Should I buy tickets online or at the train station?
Depends on your preferences. If you want reserved seats with the AC, you have to book it online at least 30 – 45 days in advance. However, I don’t recommend this option. If you want to fully experience the magic of this Sri Lankan train ride, you don’t want to be in a closed-off cabin. That’s not where the beauty of this ride is.
You should buy 2nd class tickets and then stay in the 2nd or 3rd class. 3rd class is usually reserved for the locals, but as the train is always packed, you can find many foreigners there too. But you can’t buy the tickets for the 3rd class directly.
Which train to take?
The train goes several times per day, but we found the 9 am one as the most suitable for us. It’s not too early, and not too late. That way we can enjoy the view the whole way because the whole ride is during the daytime.
DISCLAIMER: You won’t know if you will get the red or the blue train.
PRO TIP: Come there as early as you can! We came at 7 am, and the crowd was already waiting in line. As you need to buy the tickets before, make sure to leave enough time to do so.
How to catch the best spot?
You have to be lucky! As the train was approaching, we tried calculating where it would be best to stand to catch the right spot, but the crowd was too big, so all of our calculations proved useless. We ended up at the beginning of 3rd class where the locals are. We stayed there as they were all so kind and gave us a spot at the doors which we wanted from the beginning.
How long is the train ride from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka?
It took us 7+ hours to get to Ella. But the time passed so fast. I was sitting at the doors all the time with my legs hanging freely. My neck hurt as I was watching all around so much trying to take it all in. The scenery was so beautiful, from green fields to the hills and little villages with people greeting us along the way. Although the train was so crowded and we had to sit on the floor, I’ve never been so happy. This is a ride you’ll remember forever.Check out 6 Things to Do in Ella Sri Lanka
- Come to the train station early enough to avoid crowds buying tickets.
- PRICE: Tickets for 2nd class = 240 LKR ~ 1.35USD
- If you want to get the most out of your ride, don’t reserve seats. Instead, buy tickets the same day and get in the 3rd class. There will be fewer tourists and locals are kind enough to give you the place you want. Or you can get lucky and find a great spot at 2nd class too. But there will be many more tourists.
- Places next to the doors are always the best.
- The train ride from Kandy to Ella lasts 7+ hours, but you can buy water, food, and some snacks on the train. Someone is going around all the time with stuff you can buy.
- We were counting on the fact that most people would go out at Nuwara Eliya. And that was true, but also many people came in, and the crowd was even bigger from there on, and almost everyone got out at Ella. So maybe you can take a ride from Ella to some other place in the south of Sri Lanka too. We later took the train one more time, this time from Ella to the first next station, so we can ride through Nine Arch Bridge to take some photos and videos, and there was no crowd at all. Either way, you can’t make a mistake as the whole country is full of beautiful and photogenic scenery.
- Enjoy the ride, and take many photos! 😊