I’m glad you asked! Many people find it a little stressful not having their train tickets reserved and paid for in advance. I don’t blame them. It’s nice not to show up hours or even a day in advance, stand in line, and then rush to get on the train to grab one of the limited seats available. Did you know that coach class seats are first come, first served in Sri Lanka? In other words, you could be STANDING UP for hours.
Don’t worry. I’m here to help.
The train company is government-owned and goes by the very literal name “Sri Lankan Government Railways.” They have a crack team over in their marketing department (kidding!). Trains in Sri Lanka are very safe, have an expansive network, are a great way to see the country, and are an incredible value.
The route from Kandy to Ella is particularly popular and was named by Rough Guides as one of the best train routes on planet Earth. That’s right — Earth’s Best. Can you get better than that? Universe?
The properly named Sri Lankan Government Railways does not sell tickets online because it’s 2018…
The only way you can buy tickets in advance is in-person and they only sell tickets 30 days before the departure date. “Why?” you ask. Because it’s 2018…
Where does that leave us? Absolutely screwed. I have no solution to this problem, only wanted to warn you that it really sucks.
I kid, I kid.
There is one great company out there that can solve all of your problems. It is “Visit Sri Lanka Tours” and they do all of the legwork for you. How does it work?
You visit their website and purchase tickets online. Online?? What is this, THE FUTURE? Plus you can buy the tickets more than 30 days in advance!
“Wait, what? I thought you said both of these things are not allowed.”
You are correct, but this company is quite clever. First, you place your order online with them however far in advance you wish. The sooner the better due to the popularity of certain routes. Please keep in mind there are no cancellations or date changes. The financial transaction is via PayPal so it is quite secure.
Second, the company sends an employee down to the train station to buy your tickets on day 30 (or immediately if you ordered late) before your departure date. The company then emails you the confirmation information to pick up the tickets at the airport upon your arrival (this is what I did) or directly at the train station.
The company only charges you a small fee to perform this valuable service. Is it worth it? Absolutely! We saw entire families rushing for seats and the stress of travel combined with worries about whether you’re going to get a seat are not worth it. I was so happy with this service and now I gladly recommend it to you.
Interested in seeing what these train journeys look like? Check out these two videos I made.
The Kandy to Ella route can be seen in my newest video on YouTube here and the Colombo to Dambulla route in the video below.
Have questions or comments? Leave them below and I’m happy to help.