Prior to arriving to Sri Lanka, I had heard that the train ride between Ella and Kandy was one of the most scenic, iconic and beautiful train rides in the world! I knew it was on my must-do and must-see list so I planned our Sri Lankan itinerary mainly around it!
I had heard that tickets sell out super quickly and far in advance for this train ride leg, so I did my research and booked tickets through the only online portal available to purchase tickets in advance HERE. While tickets can be purchased in person for a cheaper price at railway stations in Sri Lanka, I personally witnessed foreigners frustrated with long wait lists all day hoping for a chance to get to ride this beautiful ride through the Sri Lankan countryside. We bought 2nd class tickets for $11 each for the 6:40am train from Ella - Kandy.
** Pro tip : Our original plan had our whole 10 day itinerary through Sri Lanka reversed and we found all train tickets booked at least one month in advance, so we reversed our itinerary and it ended up working out way better than if it would’ve been the other way around! If you can’t find available tickets for your dates of choice, see if you reverse your itinerary and check what tickets are available that way!
The train has three classes, 1st, 2nd and 3rd. 1st class offers an air conditioned cabin with observation windows that don’t open. 2nd class is the more popular choice among foreigners and while it doesn’t have air conditioning, it has windows that open up to the fresh air and 3rd class is where you will find open air windows and more of the local people. The most popular spot to be during the train ride is in the open doorways and I’m being serious when I say I sat with my feet dangling out the door for the entire 6 hour journey. 2nd class ended up being perfect for us!
THE JOURNEY :
My main goal right upon getting onto the train was to get a spot in one of the open doorways. I put my bag by my assigned seat and then went to find my spot in one of the open doorways where I proceeded to be for the entire 6 hour journey. NOT JOKING. We took the first train of the day, because we wanted to see the sun peak out over the tea fields. I had pretty high expectations for this ride as I had heard so many incredible things about it. I mean, it’s been called one of the most scenic train rides in the world for a reason and it really, really was! It exceeded my expectations. The rolling hills upon hills of tea plantations zooming by almost became mesmerizing and addicting to be honest. They were so spectacular. I made friends from all over who came to ask if they could sit next to me, as I was hogging my doorway most of the time, because the landscape and experience really was unlike any other I’ve experienced before! It was such a peaceful way to see the country from a different viewpoint.
After our 6 hour journey, I absolutely understood all the hype surrounding this famous train ride between Ella and Kandy. It was one of the reasons that made Sri Lanka my favorite country I’ve ever visited! If you have the chance to go on this train ride, I hope you get a seat in a doorway so you can see the unobstructed spectacular views of the Sri Lankan landscape with the wind in your hair like I did. The best Sri Lanka experience EVER.