How to get from Colombo to Ella?
The most scenic option when travelling the 205km distance from Colombo to Ella is via train. This train journey takes a little less than 9 hours and costs 490 Rs ($2.70). Alternate options include taking a bus (7 hours) or a taxi (4.5 hours).
Train, Bus or Taxi?
|Train||8h 46min||490 Rs ($2.70)||Check train tickets|
|1,010 Rs ($5.60)||Read article for info|
|Taxi||4h 30min||16,000 ($87)||Book a taxi|
Although the slowest of all options, we highly recommend taking the train from Colombo to Ella. The 2nd half of this route is the most scenic in Sri Lanka and the view from the window is enough to entertain you throughout the 9-hour trip. Ticket prices start at 490 Rs ($2.70) if you buy them at the train station. You can also book a 2nd class ticket online for 3,080 Rs ($17).
If you’re on a tight budget or missed the chance to get a reserved train ticket, you can also consider taking a bus from Colombo to Ella starting at 710 Rs ($3.90) for an airconditioned bus. Note that this bus does not go straight to Ella. You will need to take another 15-min taxi ride worth at least 300 Rs ($1.70) to reach your destination.
Travelling with a group? Taking a taxi is a good alternative for a fast and hassle-free journey. Taxi rates start at 16,000 Rs ($87) and travel time takes 4.5 hours.
Colombo to Ella by Train
Duration: 8h 46min
Cost: 490 Rs ($2.70)
The train route from Colombo to Ella is among the most picturesque rides in the world, especially the 2nd half of the ride starting in Kandy. It should not be missed when visiting the Tea Country.
Sri Lanka Railways generally feature clean cabins with soft seats, comfortable enough for a 9-hour trip. Tickets are available on the day of your trip at the train station, with fares starting at 490 Rs ($2.70) for a 2nd class unreserved seat.
But because this is at least a 9-hour journey, we recommend that you book reserved seats online at least a month before your trip. First-class seats are air-conditioned and cost 5,080 Rs ($28) when booked online. Still, we prefer the open windows of second-class cabins, much better for sightseeing and photo-ops! A reserved 2nd class seat costs 3,080 Rs ($17).
- Departs from Fort Railway Station in Colombo city center
- Arrives at Ella Railway Station in the city center
See the schedule below:
|5,080 Rs ($28)|
|3,080 Rs ($17)|
Train tickets are also sold on 12Go.Asia for a few dollars less. However, we recommend booking with BookAway as they don’t add a booking fee and time schedules & info are more reliable.
Why we don’t recommend to book unreserved seats
Reserved train tickets in Sri Lanka sell out fast, which is why you have to book your tickets online at least a month before. If you missed that deadline, you can take a chance by buying an unreserved train ticket, which will only be available on the day of your trip.
From Colombo to Ella, tickets for a 3rd class seat cost 310 Rs ($1.70) while 2nd class seats cost 490 Rs ($2.70). Unreserved tickets are unlimited, but seats are not! Imagine having to stand for a 9-hour journey!
If you missed the 30-day deadline to book online, your alternate option is to book a reserved seat with an agency. They charge a much higher price, but they will try their best to get those tickets for you.
For more info and other train booking options, check out our page on How to Book Train Tickets in Sri Lanka.
Colombo to Ella by Bus
Duration: 6hr 45min excl. transfers
Cost: 1,010 Rs ($5.60)
There are no direct buses operating from Colombo to Ella. However, there is a bus that can drop you off about 5km away. From here, a short taxi ride will bring you to Ella.
Step 1: Colombo to Kumbalwela Junction by Bus
Duration: 6h 30m
Cost: 710 Rs ($3.90)
From Colombo’s Bastian Mawatha Bus Stand, find bus #99 bound for Badulla. Cheaper ordinary buses are available, but we don’t recommend them for this 6.5-hour journey. Instead, we advise that you take at least an airconditioned bus for 710 Rs ($3.90). This has several departures daily.
If you want a more comfortable bus option, you can also take the super-luxury bus for 1,060 Rs ($5.80). This departs at 23:00 daily. Make sure to ask your driver to drop you off at Kumbalwela Junction. You should arrive there around 05:00 the next morning.
Step 2: Kumbalwela Junction to Ella by Taxi
Cost: 300 Rs ($1.70)
At Kumbalwela Junction, you can hail a taxi to bring you to Ella, which is about 15min away. With a metered taxi, the ride should cost just around 300 Rs ($1.70).
Since this is very early in the morning, another option is to ask your hotel beforehand if they offer pick-up service at Kumbalwela Junction.
Colombo to Ella by Taxi
Duration: 4h 30min
Cost: 16,000 Rs ($87)
You can get a taxi from Colombo to Ella for 16,800 Rs ($92) if you book via BookAway.
Booking a taxi with Uber costs a bit lower at around 16,000 Rs ($87), but fares can be slightly cheaper or more expensive depending on availability. If you want to do everything to find the cheapest rates, you can also check the taxi apps PickMe and TaxiGo. These are widely available in Colombo, but may not be easy to find for longer journeys.
PRO-TIP: Use the code “hpam1ue” or this link to order your first ride with Uber for free!
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