It’s quite an experience to travel by Train Through Sri Lanka. For individuals with a restricted budget, it is the best choice as you are otherwise dependent on personal drivers or taxis. The bus is also an alternative, of course, but I discovered the train a little more convenient. Traveling by train in Sri Lanka, however, is not the same as in the Netherlands, and preparing for this is helpful. I get regular train questions through Sri Lanka so that’s why it’s time for a comprehensive article. Only on the grounds of our individual train rides, I inform you about my own experiences. So you understand precisely what to expect from your Sri Lankan train trip!
The train from Colombo
We decided to go first to the southernmost location on our wish list during our trip through Sri Lanka: Anuradhapura. We walked directly to the Colomboso train station on the day of arrival to purchase tickets for this lengthy trip. Note: in the tiny ticket office there are several rows, all of which are for a distinct final destination. Up to 3 times we had to join another row, ending up in the row we began. So, when you purchase train tickets, bring some patience with you. You can also purchase your tickets on the day of departure in principle, but if you’re in the region, I suggest you pick them up. You are thus assured of a location because you are running out.
Train Through Sri Lanka
It is in principle self-explanatory on the day of departure. An inspector is prepared upon arrival at the station and if you ask on which platform you are supposed to be on, he will specify this. If you still look around a bit confused (it can be very busy at this station), another officer will approach you in no moment to ask where you need to go. Almost everywhere on the platform where the coupé stops are stated, so when the train comes you are instantly in the correct location.
The train itself is ancient, with fans as improvised air conditioning on the roof. Fortunately, it is possible to open the windows to allow some cooling air to flow in. We had tickets for the second class and those locations were fantastic. The Colombo-Anuradhapura path is only 200 km away, but it takes 4 hours as the train only operates 50 km per hour. So take plenty of beverages and food. On the way there are constantly sellers, so you can always buy it on the train itself if you haven’t carried anything.
The train from Kandy
We took the train in Kandy to Hatton, from where we climbed Adam’s Peak. It turned out that this train ride was much more common than the one from Colombo to Anuradhapura. We couldn’t choose a seat on the right. A pity two days before departure, because from there you have the best opinions. I ended up standing in the doorway several times during the trip to take pictures, but as I wasn’t the only one with this concept, sometimes it was blown.
So always show that you prefer to sit on the correct side when you buy your tickets, which will save you a lot of trouble along with the manner. We finally had two narrow seats, obviously the last remaining: my bench looked more like a love seat than a double sofa. I shared this with a very little ancient person, luckily. My friend had a single-person bench, but his arms against those of the ancient guy were constantly (accidentally). Not the most comfortable train ride ever, but well, we were not permitted to complain about those few euros that cost the tickets.
The train from Hatton
We were looking for the train from Hatton to Ellatake after climbing Adam’s Peak. Because until this time we always booked a seat, we were amazed to learn that from here this was not feasible. You purchase a ticket and all you have to do is hope that somewhere there is space. This is because only the exit station sells seats. Because this is still an old-fashioned ticket system, it seems impossible to see who gets out and when, so at the intermediate stops no seats can be purchased. It could then be that twice or even more frequently a seat is booked.
Everybody was in the starting blocks at Hatton station, prepared to fly into the train as quickly as it came. That’s why we felt tired, so we were prepared to go with our backpacks on our backs as well. This ultimately paid off: we could secure two great places. Annoying detail: some visitors threw their rucksacks through the open windows into an empty seat from outside, so they could enter quietly afterward. I believed it was going very far and I believed it was antisocial in reality. This is a lovely train ride with lovely opinions once you are seated. The view was extremely lovely here, we were on the left.
The train from Hikkaduwa
Before we headed to the airport, Hikkaduwa was our last stop. We took a day off to travel to Negombo near the airport from this seaside town. It was also a nice thing. We left at half-past ten in the morning by train, only to arrive at five in the evening in Negombo. That means we’ve done over 150 km for 6.5 hours. It can be that slow to travel by train in Sri Lanka. Luckily we only flew at 2.30 that night, otherwise, we’d have an issue. Traveling in Sri Lanka by train is a fantastic experience with the finest opinions. However, it’s important to take considerable travel time into account and the fact that you can’t always sit down. With that in mind, if you begin a train trip, it’s a great fun experience!