|Train travel certainly lost its allure when planes and cars came along, but now there is an increasing number of travellers who are choosing the glamour of old world train travel. It’s a slower, laid back way of seeing the sights and experiencing the culture of another country – especially when you are sharing a seat or compartment with a local!|
Sometimes it’s all about the destination and the journey, so forget about claustrophobic plane rides and navigating your own way around in a car – here’s our pick of the Top 5 train trips around the world:
1) Trans-Siberian Express
Beijing, Mongolia and Russia – this iconic 6 night rite of passage takes you through Siberia, Mongolia (stay in a Ger – a traditional portable Mongolian dwelling made out of camel felt) and the Gobi Desert.
The quality of the services and facilities is inconsistent depending on where and when you board, but if you’re prepared to rough it out just a little, it will certainly be worth it.
And where else can you experience not only the change from the European and Chinese rail networks, but the change in the cultures too - all in the one trip?!
For more information go to: http://www.transsiberian.com.au/
2) Indian Pacific
This 3 night train trip from Perth to Sydney (or Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean) and vice versa is on the longest straight railway line in the world.
Travel through the beautiful Avon Valley, abandoned gold mines, the Nullarbor Plains, Adelaide, mining towns, rural landscapes and the Blue Mountains…and with kangaroos and emus outside your window, can it get anymore Australian?!
Also, if you travel between June and November, you’ll get to see the spectacular WA wildflowers in full bloom.
The Ghan will take on a 2 night journey from Adelaide to Alice Springs to Darwin, or the other way around. Just as spectacular, just the other way!
For more information go to: http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/
3) Simplon Orient Express
Novels and train biographies are written and set on this train, the most famous being Agatha Christie’s 1934 thriller Murder on the Orient Express. And royalty, celebrities and spies have all travelled in its wood-panelled art décor surrounds.
But if that’s not enough to interest you, its destinations might – from London to Paris to Venice, with a myriad of other possible routes and detours in between.
The original route went from Paris to Istanbul in 1883, but the classic route is now from London to Venice and takes 2 days and 1 night, while other routes take 6 nights with some nights spent in a hotel.
The trip evokes the glamorous bygone years of uniformed and gloved attendants, continental breakfast delivered to your compartment, 4 course dinners, dainty afternoon tea, Lalique glass and wood-panelled dining cars… so if you’ve only packed jeans and a t-shirt, you will feel very underdressed!
For more information go to: http://www.belmond.com/venice-simplon-orient-express/
4) Hiram Bingham
This is the luxurious way of travelling to Machu Picchu, and the train is named after the man who discovered Machu Picchu in 1911. This train ride takes 4 hours from Cusco to Machu Picchu or the other way around.
Depending on which way you’re travelling, there’s either a 4 course lunch or dinner, followed by after meal drinks. There’s also an observation car complete with an open air platform for you to enjoy those drinks with a view.
Also, exclusively for Hiram Bingham passengers, afternoon tea is served at the Macchu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, and for those too tired to walk any further, there is a special bus to take passengers back to the train station.
For more information go to: http://www.belmond.com/hiram-bingham-train/
5) Glacier Express
This is a scenic ‘express’ train which crosses the stunning Swiss Alps and links the 2 major mountain resort towns of St Moritz and Zermatt in about 7 hours. There are faster ways of getting to the 2 resorts, however, the keyword here is Scenic – as you will pass through spectacular mountain ranges, 91 tunnels, castles, gorges, 291 bridges, valleys, lakes and villages.
The trains are pretty fantastic too – built especially for this scenic route, they have huge panoramic windows and glass skylights, and the food and wine on offer is not to be scoffed at.
You can also take advantage of the headphones they provide in 6 languages, full of interesting information of the route.
For more information go to: http://www.glacierexpress.ch/EN/Pages/default.aspx
If you want more, here are other rail journeys you might want to consider:
Rocky Mountaineer in Canada: https://www.rockymountaineer.com/en_AU/
Desert Express in Namibia: http://www.namibweb.com/desertexpress.html
Royal Scotsman in Scotland: http://www.belmond.com/royal-scotsman-train/
Royal Rajasthan in India: http://rtdc.rajasthan.gov.in/rrow.aspx