My honest opinion: if you’re in Sri Lanka, you should definitely spare some days from the beach to visit the quiet and green town of Ella. Well, quiet if you skip the main road. But it’s totally worth seeing a different face of this diverse country so read on this Ella travel guide to find out more.It might seem like there is not much to see around, but trust me, just being out in nature there is something. Also, the little town itself is fancy, with many restaurants everywhere. So let’s dig in more to find out everything you need to know.
How to get to Ella
Train: Getting to Ella is the best part of the trip because you have to get on one of the most scenic train rides in the world. The famous part of the journey is between Kandy and Ella. At some point, we were on top of the mountains and the very cold air was coming in while we were looking over enormous tea plantations.
If you’re coming from Colombo, make sure to ask for the Express blue train to Ella, otherwise, you might miss out that particular journey. You can make your own research for schedules on the official railway website. The prices are somewhere between Rs 270-430 (€1,37-2,19) depending on the class you choose. But to mention, if you’re in for the gram and plan on taking beautiful photos, then you shouldn’t book 1st class because the windows can’t be opened.
Bus: A bus is always an option in Sri Lanka because the bus transportation network covers a wide range of the country. Although, it’s not comfortable at all, especially for long rides, it’s still an option if you have no other choice.
You can check here my guide on How To Use Public Transportation In Sri Lanka.
Private driver: There’s always the option of hiring a private driver in case you want to be completely hassle-free, or you’re simply constrained by time. and don’t mind spending some money on that (around 40€/day).
Things to do in Ella
Ella is a very small village and you can walk around and see it in less than an hour, but there won’t be too much to see. But there are plenty of things to see near or outside Ella.
Nine Arch Bridge, Ella
The Nine Arch Bridge became famous probably because of Instagram. After all, it’s just a bridge. What’s actually nice is the view there and getting there. You can either hike, walk or take a tuk-tuk. I walked there following the main road and came back hiking the mountains around it.
Once you get there, you can go down the tea plantations and wait for the train to come and take a nice photo, or you can go and have a drink at the terrace right next to the trails.
Diyaluma Falls, Koslanda
The Diyaluma Falls is definitely my highlight of the Sri Lankan trip. It requires a one-day trip from Ella, but it couldn’t be more worth it.
You can check here How To Get To Diyaluma Falls On Your Own, in case you want to save up some money, as the tuk-tuk will ask for quite some money. Also, if you want to spend some time on your own there, you clearly don’t want to have a guide following you and pressuring you to finish the tour.
We didn’t do any hiking around except for the short way back from Nine Arch Bridge and the one to the top of Diyaluma Falls, but if you’re into it, there are many cool places to do that like Ella Rock or Little Adam’s Peak.
How to spend less money in Ella
- Negotiate for accommodation. Ella is a very friendly place for backpackers and budget travelers. You can find very decent accommodations for a few euros only. What I actually recommend is to have a look at Booking.com for availability and after that to personally go there. Is no myth that Sri Lankans love to negotiate and it’s no exception for accommodations. We found a clean room with a private bathroom and a small common terrace to overlook the mountains for 5€/night at Little Heaven Homestay.
- Eat where locals eat. It’s true, there are not as many options as in other places, but you can find very good deals. These places are mostly located in small streets. We found some right in front of our house, on Ella-Passara Road. Don’t forget to ask for the price before ordering. Don’t forget to check the Complete Guide for Food in Sri Lanka to know exactly what to order.
- Walk or use the bus. Don’t forget that a bus ticket is only a few cents to almost anywhere on the island, so if you’re planning to save some money, tuk-tuk is really no deal.
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