One of my best memories from Sri Lanka would be the Kandy to Ella train ride. It is said to be the world’s most scenic train ride, and rightly so. The train ride from Kandy to Ella is one of the most amazing things you can do in Sri Lanka.
The journey would take around 5-7 hours to complete. The price of the ticket ranges from 2$ to 10$ depending on the coach you choose to travel with. We will discuss this soon in this blog.
I am about to share my personal experience with the train ride and what I learned from the ride. I hope this will help you more in planning your journey in the most awesome train journeys in the world.
Although, the train journey takes long hours from Kandy to Ella starting from Colombo. The trains also halt at stations such as Nuwara Eliya, Haputale, Hatton, etc. which I recommend you visit too. These are some of the beautiful towns of Sri Lanka with tea plantations, numerous waterfalls, and more.
Sri Lankan Railway System
The Sri Lankan Railway system was started in the year 1864 by the British. At those times the main purpose for the development of railways in the country was for the export of Tea and Coffee globally.
This railway system made it easy to carry tea and coffee from the hilly regions of the country to the capital city, Colombo.
Today, most of the trains are run by the government for public transport and to carry goods throughout the country.
There are 5 types of coaches on the trains –
- First-class observation class
- 1st class air-conditioned passenger class
- 1st class sleeper
- 2nd class seater
- 3rd class seater
The most fun way to enjoy the journey would be choosing to travel by the 2nd or 3rd class coaches. The tickets are cheap and you can get amazing views with photos peeking out of the windows. (a bit risky)
You cannot open the windows in the AC coaches. Obvious!
Kandy to Ella Ticket Cost
The train travel in Sri Lanka is extremely affordable in any case. The pricing varies with big differences though depending on the class you travel. Here are some of the prices from Kandy to Ella or vice versa.
Note – Prices may vary considering the time of my visit to Sri Lanka
3rd Class Coach – LKR 180 / USD $1
2nd Class Coach – LKR 330/ USD $1.80
1st Class Coach – LKR 1500/ USD $9-$10
I recommend you book the tickets online. On the other hand, you can buy tickets at the respective railway station ticket counter. The catch is that you could be asked a huge amount at the railway station counter as they just say it’s sold out to get more amount from the tourists.
Train Timings from Kandy to Ella
There are 2-3 government express trains running on this route. The distance is around 70kms and takes around 7-8 hours to complete.
Kandy to Ella
- Departure from Kandy – 8:45 Am & Arrival in Ella 15:17 Pm
- Kandy – 11:10 Am & Arrival in Ella 17:34 Pm
- Departure from Kandy – 12:40 Pm & Arrival in Ella 18:25 Pm (VIP Train)
If you find 7 hours would be too much for a train ride. You can choose to take a short journey from Ella to Nuwara Eliya (Nanu Oya) or vice versa. Generally speaking, you can still enjoy the most scenic views on this journey.
It would take around 2-3 hours for the journey. The cost of the ticket would also be comparatively cheaper.
Ella to Nuwara Eliya
- Departure from Ella – 9:25 Am & Arrival in Nanu Oya Train Station 12:10 Pm
- Departure from Ella – 11:55 Am & Arrival in Nanu Oya Train Station 14:15 Pm
10 Tips for Kandy to Ella Train Journey
While most people won’t tell you these things about the journey but I would like to point it out with my own personal experience and what I have learned on this ride.
1 – Well, it does matter which side you sit on – you really want to be sitting on the correct side on this journey to enjoy the views. I realized it later when almost all the people banked on one side of the train to have a peek or click pictures. So, I would recommend sitting on the left side traveling from Nuwara Eliya to Ella and sitting on the right side traveling from Ella to Nuwara Eliya.
2- You will have to share the open door – you are extremely lucky if you get an empty coach on the train. Everyone loves to be looking for the open door to enjoy the stunning views. Most of the time the trains are loaded with tourists, even more than the locals.
3 – Choose the Express trains – many tourists choose the goods or other trains to comply with their schedule or save money on their travels. These trains are extremely slow and would suck out all your excitement about the journey. Well, I made a mistake, hoping you won’t.
4 – The Trains are usually late, like 90% of the time. You need not turn up early at the station. A half-an-hour early could probably do it.
5 – Try to avoid getting the train tickets for the weekends. These are the busiest days of the week.
6 – All things considered, Choosing the second and third-class coach is better than traveling in the first-class AC coaches.
7 – Likewise, Get the 2nd class coach that borders with the 3rd class coach. the seats are elongated and more comfortable than the reserved class, although both are comfortable.
8 – Not all trains are Blue
9 – The Journey can be taken both ways. The route is similar.
10 – There are toilets on board – definitely not the greatest.
Wondering where to stay in Ella? Check out my full blog on Best Places to stay in Sri Lanka
Read my full blog on 18 must-do things in Sri Lanka in one week.
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