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The Best Of Hong Kong
Lifestyle News
By Gayatri Bhaumik | February 18th, 2019

When it comes to traveling, most passengers opt for planes because it’s often the quickest way to cover long distances. But to really explore a destination and create a memorable journey, there’s nothing like a train trip. Whether it’s a short, hour-long journey on a commuter train or a multi-day extravaganza aboard a luxury train, you could argue there’s no better way to travel. And while trains offer another way to get from A to B or perhaps the chance to see the daily life of locals, their most charming aspect is that they take you through places other modes of transport won’t, giving you a chance to see some truly magnificent places. So next time you plan a trip, consider jumping on one of the 10 most scenic train journeys in the world.

scenic train journeys
The Rocky Mountaineer. Photos: Roderick Eime / Flickr CC

Rocky Mountainer
Canada

Plying numerous routes through Canada’s scenic western region, the Rocky Mountaineer is consistently considered one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. And with landscapes that run the gamut from the majestic Rocky Mountains (of course) to glassy alpine lakes and lush national parks, it’s should come as no surprise. Passengers can opt for numerous journeys that run from two nights to over two weeks. The classic trips, though, are the First Passage to the West routes which include Vancouver, Kamploops and Banff National Park. While you won’t actually stay on the train, you will enjoy decadent meals and onboard entertainment before putting up in a swish hotel for the evening. Longer trips also include exciting excursions like helicopter rides over Lake Louise.

scenic train journeys
The Belmond Eastern & Oriental Express

Belmond Eastern & Oriental Express
Southeast Asia

Connecting the metropolises of Singapore and Bangkok via stops in Malaysia and Thailand, this super-luxe train journey offers a different way of seeing these popular tourist destinations. The Belmond Eastern & Oriental Express offers a range of journeys between one and five nights, but you’ll want to book the “Fables of the Peninsula” route to experience everything this train has to offer. Arguably one of the most scenic train journeys in Asia, you’ll sweep through lush jungles and off-the-beaten-path townships, explore smaller destinations like Kuala Kangsar and Kanchanaburi, and experience local life in village visits and excursions. The best part? You’ll do all of this while travelling on a train which recalls the golden age of train travel in opulent cabins dressed in silks and teak wood, multi-course gourmet meals served in elegant dining cars, and convivial evenings in the Piano Car, accompanied by live piano tunes and delicious cocktails.

scenic train journeys
Tren Crucero. Photo: Ministerio de Turismo Ecuador / Flickr CC

Tren Crucero
Ecuador

Putting a Latin spin on train travel, the gorgeous Train Crucero offers plenty of luxury on one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. The four-day-three-night journey runs from the Ecuadorian capital of Quito to Guayaquil (or vice versa) and boasts plenty to see along the way. Sweep through the Andes and down the Pacific Coast discovering sights like the Avenue of Volcanoes, national parks, and plantations of sugar cane, bananas, and cocoa beans. Onboard, enjoy meals incorporating the best local ingredients in dining rooms bursting with old-world charm. The best part? The train takes sustainability and social responsibility seriously, so you’ll visit approved rainforests, markets, artisan workshops and indigenous communities.

Bergensbaren
Norway

Officially called The Bergen Line, the Bergensbaren is considered one of the most scenic train journeys in the northern hemisphere, and that’s saying something. Heading out of the Norwegian capital of Oslo, the train sweeps through myriad picturesque ski resorts — Trysil, Gol and Geilo, among them — before ascending to Finse (Europe’s highest mountain plateau) and descending into Bergen. Along the way, you can even make a detour to check out the historic Flam Railway and check out plenty of tranquil fjords. The scenery is sometimes dizzying — this is one of the world’s highest train journey, after all — but it only lasts seven hours so you’ll soon be back on solid ground.

Maharajahs’ Express
India

If there’s a better way to see the best of India, you’ll be hard pressed to find it. The Maharajas’ Express runs five routes through northwest and central India on journeys that range from four to nine days. Along the way, your jaw will be in a permanent state of dropping as you take in the sights of city chaos in Delhi, icons like the Taj Mahal, the palaces and forts of Gwalior, Jaipur and Bikaner, the deserts of Rajasthan, and even national parks like Ranthambore. Onboard, you’ll revel in unfettered luxury from opulent private carriages, butlers, and (excuse the pun) meals fit for a king.

scenic train journeys
TranzAlpine. Photo: Nicki Warren

TranzAlpine
New Zealand

Cutting across New Zealand’s South Island, the TranzApline offers passengers unparalleled landscapes en route from Christchurch to Greymouth. Sweep past native beech forest, cross the grand Southern Alps and Canterbury Plains, and whizz past the Waimakariri River. In just five hours, you’ll journey 223kms through some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on earth, all in the comfort of your perch next to panoramic windows (or perhaps on the open-air carriage).

The Blue Train
Africa

Sure, you could go to Africa and go on safari. But add a trip on the famous Blue Train and you’ll have much more interesting stories to tell. Linking the South African cities of Pretoria and Cape Town, as well as Kruger National Park, the train sweeps through diverse landscapes, offering gorgeous vistas of forests, bridges, lakes, rivers, deserts, grasslands — and even Kimberley, the South African center of diamonds. Onboard, enjoy the style and service previously enjoyed by kings, presidents and celebrities — think plush wood-panelled cabins and elegant dining with silver service.

Spirit of the Outback
Australia

Sweeping 1,325kms through the upper reaches of north-west Australia, this overnight train journey is the quintessential Australian experience. Plying its route between Brisbane and Longreach, the Spirit of the Outback takes in landscapes of rugged terrains, golden soils, clear blue skies, and heritage outback towns like Blackwater, Emerald and Barcaldine — it’s no wonder that poets, writers and artists have been inspired by this what many consider one of the most unique and scenic train journeys in the world. Travel first class to enjoy sleeper carriages, access to an exclusive lounge, and hearty, chef-prepared meals that highlight the best of Queensland cuisine.

scenic train journeys
Glacier Express. Photo: Facebook

Glacier Express
Switzerland

It’s one postcard view after another aboard the Glacier Express. Winding through all manner of awe-inspiring sites between the two mountain resorts of St. Mortiz and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps, this definitely qualifies as one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. There are plenty of mountain views, sure — the Matterhorn features prominently — but you’ll also see gorgeous views of the Album and Bernina landscapes, the UNESCO-listed Rhaetian Railway, the Rhine Gorge, and the soaring Oberalp Pass which sits 2,033 meters above sea level. It’s an eight-hour trip, so while you won’t sleep on the train, you will get to feast on made-to-order specialty dishes and enjoy the views from the panoramic carriages.

scenic train journeys
Seven Stars. Photo: facebook

Seven Stars
Japan

Japan is known for its nature, so it should come as no surprise that the country’s first ultra-luxury train sweeps through the most stunning vistas in Kyushu. On this most scenic of train journeys, you’ll be awed by panoramas that move from snow-capped mountains and crystal blue waters to verdant greenery and paddy fields. The train’s name originates from the seven prefectures of Kyushu, and the island’s seven major attractions: nature, food, onsens, history and culture, humanity, trains, and “power spots” to refresh the mind, body and soul. Combining Art Deco style with Japanese design sensibilities, each part of the train — from its spacious dining cars to its well-appointed suites — is elegant and sophisticated. There are 4-day-3-night journeys and 2-day-one-night, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy all the exquisite seasonal meals on board, too.

Check out our Outside HK section for more travel guides.