Joy ride tales: Train to Ella Sri Lanka

Last Updated on January 19, 2020 by Natasha Amar

What I really love about journeys using public transport is that they not only offer beautiful diverse landscapes, but also a chance to take a quick peek into local culture and the opportunity to interact with locals (as cliché as that sounds, it is true). So when every other forum and every other traveller talked about the scenic train ride to the sleepy villages of Ella, Haputale and Badulla, that was something I just could not miss, no matter how pressed for time I was or how exhausted after the hike to World’s End.

This being an impulsive last minute decision to take the train from Pattipola station (close to World’s End) , I travelled second class on a 3.5 hour ride to Ella. The train which is usually late by a few hours, chugs into Pattipola station and is reminiscent of the toy trains of Indian hill stations. 

Second class travel means, standing mostly in what is an extremely crowded compartment, packed with backpackers and Sri Lankan families. If you’re lucky, you may manage to stand close to the door and truly enjoy the beautiful scenery. The train rides through vast forests, over streams and the scenery is simply breathtaking.

Every few minutes, the train enters a dark tunnel for a few seconds and that is when the ‘joy” in joy ride comes alive. Local children squeal and scream in delight in the tunnel, and to a silly tourist like me, that is quite exciting. Seriously these kids love their tunnels!

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The locals are very friendly and will give you good tips about what to do in these areas. They are also nice enough to offer you their seats if you have been standing for a long part of the journey, shooing their children off them. Mostly, they are just so pleased that you are enjoying their country and travelling second class just like them!

Tip: If you are sure of your itinerary or even almost certain, book the Observation Class ticket, it looked way more comfortable than standing for hours in Second class. This can only be done in advance and in Colombo.

Train to Ella Sri Lanka Train to Ella Sri Lanka Train to Ella Sri Lanka Train to Ella Sri Lanka Train to Ella Sri Lanka Train to Ella Sri Lanka

For more posts about Sri Lanka, visit the Sri Lanka Travel Blog.

Additional Reading

Sri Lanka Travel Tips: Things to Know For First-time Travelers

Ayurveda Retreat in Sri Lanka: Barberyn Beach Review

Stay at this Glass Roofed Villa in Sri Lanka

9 Things to do in South Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Safari: Into the wild at Yala National Park

Train to Ella Sri Lanka

Hiking to World’s End Sri Lanka

What to do in Nuwara Eliya in the Hill Country

Wandering the Streets of Galle

A Guide to Festivals in Sri Lanka

Get your Sri Lanka visa online.

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  1. We took the Colombo Fort – Nanu Oya train ride last July. We really enjoyed the scenery and our kids were so excited…at least for the first couple of hours! The total train journey was 7 hours!! It was worth it but something I don’t want to do again LOL!