Rail travel might seem archaic in today’s world, however, picture what you have been missing out on – experiencing exotic destinations through breath-taking panoramic views of the countryside, and landscapes ranging from undulating mountains and winding cliffs to lush jungles and calm seas. Each journey has you stopping off at beautiful cities to explore and immerse yourself in the local culture. Now imagine all of that aboard a luxury train replete with indulgent suites, decadent cuisine, butler service, five-star comforts, and all the creature comforts you could ask for. We’ve picked 5 luxury train journeys across Asia to splurge on.
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand
The colonial-style Eastern & Oriental Express travels through a rich tapestry of verdant rainforests, expansive tea plantations and rice paddy fields, unspoiled mountains, beautiful temples, and ancient villages. Inside the glorious train, you will find polished cherry wood and burr elm panelling, Thai silk wall coverings, Malaysian embroidery, hand-tufted carpets and ornamental dining cars to keep you company as the magnificent rural landscape unfolds. The cabins feature plush furnishings and ornate marquetry for that truly royal touch and golden sunsets are best experienced from their open-air observation car with a cocktail in hand.
Soak in the royal history of north-western India and explore the majestic forts and palaces of historic kingdoms from the lavish Palace on Wheels. The train has 14 refurbished saloons modelled on the original carriages of the Maharajas and named after erstwhile princely states. Each – featuring four twin-bedded cabins – is tastefully designed with furnishings fit for royalty from miniature paintings and sparkling chandeliers to ornate writing tables, in-built wardrobes and plush Persian carpets. The two restaurants, Maharaja and Maharani, serve up delicious local and continental fare while the Royal Spa offers a list of relaxing therapies. You can also watch the changing landscape from their bar and lounge areas with a regally dressed staff attending to your every whim. The 7-night/8-day circular journey starts and ends in Delhi with stops at Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur and Agra along the way.
A royal ride aboard which to explore the western, central and southern regions of India, The Deccan Odyssey offers indulgent experiences in opulent surroundings. The train has 21 coaches – 12 of those being passenger cars – with comfortable Deluxe cabins and four glorious Presidential Suites. Regal interiors and exquisite detailing peppered with modern amenities greet passengers as they settle for a breathtaking journey. When not exploring, guest can relax in the library, bar and spa cars. Their 7-night/8-day journeys include exploring the hidden treasures of Gujarat, travelling through the hinterlands of Maharashtra, witnessing the ever-changing landscapes from Delhi to Mumbai via central India and Rajasthan, and discovering architectural wonders across the Deccan plateau.
The Shangri-La Express offers guests a chance to travel through the rarely-explored wilderness of China while discovering ancient towns, before heading to the magical Himalayan peaks of Tibet. This private train with its elegant carriages, one of the best to explore China, also offers a chance to visit a UNESCO collection of palaces and temples in Lhasa and passes through the Tanggula Pass with the world’s highest railway.
Designed by famed designer Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama, known for his work with Porsche, Ferrari and Maserati, Train Suite Shiki-Shima is one of Japan’s most luxurious – and expensive – trains. The interiors of this champagne gold shell feature traditional Japanese craftsmanship blended with swanky contemporary details. Some of the lavish amenities include a Piano Bar, a sleek lounge and 17 private suites. The most luxurious suite has two floors with a living room and a Japanese cypress wood bath. The menu, created by Michelin-starred chef Katsuhiro Nakamura, travels with you and changes according to the culinary style of the local regions. The best part is the observatory cars with glass walls to stare out at the mesmerizing views and stunning scenery ranging from expansive forests and fields to mountains and the coastline. The highly-exclusive two- and four-day journeys get booked out months in advance. Taking only 34 passengers per trip, the waiting lists are long. So hurry up and book your trip.
A published writer and editor, Nadezna specialises in the design, décor, travel, culture and food genres. Being from a military family, she constantly moved to new places which brought about a love for travel and exploration of cultures and cuisines. When not writing, she can be found devouring Wodehouse literature, sketching or stalking her three rescue cats, camera in hand.