Train from Kandy to Ella
The train from Kandy to Ella is a beautiful 7-hour ride that moves through tea plantations, jungle, and mountains. As the journey goes on, you move higher and higher up into the rolling green highlands where the big tea farms are and many beautiful hilltop villages and waterfalls.
The old-fashioned train is famous for its open windows and doors, which have become a buzz for people who want to feel the wind through their hair as they travel. In fact, it’s become one of the most famous things to do in Sri Lanka, with travelers coming from all over the world to experience it.
The train was brought to life in the mid-1800s when Sri Lanka was under British colonial rule. During this time, it was used as a train to transport tea from the plantations to Colombo, where it would then be exported internationally. These days, it’s used mainly by locals who use it to travel between home and work. Because of this, getting a ticket as a tourist can be a little more difficult, as seats sell out fast.
Tips for the Kandy to Ella Train Ride
This journey is spectacular, and you won’t want to miss out on it on your trip to Sri Lanka. Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your journey!
1. The train ride might be longer than you think
The train from Kandy to Ella should take around 6 hours. However, everything runs a little slower in Sri Lanka, and there can be longer stops and delays on the journey. In reality, it can take up to 10 hours, but that means more time to see the beautiful views! It might be a long ride, but it’s 100% worth the journey.
2. You can travel on the train from Colombo
Traveling from Colombo can be tiring, especially if you’ve taken an early morning train. We wouldn’t recommend falling asleep (as you won’t want to miss anything) but if you do, make sure to be awake for the most beautiful part of the trip. The best views are on the section between Kandy to Ella, which is why it’s so popular.
3. Take the morning train
Taking the morning train from Kandy to Ella is the best idea, as you’ll get daylight throughout your trip and be able to enjoy the epic views as you hang out the doors. After all, you don’t want to end up traveling at night and miss them altogether.
If you can, we also recommend avoiding weekends – this is the busiest time, and it can be tough to get a seat. Standing for 9 hours is not fun!
4. Make some stops along the way
If you have the time, make some stops along the way. The train stops at beautiful hilltop towns like Nuwara Eliya and Haputale, where you can jump off and explore the famous tea plantations. For example, the Lipton tea plantation is home to some beautiful viewpoints. Remember, the highlands are perfect for growing tea because of their cooler, wetter climate, so remember to bring layers and waterproofs!
5. Pick the best side of the train
If you want to get the best photos of the view, it’s essential to be on the best side of the train. The right-hand side of the train is the best place until Nuwara Eliya. From here, jump over to the left side if you can for the rest of the trip. This ensures you get wide-open views on both parts of the journey.
6. Bring food with you
The train itself doesn’t have anywhere you can buy food. However, the best thing about the Kandy to Ella train ride is the local vendors who jump on at each station to sell their goods. You’ll hear them shouting and singing their prices as they walk between the cabins with steaming baskets off spicy fried snacks, salty peanuts, or fresh fruit. Make sure to have a little bit of cash on you so that you can indulge.
7. Check out Kandy train station
The train ride might be beautiful, but so is Kandy train station! Look up and see the traditional white iron shelter and the gold station signs. As the old-fashioned train pulls into the station – and people wave out the train – you could feel as if you stepped back in time.
Typically, first-class tickets are the best option on any train. However, the Kandy to Ella train is the opposite! The first-class cabin is airconditioned, so you can’t open the windows or doors to take photos. It also means no cool breeze from the tea plantations as you zoom through the valley. This is a big part of the experience, so we recommend choosing second or third class instead.
In the second class, you’ll have a fan to help with the heat, and you’ll also be able to dangle your feet out the door, which is such a buzz and gives you the most incredible views! The third class is a little more uncomfortable, but you’ll have the experience of traveling with locals and their produce – for example, chickens or vegetables.
Please note: be careful when hanging out the doors or windows of the train as there can be hazards like tree branches on the journey. Make sure to be sat in your seat as the train comes into the station; it can be dangerous to dangle your legs out as the train comes to the platform.
Kandy to Ella Train Tickets (Prices + Times)
The famous Kandy to Ella train runs three times a day, but we recommend taking the morning train to see the views throughout the journey. Ticket price varies depending on which class you take, but the journey from Kandy to Ella will start around 2,50 USD / 400 LKR and rise per class.
Where to Buy Kandy to Ella Train Tickets
From the Station
If you choose to buy tickets from the station, we recommend coming one hour in advance as queues can be very long. Alternatively, if you’re in the area, you could pick up your train tickets the day before traveling.
If you want to buy a ticket in advance, then get them online here, head over to ExpoRail, or contact a Sri Lanka tour company to arrange it for you. If you’re buying online, buy at least a month in advance for your trip as the tour operators buy up a lot of the tickets to sell on; it’s an extremely popular journey!
Kandy to Ella
Don’t miss any of the highlights on this Sri Lanka train ride. You can get off at numerous locations throughout the trip. For example, Nuwara Eliya, Happuta, or Ella. Some of the top things to do are: