There are a few ways to get from Ella to Galle. You can jump on the Ella to Galle bus, which is the cheap but faffy way. Then there is the pricey but manageable option of a shared van and the most expensive option of a private taxi. Here’s how to do each option:
Getting From Ella To Galle
How Long Will It Take?
They all go along the same roads and can take anywhere between 6-8 hours.
Option 1: Cheap But Faffy Public Buses
You can hop on the number 31 bus, which will take you all the way from Ella to Galle. However it will already be rammed by the time it arrives in Ella so may be a struggle to get on. And it is a long journey in VERY cramped conditions.
This will cost around LKR 300 ($1.70USD) per person. We couldn’t find any official pricing so this is based on our research of other blogs, all of which had varying amounts.
There are no bus timetables in Ella, but as the 31 bus comes from Nuwara Eliya add about 3 hours on to those departure times of:
And hope they haven’t changed them!
Potentially Go Back To Bandarawela
Alternatively you can take the 31 bus going the other way or the 9.20am train to Bandarawela for about LKR 30-40 (£0.17 USD – $0.22 USD).
Whilst this is going back on yourself, Bandarawela has a proper bus stop and quite a few people get off the 31 bus here, so you are more likely to be able to get a seat on the bus.
From Bandarawela you can catch the 31 bus to Galle or another bus to Matara (there are 2 buses an hour from Bandarawela to Matara). These buses will likely cost just over LKR 300 ($1.70USD).
From Matara you can catch buses to Mirissa or on to Galle (at Matara there are a lot more options and these will be less busy) or take the train to Galle for LKR 45-80 (£0.25 USD – £0.45USD). But beware the last one is at 6.30pm!
Got all of that?
The total trip will likely cost just over LKR 400 ($2.26 USD) depending on the options you choose, which is pretty cheap.
Option 2: Ella To Galle Via Shared Taxi
A few places in Ella offered shared vans to Galle. We asked around and found the cheapest option was through the Oak Ray Ella Gap Hotel. The hotel staff were extremely helpful.
Due to the challenges involved in taking the public bus (detailed above), we opted for the shared van. We shared our van with around 6 other people and stopped for toilet breaks regularly. The van was in good condition. We didn’t stop for lunch though so bring snacks!
We negotiated a price of LKR 4,000 ($22 USD) per person.
Option 3: Ella To Galle Via Private Taxi
Lots of places in Ella town offer private taxis between Ella and Galle. I would say this is an expensive and totally unnecessary option, if you want more comfort the shared van is completely adequate. Private cars from Ella to Galle cost around LKR 15,000 ($85USD).
Whale Watching in Sri Lanka
If you want to do whale watching, head to Mirissa. You can do it from other places along the coast (like Hikkaduwa), but an excursion will involve going to and from Mirissa.
Be Aware: Mixed Reviews Of Whale Watching
However, I have heard VERY mixed reviews about whale watching in Sri Lanka. With a few people voicing that they wished they hadn’t done it due to the way the boats harass the whales and do not have proper education programmes to tell tourists about the whales.
Apparently tour companies find the whales using drones (fine), then 20+ boats descend on the whale, jostling for position with no regard of the whale or their passengers. When the whale dives, the boats wait for it to surface again and repeat the process. The companies often don’t give any information about the whales and the crew doesn’t even know the different types of whales, according to some reviewers.
I didn’t do whale watching whilst in Sri Lanka but I can’t say this is something I’d like to do, but read reviews of different companies and see if it’s right for you.
When it comes to wildlife tourism, I recommend following these 5 steps to being a more responsible wildlife tourist.
More About Sri Lanka
I spent a month travelling in Sri Lanka. Find out more about what I recommend doing (and not doing!) in the rest of Sri Lanka in my very honest Sri Lanka guide:
Travel To Sri Lanka: Where To Go & Where You Should Probably Avoid
Want To Stop Using Plastic Bottles Whilst Travelling?
Sri Lanka does not have drinkable tap water. Reduce your plastic waste whilst abroad, get a travel water filter. Here are some of the best travel water filters out there.
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