Sri Lanka offers two of the most scenic train rides in the world, the Galle-Colombo/Colombo-Galle costal trian and Kandy-Ella/Ella-Kandy mountain train.
Due to time constraint, I did not have time to try the Galle-Colombo/Colombo-Galle coastal train ride but it’s not that much of a deal since I have already had an amazing experience on the Hanoi-Hoi An scenic train ride in Vietnam.
Let me tell you all about my experience on board the Kandy to Ella train ride, which has been described by many travelers as one of the most scenic train rides in the world.
Kandy to Ella Distance and Duration
The distance between Kandy and Ella is approximately 65.1km. Some websites will tell you that the Kandy to Ella train takes only 5 hours, but be prepared to sit for around 7 hours.
Kandy to Ella Train Timetable
This table taken from The Man in Seat 61 shows the estimates timings for all the trains classes. I will advise you to pre-book reservation ticket for 1st class observation car if you can get one. Tourists love 1st class observation cars and they get sold out very quickly.
Kandy to Ella Train Classes and Prices
This table taken from The Man in Seat 61 gives you a rough estimate of the train ticket prices for each class of train.
Where to Buy Kandy to Ella Train Tickets
I always book my tickets from 12Go.Asia because it is hassle-free and reliable. I have not personally used VisitSriLankaTours and TourMasterTravelServices but I have read good reviews about them.
Please note that all these agencies only make bookings for “reserved” trains seats. If you want unreserved seats or you are unable to make a booking, you can always buy a ticket on the day of travel at the railway station.
Kandy to Ella Train Experience
After bidding farewell to our lovely landlords at 365 Holiday Home & Dormitory, my girlfriend and I made our way to Kandy Railway Station.
The observation 1st class and 1st class tickets were already sold out so my girlfriend and I got 2nd class train tickets at Rs 160 (~US$1) each.
Although it was a Monday, the railway station was packed with people.
You don’t have to worry about not having enough food when you take the train in Sri Lanka. At each train station, the cabins are filled with sellers hustling treats such as freshly-cut fruits, salty peanuts, crispy papadums and corn with salted butter.
The train will take you past tea plantations and rolling green mountains, reaching a dizzying height of 1897.5m (6225 feet) above mean sea level.
Your butt and legs will be stiff and painful after sitting 7 hours, but the beautiful scenery outside makes it all worthwhile. Just make sure you have a fully-charged camera or handphone because you will be taking photographs and videos all the way. I promise. ”