Nine Arch Bridge
ASIA,  SRI LANKA

SRI LANKA: KANDY – ELLA TRAIN

Kandy to Ella train ride in Sri Lanka is one of the most memorable moments from my journey. 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. You just can’t say no to this.

Before I started my journey, I did some research, and surprisingly, I came across some conflicting information on the Internet about this famous train ride from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka. In this case, always ready-to-help Sri Lankan people were also confused and not able to answer my questions. 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? In this blog post, I’m going to respond to all the above queries.

WHAT ARE THE TRAIN STOPS?

The express train stops at the following stations: Kandy, Hatton, Nuwara Eliya, Haputale, Ella, and it goes farther to Badulla. Doing it all at once may be a bit tiring as it takes around 8 – 10 hours to get from Kandy to Ella on this famous Sri Lanka train. But nobody says that you have to go to Ella straight away. There are many things worth doing in Sri Lanka between Kandy and Ella. So I included two other stops on my itinerary which are Hatton and Haputale, and ended up doing some amazing things in both places.

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 normal train tends to have long stops at the stations. Sri Lankan trains are usually delayed, so if you choose the normal train, it may take you ages to get to the final destination. We want to avoid that, don’t we? If your time in Sri Lanka is limited, you should certainly catch the express train. If you are on a 3 week itinerary in Sri Lanka, you may take the normal train. In this case, I’m sure you will have enough time for all the top things to do in Sri Lanka.

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. So you won’t be able to buy them unless you plan your trip to Sri Lanka in detail, and I genuinely discourage you to do that. Tickets for the second and third class without a reserved seat can only be purchased on the day of departure. You have to show up at the ticket office about 30 minutes before the train leaves to get the tickets.

If you have a ticket for the second or third class without a reserved seat, you can take a seat only if there is a free spot in the train. Do you think you will get one? Unfortunately, I must disappoint you. The train ride from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka is so popular that your chances are very low. The truth is that it gets very crowded sometimes. But don’t stress too much about it. You will get the best views by sitting at the open door with your legs hanging out. So make sure to find a convenient spot next to the train door.

WHAT CLASS?

The first? The second? Or maybe the third? What you definitely need to know about Sri Lanka is that most local people commute on the third class. Whereas, tourists usually choose the first or second class. I didn’t have an opportunity to travel on the first class, so I have no idea if this is worth a penny. From my experience, the second class is equally crowded as the third class and the difference in standard is not significant. In fact, travelling with local people on the train from Kandy to Ella is a real Sri Lanka experience.

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. On the left 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 at all. If you have a chance, take a seat on the floor at the open train door. No other place will offer you such fantastic views! Once you are in Ella, make sure to check all the must see places in Sri Lanka.

INSTA TIP

As previously mentioned, the train from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka may be quite crowded, especially at high season. If you are an Instagrammer, you may have already seen some awesome photos taken during this train ride. If you dream of 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. Thanks to that you will get some extra time to take photos not being disturbed by other commuters. Then you can simply take a tuk tuk or catch a bus to get back to Ella. Good luck with taking stunning shots!


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