Kandy (122km from Colombo)
Kandy was the last royal capital and it is one of the most charming towns in Sri Lanka, famous for its gorgeous setting beside a lake, cradled by hills and surrounded by the sinuous lines of tea plantations. It is home to the gold-roofed Temple of the Tooth, with its guardian elephants; a deeply significant Buddhist site that contains a tooth of Buddha collected from his funeral pyre and draws thousands of pilgrims from across the world. Nearby are in Peradeniya, beside the Mahaweli Ganga, are the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens where the British pioneered the growing of exotic plants such as coffee, tea, nutmeg, rubber and cinchona (quinine). The gardens stretch over 60 hectares and feature an arboretum, orchid house and huge colonies of flying foxes.