All you need to know about Sri Lankan Train rides

When in Sri Lanka, embarking on a train journey is a must. It is by far more interesting and scenic than using any other mode of transportation. Of the many incredible places to visit in Sri Lanka by train, the most beautiful train ride is undoubtedly the one from Kandy to Ella. The journey is seven hours long and train season ticket prices tend to vary. However, the Kandy-Ella train ride will takes you through mesmerising landscapes of verdant tea plantations and panoramic mountain views which makes it an experience one has to have when on vacation in the island.

Here are a few tips you need to know before embarking on this journey.

1. Have your itinerary planned out in advance

Sri Lanka is a country with a lot to experience. Prioritising the activities your stay will encompass can be a daunting task for tourists unless they organise themselves in advance. It is highly recommended that you seek out travellers who are familiar with the country and have them share their ideas on what the most interesting things to do in the island are. Be it sunbathing during your stay at the Cinnamon Citadel, relishing a cup of hot cocoa by the fireplace in cold hill country or exploring sites of cultural significance, having an idea of what you want to experience will make it easier to move around from city to city in a limited span of time. On confirming where you’ll be staying in Sri Lanka and the date the train ride will take place on, you can go about clarifying which train you will be taking and the timing that will be optimal to take in the picturesque scenery on the way.

2. Be equipped with the necessary equipment

If you plan on snapping memorable pictures along the way that are fit to be shared on social media, a good DSLR is essential. If you do not own a DSLR camera, you could consider renting out a camera for the occasion. Alternatively, a smartphone with a good camera may suffice. Whether you have opted for a luxury train ride with air conditioning or not, carrying a bag with toiletries is recommended. Liquid soap, hand sanitiser, a face cloth, tissues, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, wet wipes and even a spray bottle filled with water to hydrate your skin on the go are essentials. A digital or physical copy of a Sri Lanka train map too will come in handy if you would like to know the exact locations you are passing by.

3. Travel to Kandy a day in advance

When it comes to train booking Sri Lanka predominantly relies on a manual system that will require you to be present at the station to purchase the tickets for the ride you want. Luxury train rides are the exception to the rule with many privately owned companies permitting the sale of tickets online. For those of you embarking on the Kandy-Ella train journey, adding exploring the historic city of Kandy to your itinerary would be a good call. This way, your ride to Kandy from Colombo is fruitful and will give you the opportunity to explore a diverse array of places of cultural importance, such as the Peradeniya Gardens. Arriving at Kandy a day in advance will also give you time to relax and unwind so you are in the right spirit to make the most out of your train ride the next day.

4. Set aside some time to explore Ella

Ella is a haven boasting of lush, verdant plantations and a cool climate. Apart from being aesthetically pleasing, its quaintness and ambience affords vacationers an experience that is nothing unlike anything they have ever experienced in the tropics. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the island’s more populous cities, such as its commercial capital Colombo, travellers to Ella can simply “be” here. They can choose to immerse themselves in the quiet of nature, enroll at any of the many short-stay yoga and meditation retreats here and indulge in authentic Sri Lankan cuisine at any of the town’s many luxury hotels, motels and boutique hotels. Those desiring to acquaint themselves with other tourists who are on the same journey will find an abundance of online forums that will afford them the opportunity to meet others in the area.

On board the train, expect a new photo opportunity at every turn. The breathtaking scenery is often compared to a verdant carpet of tea bushes rolling by, dotted with colourful sari-clad tea pluckers emerging out of an ocean of green. The journey will take around 7 hours from Kandy to Ella. Should you wish to take a break midway, consider stopped by the beautiful hill town of Nuwara Eliya that is fondly referred to as “Little England”. Nanu-Oya is the station you will have to get down at. It is a colonial hill station located 2000 metres above sea level. You will find plenty of places to see and things to do in Nuwara Eliya that will keep you busy for days that will add further value to your train ride experience from Kandy to Ella

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