Fascinating Asia by Rail

BY AUDREY CHEN
May 28, 2009

The most extensive is between Beijing and Moscow (in either direction), spanning almost 10,000 kilometres—one third around the world!—eight time zones, and a dazzling kaleidoscope of landscapes and cultures. If you only take one rail journey in your life, this has to be it.

 

China National Tourism Administration

Tel: 86 10 6520114

Moscow Tourist Information Centre

Tel: 7 095 2325657

 

The Silk Road of China

Voyage in style and comfort through the mythical Silk Road in an exclusively chartered vintage train onboard the China Orient Express. As deserts and majestic mountain ranges roll by, bask in the knowledge that you are warming your butt on the very same seats that China’s elite have graced. This has been the train for the VIPs since the 70s.

China National Tourism Administration

Tel: 86 10 6520114

 

The Road to Mandalay

This is Southeast Asia’s answer to the Orient Express. The trains are decked in magnificent opulence, and you can sip a Singapore Sling as paddy fields and elephants amble past, through Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.

Tourism Authority of Thailand, Bangkok

Tel: 66 2250 5500

Tourism Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 60 3 26158188

 

The Reunification Express

As a result of various wars, the Hanoi–Saigon rail line was non-operational for the most part of the 1900s. When the country reunified in 1975, the rail project linking these two cities took on symbolic urgency, thus the name Reunification Express. This connection now forms the lifeline between the north and the south, providing an unforgettable way to view the unfolding landscapes of Vietnam.

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Hanoi

Tel: 84 4 9423998

 

Chiang Mai to Singapore

This is one for the history buffs. A classic route that brings you through ancient cities, bustling capitals and lush scenery, the journey begins from the northernmost of Thailand down through to the Malay Peninsula, ending in Singapore. The ancient city of Ayutthaya, the infamous River Kwai, and a visit to Georgetown, Penang, are just some highlights.

Tourism Authority of Thailand

Tel: 66-2250 5500 (Bangkok), 53-248604 (Chiang Mai)

Singapore Tourism Board

Tel: 65-6736 6622

 

Indian Pacific Experience

 

Covering a distance of 4,352 kilometres across the sparkling waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans, the Indian Pacific is Australia’s longest rail line. The diversity of the continent’s terrain provides the visual treats of this ride: take in the gorgeous Blue Mountains, Australia’s famed Sun Belt, its first inland outposts and mining towns, the great Australian outback, and the world’s longest length of straight railway—in just under three days.

The Rocks Visitor Information Centre, Sydney

Tel: 02 9255 1788

 

The Ghan

 

In days past, the Afghans, with their camels, provided the only means of transport into the heart of Australia’s red wilderness. The Ghan, named after these hardy folks, took its first chug in 1929, when it departed for Alice Springs from Adelaide. It may have taken more than 70 years for the line to be extended up north, but certainly no one who has experienced the splendour of Adelaide’s Hunter Valley through the sublime outback, and on to the glorious tropics of Darwin, would say it has not been worth the wait.

South Australian Government Travel Centre, Adelaide

Tel: 02-8-8363 4500,

1300 655 276

Northern Territory Government Tourist Bureau, Darwin

Tel: 02-8981 6611

 

Tokyo to Fukuoka

Join the Shogun trail from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo to lively Fukuoka, where you can expect to find gems beyond the tourist trail. One of these is Hirado, a little-visited rural area full of the quirky charm that leaves you in no doubt you are in Japan.

Tokyo Metropolitan Main Office

Tel: 03 5321 3077,

81 3 5321 3077

Fukuoka Prefecture Tourist Information Centre

Tel: 81 92 725 9100

 

Dhaka to Dehli

From the plains of Bangladesh to the Himalayas, 10 million people pack into this train daily. Migrant workers, backpackers, pilgrims trekking to the region’s holiest places… The mass of humanity that is the Indian subcontinent is manifest on this extraordinary journey.

The Government of India Tourist Office, Delhi

Tel: 91 11 332 0005

National Tourism Organization, Dhaka

Tel: 880 2- 8117855 9, 8119192

 

Delhi to Agra: Palace on Wheels


Drink like a king in Palace on Wheels