Nine Arch Bridge
ASIA,  SRI LANKA

SRI LANKA: KANDY – ELLA TRAIN

Kandy to Ella train ride is one of the most memorable moments from my journey to Sri Lanka. You may think what’s so special about a train ride? This particular train ride is considered the most scenic in the world! Imagine a train that goes into the mountains, through tropical rainforest and green tea plantations. The train that takes you over bridges, through tunnels and small villages. You witness all this while sitting at the open door with your legs hanging out and wind blowing your hair.

Before I started my journey, I did some research on this famous train ride from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka. Surprisingly, I came across some conflicting information on the Internet. In this case, always-ready-to-help Sri Lankan people were also confused and not able to give me a hand. How to buy train tickets? Which class should you choose? Express train or normal train? Should you take a seat on the left side or right side of the train? I’m answering all these questions below.

SRI LANKA TRAIN STOPS

The express train from Kandy to Ella stops at the following stations: Kandy, Hatton, Nuwara Eliya, Haputale, Ella, and it goes farther to Badulla. Below you can find the Sri Lanka railway map.

Sri Lanka Railway map, Kand to Ella train
Sri Lanka Railway map

EXPRESS TRAIN OR NORMAL TRAIN?

If you want to save some time, make sure you get on the express train. The second one tends to have long stops at the stations. Take note that Sri Lankan trains are usually delayed. It means that if you choose the normal train, it may take ages to get to your final destination.

WHAT TICKET?

Theoretically, there are tickets for the first, second and third class. The truth is that tickets for the first and second class with a reserved seat have to be booked well in advance. Tickets for the second and third class without a reserved seat (you can take a seat only if there is a free spot), can only be purchased on the day of departure. It’s enough to show up at the ticket office about 30 minutes before the train leaves.

In practice, you won’t be able to buy a ticket either for the first or second class with a reserved seat unless you plan your trip to Sri Lanka in detail (I genuinely discourage you to do that!). If you count on getting seated in the second or third class without a reserved seat, I must disappoint you. The train ride from Kandy to Ella is so popular that your chances are very low. No worries! Trust me, you will get the best views by sitting at the open door with your legs hanging out.

It takes around 8 – 10 hours to get from Kandy to Ella on famous Sri Lanka train. It may be a bit tiring though. If you are lucky, you will get a seat. If not, you will have to stand the entire time. So I decided to do something different. I didn’t do it all at once. I included two other stops in my itinerary which are Hatton and Haputale and I did some amazing things in both places. Are you curious what did I do there? Check out my post about what is worth doing in Sri Lanka with detailed cost breakdown and useful tips for your second week in this country.

WHAT CLASS?

The first? The second? Or maybe the third? You definitely need to know that most local people commute on the third class. Whereas, tourists usually choose the second class. I didn’t have the opportunity to travel on the first class, so I can’t make an opinion if this is worth a penny. From my experience, the second class is equally crowded as the third class and the difference in standard between those classes is not significant. The biggest fun is to get on train with local people and experience real Sri Lanka.

HOW MUCH IS THE TICKET?

Travelling on train in Sri Lanka is affordable. The ticket price for the train ride from Kandy to Ella for the second and third class is no more than 150 LKR. According to information available on the Internet, the ticket price for the train ride from Kandy to Ella for the first class is around 4000 LKR.

WHERE TO GET SEATED?

In my opinion there are some conflicting information on the Internet where to sit on the train from Kandy to Ella to get the best views. Should you sit on the left side or right side of the train? I think that it doesn’t matter. The views are amazing from both sides. What matters here is how crowded the train is and if you are getting any views! If you have the chance, take a sit on the floor at the open train door. No other place will offer you such fantastic views.

INSTA TIP

As previously mentioned, the train from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka may be quite crowded, especially at high season. If you have an Instagram profile, you may have already seen some awesome photos taken during this train ride. If you dream about something similar (I do not encourage you to try any of these as it may be quite risky!), a good idea is to get yourself a ticket to Badulla, instead of Ella. Most people get off the train in Ella so you will get some extra time to take photos not being disturbed by other commuters. Afterwards, simply take a tuk tuk or catch a bus to get back to Ella.

Are you struggling with planning your trip to Sri Lanka? Make sure you check my recent post about top things to do in Sri Lanka and must see places in Sri Lanka with detailed cost breakdown and useful tips for your first and third week in this country.

Do you think that 3 weeks in Sri Lanka is too long? It’s definitely not. Just check my 3 week Sri Lanka itinerary with real travel cost and travel map.


Any questions about Kandy to Ella train in Sri Lanka? If yes, let me know by leaving a comment below!