The 110km journey from Colombo to Kandy provides a neat snapshot of Sri Lanka’s dramatic scenic contrasts, taking you within just three hours from sweltering coastal lowlands to cool inland hills. Many visitors make the journey by train, a classic rail journey (sit on the right-hand side en route to Kandy for the best views) along one of south Asia’s most spectacularly engineered tracks, first opened in 1867, which weaves slowly upwards through long tunnels and along narrow ledges blasted by Victorian engineers out of solid rock, with vertiginous drops below. Despite the pleasures of the train trip, however, the journey by road (another legacy of British engineering skills, completed in 1825) is in many respects more spectacular, as the main highway rolls uphill and down, before making the final, engine-busting climb up into Kandy, giving a much more immediate sense of the hills’ scale and altitude than the rail line’s carefully graded ascent – although the long slog through the interminable suburbs of Colombo and Kandy is a drag.

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Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

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The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

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Why Sri Lanka should be the next place you take your kids

Why Sri Lanka should be the next place you take your kids

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