Ultimate Railway Journeys
A journey by train rewards travellers with unique experiences. The trip can be romantic, nostalgic or even evoke a feeling of futuristic odyssey, depending on the type of train they are riding. Travelling by train is not just about getting from point A to point B – it is also usually as fun as it is relaxing, and as interesting as it is convenient. Let’s take a ride on some of the world’s most exciting train lines – routes that offer unforgettable experiences.
Scenic Trains, Switzerland
The best way to enjoy unparalleled spectacular views of the Swiss mountains is by train. The country possesses one of the world’s most efficient and reliable railway systems, with amazingly frequent and punctual services. The easy-to-use online booking and ticket purchase system make every ride even more convenient. Of all Swiss lines excluding mountain railways, the best known and most popular are the five most scenic trains which offer the stunning beauty of lakes, mountains, viaducts and pretty villages. These lines include the eight-hour Glacier Express trip, the most famous of the five, which connects the two popular destinations of Zermatt and St. Moritz, passing over 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels, the Bernina Express, another train with magnificent views, which crosses the Alps from Chur to Tirano in Italy and the Gotthard Panorama Express, which takes you from Lucerne to Lugano in Italy. The other two routes are just as delightful: the Golden Pass line between Lucerne and Montreux and the Voralpen Express between Lucerne and St.Gallen.
Coastal Trains, France-Italy
An exciting way to enjoy the French Riviera is to make the rail journey to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia. The ride takes just under two hours from Cannes and under an hour from Nice, making it a perfect day trip during your holiday in Côte d’Azur. The seats on the right side of the Italy-bound train (and the left side France-bound) allow you to soak up the views of the glittering blue Mediterranean. In Ventimiglia, the covered food market near the train station is well worth a visit, especially for those who are looking for superbly fresh local produce and a wide variety of ingredients at great prices. There is also a flea market on Fridays which sells cheap leather goods and clothes. The market overlooks the old town and the beach and boasts gorgeous views of the distant mountains.
Japan’s four main islands span over 2,300 kilometres from north to south, and the fastest way to discover all Japan is on board the famous Shinkansen high-speed train. The nine lines of Shinkansen take passengers in different directions, with extremely convenient connections from the northernmost Hokkaido to Kyushu in the south. Currently, the maximum operating speed of Shinkansen is 320 km/h, but the Chuo Shinkansen, a Japanese maglev which will begin service in 2027, has reached 603 km/h in tests, making it the world’s fastest bullet train. The new Shinkansen is expected to run at a maximum service speed of 505 km/h, connecting Tokyo and Nagoya (approximately 350 km) in only 40 minutes! If you are a railroad enthusiast, do not miss the railway museums in Tokyo, Nagoya and Kyoto. Although nearby scenery often appears blurred due to the high speed of the Shinkansen, the view of Mount Fuji on the Tokaido Shinkansen is just magnificent. If you are travelling from Tokyo to Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, make sure you sit on the right side.
Maharajas’ Express, India
A luxury travel experience makes Incredible India even more so. The Maharajas’ Express, a luxury train that evokes the grandeur of the Raj and Royal Era, is another way to experience India from a different perspective. Owned and operated by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, the luxury train offers themed tours to several destinations, such as the seven-day Heritage of India which runs from Mumbai to Delhi via Udaipur, Bikaner, Ranthambore and Agra; and a four-day package Treasures of India, which covers Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore and Jaipur. The luxury cabin classes range from Deluxe to Junior Suite, Suite and President Suite, and feature amenities and facilities such as LCD televisions and DVD players, internet and individual climate control.
Eastern and Oriental Express, Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore
A train journey to the south of Thailand - and perhaps further down to Malaysia and even as far as Singapore – has for long been popular among backpackers, but this exotic journey need not be done on a shoestring. The Eastern and Oriental Express is a luxury option for those who seek an adventure story while travelling in style and comfort. Tours come in different packages, mostly covering Bangkok, the River Kwai, Butterworth, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, so you will experience both the lush green countryside and the cosmopolitan vibe all along the journey. The luxury, classical design of the slow train—a cream and green exterior with wooden panelled corridors and silk furnishings— will transport you back in time as weel as through three countries.
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