Coronavirus has dealt the world of travel a heavy blow this year and many train travellers have decided to put their plans for a bucket list trip on hold this year. But all is not lost – autumn 2020 is the perfect time to plan and book your dream rail holiday for 2021.
Here’s Railway Traveller’s pick of some of some great Asian and Indian train journeys. Whether it’s a trip on the iconic Maharajas’ Express in India or a luxurious lunch on board Vietnam’s sexy new Vietage Train, these are Asian and Indian train journeys to remember forever.
Luxury private train through central Vietnam
Carrying only 12 passengers, the luxurious Vietage Train made its debut in July this year. The journey links An and Quy Nhon in Vietnam, and on board the lucky guests travelling one way (US$185 pp) are treated to a welcome drink, three-course lunch or dinner plus local snacks and free flowing drinks and a 30-minute head and shoulder massage.
Passengers on board can enjoy a drink at the bar, a dreamy massage or simply sit and watch the lush landscapes and coastlines of Central Vietnam glide by. The train departs from Danang train station each morning and makes the return six-hour journey every evening.
Prices from: US$185 pp for one way.
A voyage of discovery through South East Asia
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.
As well as the sublime interiors and a popular open-air viewing are, the train also boast two Dining Cars where dressed up guests dine on white tablecloths with the finest china and silverware. Afterwards you can retire to the Piano Bar car which offers amazing cocktails and after-dinner entertainment from the train’s resident pianist.
Travelling on the Eastern & Oriental Express is a sumptuous 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.
Prices from: US $1,900 for a one-night journey (there are various journey lengths on offer).
Travel through India in 5-star style
The Maharajas’ Express is one of the most incredible Indian train journeys, a five-star luxury train running four circuits around North-West and Central India. Its most popular routes concentrate on India’s Golden Triangle between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and the train covers many of the key destinations in Rajasthan.
On board guests get the chance to explore the cultural heritage of India on one of the most glamorous trains in the world. The train has only 19 carriages so you’ll soon get to know your fellow passengers and you will enjoy being looked after by a personal valet, who is on board to help you with anything on and off the train.
A journey on the Maharajas’ Express is inclusive of all meals, drinks and daytime excursions and if you’re new to India, this is a great way of seeing it in style.
Prices from: US $3,850 pp with journeys between 3 and 6 nights departing from Delhi and Mumbai stations.
Travel the Trans-Siberian route on a luxury train
On board the Tsar’s Gold private train you’ll enjoy one of the most iconic railway journeys in the world. Travelling along the popular Trans-Mongolian route, this grand five-star journey will take you from Moscow to Beijing on one of the world’s most luxurious trains. This trip allows guests to enjoy the best sights of three of the world’s largest continents from the comfort of the train, experiencing Russia, Mongolia and China in 5-star style.
On board, you’ll find a train fit for a king (or a Tsar) where Russian opulence and hospitality is the order of the day. As you’d expect on this five-star journey, guests are treated to some of Russia’s finest fare including borscht, dumplings and caviar in the train’s four dining cars. You’ll also find a bar service available – perfect for trying out Russia’s famed vodkas.
Fares from: £4,230 pp with journey lengths from 11-15 nights. Everything is included bar additional drinks, gratuities and visa fees.
Travel on Japan’s most luxurious train
Japan’s subtropical Kyushu island is one of active volcanoes, bubbling hot springs, stunning coastline and incredible cuisine, and there’s no way to travel it quite like the ultra-opulent Seven Stars in Kyushu – one of the most luxurious trains in the Far East.
On board, guests are treated like royalty, with butlers, oriental interiors and fresh local menus. Off the train, excursions are all inclusive and include trips to shrines and breath-taking vistas, along with dinners out at top local restaurants. Some include a one-night stay at a tranquil Japanese ryota (traditional inn).
Due to its small size, carrying just 28 passengers, and tremendous appeal, prospective travellers need to fill out an application form and are entered into a lottery to buy tickets.
Prices from: ¥630,000 pp for a two-day journey (there are 2-4-day journeys on this train. Everything is included.