Southeast Asia, a vast region rich in culture and fascinating landscapes, offers many wonderful ways to travel. Trains are one of them. Who doesn't love spending time on a train? There's something soothing about looking out the window of a speeding locomotive, feeling the vibrations of the wheels beneath your feet, while taking in the scenery. From the eyes to the heart, as they say.
When it comes to train travel in Southeast Asia, there are a variety of fantastic routes to choose from, and train travel is a great way to understand a country and make travel time a unique experience. Below are some of the best train journeys in Southeast Asia. Some trains offer a luxurious experience with first class carriages, while others are more modest but can touch your heart with their atmosphere or history.
Eastern & Oriental Express, Bangkok to Singapore
The Eastern & Oriental Express explores the charms of Southeast Asia as it traverses stunning destinations such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. As you enter the train's magnificent carriages, you'll be immediately captivated by the charming cherry wood paneling that adds a touch of elegance to your journey. Every detail is designed with craftsmanship, from the dazzling Thai silks to the Malaysian embroidery that adorns the train's furnishings. The experience doesn't stop at the visual aspect, it also offers endless comfort and satisfaction.
You'll be spoilt for choice with the luxurious accommodations available, creating a private oasis in the midst of your journey. The elegant Dining Car offers delicious dishes from East to West, catering to the most diverse culinary tastes. You can also enjoy expertly crafted regional cocktails, adding a special flavor to your journey. Eastern & Oriental Express is the epitome of luxury and enjoyment as you explore the alluring charms of Southeast Asia.
Victoria Express, Vietnam
One of Vietnam's most exclusive train services, currently reserved exclusively for travelers staying at the Victoria Hotel and Resort Sapa. In the elaborate interior of the train, you'll experience a touch of Indochina style with beautiful wood paneling and large windows that offer incredible views of the mesmerizing terraced fields and local villages.
The train also has a dining car where guests can enjoy delicious European-style cuisine. Each dish is expertly prepared, making for an unforgettable dining experience on the tracks.
The Victoria Express features two well-designed luxury sleeping cars that can accommodate up to 48 passengers. Every detail has been perfected to provide the ultimate in passenger comfort. With an unrivaled combination of beauty and luxury, this train is an ideal choice for those who wish to explore the beauty of Vietnam in exquisite style.
Reunification Express, Vietnam
The best option this train has to offer is a four-berth "sleeper class" cabin. But make no mistake, this is a great way to explore the country, with the opportunity to travel between the two major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, stopping at amazing places like Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang, and the green mountains of Sapa.
The train follows a 1,700 km historic line originally built by the French 80 years ago. The line was cut off in 1954 due to the division of Vietnam into North and South, but was reopened in 1976 after the end of the Vietnam War.
Although the cabins are not luxurious, they do provide ample storage space for your luggage and a comfortable bed to rest on. In fact, a good night's sleep is essential as you will be spending most of your time enjoying the scenery and exploring the places the train passes through. Harder seats are available for the more adventurous, but for a little extra, you can upgrade to soft seats or a more comfortable sleeping car.
The Reunification Express offers an unforgettable adventure across Vietnam, combining natural beauty with an immersive sense of direction.
The Burma Railway, Thailand
The Burma Railway, also known as the Death Railway, is a haunting symbol of the cruelty and inhumanity of war, a line built by the Japanese using prisoners of war and local forced laborers during World War II.
After recovering from the war, the railway was restored and still carries passengers to Nam Tok in northern Kanchanaburi. A train ride from Kanchanaburi to Nam Tok takes you over an impressive bridge, the Wang Po Bridge. The bridge is nestled between a flowing river and high cliffs, and trains snake around it. Consisting of a series of wooden trestles, Wang Po Bridge was originally built by prisoners of war.
As you enjoy the stunning views of the river and the Kanchanaburi countryside, it's hard not to feel sad as you look out the train window and think about the hardships faced by the men who were forced to build this railroad using simple tools and brute force in extremely harsh conditions. Sadly, almost everyone who worked on this section of the line has died.
This trip will allow you to feel the immersive atmosphere, see the heartbreaking historical evidence, and honor those who died in the process of building this railroad.
Mandalay-Lashio Railway, Myanmar
This route connects Myanmar's cultural center, Mandalay, with Lashio, the former summer capital of the British colonial government. The journey offers breathtaking views of steep mountains and valleys.
Once the train leaves Mandalay, you will pass through the busy streets of the city, giving you a glimpse of the vibrancy and colorful life of the city. You will then be treated to stunning natural scenery, with panoramic views of the beautiful Shan Plateau, the dense green forests, cascading waterfalls and terraced rice fields that characterize the region.
The highlight of the trip is the Goteik Bridge. Built in 1899 by the Pennsylvania Steel Company, it is one of the tallest and most spectacular railway bridges in the world. With a height of 102 meters and a length of 689 meters, this bridge will amaze you.