Trains | Getting Around Sri Lanka | Red Dot Tours

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Train travel in Sri Lanka can be an adventurous experience. One fabulous way of exploring the tea country is to jump aboard the train. The morning railway journey from Kandy to the highlands of Nuwara Eliya, Ella or Dickoya, climbing uphill upto 6,000 ft above sea level, is one of the greatest railway journeys in the world: the dramatic landscape of the highlands stirs the senses as you wind past lush tea plantations, majestic peaks and rushing waterfalls. The Sri Lanka Railways – the government railway network, which was first started in 1864 during the colonial period – covers a wide network of routes that spreads across the island.

There are three categories of class on Sri Lanka trains – first, second and third. First class is fitted with an observation deck, a/c and small television monitors and also has a flushable w/c. Second class has fairly spacious seating and toilet facilities. Third class is the cheapest option and is similar to second class, but tickets cannot be reserved in advance so having a seat cannot be guaranteed.


For the ultimate in luxury old world train travel you can even travel on Sri Lanka’s only passenger steam train, the 75 year old Viceroy Special. The private train has two air-conditioned observational saloons furnished in period style with 64 plush reclining seats and individual adjustable tables, and each saloon has an adjoining smoking lounge and modern toilet. There is a restaurant carriage complete with Edwardian ribbed fans and teak trimmed wood panelling. Speak to one of our travel consultants for more details.

Pre-booking train tickets

Our company is an online travel shop for holidays in Sri Lanka, which means we sell any aspect that makes up a holiday. This includes train tickets.

Booking train tickets in a country such as Sri Lanka can be a tricky and time-consuming business, as the procedures and technology are outdated. It is important that we give priority to our own holiday customers who expect and deserve high levels of service. We regret that we must therefore request a minimum spend of US$300 on travel and accommodation to seek to book train tickets on a customer’s behalf. We are sure you will find our prices competitive and our standards high.

When pre-booking tickets with us please note of the following:

  • We regret that we must therefore request a minimum spend of US$300 on travel and accommodation to seek to book train tickets on a customer’s behalf.
  • We can book first class (observation -class) and second class train tickets in advance. Third-class can be purchased on the day of travel.
  • Full payment is required in advance (as part of the total cost of your tour).
  • Tickets can only be confirmed 14 days before the start date of your holiday. We will refund in full, and as a priority, if we fail to obtain tickets.
  • Tickets are issued on a first come-first serve basis and cannot be booked online.
  • Government officials have priority, which means that tickets are sold strictly subject to availability, even after they have been confirmed.
  • Train tickets are non-refundable once successfully purchased.
  • Delivery arrangements will be stated on your Travel Voucher. Most often your tickets will be given to your assigned chauffeur-guide, but we can also arrange for delivery to your hotel (Colombo only) or for the tickets to be held at the station for collection.

Please note that first-class train bookings are notoriously difficult to secure during the following holiday periods due to high local traffic, but we will always endeavor to secure your booking:

  • Christmas Holidays: 20 December – 5 January
  • Sinhala and Tamil New Year: 1 April – 20 April
  • Perahera season: July and August

First-class tickets can also be difficult to obtain in February, as it is peak season for tourists.

Passenger Safety

Traveling on the train is at your own risk. We cannot take responsibility in case of an emergency, but you could get in touch with our Operations team who will assist in any way possible. Trains in Sri Lanka do not have slide-open doors – there are no doors at all – therefore please consider your safety and do not lean out of the train during the course of the journey.

Ticket Prices

To arrange pre-booking, we have to pay a supplement to a third party. Our train ticket prices are therefore set above the basic ticket price and are as follows:

  • Ticket price per journey (including admin fee): US$25 per person
  • Hotel delivery Charge (within Colombo only): US$ 10 per group

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