Want to know how to get from Ella to Kandy? In this post, we’ll share a summary of the three ways to get there and compare each option on duration, costs and level of comfort. For each option, we go into more detail to help you decide which transport provider to book with and where to buy your tickets.
3 ways to get from Ella to Kandy
There are three ways to travel the distance of 140 km (87 miles) from Ella to Kandy: by bus (5 hours), taxi (3h 30min) and train (5h58m-6h27m). The journey takes between 3h30m - 6h27m and the quickest way is by taxi. The lowest priced tickets start from 3,090 Rs ($9.50) for the train.
The train journey from Ella to Kandy is among the most beautiful in the world, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself with a lot of competition at the train station. This is going to be a very busy journey, with both locals and tourists trying to get a seat.
This is why we highly recommend booking a train ticket online, and you have to do that at least one month before your trip. Tickets for this route sell out really fast, and you’ll want to buy them before other travel agencies do.
If you missed that deadline, you can still try to buy reserved tickets at the train station even a few days before your trip, but don’t get your hopes up.
Although more expensive than local rates, online booking is your best bet for good train seats. You can get a 1st class air-conditioned seat for 5,180 Rs ($16.00) and an open-air 2nd class seat for 3,090 Rs ($9.50) when you book via BookAway.
Trains depart from Ella Railway Station and arrive at Kandy Railway Station, both located in the city centre.
PRO TIP: This route is beautiful anywhere you look, but if you are free in choosing which side to sit, go for the left side when travelling from Ella to Kandy.
*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.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious train journey, you can book a seat with Viceroy II. This is a vintage train carriage that will take you back to Sri Lanka’s colonial era. Note that it is fully air-conditioned and not for those who prefer an open-air adventure.
Luxury doesn’t come cheap though, and the Viceroy II is among the most expensive options when travelling by train on the island. But it does offer plush seats, unlimited wi-fi, warm lighting, and a fully-stocked bar. You might want to bring your own food and drinks though as their rates are quite expensive. Overall, you are ensured of a very comfortable journey.
Viceroy II operates from Ella to Kandy on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Departs at 11:57 from Ella Railway Station in the city centre
Arrives at 18:15 at Peradeniya, a suburb located west of Kandy’s city centre
Tickets cost 6,700 Rs ($20.50). You can book your Viceroy II ticket via 12go.Asia or through the link below.
Your last option is to buy tickets for unreserved seats. These are available at the station on the day of your trip. Tickets for a 3rd class seat cost 125 Rs ($0.30) while 2nd class seats cost 310 Rs ($0.90). Unreserved tickets are unlimited so buying one should be easy.
Your main concern will be getting an actual seat in these jam-packed trains. If you’re not quick enough, there’s a great chance you’ll be standing for a huge part of this 6 to 7-hr journey.
There are very few direct intercity buses operating from Ella to Kandy. The few ones are ordinary buses that often get stuck in traffic and make too many stops along the way.
For these reasons, we recommend travelling with Brown Tours for this route. They offer 1 trip from Ella to Kandy daily. They use tourist buses, so you can expect them to be air-conditioned with reclining seats, good legroom, and charging sockets.
Travel time with the tourist bus is around 5hrs and a ticket costs 5,570 Rs ($17.00). It’s quite expensive, but much better than standing on the train for 6hrs. You can easily reserve a bus seat through BookAway. Just click the link below.
Departs 14:00 from Oak Ray Hotel at Passara Rd. in Ella city centre
Arrives 19:00 at Nishantha Wood Carvings along Peradeniya Road, west of Kandy city centre
The taxi is the most expensive yet quickest way to reach Kandy from Ella. You can rent one via BookAway for 11,000 Rs ($34.00).
You also have an option to book with Uber from 10,000 Rs ($30.50), but we can’t guarantee their availability in Ella. Other options with possibly cheaper rates are PickMe and TaxiGo, although they also have very limited availability outside the capital city, Colombo.
PRO TIP: Use the code “hpam1ue” or this link to order your first ride with Uber for free!
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.
Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.