How to get from Ella to Kandy?
Kandy is a beautiful plateau located in central Sri Lanka. Surrounded by lush rainforests and tea plantations, this town is known for its charismatic vibes and of course the Temple of the Tooth, one of the most important Buddhist sites in the country. At its heart is Kandy Lake, where you can enjoy a few hours of leisurely stroll and food tripping.
The most scenic way to travel the 140km distance from Ella to Kandy is by train. This train journey takes 6-7 hours and costs from 310 Rs ($1.70). Alternatively, you can take a bus for 5 hours or a taxi for 3.5 hours.
Whatever you plan to do in Kandy, make sure you take the train when coming from Ella. The train journey from Ella to Kandy is the highlight of a trip to Sri Lanka. Keep in mind that tickets for this route sell out fast. If you want to secure a good seat, it is best to book your ticket online at least a month before.
Missed that deadline? Don’t be discouraged! If you time and plan your train journey well, you can still take a chance with unreserved train cabins. Kind of risky, but still worth it!
The bus is a comfortable alternative to the train, but nowhere near as scenic. We don’t really recommend it unless you’ve already taken the train from Kandy to Ella and don’t mind missing the view on the way back.
If you prefer to travel comfortably and don’t have a reserved train ticket, you can also consider taking a taxi. Rental for an entire car starts at 11,000 Rs ($60) and you can split the cost when travelling with a group.
Schedule from Ella to Kandy
|Train||6-7h||310 Rs ($1.70)||Check train tickets|
|Bus||5h||5,570 ($30)||Check bus tickets|
|Taxi||3h 30m||11,000 Rs ($60)||Book a taxi|
Ella to Kandy by Train
Duration: 6-7 hours
Costs: 310 Rs ($1.70)
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 ($28.50) and an open-air 2nd class seat for 3,090 Rs ($17) when you book via BookAway.
Trains depart from Ella Railway Station and arrive at Kandy Railway Station, both located in the city center.
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 schedules from Ella to Kandy
|1st Class Train||06:40-12:38|
|5,180 Rs ($28.50)|
|2nd Class Train||06:40-12:38|
|3,090 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.
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 though 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 center
- Arrives at 18:15 at Peradeniya, a suburb located west of Kandy’s city center
- Tickets cost 6,700 Rs ($36). 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 ($0.70) while 2nd class seats cost 310 Rs ($1.70). 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.
You can find other train schedules beforehand on the Sri Lanka Railways website.
Ella to Kandy by Bus
Costs: 5,570 Rs ($30)
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 ($30). 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 center
- Arrives 19:00 at Nishantha Wood Carvings along Peradeniya Road, west of Kandy city center
Ella to Kandy by Taxi
Duration: 3h 30min
Costs: 11,000 Rs ($60)
The taxi is the most expensive yet quickest way to reach Kandy from Ella. You can rent one via BookAway for 11,000 Rs ($60).
You also have an option to book with Uber from 10,000 Rs ($55), 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!
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