The Kandy to Ella train journey is said to be one of the most scenic, epic train journeys in not only just Sri Lanka but the world. So with a few days to spare in Sri Lanka, I decided to purchase a ticket for $1.50 and climb aboard for the 5-hour journey. Yes, the train really does cost just $1.50.
I have now taken the train in both directions. From Kandy to Ella and in reverse from Ella to Kandy. On both occasions, I just arrived at the train station and bought the cheapest ticket and walked on. I didn’t sit in a seat, I preferred to an open door and hang my legs over the edge for the entire journey.
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THE KANDY TO ELLA TRAIN IN SRI LANKA
How to get tickets for the Kandy to Ella Train
You can purchase the tickets directly at the station or try and prebook through hotel, travel agent or by visiting the station the day before. I suggest just arriving on the day unless you specifically need first-class this must sell out faster than the general 2nd and 3rd class.
During the Kandy to Ella train journey, you can walk around the carriages, go to the toilet, visit the food stand or purchase some snacks from vendors who wander about. I spent my time in the open doorway, watching as we passed by tea plantations, cruised through villages and crossed bridges with eerily huge drop-offs.
UPDATE: You can now book tickets online at 12GO Asia. The prices are slightly more than if you bought them at the station but it can be worth it to have tickets secured if you have set travel dates and can’t afford to miss the train if it is fully booked (this does happen)
Book Kandy to Ella train tickets now (you can also book train tickets for other trips around Sri Lanka.)
Our Sri Lanka train ride was on one of the famous blue trains and was several carriages in length but they also have red carriages and it just depends on what time of day as to what color your train is. For photos, the blue is quite cool and it seems the common color but don’t be disappointed if you have a maroon train. You can purchase 1st class tickets but I chose the cheapest ticket and had my own seat (despite not using it), luggage storage and a table in front of me to share with four others. The carriage wasn’t hot despite the heat outside and it was an incredibly comfortable journey.
Here is a short highlight video I made of the journey:
Why is the Kandy to Ella train journey so amazing?
The views on both sides of the railway are breathtaking. The train winds through the mountains overlooking farms and villages and of course vast tea plantations. The scenery continually changes throughout the trip. Often at times, you are looking out at an entire green view than the next minute you are in the middle of a woodland forest. It’s a beautiful region to view from the train and there are also so many places to visit in Kandy when you step off the train as well!
The train also passes through multiple tunnels. The kids on my train thought it was a great game to scream the entire time we were inside the tunnel until the train finally emerged.
Hanging out of the train gives you the best views and is an awesome feeling but be careful not to leave your limbs out of the train at the wrong time as there are trees and tunnels that come close to the train. The Kandy to Ella Train is just one of many bucket list items to add to your Sri Lanka Itinerary.
Being in 3rd class you will meet a lot of locals and most will enjoy having a chat with you. I really enjoyed stopping at the stations and watching the daily happenings of locals on and off the train and tried to capture the vibe of the journey with my photos as well as getting some iconic travel shots hanging out of the train.
If you are considering the options about how to get from Ella to Kandy or Kandy to Ella, there really isn’t a decision to be made. If you take the bus you have made a huge mistake as you have missed out on the journey of a lifetime on the Kandy to Ella train.
WHERE TO STAY IN SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka is a huge region so it depends on where you are and what attraction you are visiting as to which accommodation will be best. For example, when you are visiting Sigiriya Rock, Hotel Sigiriya is clearly the best choice! Below I have recommended my favorite accommodation in each region.
- Top pick – a stunning estate in the Tea Country: Thotalagala
- Best overall experience (with Sigiriya Rock): Hotel Sigiriya
- Best for heritage in Galle: Galle Fort Hotel
- Best for elephant safaris: Cinnamon Lodge Habarana
- Best for beachfront bliss in Tangalle: Buckingham Place
- Best for exploring Colombo: The Kingsbury or the Movenpick
- Best for home-cooked food in Kandy: Green View Boutique
MORE SRI LANKA BLOG POSTS
Best things to do in Sri Lanka: 15 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN SRI LANKA
Hiking in Ella: LITTLE ADAM’S PEAK HIKE IN ELLA
The famous Sri Lanka rope swing: THE PALM TREE ROPE SWING AT DALAWELLA
Getting a tattoo in Sri Lanka: MY EXPERIENCE GETTING A TATTOO IN SRI LANKA
Portrait photography in Sri Lanka: PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY IN SRI LANKA: MARKETS & MOUNTAINS
Sri Lanka Packing List: THE ULTIMATE SRI LANKA PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY