A trip to Sri Lanka would not be complete without taking the scenic Kandy to Ella train. So here’s everything you need to know, plus our own experience.
The first thing you need to know about the Kandy to Ella train is that you cannot book tickets in advance at the station!
So the only options are to try and pre-book online, which we couldn’t seem to do. Or just turn up on the day an hour before departure, which worked perfectly for us.
You’ll be greeted by a queue of people doing the same. Although there doesn’t seem to be a limit on the amount of tickets sold so don’t let that be a worry.
Also keep hold of your ticket until you arrive! The ticket inspector WILL ask you for it when you get off in Ella.
Kandy To Ella Train Times
There are 3 trains that depart from Kandy towards Ella everyday.
They depart from Kandy Railway Station at 3.30am, 8.47am & 11.10am.
We heard that the 8.47am train is the best to catch because naturally, fewer people want to get up early.
Plus it’s good to hit the road (well tracks) before the mid morning fog sets in.
There are 3 different classes on the Kandy to Ella train depending on your budget.
1st class: 1000 rupees
2nd class: 250 rupees
3rd class: 150 rupees
If you can get a guaranteed seat then that’s a bonus. Chances are you’ll be fighting everyone on the platform just to get on the train, let alone sit down, so don’t worry too much.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
Sit on the left!
We heard so many different things before getting on the train but we can now speak from experience.
Sit on the LEFT when heading into Ella for the best views!
Grab a spot near the doorways early and hold it!
One of the girls we were with squeezed through to the doorway and sat for the entire journey.
If you can hold down a spot and master when to let people past to exit without losing it then you’re onto a winner!
So we were up nice and early. Just in time to have our poached eggs on toast, before catching a tuk tuk to the station.
We’d heard it was a struggle to make the train, purely because of the sheer amount of people that flock to the now tourist attraction. Well sure enough the queue was out of the door when we arrived at 7.50am.
It soon died down though, and before we knew it all 6 of us were piling through the turnstiles, ready and waiting on the platform for the incredible views to begin.
After a lot of debating as to which side to wait on, and how we were ever going to make it onto the train with all these people, we decided to pull up a pew and chill for half an hour to prep ourselves for the mad rush.
The Train Arrived
The train eventually arrived, full of locals from its departing station in Colombo, and on we jumped.
It was cramped, hot and smelly but we were on! Next stop Ella! But not before some breathtaking scenery.
So here comes the real honest part, the first 4 hours were a nightmare.
Maybe it was because we happened to travel on a weekend or maybe it was just always that full, but we were up and down like a pogo stick looking for spots to try and snatch a glimpse of the view.
Luckily enough the first few hours were nothing special and in the end we took a locals advice that after Nuwara Eliya most passengers would disembark and space would be created.
So we held on for a while and snacked on some veggie samosas to see us through.
Eventually, around 3 and a half hours in, the crowd did in fact die down and we managed to get some awesome seats next to the window between a French family.
So the six of us spread out between the coach seats and the doorways and enjoyed the main part of the show.
The Insane Views
The trees and mountain views were definitely worth waiting for!
We guess being on a train you don’t realise how much you’re ascending but suddenly we pulled out into views from such height that were so green and clean. Beautiful would be an understatement.
We chilled and took it all in, and to be honest nothing we write in this blog will do it justice.
Just know that if you decide to skip the train journey from Kandy to Ella, then don’t say we didn’t warn you! It’s certainly an experience!
Offering an outdoor swimming pool, Planters Bunglow is an boutique style eco friendly property located in Ella.
Free WiFi access is available in the public areas of the property.
Each room provides a seating area and work desk. Private bathroom comes with a shower and free toiletries. You can enjoy garden view from the room.
At Planters Bunglow you will find a garden and barbecue facilities, grocery deliveries, water sports facilities, cooking classes and meeting facilities. The property offers free parking.
Morning Dew Hotel provides accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a shared lounge.
550 yards from Ella Spice Garden and 1.8 miles from Little Adam’s Peak, the property features a garden and a terrace.
The accommodation offers a shared kitchen, room service and currency exchange for guests.
Guest rooms at the hotel come with a seating area, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a private bathroom with a hairdryer and a bidet.
The units will also provide guests with a desk and a kettle. Morning Dew Hotel offers a continental or à la carte breakfast.
Situated in Ella and with Demodara Nine Arch Bridge reachable within 1.6 miles, Hangover Hostels Ella offers a tour desk, rooms, a shared lounge, free WiFi throughout the property and a garden.
The property is around 200 yards from Ella Spice Garden, 2.5 km from Little Adam’s Peak and 2.2 miles from Ella Rock.
The accommodation features evening entertainment and a shared kitchen.
All rooms at the hostel come with a seating area, a private bathroom and a bidet.
For more places to stay in Ella, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.