by Jan 8, 20192 comments

HOW TO BOOK Express and Intercity train seats using your SIM CARD

Travelling by train is probably one of the best ways to explore Sri Lanka – at least it was our favourite mode of transport when we went on a 1-month backpacking trip around this amazing country. When taking the train you not only get a taste the sri lankan local life but also a chance for some spectacular scenic views along the way with train routes taking you along the beautiful coastline as well as through mountains, forests and of course the beautiful lush green tea plantations.

However, in order to actually SEE and enjoy some of this beautiful Sri Lankan countryside on your train journey you have to make sure to get a good seat on the train and believe us when we say, that this is not as easy as it sounds. If you’re hoping to simple board the train and pick yourself a nice, breezy window seat than think AGAIN! Probably 100+ other locals who know the game and have become masters at it had their eyes on the same seat so you won’t stand a chance and most likely will end up standing the whole trip in a crowded aisle not even getting a little glimpse of all the beauty outside.

So make sure to always reserve your train tickets (and seats!) in advance – especially on all the busy and by tourists and locals frequently used train routes by either buying them at one of the major train stations (NOTE: not all train stations sell tickets for all routes!) or, and our new preferred method, by simply reserving your tickets and seats with your mobile phone!

We recently gave this a try and reserved our train tickets for our journey from Kandy to Colombo by simply using our mobile phone (and a Sri Lankan Dialog Sim Card) and were amazed how easy the whole process was. Therefore we decided to put together a little handy guide on how to reserve your train seats in Sri Lanka using your mobile phone with a Sri Lankan Sim Card.


You can use your phone to reserve train tickets and seat for pretty much all the major connections in Sri Lanka such as Ella – Kandy, Colombo – Kandy, Colombo – Jaffna etc. on Express, Intercity and AC Trains.

What you will need to make train bookings with your mobile phone:

  • A Dialog Sim Card or a Mobitel Sim Card (you can get these at the airport – Check out our Airport Guide here. We strongly recommend getting a Sri Lankan sim card if you want to have a at least half decent internet experience 😊 The free Wi-Fi provided by guesthouses and hotels usually sucks!)
  • Enough credit to make the call and buy the tickets using your Sim Card balance
  • Your passport number
  • Date / time of your preferred train journey (you can look up the train schedule by visiting

How it works when using a Dialog Sim Card:

  1. You will need to dial the reservation short code 444 (Mobitel/ Etisalat reservation code is 365). For Dialog Users the call costs 8 LKR per minute + tax (checked May, 2018)
  2. You will get connected to an answering machine where you’ll have to select:
    language -> ticket service -> train ticket reservation -> Sri Lanka National Rail
  3. You will then get connected to the reservations operator with whom you can reserve the tickets for your required journey, date and time by simply providing all the information and they will check whether anything is available. You can make these type of reservations 30 days ahead of your journey.
  4. If there are seats available and you want to go ahead with the reservation you need to provide your passport number (only of the person who will be picking up the tickets at the train station)
  5. They will then go ahead and make the booking and will let you know as soon as it is confirmed and in the system. Note that payment is done via your Sim Card Balance so make sure you top up before calling. (in our case the price for two 2nd class reserved seats from Kandy – Colombo was 588 LKR excluding reservation fees of roughly 15% which will be added on top)

  6. Shortly after you should also receive a text message including all the information again regarding your booking and your reservation number.

    You will need to present this reservation number at the train station mTicketing counter to get your tickets. Note that this bookings cannot be cancelled or refunded. (Note: For Mobitel users you can also go to the Mobitel billing centers to pick up your tickets)

Let us know if you have any more questions concerning booking your next train journey with your Sri Lankan Sim Card.


More information on things to do and places to see in Sri Lanka

Negombo to Unawatuna

Negombo to Unawatuna by train and tuk tuk_Sri Lanka transport

Guide to Unawatuna

Ultimate guide to unawatuna sri lanka

Breakfast guide Sri Lanka


About us


Welcome to Hungry Backpack!

We love to eat, we love to travel. We did not like the life we had so we changed it, completely! Packed our bags, said our goodbyes and left for a trip around the world with no end in sight. Follow us as we are tasting a new kind of life! 🙂

Read more…

More informational posts

What to do and where to buy your SIM CARD at the airport

Late Arrival in Colombo, Sri Lanka


Negombo to Unawatuna by train & tuk-tuk

Negombo to Unawatuna by train and tuk tuk_Sri Lanka transport

Ultimate guide to Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

Ultimate guide to unawatuna sri lanka