All Aboard! Taking a Train in Sri Lanka Just Might Change Your Life

Jane Baumgartner ABROAD Leave a Comment

If there’s one thing you do in Sri Lanka, it’s take the train. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, the very affordable scenic train rides expose parts of Sri Lanka you don’t see when tuktuk-ing around.

The Honeymoon shenanigans in Sri Lanka continued, making our way from Negombo to the historic town of Galle, about 3 hours south by train.

Our Patagonia Black Hole duffels quickly became a makeshift seat, as finding for a vacant spot in time amongst the hundreds of other travelers and locals can become a mad dash. In Sri Lanka there are no doors on the trains, hence opting for the more scenic seat with feet dangling out to the side. Add an ice cold Lion Lager, and you have a very happy Mr. and Mrs. Farwell.

Every 30 seconds or so a man came by offering homemade snacks, juices, fruit, and a variety of other goodies to munch on while traveling…maybe it was the fear of food poisoning, the questionable fried shapes, or the crowded aisles he was pushing his exposed basket through, but we chose to pass on the train treats and brought our own snacks.

The two routes I highly recommend taking the train are from Colombo to Galle, and from Ella to Kandy (or anywhere heading West/north). Get to the train early, especially in Colombo.

Colombo and Kandy are the two busiest cities in Sri Lanka and it’s a fight to just find standing room in the trains, especially if you do what we did- which is think we were on island time and find some beers to sip on pre train. We ended up running to catch our train that was already starting to move, it was here that we jumped up, swung our bags in and cramped into the hallway amongst the locals and tourists. Once again grateful for backpacking and using our Blackhole Duffle as our train seats.

The ride from Colombo to Galle hugs the ocean and moves at leisurely pace, swaying back and forth on the tracks, passing small rugged beach towns. Get a seat on the right hand side to catch the ocean breeze and to watch the towns buzz past you. When you arrive in Galle, if you’re staying in the Old Quarters, you’re walking distance from the train…just make sure you don’t have too much luggage!

The second train we took was from Ella en route to Sabaragamuwa to hike Sri Pada, or Adams Peak. This train was hardly packed (traveling in peak season, January), we got to dangle our feet out the door without anyone pushing or shoving to get in.

Drew and I typically take the cheaper routes for most trips, however if anyone is planning a trip to Sri Lanka and taking a train is on your agenda, I would recommend to pay the extra dollar or two for the first class seats. Regardless of what class you sit in, it’s a memorable experience worth enjoying!




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