Riding Trains In Sri Lanka

10th March, 2018

We have just wrapped up 3 weeks in Sri Lanka.
Like most tourists, we used the train system a few times – and we LOVED it!
Super affordable and the very best way to see the stunning country side. Sit back and relax or hang out in the doorways and take it all in.

This trip runs along the coast, stopping along the way to collect and drop off passengers. Lots to see on your way through the little colourful towns and see how the locals live.
A very pretty ride.

3 hours approximately.

We rode First Class for this journey. We had comfortable high back seats, fans and our own luggage carriage as well as overhead.
Note: The First Class carriage generally travels backwards. 

3,200LKR ($26AUD) for the 4 of us. 

This trip is probably one of the most well known and most beautiful of all train routes in Sri Lanka. The tracks wind around the hills and valleys. Tea Plantations as far as the eye can see. Over bridges, through tunnels. It’s such a great experience!

6-7 hours

We rode Third Class Reserve. We had seats facing each other and a table in between us.
Windows can be opened, fans on the roof, luggage storage overhead.

1,600LKR ($13AUD) for the 4 of us.

The scenery on this route is very much like Ella to Kandy. Rolling green hills. Mountains and streams. Just gorgeous! 

3-4 hours on the express train

We rode Second Class Reserve. The seats were comfortable, windows could be opened to enjoy the views and fresh air.
Overhead luggage storage.
No tray tables.

1,120LKR ($9.50AUD) for the 4 of us.

I won’t sugarcoat this leg of our journey. We witnessed something pretty awful on this train ride. You can read about it here if you like.


Buy your tickets in advance
We took the advice of a friend and pre-purchased all of our tickets from the Colombo Train Station. So glad we did. Takes any stress away and ensures a comfortable seat in the class of your choice.
You can take your chances buying tickets on the day of travel – but you will most likely miss out, or be standing. The decent carriages sell out very fast – weeks in advance!

Note – (If buying reserve tickets in advance at Colombo, head to ticket counter 17 to purchase. Nobody told us this and we were wandering around for way longer than we should have been! The staff at Colombo Train station were definitely not forthcoming with useful information, nor were they helpful, so hopefully this tip helps you…)


There are toilets on the trains in each separate class, just bring your own tissues and hand sanitizer as that is not provided.

We found Third Class Reserve to be the best for us. We had seats facing each other and a table in between. The kids were able to spread out a little more and wander around the carriage. The doors were opened, so we all had some time sitting in the doorways, watching the world go by – such a huge highlight of these train rides.

Come prepared
These trips are lengthy, and although the scenery is breathtaking, little people tend to get cabin fever. Make sure you’ve packed snacks and water.
Games or crafts for kids. iPads fully charged as well as cameras and phones (there is nowhere to charge on the train).

Try the local snacks
At each stop, vendors will either come on board, or come to your open window to sell you some of their tasty treats.
Samosa, spiced nuts and fresh fruits.
We really loved the nuts and vegetarian samosa.

Happy travels!!



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