As the saying goes, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” While you may roll your eyes upon hearing this overused quote for the gazillionth time at yet another motivational speech, there are truly no better words to describe luxury train travel.

Rushing to get to the next city in the shortest possible time? Book a flight. Yearning to appreciate breathtaking panoramic views while traversing through vast countrysides and gentle winding cliffs with captivating views of the ocean, all while enjoying service comparable to those in six-star hotels around the world? Embark on a luxurious train journey.

If you thought making a journey by train is an old-fashioned and unglamorous way to travel, we’re here to change your mind. Although luxury train travel was popularised in Europe in the 1980s when private companies began restoring antique rail cars, a new breed of luxury trains has emerged over the past few years — combining unparalleled hospitality with exotic destinations that would be difficult to reach by plane.

From Belmond’s iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to the more extravagant version of the legendary Trans-Siberian Express, the Golden Eagle, check out these 5 upscale train journeys you may want to blow your retirement funds on.

(Main image: Belmond

1
Istanbul to Venice, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Launching in March 2018, the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express creates new levels of luxury accommodation aboard the historical train, with each suite featuring private bathrooms with showers, double beds and a living area. The cabins are named after the cities to which the train travels — Paris, Venice and Istanbul — featuring interior designs that reflect the spirit of each city while retaining its original 1920s Art Deco design.

Spend three nights aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express luxury train and journey from Istanbul to Paris, travelling through Turkey, Bulgaria and Austria as you experience three romantic cities — Bucharest, Budapest and Venice. You’ll enjoy a sumptuous four-course dinner each night aboard the train from the seasonal table d’hôte menu, as well as continental breakfast that is served in your cabin each morning.

Journey duration: 4 days, 5 nights

Check out the full itinerary here

2
Nikko to Niigata Prefecture, Train Suite Shiki-shima

The much anticipated Train Suite Shiki-shima, designed by renowned designer Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama, has suites that combine traditional Japanese craftsmanship with contemporary touches. Featuring observatory cars encased with glass walls that offer breathtaking views of eastern Japan’s diverse scenery, guests are treated to views of terraced rice fields, mountains, and sea coasts.

The four-day, three-night Spring Autumn itinerary takes you from Nikko Toshogu Shrine to Niigata Prefecture — taking you through Hokkaido, Aomori Prefecture, Yamagata Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture. Although trips are fully booked until 2018, you can apply to be on the waiting list here.

Journey: 4 days, 3 nights

Check out the full itinerary here

3
Yerevan to Baku, Golden Eagle

They say you can’t call yourself a true traveller until you experience a journey on the Trans-Siberia Express. The Golden Eagle, its more luxurious counterpart, is a private train featuring en-suite cabins with state-of-the-art amenities and fine dining options.

Launching in October 2017, the South Caucasus Explorer takes you on a journey to explore the beauty and rich history of the South Caucasus — weaving through Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. This scenic journey allows you to experience the stunning Lake Sevan, the birthplace of Georgian viticulture and wine-making, and one of the oldest cities in Georgia.

Journey duration: 9 days, 8 nights

Check out the full itinerary here.

4
Delhi to Mumbai, Maharajas' Express

Discover the hidden gems of India aboard one of the most luxurious trains in the world, Maharajas’ Express. The train boasts a range of accommodation from the Junior Suite to Presidential Suite, as well as two thematic fine dining restaurants.

Traverse through India’s captivating landscapes and experience its rich cultural heritage on an eight-day sojourn from Delhi to Mumbai — passing through Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Balasinor. You get to visit the monumental Taj Mahal, spot tigers at Ranthambore National Park, and soak in the regal heritage of Rajasthan with its magnificent forts, vibrant bazaars, and royal cuisine.

Journey duration: 8 days, 7 nights

Check out the full itinerary here

5
Kyoto to Shimonoseki, Twilight Express

Just launched this month, the Twilight Express Mizukaze is another one of Japan’s ultra-luxurious sleeper trains. The ten-coach train, designed by architect and interior designer Tetsuo Fukuka, features two special observation cars and three classes of suites — promising to be a luxury hotel on wheels.

The train runs from Kyoto and Osaka to Shimonoseki, and returns via coastal areas with panoramic views of the Sea of Japan. Guests will get a chance to visit Kikkawa Historical Museum, Setonaikai National Park, and Ohara Museum of Art.

Journey duration: 3 days, 2 nights

Check out the full itinerary here

Dewi Nurjuwita
Senior Writer
Dewi Nurjuwita is a travel and design writer who can be found exploring the streets of foreign cities with passport in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.