Sri Lanka has many tourist attractions, but for many, there is one that stands out above the rest: the train route between Kandy and Ella. Arrange your visa and train tickets online before departure to experience this world-famous train ride yourself.
Magical train ride
Thundering waterfalls, beautiful green hills, vast tea plantations. The hour-long train ride from Kandy to Ella (or Ella to Kandy) is known as one of the most beautiful train routes in the world. During the ride, passengers are allowed to stick their heads as far out of the window as they like, and daredevils can even hang out of the door. There are virtually no rules or supervisors, so passengers can basically do whatever they want. As the journey progresses, the train climbs higher and higher, and the views become more and more spectacular.
The train route was established in the mid-19th century, when Sri Lanka was still a colony of England. The route was mainly used to transport tea from the plantations to Colombo, to be shipped internationally. Today, the train route is used by locals to travel to and from work, and is a popular tourist attraction for travellers from all over the world.
Before departure: arrange your visa
Even before one can think about buying a train ticket, one must first apply for a visa to travel to Sri Lanka at all. Without a visa, one cannot enter the island. Just like its neighbour India, Sri Lanka also has a digital visa that can be applied for completely online. Applying for a visa can be done in five minutes, after which the application is processed in 72 hours on average. Unlike some other visas, the validity of the Sri Lankan visa only starts when one actually arrives in Sri Lanka.The visa application form requires an expected date of arrival. The traveller may arrive in Sri Lanka up to 90 days earlier or 90 days later than this date. From the moment of arrival the visa is valid for a maximum stay of 30 days.
Buy train ticket
Like the visa for Sri Lanka, train tickets for the Kandy-Ella route can also be ordered online. Many travellers choose to do this through their tour operator. It is strongly recommended to do this at least one month in advance. The train ride between Kandy and Ella is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka, and tickets sell out quickly. It is also possible to buy a ticket at the train station in Kandy. It is recommended to be present at least one hour in advance to avoid queues. A ticket costs about $2.50 per person.
There are 5 different types of cabins for travellers to choose from: first class, second class with reservation, second class without reservation, third class with reservation, and third class without reservation. If you do not make a reservation in advance, chances are there are no seats left. Tourists with a bigger budget may think that a first class ticket gives the best travel experience. However, this is not the case for the train ride between Kandy and Ella. This is because the first class cabins are air-conditioned and the windows and doors are closed. In the second and third class cabins, the windows and doors can simply be opened, allowing travellers to stick their heads out of the windows or dangle their feet outside the door.