The world's most scenic train journeys: Asia

17 Feb 2021

Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously said, "it's not the destination, it's the journey". What better example of this than a scenic train ride? We've picked out some of our favourite journeys from around the globe that we think should be on any rail lover's bucket-list.

In this instalment, we'll be looking at Asia, but you can also check out our favourite journeys in Europe, Africa, Australasia and the Americas.

The Trans-Mongolian Express, Moscow to Beijing

Part of the wider Trans-Siberian Railway a must for any hardcore rail-lover this week-long adventure takes you from Moscow all the way to Beijing, and has been called "the Godfather of trains" by The Guardian. You'll pass through the Siberian countryside, past Lake Baikal, and through the Gobi desert. At each stop, you'll have about 20 minutes to get off, stretch your legs, and check out the station shops. You'll start with a Russian restaurant car, but this will be replaced with a Mongolian car, then Chinese, as you enter the different regions.

Kandy to Ella, Sri Lanka

You know that blue train you keep seeing on Instagram? That's the train from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka, which is undoubtedly the most scenic in the country. The 5-hour journey takes you through forests, tea plantations, and mountains.

Shinkansen Bullet Train, Japan

Reaching speeds of 320 km/h, Japan's bullet trains are undoubtedly the quickest, most efficient, and most scenic way to get across the country. The network is made up of nine lines, called Shinkansen the Tokaido Shinkansen will take you from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka, passing the awe-inspiring Mount Fuji on the way.

Travelzoo tip: when reserving your ticket, see if you can sit in seat D or E when travelling from Tokyo for the best view of Mount Fuji.

Belmond's Eastern & Oriental Express, Southeast Asia

"The bygone Colonial era of Singapore Slings, afternoon tea and a tinkling piano amidst sumptuous surroundings conjures up a forgotten world" (Luxury Train Club). Run by the same company as the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express, this journey brings the same level of old-timely glamour to the East. The service runs from Singapore to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, giving you sublime views of Southeast Asia from the comfort of your stylish suite. You'll also get a choice of tour during your journey, including visits to the River Kwai Bridge or the Thai-Burma Railway Museum, or a raft cruise with a cookery class.

Maharajah's Express, India

Winner of the World's Leading Luxury Train award at the World Travel Awards for seven consecutive years (from 2012 to 2018), the Maharajah's Express is a great way to see India's highlights in a short space of time. The week-long Indian Panorama journey is a round-trip from Delhi that takes you to Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore, and Varanasi, with daily excursions to world-class sights like the Taj Mahal and Amber Fort, as well as unique experiences like a visit to a silk-weaving centre and a boat ride on the Ganges.

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