Kandy & The Cultural

The Cultural Triangle showcases Sri Lanka’s fascinating history with its ancient cities, richly decorated cave temples and logic-defying sacred sites.


About Kandy & The Cultural Triangle

The ancient ‘King’s Land’, the Cultural Triangle is formed by the three historic capitals of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy, with Sigiriya, Dambulla and numerous lesser known cultural sites encompassed within its perimeter. These are the ‘must-see’ places on most holidays to Sri Lanka and make an excellent addition to a safari.

Turn the experience to an active adventure by hiking in forested hills to Ritigala Monastery, scrambling to a viewpoint to watch sunrise over Sigiriya, cycling through the countryside between giant stupas and the (reputedly) oldest tree in the world at Anuradhapura, or viewing it all from above on a hot air balloon flight.

You don’t have to go far at all to avoid cultural overload. Just beyond the extraordinary ruins and religious monuments, you’ll find abundant nature in the wildlife reserves of Wasgamuwa, Kaudulla, and Minneriya national parks where sightings of elephants are practically guaranteed. Migrating between each park during different seasons, large numbers congregate between July to September to form one of the largest known groups of Asian elephants. During the spectacular ‘elephant gathering’ around 200 pachyderms find relief from this dry season to eat, drink, swim and socialise in the fertile lands and abundant waters of Minneriya.

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Top Reasons To Visit Kandy & the Cultural Triangle

Often the best safaris involve looking beyond the obvious highlights. It’s about the exhilarating encounters that will make your heart sing. These are encounters that nobody could ever predict, but that make your safari genuinely unique.


The Cultural Triangle is located in Sri Lanka’s dry zone. Apart from high rainfall in November and December, and hot strong winds in June and July, the climate is pleasant throughout the year. Daytime temperatures average 28’C in Kandy and a degree or two higher in the plains.

Held over ten days around the Poya, or full moon day, in July or August the Kandy Perahera is one of the oldest and liveliest of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist festivals. Musicians, dancers, acrobats, and decorated elephants parade the streets to honour the Sacred Tooth Relic and the four temple ‘guardian’ gods. 

The famous ‘elephant gathering’ at Minneriya occurs in the dry season, sometime between July to September




Where’s the best place to stay in the Cultural Triangle?

Which locations you stay in depends largely on how much you would like to see and do within the Cultural Triangle. Each of the former capitals has its own accommodation options but the proximity of the ancient cities to each other means you may only need one or two different bases – usually one in the north around Anuradhapura, Dambulla or Sigiriya and one in the south in Kandy or the surrounding hills. While there are no camps or lodges inside the area’s national parks, let know your interests and we’ll be happy to discuss the options and plan your itinerary.

How long does it take to climb Sigiriya rock?

Rising almost 200m from the forested plains, the granite outcrop of Sigiriya Rock dominates the surrounding landscape. You should allow half a day to visit but the climb itself, up 1200 steps, takes just 30 to 60 minutes. The route along stone steps, metal walkways and open stairs is narrow and steep so it’s not for those with mobility issues or vertigo. However the site is still worth visiting to enjoy the surrounding pleasure gardens and reservoirs, city remains and carvings, and to enjoy the fascinating story behind the fifth century Lion Rock.

How much time do you need to visit the Cultural Triangle?

The Cultural Triangle is one of Sri Lanka’s most well known and biggest draws, yet few spend much time here in the rush to pack in more. Each of it’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites demands half a day or more, plus transfer times, to enjoy comfortably, but with five of them as well as many lesser known attractions and small wildlife reserves you may need to choose carefully. Get in touch to discuss your ideas and we’ll be happy to share our recommendations and put together the best itinerary for you.

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A print anthology of safari and wilderness travel with over 220 pages of travel inspiration.

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