KANDY TO ELLA TRAIN: MOST SCENIC TRAIN RIDE IN SRI LANKA
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.
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.
Our train was bright blue and several carriages in length but they also have red carriages. For photos, the blue is quite cool and it seems the common color but don’t be disappointed if you have a marron 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 rail are breathtaking. The train winds through the mountains overlooking farms and villages and of course vast tea plantations. The scenery 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.
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.
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.
While I was in Ella, I trekked through the tea plantations with a guide and was blown away by the scenery and history of the area. You can check that post out here: TREKKING THROUGH TEA PLANTATIONS IN ELLA, SRI LANKA