10 Great Train Journeys

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10 Great Train Journeys
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10 Great Train Journeys

Travelling through dense forests and past ancient ruins, these journeys should be on your bucket list.

If you’re someone that likes to enjoy the scenery when you travel, travelling by rail is definitely better than flying. Train journeys are now a major tourist attraction rather than a mere mode of transport, and many iconic routes around the world now have a luxurious train service for the convenience and comfort of tourists. Here’s a list of 10 great rail journeys that you mustn’t miss out on:

Pride of Africa Rovos Rail provides a luxury ride through the heart of South Africa, from Cape Town or Victoria Falls to Pretoria. Travel in private elegant Pullman, Deluxe or Royal suites, complete with a washroom, shower and mini-bar. The windows in the suites can be opened to let you breathe in some of that beautiful fresh air. You can also kick back and socialise in the sitting or open-air area of the lounge car at the end of the train, and the trip fare is inclusive of lunch and formal-attire dinner in the two restaurant cars, along with South African wines. (www.rovos.com)

The Indian Pacific The Indian Pacific runs from Perth to Adelaide and onward to Sydney. The three-night journey takes you from Perth across the Avon Valley and the wheat belt into the city of Karlgoorlie for a stop, and then into the expansive plains of Nullarbor with a halt at Cook to experience the panoramic view. The final leg of the journey goes from Adelaide to Broken Hill and the Blue Mountains, arriving at Sydney. The Great Southern Rail service offers single, twin or deluxe cabins in the Gold or Platinum Service fare—that includes meals at the Queen Adelaide Restaurant Car—or regular Red Service sleeper seats. Passengers travelling in the Red Service can access the Matilda Cafe for meals and refreshments. (www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/site/indian_pacific.jsp)Three-night journey at Rs50,097 (Red Service) and Rs1,25,705 (Gold Service single )

Eastern and Oriental express The Eastern and Oriental Express takes you on a luxurious trail from Singapore to Thailand through Malaysia. Boarding from Singapore or Bangkok, the Classic Journey is a three or four-day trip with stops at River Kwai and Butterworth in Penang. Stay in the Pullman, State or Presidential cabins, all of which are air-conditioned and include a private en-suite shower and WC. The restaurant cars offer four-course Eastern or European cuisine, and the bar car has a daily evening performance. Don’t miss out on the Observation Car, which is located at the end of the train. It has indoor as well as outdoor seating, where you can take in some fresh air as you whizz past the lush tropical forests that the train rushes through.  (www.orient-express.com/web/eoe/the_train.jsp)

The Coast Starlight The Coast Starlight, operated by Amtrak, travels through the scenic west coast of USA. Enjoy the scenery roll by from the Sightseer Lounge Car, moving from Seattle to San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, Portland, and finishing at Los Angeles. Apart from the seating, on-board accommodation options are the Superliner Roomette, with two reclining seats with a window in between, or the Superliner Bedroom that includes an in-room shower and washroom. The Pacific Parlour Car offers daily wine and cheese tastings, a theatre and an arcade room for kids. (www.amtrak.com/coast-starlight-train)

The Hiram Bingham With the signature Oriental Express polished wood and crystal decor, the Hiram Bingham is a classy way to travel through the wilderness of ancient Peru. Starting from the Poroy district of Cuzco, the one-day journey includes a trip down the plateau of Anta, the ruins of the great Inca city, the Sacred Valley, onward till the main city of Machu Picchu and then back. Also included in your fare is a trip to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Step into the dining cars in between for a Peruvian brunch and an Andean dinner, or the bar car for a collection of wines from South America. Don’t leave without trying the famed Pisco Sour cocktail.   (www.orient-express.com/web/hb/hiram_bingham_introduction.jsp)

Trans-Siberian Railway This has to be the greatest train journey of all in terms of distance and time. While there isn’t one single direct train, there are international tour operators such as Russia Experience and Real Russia that ensure that you don’t go through the hassle of finding connecting trains by providing you with tour itineraries and guides. Crossing seven time zones and entire Eurasia, the Classic Trans-Siberian route by Russia Experience travels from St Petersburg to Beijing via Mongolia. Stopping by Moscow, Irkutsk, and Ulaanbaatar, this trip—called Classic Big Trans-Sib—takes 18 days. Customise your trip by choosing the cities you want to visit and how many days you wish to spend at each.  (www.trans-siberian.co.uk/trans-siberian.html)

The Glacier Express Crawling through the Alps, the Glacier Express is an eight-hour trip from Zermatt to St Moritz in coaches whose windows offer panoramic views. Scenic attractions include the Mattertal and Rhône Valleys, the little town of Visp, the Rhine gorge and the iconic Landwasser Viaduct. Before the journey, passengers are provided with headphones which can be plugged in to the information channel that highlights the history and interesting facts of the places that the train passes through. Lunch is served at your seat, and there is a separate bar on board for snacks and drinks.  (www.glacierexpress.ch/en/Pages/default.aspx)

Qinghai-Tibet Railway – Lhasa Express Plying on the highest railway on earth, the Lhasa Express journey from Qinghai in China to Lhasa in Tibet runs for three days through the Tangula Pass. The trains equip passengers with emergency oxygen cylinders to mitigate spells of light-headedness. The onboard dining car offers authentic Tibetan and Chinese meals; and drinks like beer and tea. While the travel might not sound very luxurious, the journey through the stunning China-Tibet route with a view of the Kunlun mountains, Buqiangge prairie mountains, picturesque Conag Lake and the hot springs of Yambajan makes it worth it. (www.chinatibettrain.com/train.htm)

The Indian Maharaja – Deccan Odyssey This eight-day Indian rail journey is from Mumbai to Delhi via Jaipur and the journey includes stops for sight-seeing at Aurangabad, Udaipur, Jaipur and Agra, highlighting the Ajanta and Ellora caves, Udaipur City Palace, Amber Fort and Taj Mahal. Featuring deluxe cabins and presidential suites, a Spa Car and a conference or entertainment car, the train has plush interiors and a touch of royal enchantment to it. For a sumptuous dining experience, the train offers continental or Indian cuisine. (www.theindianmaharaja.co.in/)

Danube Express This 10-day journey from Istanbul to Prague on board the Danube Express passes through the dreamy Central European landscape. The highlights of this stop-and-see trip include the breathtaking Carpathian Mountains, a visit to the Bran castle, and three nights in Budapest. The train also stops in Vienna and Bratislava. The Danube Express offers spacious deluxe sleeping cars, a wood-panelled lounge car for socialising and entertainment, and a restaurant car. The on-board cuisine includes Central European dishes and Szeremley wines. (www.danube-express.com)

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Neeti Vijaykumar
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