How to get from Ella to Tangalle by Bus

How to get from Ella to Tangalle (or Tangalla – I don’t know which spelling is right) may seem straightforward, but I had the added challenge that in Sri Lanka I was travelling on a budget. This meant using public transport as much as possible.

Anyone can go out onto the main street of Ella and find a taxi driver or a local with a car willing to drive you down to the coast right to the door of your accommodation. But that doesn’t sound like much of an adventure, does it?

So for me, it was time to brave the Sri Lanka buses. Again.

Let’s backtrack a bit…

What we were doing in Ella and why we wanted to go to Tangalle

We were on Day 13 of a 21-day trip around Sri Lanka. We’d been on the trains, the buses and the tuk tuks. We’d visited the amazing sights in the Cultural Triangle, hiked up the enormous Adam’s Peak and seen wild elephants on a jeep safari. In between all this, we’d visited Kandy, Haputale and now Ella. We were ready for some beach.

Read my full Sri Lanka itinerary here.

How to get from Ella to Tangalle by Bus

We were ready for some beach

Actually, the next step in our intended itinerary was to keep going east to Arugam Bay. But this would be another day’s travelling, plus another day and a half travelling to get to the beaches in the south. So we decided to go straight from Ella to Tangalle.

How I Devised My Sri Lanka Backpacking Itinerary

Ella to Tangalle by bus

The woman who owned our guesthouse in Ella was extremely sweet. And when we got talking to her and her equally sweet husband, it turned out that he was a conductor on Sri Lanka’s demon buses. Talk about risking your life for your job.

When they found out we wanted to go to Tangalle by bus, the sweet lady offered to take us to the bus stop and wait with us. It was lovely – we felt like kids being put on the bus by mum!

The lovely husband spoke to his colleague that would be doing the Ella – Tangalle route that day and asked him to save seats for us. As the journey was over fours hours long we really didn’t want to have to stand on the bus.

True to their word, when the bus stopped, our guardian spoke softly to the conductor and he nodded. We climbed aboard and found that there were two seats with bags on them. The passenger that was guarding them wouldn’t let us sit down until the conductor came and said that yes, these seats were reserved for us. We were so thankful when we saw how the bus filled up and that already people were standing.

Where to catch the bus for Tangalle in Ella

When I was reading up about how to leave Ella by bus, everything I read just vaguely mentioned a general corner where people stand and wait for the bus. Actually this is much easier to find than I had thought. It’s just a main corner where there’s always a small crowd of people. All the buses stop there. Ella is much smaller than I had imagined.

However, if you are travelling from Ella to Tangalle, don’t wait in the general place; go up the hill a bit towards the train station and wait for the bus just on the main road.

In the map below you can see where the bus stops are located. But you want to wait more or less where I have marked the cross on the map. Best thing is to ask a local when you are there.

How to get from ella to tangalle

The bus comes to Ella at around 8:40am and we got into Tangalle at about 1pm. So you certainly don’t want to stand.

The bus journey between Ella and Tangalle

From the point of view of a person with a seat, the journey from Ella to Tangalle wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was even pleasant at some points. The landscape was pretty, and I love going through towns and villages in Asia, witnessing snippets of local life. Also, as you go through these towns and villages, it’s fun to work out where you are by reading the names and addresses that are always displayed on businesses and shopfronts in Sri Lanka.

We did make a 15 minutes toilet-break somewhere along the route (I don’t know where) and we could buy refreshments and use very basic toilets.

The price of comfort

We did pay for our special treatment on the bus. The fare was 200rs per person I think and we gave 500rs. We got no change so the conductor got a tip and we got our seats. Everyone was a winner. This was our most expensive bus journey in Sri Lanka – around 3€ for both of us!

Tangalle Station

When we disembarked at the bustling Tangalle Station, we were greeted by sights of market stalls and food stalls. We were immediately accosted by a friendly tuk tuk driver, Dilantha, who would become our driver for our entire stay in Tangalle. But we didn’t leave for our Tangalle accommodation without first stocking up on fresh samosas and rotis to munch on throughout the rest of the day.

Have you made this trip between Ella and Tangalle? What was your experience? Or maybe you are planning to do so? Do share.

Filed Under: asiafeaturedSri LankaSri Lanka BeachesSri Lanka Hill Country

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About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....

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