Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

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Peradeniya Botanic Gardens

Top choice in The Hill Country

These stunning gardens were once reserved exclusively for Kandyan royalty. Today, even commoners are allowed in to enjoy the most impressive and largest (60 hectares) botanic gardens in Sri Lanka.

Highlights include a fine collection of orchids, a stately avenue of royal palms, the extraordinary, aptly named cannonball fruit tree and 40m-high Burma bamboo. Another big hit is the giant Javan fig tree on the great lawn, with its colossal central trunk and umbrella-like canopy of branches. Peradeniya is 6km from central Kandy.

You'll share the gardens with thousands of wing-flapping fruit bats, hundreds of monkeys and dozens of canoodling courting couples.

Inside the grounds are an overpriced cafeteria (mains Rs 550 to Rs 1000), serving Western and Sri Lankan food, and a small cafe by the exit gate. A better option is to stock up on picnic items.

Bus 644 (Rs 16) from Kandy’s clock tower bus stop goes to the gardens. A three-wheeler from Kandy is about Rs 400 one way. Many taxi drivers incorporate a visit to the gardens with the Kandy Three Temple Loop.

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