Why I didn’t like Kandy

A stunning sun set over the Bogambara lake in Myanmar

Bad experiences in Kandy.

Kandy is Sri Lanka’ second largest city after the capital Colmbo. It’s located in the Central Provinces and is surround by the stunning hills of the Kandy Plateau also known as the Kandy Uplands. The area is famous for its tropical plantations which mainly export tea. The city centre is clean although very hectic and as it’s a major stop on the Sri Lanka tourist trail it’s a great place to get western comforts. Almost every other shop seems to be a bakery with a huge range of both Western style and Sri Lanka baked goods to choose from. The plan was to only spend a couple of nights there before heading down to climb Adams Peak.

Getting touched up on the way to Kandy.


Train ride from Colombo to KandyStrictly speaking this isn’t directly to do with Kandy but it sort of set the tone. After spending over a week in Colombo getting my Indian visa sorted I’d decided to take a trip to Kandy with two friends from the hostel. We’d opted to take 3rd class none reserved, I stupidly said at the ticket office ‘How bad can it be’. The answer… very. We spent the first 3 hours stood in the door way with 8 other adults and 12 children. It was extremely uncomfortable and pretty claustrophobic. Around about the 2 hour mark we’d slowly begun to move into the corridor of one of the train carriages.  I’d noticed a strange man who seemed to be making an effort to stay extremely close to me. A couple of times he’d place his hand right next to mine so they’d be touching and each time I’d try to find a better place to hold on. I did feel a little bit uncomfortable around him but I just put his actions down to the sardine-esk style of travelling on these trains.  I joked about it to my friend Reece who just laughed it off saying I had an admirer. Then about 2 minutes before the train was due to stop at a platform the man took it upon himself to confirm his admirer status by grabbing at my crotch. It wasn’t an accidental brush past, oh no, his palm was  raised upwards and he went for a full grope. Once he’d noticed my instant mixed reaction of disgust and rage he’d began to scurry off towards the door. I began to shout at him but before anything could happen  (not really sure what) he scurried off at his stop. 

This was the only really bad thing to happen to me during my 2 months. Sri Lanka is an extremely safe country and I am sure his kind of crazy behaviour happens a lot more often on the London Underground.

Kandy Dance.

Picture taken of the Kandy dance.

The second thing I wasn’t really a big fan of was the Kandy Dance. We got semi conned with this also. A sweet old man approached us whilst we were looking for wildlife in the lake. His a very interesting man with flawless English, he’d told us that he was a teacher of the local school just down the road and asked if we’d like a tour. We said we’d love to and set off. Along the way he brought up the Kandy Dance. He told that this was a special holiday and was a once a year special version of the show and that they sold tickets from the school office. He showed us arround the school which appeared to be a large hanger packed full with rows upon rows of desks, unfortunately it wasn’t a school day so it was empty. Eventually he took us to the school office to purchase the tickets. The office appeared to be a souvenir shop and as soon as we entered I realised what was going on.

We’d bought the tickets from him first before his accomplice brought us some tea. Then began the inevitable pushy sales pitch. We eventually made our excuses and left. It turns out the Kandy show is on every day and costs 500 rupees.   The show starts at 17:00 and last for one hour. From what I gathered there are about 4-5 different Kandy Dance shows venues and they all run daily. The one we went to was just up past Temple of Tooth in a very old worn out concert hall.

From the start of the show you can instantly see on the faces of the performers that the majority of them don’t want to be there. A lot of them came across very unenthusiastic which kind of made us feel the same way. A few other groups of people left half way though so it wasn’t just us being pessimistic.

This was the school that we got to have a look around. The only student at the school that day was sat right at the very back doing some homework.

This was a school in Kandy that a local teach took us to. At the back there was one student studying.

The Kandy ‘I work at your guest house scam’.

During your time in Kandy you will be hassled. A lot. It is a very touristy place and they have all the usual scams and cons to make money. My friend Reece fell for a pretty well crafted con which I’d actually never come across before. As we left a supermarket a man out side came straight up to us with a big smile on his face asking if he recognised him. Before we had time to really answer he began to tell us how he was the cleaner at our guest house.

The conversation went on for a while and he was telling us all about the local area. He started to tell us how much of a scam the tea plantation tours were and that we can’t mention to the guest house that he’d spoken to us otherwise he’d get fired. After about 5 minutes he said we should check out the local market as it only came to town once every few months and tonight was the last night.  Pro tip – if you’re ever getting led to a market assume your getting scammed. Reece had actually wanted to buy some high grown tea and the man assured him that it was sold at local prices. It was only Reece that actually bought something from the stall and to be fair he paid about what you’d pay in Colombo for it. The guy started to get pretty pushy but soon realised that we weren’t interested in buying anything else he made one last attempt to sell us weed before leaving. It turns out this scam is mentioned in the guidebooks and they are given a very generous  commission for each sale. Thankfully no one really spent any money. If I remember correctly the Tea only cost Reece about 600 rupees. 


What I liked about Kandy.

A turtle sun bathing on a log in Bogambara Lake in KandyWhen you find yourself visiting places that you don’t enjoy I think that its important that you don’t just instantly write it off as a bad place. (Circumstances permitting of course) I will always try to find a few positives things to say about it.I do this for two reason, first off because it means I’ll have more fun (the reason I do all of this) and secondly because when someone asks you about a place there’s nothing worse than just reeling off a bunch of reasons why you hate it and they shouldn’t go.

It was easy in Kandy to find my ‘positive thing to say about a place’. Bogambara Lake. Bogambara lake is smack in the centre of the city and is full to the brim with life. During our time in Kandy we’d managed to see so much life here copious amounts of birds, fish and ducks along with few monitor lizards and some turtles. One other brilliant treat about the lake is the sunsets.

A stunning sun set over the Bogambara lake in Sri Lanka

Where to stay in Kandy.

We opted to stay a couple of kilometres out of the town as the price difference made it worthwhile. The cheapest accommodation in Kandy is found to the south of the lake. All the tuk tuk drivers know this area and the guide books all point it out. However, the cheapest suggestions in the guide books are closed during the low season. This isn’t to much of an issue as there are so many guest houses up the hill. If you are there in low season and want a cheap room make sure you walk around comparing the prices and asking them to beat/match one another. We ended up paying 1,500 Sri Lankan Rupees for 3 of us in a pretty nice room.


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