It is known as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world: the train ride from Ella to Kandy or vice versa. It was one of the highlights of our Sri Lanka trip. You will drive through mountains and along numerous rice fields and tea plantations. You are treated to a magnificent view at all the time. In this article I give you tips and information to get (the best) tickets.
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Tickets for the train ride from Ella to Kandy
You can buy tickets for the train journey from Ella to Kandy at the station, as well as online. It depends a bit on the period in which you are travelling and which way you are going, but it is advisable to buy the tickets in advance. On the day of departure, it can be very busy. We traveled from Ella to Kandy in November, while most people travel from Kandy to Ella. We didn’t have a busy train, but we heard from others that Kandy to Ella had been very busy.
You can buy tickets at various stations from 30 days in advance. Do you know on which day you want to take the train ride already? If so, you can go to another station in advance to buy tickets with a reserved seat. Would you like to buy tickets from the Netherlands? You can buy them on this website. Buying a ticket online is a lot more expensive than at the station, but it is still cheap by International standards. First class will cost you about 2.935 rupees online.
Don’t you know when you want to take the train and do you want to decide on the day itself? No problem! You can also buy tickets on the day of departure. You may not have a reserved seat, but with a bit of luck you can still get one.
Board the train station earlier
Do you want to be sure of a seat, but haven’t been able to get hold of any reserved tickets? Then get on to another station. From Kandy you get on in Peradeniya and from Ella you get on in Badulla.
The trains in Sri Lanka have three classes, namely first, second and third class. The first class has luxurious seats and air conditioning. The windows and doors usually do not open here. The second class has no air conditioning, but luxury seats and ventilators. The windows and doors can be opened. The third class is the most basic one. The benches are hard, and it can be very crowded. You can reserve seats in advance for all classes. The “Reserved Classes” are not that crowded, because you are only allowed in with a ticket. It also means you are assured of a seat.
You’ve probably already seen some pictures of this train ride on Instagram. You see people hanging out of the train during the ride. You can (usually) only do this in the second and third class, as first class has air conditioning and closed windows and doors. We booked the third class. This class is also called TCR (Third Class Reserved). You travel in the third class, but you are assured of a seat. That was perfect for us! Because all seats are reserved and not everyone travels the entire route, it’s not crowded in the compartment at all. We bought the tickets for the TCR one day in advance at Ella station and they cost 400 rupee per person. We visited Sri Lanka in November.
The train ride
When the train arrives, you can find your seat right away. Don’t have a reserved seat or is it very quiet and do you travel from Ella to Kandy just like us? Then try to get a seat on the right side of the train as far as Nuwara Eliya. The view on this side is the best. As soon as you pass Nuwara Eliya, the view on the left side is better. Are you travelling from Kandy to Ella? This obviously means that you first sit on the right side and then on the left side.
I can promise you that you’ll be glued to the window for the entire train ride. The trip takes a total of seven hours, but you won’t get bored for a second!
Three trains depart daily from Ella to Kandy and vice versa. Two of these trains are so-called ‘Express’ trains, which take you to Kandy within seven hours. If you want to check the train schedule, you can visit the Sri Lankan government website, railways.gov.lk. You will find the departure and arrival times of the trains on this website. To make sure the trains are running, I advise you to visit the station one day in advance to check the exact times. For example, due to the bad weather in Ella, the train didn’t run for a day.