During my visit to Sri Lanka, I got the chance to undertake one of the world's most beautiful train ride from #Kandy to #Ella. When I read in various blogs I remember wondering if it is another touristy thing to do or is it going to offer me various picturesque moments!
Well let me tell you how it started. I was sitting on the train door with my beloved husband for 6 hours and yet we never got bored!
This is the best possible seat we could get since we got the temporary ticket same day! Railway is still developing in #SriLanka and hence it wasn't easy to get permanent seat reservation from anywhere. That's another reason why I am writing this blog, to help you make your journey more comfortable.
Do have a look at our journey video! We went in the month of February - March and it was beautiful. Barely any rainfall and beautiful air with lush greenery around.
The express train from Kandy to Ella, through Sri Lanka’s beautiful tea plantations, departs twice daily – early morning at 8:42 a.m., and another at 11:00 a.m. It takes 6-7 hours to arrive in Ella. Buying tickets a day in advance is a good idea and sit on the right side ( while facing the direction of train movement) to get best views.
You can check the train schedule on official Srilankan railway website.
Most trains have different government-run classes/ carriages that you can choose from:
1st class observation car is available on certain daytime trains, mostly on the Main Line, and is very popular among tourists. The observation car provides a wide view of the scenery and is usually at the rear of the train but occasionally behind the locomotive.
1st class air-conditioned seats are available on occasional inter-city express trains.
2nd class seats are provided on all inter-city trains and are available as either unreserved seats or reserved seats.
3rd class seats are available on most trains. This class can get very crowded and carries only basic facilities.
If you buy tickets on the spot then you get unreserved seat ticket to 2nd or 3rd class. That means your seat is not defined and you might have to stand all the journey or wait to get lucky with an empty seat on the way. Well we got lucky another way as we had door seat with full view of scenery and fresh air into our lungs. Well fresh air is something you don't get in first class, well not if you count AC as super fresh!
How to book tickets?
Tickets for the reserved cars often sell out soon after booking opens, so it's good idea to do online booking via agents if you want a comfortable ride.
Option 1: Incase you have arrived early and train ride is later in your travel schedule then march straight to Colombo Fort station to book your ticket at the Berth/Intercity Reservations Office, marked as counter 17, accessed from the front of the station towards the left hand end of the station facade. Inside the office there are separate counters for specific routes. According to the Sri Lanka Railways website it's open 05:00-14:00, closed for lunch 12:30-13:30, but people have found it open as late as 17:00.
Option 2: Via agents like VisitSriLankaTours
Expect to pay £8 from Colombo to Kandy in 2nd class reserved or £10 in air-conditioned 1st class, for example, or £10 from Colombo to Nanuoya or Elle in 2nd class reserved, £12 in the 1st class observation ca
On some popular routes - for example Colombo to Kandy or Colombo to Tea Country - they may book your tickets through the Mobitel system which allows Sri Lankans to pre-book trains if they have a Mobitel mobile phone. If so, all you have to do is collect your tickets from any Mobitel counter by showing the reference email and each traveller's passport. There's a Mobitel counter in the Colombo Bandaranaike airport arrivals hall open 24 hours. They may or may not use this system for your tickets, they may arrange ticket collection at the station ticket office which is also pretty straightforward.
Some more tips for your ride:
Show up at the train station early to grab yourself a ticket incase you have no prior reservation.
Keep your ticket coupon until you exit the station, they will ask for it when you get off the train.
Take luggage on which you can sit on, incase you don't get a seat.
Board the train either first or in the end. First because then you might get a seat and last as you will definitely get the door.
Charge your camera to 100%. It is really crazy trust me. Especially when you go post rainy season when you can see loads of waterfalls.
Bring tissue paper and sanitizer.
Pack a lot of snacks for your 6 hour journey and water too!
All the best and have a mesmerising journey! Do share your pictures and suggestions about your trip!