan curries, rice, and coconut sambol that they make fresh everyday.  It is quite a cozy restaurant with only 3 tables available but that is almost better, as it allows you to connect with the cook and the locals who run Coconut Sambol.  All the vegetarian curries in this restaurant are vegan by default so no worries my plant based buddies!

Other honourable mentions for lunch using the Happy Cow App:

4. Go Shopping: Galle has amazing shopping!  The city is full of charming boutiques where you can buy souvenirs and goods.  Galle is also known for its gems, jewelry, and handmade sarongs.

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Stores I recommend:

  • Stick No Bills:  This store specializes in beautiful Ceylon posters (Rs 3000) and postcards (Rs 350).  If you are looking for memorable souvenirs, take a peek in this local shop and pick up a postcard to send home to your family.
  • Barefoot: Beautiful boutique selling colourful handmade local clothes, linen, jewelry, crafts, rugs, gifts, children’s toys, and books.  If you are looking for the most beautiful handmade children’s toys, you hit the jackpot!

Galle is incredibly close to Unawatuna, the beach town in Galle known for its swimming and surfing!  After spending the morning walking around Galle, soaking up the history and having a lunch of endless rice and curry, you may want to kick back and spend the rest of your day in Galle on the beach in Unawatuna.

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5. Go surfing: On the beach in Unawatuna you can rent a surfboard for cheap or take lessons with Surf South Sri Lanka if you would like to learn the basics from local surfers.

6. Go Swimming: Kick back and play in the waves, Unawatuna’s kid-friendly beach is the perfect place to spend an afternoon!  Along the beach there are plenty of relaxing spots and delicious restaurants to enjoy!

7. Coffee at Kat’s:  Kat’s Coffee is a highly recommended cafe in Unawatuna open from 9am-6pm.  It has delicious cake, coffee, and fantastic internet! After a long day touring around Galle, get yourself a “pick me up” coffee and sweet treat while checking uploading your gorgeous photographs of Galle online to share with your friends and family.

8. Grab Dinner: Unawatuna has a few tasty restaurants with vegan options for you and your friends to grab dinner at.  Here are our favourite places:

  • Koha Surf Cafe & Lounge: Serving western food and juices.  Many dishes can be prepared vegan.
  • Sri Dhara Restaurant: Serving traditional Sri Lankan dishes, many which are traditionally vegan.  They also offer a cooking class if you are interested in learning how to make Sri Lankan Curries! 
  • Love Gelato – a gelato restaurant which prides itself on having over 60% of their flavours being vegan! 

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I hope you enjoyed my list of how to explore Galle in just one day while plant based.  If you have any questions or thoughts please share in the comments below!

All You Need To Know For Vacationing In Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka As A Vegan

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Hiriketiya is known for being a great beginner surf beach and hippie yogi spot in Sri Lanka. It is beautiful with sandy white beaches and clear aqua blue water. Relaxed during the day with comfortable tanning chairs put out all around the beach for anyone to use while also having super cheap surfboards to rent 3 steps from the ocean and delicious homemade Sri Lankan food for sale all along the beach. Hiriketiya also has a bit of nightlife with excellent classy restaurants all along the beach selling fruity cocktails and lion beer. It is the perfect get away from the hustle and bustle of Colombo, the cool knuckles mountain ranges and thick jungle in the north.

When my partner and I went to Hiriketiya, we used booking.com to find our accommodation. There are tons of options to choose from in this small surfer town as the majority of the income in Hiriketiya is from tourists. We stayed at The Dream House which was absolutely wonderful. The family who lives in the main level of the house have the whole upstairs converted into a suite where you can rent out one out of three very nice bedrooms attached to a private bathroom while also sharing a well equipped kitchen and clean comfortable living room with the other renters. It was perfectly clean and well kept, making us feel right at home. We had a large comfortable queen bed and private outside bathroom and balcony. It was such an experience seeing the monkeys jump across the trees right outside our balcony, causing mischief and grief to the dog.

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If you are looking to book accomodation in Hiriketiya, we definitely recommend checking out these:

Booking.com is great for showing you all of your accomodation options in one area while also make sure to cross reference with reviews on tripadvisor.com to make sure you are happy with your choice.  Also if you can, try and book your accommodation through the official website instead of third parties, we have found that it can save you a bit of money.  But if you can’t, booking.com and tripadvisor.com are great websites for booking your accommodation.

  • Hiriketiya White House – £24 a night / $31 USD a night
  • Dream House (where we stayed & 50 meters from the beach!) – £25 a night / $32 USD a night
  • Dots (highly recommended & where we would recommend staying as you get a free breakfast from the restaurant which has AMAZING food, not to mention a ton of plant based options and your own adorable bungalow 1 minute from the beach! They also have yoga classes multiple times a day in a variety of styles to give you a nice stretch before or after surfing) – £35 a night / $44 USD a night
  • Salt House – £67 a night / $85 USD a night

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The beautiful Dream House 50m from the beach.

Finding things to do in Hiriketiya was easy as life is slow paced and simpler there. During the day there are many different styles of yoga to choose from at a variety of locations including Dots and the Salt House. Both of these locations I recommend as they have a cafe attached with healthy plant based options that you can nourish your body with after class. Each yoga class is super affordable at around:

  • 1200 – 2000 Sri Lankan Rupees / $6.60 – $11 USD per class

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Along the beach there are also two main places where you can rent surf boards. Renting these boards is super cheap and they are the same price at both shops:

  • 500 Sri Lankan Rupees per hour / $2.75 USD

OR

  • 1500 Sri Lankan Rupees per day / $8.30 USD

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Swimming in the ocean is also a super fun activity and free in Hiriketiya! What is so great about swimming in this location is that you can wear your bikini and not feel out of place or like you are getting stared at all the time as the majority of the beach is western tourists. You will see the locals swimming in long shorts and t-shirts but in Hiriketiya it is perfectly acceptable to wear a western swim suit. The water is also very safe, there are no sharks or harmful fish. Jellyfish are not a big worry there. Although there are a few sea urchins there but because the water is so clear and they are black, you can spot them right away. My partner and I were barefoot the whole time and we never had an issue. It was actually pretty crazy to see how the local children kept picking up the sea urchins and tossing them into the jungle (poor sea urchins) while the parents didn’t even bat an eye. If kids were doing that in the west, I could only imagine the panic on their parents faces, oh my…

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If you are heading to the beach in Hiriketiya, here is a list of things I recommend having in your beach bag:

  • Sunscreen – it is hot, take care of your skin
  • Sunglasses – it gets extremely bright on the beach as the clear blue water and white sand reflect a ton of sunlight
  • Hat
  • Cover up or Kimono – save your skin and cover up during the hottest periods of the day (11am-2pm)
  • Swim wear – it is so hot, you’ll definitely want to jump in the ocean every now and then
  • Rash Guard – if you are planning to surf
  • Water – drink up and stay hydrated, don’t just binge on fresh mango & passion fruit juice as you’ll feel pretty rough come supper time
  • Snacks – If you have specific foods preferences or you can just grab some delicious food at the beach like Sri Lankan Roti, Samosas, Koththu, Pad Thai, Coconut Water, and Fruit Juices
  • Towel
  • Beach Blanket
  • Book, Sudoku, or Beach Games
  • Flip Flops – you don’t want to be wearing shoes, they WILL get full of sand
  • Cash – many places in Hiriketiya only take Sri Lankan Rupees, so make sure you stock up as it is definitely a bit more expensive for food and drinks in the south

Here is a quick link to a premade print off checklist for you to add to for your beach trip!

Hiriketiya Packing List

 

TIPS:
Leave your wallet & passport secure in a safe in your room, do not keep it on you at the beach as you will probably want to take a dip in the ocean and do not want your important things getting taken or lost, remember you are only on vacation and still need to think about making sure you can get home.  Also keep your cash in a secret place (a book sometimes works) or secret pocket in your bag. Hiriketiya is touristy so most backpackers and tourists respect each other enough not to take other people’s things but you are in a foreign country and not everyone has good intentions.

Now we have come to my favourite part of Hiriketiya, the food! Us vegetarians and vegans really are lucky when it comes to travelling around this surfer’s dream. Many restaurants have super fresh, organic produce and many plant based options. Sri Lanka is really great at having vegan options. They almost always have coconut milk if you ask and sometimes even soy. Also all the authentic vegetable curries are naturally vegan as they ALWAYS use coconut milk and do not use fish sauce or shrimp paste like in Thailand.

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The magic Thai School Bus

The food around the beach was exceptionally good authentic Sri lankan food, although not the healthiest for us passionate, health conscious foodies. If you’re treating yourself while on vacation and want some tasty cheap food, the bus on the beach was our go to. They had amazing fresh juice, wicked samosas, roti, koththu, and stir fried rice. Many vegan options are available as they do not use any animal products in the vegetable, coconut, or banana roti, vegetable samosas, or fruit juices (unless it is a lassi), but be aware, if you want to try Koththu, it is not vegan unless you specifically ask for no egg and they understand you. Most Koththu is cooked with egg. As well here are a few restaurants for us healthy, plant based travellers after a long day on the beach:

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I hope you enjoyed my tips for vacationing in Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka! Please leave a comment below if you are planning to go and want any more information or if you have already been and have any additional information for our readers!

Have fun and go explore!