This route is the longest of all but probably the most rewarding due to the spectacular views of the Sri Lankan hill country. The final part from Ella to Arugam Bay must be taken by road, and will involve 2 or maybe 3 buses. Depending on waiting times this part can take over 5 hours so it might be worth staying overnight and starting again early the next day.
There are multiple departure times from Colombo Fort; 5.55am, 8.30am, 9.45am and 8pm. The journey to Ella on average takes about 9 or 10 hours. The first train is recommended so that you see the final part of the journey (the most picturesque) during daylight hours.
Ella or Badulla
As the train arrives in Ella about one hour before Badulla and they are both a similar distance from Arugam Bay it is not really worth travelling to Badulla. For more information on the train options available visit seat61.com (opens in a new window).
The bus station in Ella is a 600m walk from the railway station; just turn left when you reach the main road. There are frequent departures to Monaragala (see the Latest Ella Bus Timetable) but you can also take two buses via Wellawaya if that bus is leaving first. From Monaragala you can take a direct bus to Pottuvil or, even better, one to Panama which stops in Arugam Bay. See the Colombo to Arugam Bay by Bus page for more information on arriving in Arugam Bay by bus.
See Reserve a Train Seat in Advance for more information.
- Bandaranaike Airport to Colombo
- Colombo to Arugam Bay by Bus
- Colombo to Arugam Bay by Train and Bus via Ella or Badulla
- Colombo to Arugam Bay by Train and Bus via Batticaloa
- Colombo to Arugam Bay by Luxury Bus via Akkaraipattu
- South Coast to Arugam Bay by Bus
- Independent Taxi Share
- Request Taxi Quote
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The bus from Monaragala to Arugam is 150. Me and other backpackers paid 250, and he was trying to charge me 300 more for the surfboard but paid no more. Don’t allow them to rip you off
Hey Tom, thanks for the info. I have heard of conductors charging extra for baggage. How big were the rucksacks and the surfboard and where did they store them?
Many thanks for all this helpful information! I’m planning to take the bus from Ella to Arugam bay – any idea what total cost would be for this trip?
Hi Chris, not sure exactly but will be around 300LKR at a guess.
Any idea on the bus time table from monaragala to Ella? Hoping to travel from Arugam Bay to Ella on the 31st of July.
Hey Rachel, the buses are pretty frequent, should be every 30 mins to 1 hour. However, you may have to take one to Wellawaya and then change for Ella.
I’ll arrive in Colombo on the 2nd of June. I wanted to know if the busses/trains run at the moment or not because of the heavy rains and floods.
Is it problematic to get to ABay at the moment?
Hey Moritz, all bus and train services between Colombo and Arugam Bay are running as normal. I believe there are still a few problems on the South Coast but this will not affect you on this route.
Good Morning John. You seem to be a man in the know. Is the kandi -Ella train working currently. I know there are strikes; just wanted to see if these are resolved. Traveling to kandi tomorrow from up north and hoped to get the train? Many thanks. Alex
Hey Alex, I would try the Sri Lanka Backpackers Facebook page for the latest news. Sorry I cannot be more help.