How to get from Colombo to Habarana

Back in Spain, before we even set off for Sri Lanka, I stressed myself out about how to get from Colombo to Habarana.

I read so many conflicting reports about whether or not the 06:05am train from Colombo to Habarana does or does not exist and found a whole network of buses with no timetable. Frankly, it was frustrating.

how to get from colombo to habarana

Train from Colombo to Habarana

I checked one Sri Lankan website that said the train from Colombo to Batticaloa does not stop at Habarana (outdated information?) and I stumbled upon a website about Indian trains, which for some reason had information about one or two Sri Lankan trains, which said it did stop in Habarana.

I checked blogs and forums: people that said the train definitely stopped at Habarana because they had personally got off there, others that had watched as the train they were sitting on sailed straight through Habarana without stopping and they had to get off at the next station and take a tuk tuk back to Habarana. And then there were those that decided not to risk it and changed their plans or even hired a driver.

My head was exploding with frustration; something that, whilst researching our trip to Sri Lanka, happened frequently due to the lack of available information.

In the end I decided to put all our eggs in one basket. I convinced myself that the 06:05am train from Colombo did exist and that it did stop at Habarana. And that we would take it! Oh, and I had no backup plan in case I was wrong…

I’m very pleased to announce that the 06:05am train from Colombo does exist, it is the Batticaloa train and it does stop in Habarana.

This train is absolutely the best way to get from Colombo to Habarana.

We had stopped the previous day at Fort Station in Colombo to buy our tickets: 600rs/pp for reserved second class sets.

Our Colombo host, Firdouse, took us bright and early at 5am in his tuk tuk to get there in plenty of time and find the platform.

The train pulled up 20 minutes early (Colombo was the departure point) and we jumped aboard the second class reserved carriage and found our seats according to the number on our ticket.

The train ride from Colombo to Habarana

There was plenty of overhead storage space for our big backpacks and the train pulled out of the station on time.

Shortly after, the sun began to rise and we had spectacular views of the lush Sri Lankan countryside for the whole ride.

During this train journey we had our first introduction to fantastic short eats: hawkers selling street food would get on the train at different stops and walk through the carriages selling mouth-watering spicy samosas, veg-filled roti and spring-roll-like pastries plus small salads, nuts, drinks and, for the really skilled commuter, rice and curry. (Many times I’ve been mesmerised on a train journey watching locals deftly eating rice and curry, expertly scooping it up with their hand and not spilling a drop despite the jerking motion of the rocking train and even managing to keep themselves perfectly clean).

After about five and a half very enjoyable hours we arrived in Habarana. The station was nothing but a platform and a sign. It looked like something out of the American West.

There was one lone tuk tuk there to greet the half a dozen or so passengers that jumped down onto the platform. That’s when we met Indika who became our driver for our entire stay in Habarana.

Indika was trying to manage the crowd of 6-8 people: he was bartering with Toni and I, arguing with another couple, trying to keep a group of four from wandering over the road to the bus stop and trying to have a telephone conversation with someone to arrange to get more tuk tuks there sharpish.

We were the couple that he was least interested in as we only wanted to pay 150rs to go to town. Even that was probably too much, but remember; we had only just arrived in Sri Lanka the previous day and this was the first time we’d had to haggle, so we were probably a bit rusty. I think we got better though as time went on and as we got more used to the currency.

Anyway, another tuk tuk (I don’t think it was the one on the phone) appeared from nowhere and the angry couple got in. The bus suddenly appeared in view careening down the hill towards us and the group of four made a run for it.
So Indika was stuck with us and we were adamant we were not paying 250rs to go to town, so he had to take us for 150rs.

And that’s how you get to Habarana from Colombo. It’s cheap, easy, comfortable and pleasant. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Read more about Habarana here.

I would like to remind you that all the photos used on InMyShoesTravel.com are my own unless otherwise stated.
You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.

Filed Under: asiafeaturedSri LankaSri Lanka Cultural Triangle

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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....

RSSComments (18)

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  1. Laura says:

    Thank you for this, it’s exactly the information I’ve been looking for!

  2. zakld says:

    I LOVE YOU! Sorry, I had to say it. I’m researching on how to get to Sigiriya from Negombo airport/Colombo and found a train that goes from Colombo to Habarana which is close enough. Googling it only gave me the results where people suggest buses, some say there are direct buses and some say there are several transfers to Dambulla. We’re going straight from the airport to Sigiriya accommodation so standing or sitting on uncomfortable buses is not an option and I really prefer the train ride. Thank you very much for confirming this train, that saved some cash for hiring a driver as some suggested.

    • Lisa says:

      Ha ha, you are welcome Zakld. This was exactly the reason I wrote this post: because I was having the same problem. And it’s scary when you just don’t know which is the right info in a strange place! I hope you have a fantastic time in Sigiriya and on your travels xx

  3. anita says:

    Thank you! I’ll stop short of saying I love you but Im thinking it ha ha. This answers one very big question that I also have been googling. Thanks a million

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Anita,
      It’s something I never get fed up of hearing!
      I’m glad the blog has helped you. Have a fantastic trip.
      Lisa xx

  4. Jolyn says:

    Thanks a lot for the post. Was really helpful in navigating the train system that is Sri Lanka.

    We’re reaching the airport at midnight and are planning to take the bus down and buy tickets on the spot for the 6am train. However, we’re not sure how crowded the reserved 2nd class will be. Do you think we’ll be able to get tickets on the spot?

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Jolyn,
      Sorry for the late reply. You will definitely be able to get tickets on the spot but whether or not you are able to get the specific ones you want is a different matter. And after a long flight you are going to want a seat.
      When I took that train, the carriage was not completely packed but I don’t know if it is busier at different times of year.
      All the best, Lisa

  5. ivy says:

    I would be arriving like 12mn from Airport, and if I will take the 6:05AM train to Habarana, that means I have time to buy…. would you know if I can buy the train ticket on the spot? Or should it be booked ahead?

    And since i have a very long layover, would you know where to hangout while waiting for train?

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Ivy,
      Sorry for the late reply and perhaps you have already taken your trip.
      I think that this route is less popular than others and you might get away with buying the ticket on the spot. But whenever possible, always prebook your train tickets in Sri Lanka.
      All the best, Lisa

  6. MK says:

    Hi Lisa, thank you for your insightful post. I am also having difficulty in getting more info on train schedules. I’m landing in Colombo at 8 am in the morning. Would you know if there is any train to Habarana during the day? Thanks

  7. ZZ says:

    Hi, I was wondering if there is also a train from Habarana to Colombo?
    Thanks for your help!

  8. Zana says:

    Hi, I was wondering if there is also a train from Habarana to Colombo?
    Thanks for your help!

  9. Hannah says:

    Hi Lisa,

    My boyfriend and I are currently in Columbo about 6 miles away from Colombo Fort railway. We have read your blog and tried entering any time for a train tomorrow to Habarana from the link you sent for the train times but each time it comes back with their being no trains.

    Do you know that the 6:05am train that you got goes religiously everyday?

    Thanks in advance,

    Hannah

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Hannah,
      Hopefully you’re already on your way to Habarana…
      But, the site says that the train goes daily, so while nothing runs religiously in Sri Lanka, I’d say it was the most likely option. Did you se that there is also a help desk tel on the website? Call 1919 and see if you can get more info.
      I’d love to know how you got on. All the best,
      Lisa

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