Train journeys in Sri Lanka were some of our favourite from our travels in Asia.
We stayed in Kandy (500m) for a few days then took the train up through the Sri Lankan hill country to Nuwara Eliya (1,868m):
The city of Kandy
Kandy is the geographical, cultural and religious heart of Sri Lanka and the last stronghold of the Sinhalese kings, falling to the British in 1815. The town itself is famous for the Temple of the Tooth (housing the alleged tooth relic of Buddha) – a must for anyone Buddhist or into Buddhism.
Kandy has a pretty lake with some cheeky monkeys who stole our mangos as we stopped to admire the surroundings.
Where to stay in Kandy?
Kandy is a beautiful town offering a variety of places to stay. Whether, you are looking for some romantic time, luxury, or good value for money, you will find it in Kandy. We stayed in different hotels and guest houses while in Kandy, below are the places that stood out for us:
THE SECRET KANDY Book online
- 125 years old building renovated in a beautiful 5 rooms boutique hotel. If you are looking for a romantic experience, this is the place to be.
- Great location, close to all main sites.
- Prices start from $158 / £109 a night with breakfast.
ELEPHANT STABLES Book online
- Stylish accommodation, great staff, lovely pool, a true oasis just outside of Kandy.
- Prices start from $223 / £154 for a double room with breakfast.
HANTANA RANGE VIEW Book online
- The couple (Pathi and his wife) running this little home stay are so kind and caring.
- The food is excellent.
- Prices start from $29 / £20 for a double bed with breakfast.
Where to stay in Nuwara Eliya?
Nuware Eliya is a tranquil little town but has a great variety of places to stay. The ones that stood out the most for us were:
HERITANCE TEA FACTORY Book online
- Old colonial tea factory with amazing views over the plantation.
- Very friendly and professional staff.
- Prices start from $285 / £197 for a room with breakfast.
SINCERE WILDERNESS HOMESTAY Book online
- A homestay full of character, on the side of Sri Lanka’s highest mountain, overlooking Nuwara Eliya.
- The host family will care for you with love. Food is amazing!
- Prices start from $83 / £57 with breakfast included.
HEIDI’S HOME Book online
- A three bedrooms guesthouse with very friendly owners and their little daughter Heidi.
- Great budget option in Nuwara Eliya.
- Prices start from $34 / £23 with breakfast included.
How to get train tickets in Kandy?
We were advised to take trains early in the day in Sri Lanka before the midday mist sets in.
It is better not to buy tickets in advance because trains are frequently cancelled if the weather is too extreme (weather in Sri Lanka is extremely unpredictable). So you only know the night before if the train is still scheduled.
We turned up early on the day of departure to buy tickets and had at least 2 different groups of people offering us their pre-ordered tickets in 2nd/3rd class for free!
Obviously we were happy to accept a free ride in 2nd class (the difference with 1st is the presence of air conditioning). It turned out the 1st class tickets (which they wanted) are only available to buy on the day of departure and not in advance.
So people buy (non refundable) 2nd class seats (around £4 / $6) in advance to at least guarantee their seat on that train and then buy 1st class (around £10 / $15) on the day of departure when they are made available.
if you managed to get free tickets like us, let us know, we would be curious to find out!
The train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
Kandy was a base for us to start our scenic train journey through the Sri Lankan tea plantations to Nuwara Eliya (1,868m).
On this train journey we passed a lot of tea plantations and saw the many Tamil workers in the fields close up:
Watch our travel video diary of our adventures through Sri Lanka as we ate our way through this tropical island, took some beautiful train journeys and enjoyed excellent safaris spotting leopards at Udawalawe and blue whales at Mirissa.
OUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL TIPS
⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.
⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.
⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.
⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.
⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.
This article contains affiliate links. If you click on them, we may receive compensation which keeps our website alive and helps us bring you to more destinations.