One of the best methods of transportation in Sri Lanka is to take the train. Thousands of people take the train every day due to it being a cheaper yet entertaining form of transportation compared to the basic taxi, car, bus, and others. The trains are operated by Sri Lanka Railways, and provides simple carriages that have no sleeper cabins. Your trip will generally not take long anyways, but the seats are as comfortable as they can be to ensure you have a nice trip.
- There are several trains from Colombo Fort to Kandy
- You can book 1st, 2nd and 3rd class trips on this line
- Book your tickets in advance as trains sell out quickly
- If you want to buy 1st class tickets especially you should buy them at least 2 days in advance at the station or via a website such as 12go.asia
- I travelled 3rd, 2nd and 1st class and liked 3rd and 1st the most.
Colombo Fort to Kandy
Although Fort Railway station in Colombo is quite busy, it is also the best railway station to leave from when wanting to go to Kandy. Most people here speak English fluently and you will be able to get a ticket fairly easily!
The trip will take approximately two more hours until you finally arrive at the Kandy Railway Station. The total price for the trip is usually Rs. 180 – Rs. 500 or around depending on the train class you choose. Please refer to the table below for more information about the specific fares according to the classes.
Booking Train tickets to Kandy
To book the tickets, you can do so on the website of Sri Lankan Railways. The problem you have here that not all cards will be accepted – in fact, during my 3 and a half months in Sri Lanka I could not make purchases online but through the Uber Eats app.
You can also buy tickets on the spot. If you want second of third class tickets you need to be in the train station early as they sell out quickly.
If you want First Class Tickets it is best to buy or book them several days in advance as they will sell like hotcakes.
Josh and I bought our tickets in the station itself as we were travelling in a time where there was not too much tourism (through Covid) but even then we had to wait longer because the train we wanted was actually sold out.
You can also use an agency to reserve seats. I have used 12go.asia before to book tickets in Asia and it is actually really good – maybe a bit more expensive, but very good!
If you do not want to book, then you can go to the railway directly and purchase a ticket for 2nd and 3rd class unreserved cars at the ticket counter. Simply head to the counter and beside it should be a board that shows which counter sells tickets for which route. Please note that generally you should leave 32 days in between your booking and travel date, so it is recommended to plan accordingly.
Classes in Sri Lankan Trains
There are several types of train class you can take depending on what is important for you. The typical Sri Lankan train is the 2nd and 3rd class seats which are usually unreserved. The windows and doors are open, creating a stuffy air as people crowd together closely. The seats are not allocated and are usually very full due to its cheap price. If you are not lucky, sometimes you might have to stand up for the whole trip. The 2nd class trains are a bit more spacious, but there are still no allocated seats. They are a bit more expensive, but are usually less full and have a greater chance of getting a space to sit. The seats are not that comfortable, and a long trip will leave you anguished and wanting to arrive as soon as possible. The 1st class observation car is where you will truly have an enjoyable experience as it is the most luxurious option. You will experience scenic routes and has comfortable seats that are usually reserved. They are usually fully booked, and have to be pre-ordered in advance. The first class also has an air-con car option as the observation cars are not air-conditioned and have the windows open. Even if it is more expensive, it is still quite affordable, and is the recommended class to take for tourists.