It’s every travellers dream of taking the train to the hill country, through old pine forests and foggy tea estates. The views from the open window will take you breath away and have you snapping photos at every turn. Along the way you will see steep mountains, old lovely bridges, waterfalls, small villages, and you are greeted by lots of local kids running along the train tracks. The route runs from Kandy to Ella and back, we chose to start from Kandy and go all the way which took us approx 7 hours. Some people choose to jump off a bit earlier, but thats totally up to you!
As of today there is no official website to buy tickets from and there has been another few travel agents selling tickets online, like 12GO, but since this constantly changing we would recommend to not buy your tickets online. You can purchase your tickets cheap from any train station in Sri Lanka beforehand. 2nd and 3rd class is always available for a very cheap price, even if you buy them the same morning. Although, if you are picky with the what type of ticket you want some of the different class tickets might be 'sold out' already.
Since this train ride is a very popular thing to do the locals usually buy a lot of tickets, then sell to tourist for a higher price. When we were looking for the type of ticket we wanted all of that class tickets were bought up a whole month ahead. Best thing to do if you cant find the tickets you want at the train station you can do what we did and ask the staff at the guesthouse or hostel you're staying at and they will be able to help you out! You can also ask a travel agent.
About the tickets:
We bought a not so common ticket, 2nd class ticket with reserved seats, and we thought it was perfect! The reason why we chose to buy reserved seats 2nd class tickets was cause we didn't wanna be in a overcrowded car, we ended up not even using our seats and spending all of the time with our feet dangling out the door. Other classes to travel in:
1st: A/C, but the windows can not be opened.
2nd class: No A/C, windows can be opened. No reserved seats.
Third class: No A/C, windows can be opened. No reserved seats. Very unliklely to get a set and if you do you would not only travel with people but also with goats, chickens and fresh produce. What an experience hey!
Two times of departures a day
Departure from Kandy: 08:47 – Arrives in Ella: 15:14
Departure from Kandy: 11:10 – Arrives in Ella: 17:16
SO, the non-reserved tickets can be bought on the same day or just a few days before but as we wrote in the window before, if you want reserved seats, be prepared to pre -ook you tickets, and to pay a bit more.
1st class reserved seat - € 6-20
2nd class reserved seat - € 8-15
2nd class - € 1,5
3rd class - € 1
You will get the best views by sitting on the right side of the train the first hour, then the remaining time on the left side until you reach Ella.
Good luck! xx