I’ve been meaning to make a list of railroad puns… but I keep getting side tracked? Puns aside, whether it’s a nostalgic sleeper train that takes you back in time or a high-speed bullet train, one should at least experience a train journey in their lifetime!
Unlike flights, train journeys offer a more relaxing holiday experience which is absolutely perfect for winding down after a hectic month at work. So here are some of the greatest train rides in the world you should definitely hop on!?
1. Eastern & Oriental Express
A little bit closer to home, this luxurious train takes you from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore! The train journey will take from 3 to 6 days depending on your preferred route with each route offering breathtaking views of the lush Malaysia jungle and tropical sceneries?
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They do make short stops in Kuala Kangsar so you can stretch your legs and bask in the wonderful view! There’s even an open observation deck at the rear-end of the train. Try to catch a sunrise here and you’ll be greeted with a painting?
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Since it's a luxury train, each ride would cost you around USD$2155 onwards. On the plus side, it's inclusive of three meals per day! While they do not specifically serve halal-food, passengers will be asked the type of food they prefer or food they are allergic to upon booking. For a safe option, you may request for a seafood-based meal. However, do keep in mind that since they do entertain international passengers, alcohol is served onboard.
Credits: @blogfashionistac on InstagramHHWT Tip #1:
The train offers seasonal discounts so do check out their offer section before booking your ride.
HHWT Tip #2:
Bring some mosquito repellent as it may come handy!
2. Kandy to Ella, Sri Lanka
Getting around Sri Lanka via train is the best way if you want to meet the locals and experience the culture! Board your train at Fort Colombo and you're in for a beautiful scenic ride?
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The charm of this train ride is definitely the journey itself. The seven-hour train ride will give you miles of tea hills and rejuvenating green mountains! If you’re lucky, you'll even get to greet the tea-pickers from your seat☺️
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There are two types of train – one that's run by the government and another by a private company that runs ExpoRail. Fares for ExpoRail start from $13 inclusive of dinner and tea!
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Passengers can get the tickets from the train station itself for USD$3-$14 depending on your preferred compartment. While the fare is not inclusive of meals, passengers are allowed to bring their own food and drinks so you can stock up on snacks at the train stations!
For a much cheaper option, go for the government run trains. However, advanced booking is required.
3. Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai via a train ride is not only cheaper, but it's also less of a hassle compared to taking flights. Start your journey at Hualamphong Station in Bangkok and this sleeper train will take you to Chiang Mai in a night! How convenient is that??
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The train features 3 different class seats at different prices. All the class seats are equally clean and comfortable. However, sleepers are only offered in 1st
and certain 2nd
class seats. So, do double check your before booking your tickets!
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Fares for overnight sleepers start from USD$38 to USD$60 while daytime trains start from USD$6 to USD$17. Children below the age of 12 and under 150cm will get a reduced fare while children aged 0-3 years get to ride for free. The price is considerably cheap!
Bring along your own food as prices for food onboard the train is expensive.
4. Seoul to Busan via KTX
We’re pretty sure everyone is familiar with this one thanks to the box-office Korean movie ‘Train-to Busan’! But fear not, there will be no zombies (or infuriating ahjusshi
) involved in this one? This journey starts from Seoul Station and will take you approximately 2 hour and 45 minutes to reach the beautiful coastal city of Busan!
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The seats are comfortable enough for you to get a little snooze to recharge for your next adventure. There are push carts selling snacks, but if that's not to your liking, no worries as outside food are also allowed on board!
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If you plan on spending more than a day in Busan, opt for the three-day rail pass for USD$99!
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If you’re wondering what to do while in Busan, check out our guide here!Website
5. Maharajas' Express
Next on the list is another luxury train – The Maharajas' Express! This train journeys throughout 12 destinations across North West and Central India – such as Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Agra ?
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Maharajas' Express did not win “The World’s Leading Luxury Train” for five years in a row (2012-2016) for nothing. This train boasts 43 luxurious cabins and suites comparable to 5 star hotels! Each cabin comes complete with a private bathroom with showers, LCD Television, Wi-Fi and a private butler?
Credit: Maharajas Express Luxury Train on Facebook
The length of your journey is based on your preferred routes! It can go for as short as 4 days and 3 nights to 10 days and 9 nights and the fares differ according to your cabin. To give you a better picture, for a 4 days and 3 nights’ tour, prices start from USD$2910 per person for a deluxe cabin to USD$12 900 for a presidential suite. This fare is not inclusive of taxes or insurance.
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Just like the Eastern & Oriental Express, fares are inclusive of meals, soft beverages, and complimentary drinks onboard. Although the meals are not halal, there are several cuisine options (a common theme in luxury trains) that are Muslim-friendly! Options range from lactose-free, gluten-free, kosher to vegan.
The TranzAlpine train is operated by a local train operator in New Zealand called the KiwiRail. It is undeniably the most scenic train journey one could take in New Zealand? The train takes you from Christchurch to Greymouth in 4 hour and a half!
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The massive panoramic windows and rooftop skylights will allow you to enjoy the charming Southern Alps view while on the train. There's also an open-air viewing car if you'd like to feel the rush of cool air against your face?
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There are several types of fares offered for this journey. The Webstarter fare (no refunds, no time change) starts at USD$97 while the starter fare (48-hour time change allowed) starts at USD$130. Good news for travelling parents, children aged 2-14 get to travel with a reduced fare while those below 2 travel for free!
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As the seats are only given upon departure, do make a seat request when you're booking. You won’t be charged for it!
7. West Highland Line
One word... Harry Potter. If you haven't recognised it yet, West Highland Line is THE railway that we all wish we could get on for that train ride to Hogwarts! Unfortunately, that is not going to happen anytime soon (unless you receive an owl post?)
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Fortunately, you can get on a train on this line and pretend you're on your way towards Hogwarts! The track spreads from Mallaig in the Scottish Highlands to Glasgow in Central Scotland and the journey will only take about 2 hours and a half. You can either opt for the daily Jacobite steam train (USD$38 onwards) or the Caledonian Sleeper (USD$134) train ?
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A stretch of blue skies, cool wind and green mountains along the railway will not only feed your soul, but also bring you a step closer to living the Harry Potter dream.
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The Glenfinnan viaduct made popular by the Harry Potter films lay between Fort William and Mallaig. It is breathtaking in real life just as it is in the movie?
8. Glacier Express
If you're in Switzerland, you absolutely have to get on the Glacier Express, a railway that connects two major mountain resorts of St. Morits and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps!
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Although it's dubbed as the ‘slowest express train’ in the world, the journey will be something you'll never forget? Stretches of white snowy mountains and refreshing cool air basks the panoramic windows of the train.
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The views out of the windows are so dreamy and breathtaking that you definitely wouldn't want to move an inch from your seat?
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Do take note that the train takes a yearly short break between late October to mid-December.
9. Bernina Express
Bernina Express is considered a sister train to Glacier Express that's also a top contender for the most scenic train rides in Switzerland.
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This train journeys from Switzerland to Italy in four hours! It passes 196 bridges and 55 tunnels in total. How cool is that?? The whole journey makes use of the Albula and Bernina line both of which have been declared a World Heritage Site in 2008. Imagine what a wonderful ride that would make!
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The best part, it costs a fraction of the Glacier Express with fares starting from only USD$31! During winter season (mid-December to March), it's beautiful as most of the landscape is usually covered by a thick layer of snow. In Summer (July to September), flowers can be seen and that makes this journey even more attractive! In Spring (May to June), you'll be greeted with a perfect combination of green valleys and snowy mountains?
10. Blue Train, South Africa
Take a journey between South Africa's Pretoria and Cape Town in this luxury train that boasts of gold-tinted picture windows! The train comprises of several deluxe and luxury suites and run at a very limited time (only once or twice a week!) so do book your tickets early.
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Since the train prioritises privacy and exclusivity, there's strictly no sharing of rooms even if you're a solo traveler. Each cabin is equipped with either a double bed or two single beds and a private shower ?
Credit: Blue Train South Africa on Facebook
Some luxury suites even feature full-size bath tubs AND couches for their passengers. It’s literally a moving 5-star hotel! So if you're looking for a stylish way to travel, this train is definitely the answer to your dreams ?
There you have it! Train rides are definitely not the fastest way to get around but it gives you a different and refreshing view of the world that you might not get elsewhere! Now, instead of frantically rushing to catch your next flight, why not go for a relaxing train ride that you absolutely deserve? ?