Decked out in old-world charm and mystery, railway journeys are often overlooked, as travellers tend to look for quick fixes when it comes to their sojourns. Instead of opting for the next flight or holiday destination, rediscover travel by taking one of the world’s most luxurious trains – tucked away in some of the most scenic destinations.
Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian & Shangri-La Express
Route: Moscow – Tashkent – Almaty – Urumqi – Beijing
Duration: 21 days
Price: from S$29,000
Starting off with a tour of Moscow, which includes the iconic Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s tomb, the Golden Eagle journey commences from Moscow’s Kazansky Station. Chugging past Volgograd (the backdrop for the famous WWII Battle of Stalingrad), it whirrs along the Silk Road that once connected China to Europe, stopping at Uzbekistan’s UNESCO cities of Bukhara, Khiva and Samarkand before changing trains at Almaty (Kazakhstan). It begins its China voyage on the Shangri-La Express at Alashankou, passing lofty vistas of rural cities and the Great Wall of China before ending in Beijing.
Venice-Simplon Orient Express
Route: Paris – Budapest – Bucharest –
Duration: 6 days
Price: from S$11,160
This classic route (in restored 1920s era cars) departs just once a year and begins its journey in Paris for an overnight journey to Budapest, where you’ll spend the night and visit the city’s gems – from ornate churches to thermal baths – on a private tour. Once in Romania, you’ll disembark at the mountain town of Sinaia and the beautiful Peles Castle before overnighting in the vibrant city of Bucharest. The train then travels through Bulgaria’s pastoral landscape before entering Turkey via the beautiful Thracian Plain to its final destination: Istanbul.
The Ghan (Australia)
Route: Darwin – Alice Springs – Adelaide
Duration: 3 days
Price: from S$1,830
A piece of history that used to ferry Afghan cameleers to the heart of Australia to open up the inhospitable, harsh region for the rest of the country to explore, The Ghan’s voyage starts off at Darwin, coasting through the dry, red plains of the Northern Territory before stopping over at Alice Springs – the gateway to Uluru – for a few hours where travellers can explore the dramatic, grassy highlands on camels. The railway journey then continues south, drastically changing from barren land to lush green hills, as it approaches Adelaide.
Royal Canadian Pacific (Canada)
Route: Calgary – Banff – Calgary
Duration: 7 days
Distance: approximately 300km
Price: from S$9,300
The historic Canadian Pacific Railway’s ‘Royal Canadian Rockies Experience’ takes you through some of the most rugged terrains of the majestic Rocky Mountains. Highlights include the UNESCO sites of Fort MacLeod and the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park for its unusual geology. The train continues north into the Rockies, as the train climbs through Kicking Horse Pass with its vintage 1909 Spiral Tunnels. This luxurious train is only available as a whole-train private hire, and itineraries (like this one) can be tailored to the individual.
Belmond Hiram Bingham (Peru)
Route: Cusco – Sacred Valley – Machu Picchu
Duration: 3.5 hours
Distance: approximately 110km
Price: approximately S$930
Beginning at Cusco, the Hiram Bingham chugs past military citadels and churches before hitting the steep valleys and mountain tops of the Sacred Valley. As it climbs in elevation, it passes herds of llamas, clustered villages and numerous gentle rivers that cut through the highlands, before reaching Machu Picchu – the Lost City of the Incas. Sitting atop lush green mountaintops, the splendid UNESCO-listed citadel offers panoramic views of the surrounding Urubamba Valley. From Cusco, you can continue onto Puno and the beautiful Lake Titicaca on the 9.5-hour Andean Explorer, a luxury rail which covers one of the highest railway routes in the world.
Seven Stars in Kyushu (Japan)
Route: Around Kyushu
Duration: 4 days
Price: from S$5,255
Japan’s recent addition to their railway journeys, the luxury sleeper train Kyushu Seven Stars courses through green landscapes of paddy fields and lush plains of Japan’s third largest island: Kyushu. Travelling through 5 of Kyushu’s prefectures (Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki & Oita), the journey includes walkabouts around untouched, scenic areas like Yufuin and Aso to experience the island’s nature, hospitality and volcanic sites before overnighting at a hot spring resort. For bookings, visit Follow Me Japan (www.followmejapan.jp).