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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for 7 Tips on Taking the Train in Sri Lanka – Hacks to make your train ride smoother
Joanna James Joanna James
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7 Tips on Taking the Train in Sri Lanka – Hacks to make your train ride smoother

If you're a fan of anything to do with trains then taking a train ride while you're in Sri Lanka is something you should definitely do. Here 7 tips that'll make your life easier.


Book your tickets in advance

Since most of the outstation trains tend to get crowded if you don't book your tickets in advance, you'll have to stand for the entire duration of the train ride. The tickets fall under 3 tiers; 1st class, 2nd class and 3rd class. 1st class tickets have comfortable seats and plenty of leg room while 2nd is slightly less comfortable but busier. 3rd class, the cheapest tickets available is a good option if you're travelling on a budget and don't mind sweating it out a little bit. If you were unable to book tickets in advance you can still buy 2nd class and 3rd class tickets half an hour before the train leaves.


Pack water and snacks

Make sure to take your own water and snacks as the trains don't have a food carriage and the food sold at the small shops at each station add a mark-up to anything they sell. The only exception to this rule is the spicy prawn vaddai that is sold by vendors if the train isn't too crowded.


Pack lightly

All carriages have luggage racks which can store small bags. If you have a big bag, however, you'll have to keep it on the ground next to you. Getting on and off the train with a big bag can also get difficult as the gap between the platform and the train carriage at some stations is quite wide, which means you'll have to climb up the stairs next to the door to get into the train. You'll get a few dirty looks from other passengers as fitting in a big bag through the narrow door will cause a delay in them getting on to the train and will also take up space that they can otherwise occupy.


Get the right platform

Make sure to ask the guard to which platform the train will be arriving when you're getting your tickets checked. Some of the main platforms will have more than 2 platforms, doubling the ground you have to cover when the train is announced, this can be especially challenging during rush hour.


Charge your devices

If you're making use of some of the hotel offers Sri Lanka provides in its hill country similar to Earl's Regency make sure your electronic devices are charged, especially your camera as the thick greenery that you will pass on your way to your destination are scenic and are worth capturing as a memory of your magical vacation when you go back home.


Carry sanitary products

Most surfaces on the train will be covered in dust and dirt. Having wet wipes and hand lotion will come in handy especially if you're going to eat something and aren't in the position to put your hands out of the window and wash your hands.


Bring a light jacket

The highlands of Sri Lanka can get quite cold depending on what time of the year you visit. While the difference won't be so obvious if you're travelling 1st class, you feel quite cold if you're riding 2nd or 3rd class during the night. Having a light jacket will keep you warm and can also act as a pillow when you lean your head against the window for a quick nap.

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