It might be slower and longer, but it is often more relaxing and easy to do. Most of the time, there is no need for advanced purchase and no need to check in two-three hours in prior, you just simply board your designated train, find your seat, open a book or listen to music and wait to alight in your destination.
It connects the city to the Central mountainous region or the coastal town down South. It is safe, comfortable and most importantly cheap, a 1.50USD ticket for a five hour journey, that sure is a bargain. But above all else, it is home to one of the world’s most scenic train journey, none other than, the Kandy to Ella train journey, or vice versa , Ella to Kandy.
The Sri Lanka Railway System was originally built to transport coffee and tea from the hill country to the capital and first service began in 1864. The train used might have evolve from using steam locomotives to diesel, but the same rail routes are functional up to these days.
So what makes Kandy to Ella a one classic train ride to take?
The magnificent view of the rolling hills and the tea plantations that you can admire regardless which side of the train you are seated. The train navigating the mountainous steep slopes, connected by bridges, stopping at smaller towns in between, then entering multiple tunnels only to exit into the woods.
The journey is relaxing, yet exhilarating, it demands passengers to actually take notice of the surroundings and enjoy the scenery. The blue color of the Chinese built-S12 train that operates the Colombo-Badulla somehow complements the surrounding greenery.
Travelers can purchase different kind of seats depending on the level of comfort and price- there is the reserved seating Air-conditioned 1st class, the non-AC 2nd and 3rd reserved class, then the cheapest option, the non-reserved 2nd and 3rd class which you can purchase fifteen minutes in advance on the same day. I purchased at the Kandy train station a 2nd class non-reserved seat for LKR230 (1.50 USD)
The only drawback of taking the non-reserved 2nd or 3rd class train tickets is obviously the lack of assurance that you can find a seat, however, if you are lucky to grab a window side seat, all you needed to do is open the window, enjoy the cool breeze and stick your head out from time to time for the full experience.
Trust me when I said that you will only spend a short amount of time on your seat (in case you get one), as you will be more or less incline to stand up and walk around, find a carriage with open door and have a front view sit to one of the world most beautiful train journey.