Kandy To Ella Train Ride - Everything You Need To Know
Everything you need to know to enjoy the most scenic train ride in Sri Lanka, from Kandy to Ella.
This is not your usual train ride. You will not want to be sitting down and read a book or play with your phone. You will want to hang outside of the open doors, dangle your feet and feel the fresh mountain breeze caress your face while admiring the never-ending green hills of Sri Lanka scrolling in front your eyes.
Kandy to Ella, seven hours of pure delight aboard the blue train that travels through one of the most beautiful landscapes we’ve ever seen! During the journey you’ll never be hungry, as vendors pass often selling local delicacies and you’ll meet friendly people from all over the world.
Riding the famous train from Kandy to Ella is almost mandatory if you visit Sri Lanka, a real unforgettable experience which will be far better in real life than any photo or video you might have seen. Read along to find out all the information you need!
Which class to choose
Given the very small price of the tickets, you might be tempted to sit in first class but if you want to have the best and most fun experience we would recommend second or third class.
In first class the doors do not stay open during the train ride, so you will miss on the experience of enjoying the view and sitting on the steps. Second and third class will be less comfortable but overall we are sure you will have a much more enjoyable experience.
Reading several blogs which said that tickets sell out fast, we decided to buy them online through an agency. It was not the best option reality as we decided to take the train on a different date compared to the one on the ticket and ended up getting scolded by the train officials for having the wrong tickets and had to buy new ones while on the train. Long story short, we would suggest the following: if you want to ride first class, buy the tickets online making sure you can actually take the train on that specific date. If you want to ride second or third class, buy the tickets at the station, arriving with half/an hour before the train leaves.
The costs of the tickets are: first class ranges between 1000 LKR (5 euros) and 3000 LKR (15 euros); second class 120 LKR (less than 1 euro).
Will I be sitting?
We travelled during shoulder season and for the first couple of ours the train was really full, so we had to stand. You might have to stand for a while but eventually a seat will free up. If you travel during peak season, though, it will be very difficult to find a seat so board the train with lots of patience!
Duration and timings
The full ride from Kandy to Ella takes seven hours. Our train left with fifteen minutes delay, which, from what we heard, is pretty common. The trains final destination is Badulla and you can check the time table on the Government website at this link.
There are three main departure timings: 8.42am, 11.00am, 3.30pm. We choose the 8.42 in order to enjoy the most out of the sunlight.
If you are like me, the first question you had was: will there be food on the train? Seven hours are a long time without food! The answer is yes, but it is local food, which is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many vendors pass buy during the ride selling snacks such as samosas or deep fried snacks made of prawns, dahl, chilies. You will also find vendors selling fruits, chips, soft drinks, water, tea. If you are hoping for a bigger meal, we would suggest to bring with you something previously bought.
Again, if you are like me, the second biggest thought after eating is using the toilet. First of all, there are functioning toilets, hurray! They are not particularly clean and they do not have soap or toilet paper (but they do have running water). My advice is to bring with you toilet paper and a hand sanitiser.
Raiding the blue train was for us the best way to truly discover and appreciate Sri Lanka. We loved every minute of it and we are sure it will be an unforgettable experience also for you!
If you have any question please do reach out in the comments below!