Belmond Eastern & Oriental Express
Operated by luxury leisure group Belmond, the Eastern & Oriental Express takes travellers on a voyage of decadence and discovery through the sun-dipped landscapes and cities of Southeast Asia. Running several times a month, all year round, itineraries are available between Bangkok and Singapore and Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur (and return), venturing through rice paddy fields, Thai islands and across Malaysia.
The train is truly a five-star hotel on wheels, with excellent service, accommodation and facilities, and was built in 1992 using refurbished Japanese coaches. With a glossy cream and green livery, elegant colonial-style interiors, silver service dining and glossy teak compartments, expect the same level of luxury as its sister train, the famous Venice Simplon Orient-Express.
Eastern & Oriental Express route
Based in Southeast Asia, the luxury railcar offers passengers two routes to choose from,
Bangkok to Singapore or Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur (and vice versa). Taking place over three nights, Bangkok to Singapore route journeys through Thailand’s Kanchanaburi and Malaysia’s Kuala Kangsar. Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur follows the same route, pulling into Kuala Lumpur station after two nights travelling.
Belmond also runs a five-night ‘Voyage of Southeast Asia’ journey, taking guests on a gold-tinged adventure from Singapore to Bangkok via Malacca, Tiarasa, Penang, and some of the paradise islands in the Gulf of Thailand.
Eastern & Oriental Express train
Pullman features an upper and lower berth. Larger and more spacious is the two-berth State Cabin, but if you can afford it there’s nothing like the Presidential Cabin – double berth with its own Wi-Fi, music system, complimentary mini bar and separate seating area.
Food and drink
The E&O has two restaurant cars, and meals are served in two sittings. The day starts with a continental breakfast served to your compartment, followed by a daily three-course lunch featuring anything from pan-fried scallops to Nyonya curry. Feeling peckish? Afternoon tea comes shortly after, with a selection of delicious cakes, sandwiches and pastries.
Dinner tops off days of indulging, four-course affairs combining Western and Asian flavours paired with fine wines. For an extra $98, guests can purchase the special ‘Royal Celebration Breakfast’, a four-course Western and Oriental-inspired feast served with Louis Roederer champagne.
Dress code on the Eastern Oriental Express
According to Belmond, dress code for the Restaurant Car is ‘smart casual with a touch of elegance’, and when dressing for dinner men should opt for a jacket. During the day the company suggests light linens, smart full-length trousers and open-neck shirts, as the weather is usually hot and humid. Jeans, slippers and trainers should be avoided, and ladies should remember to bring a scarf to cover their head, arms and legs when visiting temples and mosques.
The E&O makes many stops on its journeys to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Singapore, and depending on itineraries excursions are included in the train fare. In Malaysia, such excursions include a tour through lush rice paddies and local hilltop hikes, and in
Kanchanaburi, Thailand, there are boat trips down the river Kwai and trips to the famed Kwai bridge and war museum.
This is a superlative journey with a very high price point, so expect wealthy retired couples, groups of couple friends and the occasional young thing celebrating their honeymoon or another special occasion.
Travelling on the Eastern & Oriental Express is a sumptuous and secret experience, and
guests needn’t reach for their wallet at all during the journey. Accommodation, 24-hour
butler service, all meals, house alcoholic drinks and select guided tours and excursions are all included. Drinks to your cabin or premium beverages are at an additional cost.
Pros and cons
A ticket on the Eastern & Oriental Express come at a very high price, but for the elegance and quality of destination it’s worth every penny. Note that Wi-Fi is only available in the Presidential Suite and Observation Lounge and luggage is limited to 30kg per person – unlimited in the Presidential Suite.