There’s something beautiful and authentic about commuting long-distance by train. Unlike driving, once you get on, you don’t have to think about where you’re going and how to get there. Once seated, you can daydream and appreciate the countryside within the frame of your window seat. Many travellers enjoy this classic mode of transport, compared to driving or flying. They plan their trips around it too. Here are the top five most scenic train routes around that world that you need to plan for next!
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The Glacier Express route tops the chart for the most scenic train ride in the world. Because of where it’s located - Switzerland! Okay, we're biased but here are some cool facts. It connects two very popular mountainous destinations, taking you across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels, three states and two language regions! The ride is also known to be the world’s slowest express train taking 8 hours and 3 minutes from one end to another. No complaints when you have an excuse to sit back and soak in breathtaking views for that long! It doesn’t matter which season you travel in, because the view looks stunning in all four. But, take note that the train runs four times a day in summer and only once a day in winter. A single first-class ticket can cost up to CHF 316 and you need to make a booking.
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There are plenty of scenic train rides across Asia, but not every one of them can boast of an ocean view like Vietnam’s North-South Railway line. Stretching over 1,700km along the coast between Ho Chi Minh City to the current capital city of Vietnam, this route was established during the French colonial rule. It took up to forty years to complete. It is often referred to as the Reunification Express in reference to the reunification of Vietnam because it connects these major cities of northern and southern Vietnam. The trip takes about 35 hours in total with stops at popular tourist cities such as Hue, Da Nang, and the idyllic Nha Trang. Ticket prices start at USD$64 for a soft seat and USD$90 for a soft berth.
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The Trans-Siberian Railway spans the country of Russia from East to West. It also has routes that go through parts of Mongolia and China. This means you get the most stunning landscapes across different regions in the longest train ride in the world! If you’re a big spender, go all out and book your ticket with the luxurious Tsar’s Gold Private train. It runs from Moscow to Beijing starting at €7,750 per person. But if you’re a conservative traveller, you’d choose a regular train. Buy a 2nd class ticket and break your trip into parts: Moscow to Novosibirsk for €150, then Irkutsk or Ulan Ude for €90, and finally to Beijing at €350-€400. Seven days in total and plenty of stops to get out and explore!
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The landscape in Southern Africa is a smorgasbord of lush terrain, majestic waterfalls, desert land, wildlife, and stunning sunrises and sunsets. The best way to appreciate this in one go, is on the Shongololo Express (also known as Rovos Rail). It’s a special touring train that takes you on a 12-15 day journey. It covers South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe depending on which route you choose. You’ll get the full African safari experience as you pass through Kruger National Park. But this time by train and with all the train perks too! Great meals cooked with fresh and local ingredients that are complemented by African wines, elegant and classic wood interiors, excellence service, clean lounging areas, and comfortable beds. There are also quite a few off-train experiences included and prices start at R6,783 (RM1,923) per night onwards. Fun fact: the Shongololo Express got its name from the Zulu word for “centipede”!
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Pack your Canadian experience into an easy four-day train ride aboard The Canadian. Originally known as the Canadian Pacific Railway, it was built between 1881 to 1885 to unite the nation. Today, it also attracts travellers from all over the world, taking train-loving passengers from the towering skyscrapers of Toronto to one of the most liveable cities in the world, Vancouver. Along the journey, you are treated to incredible sights of the Canadian Rockies and its glassy lakes, golden prairie fields, waterfalls and quaint little towns. The real reason why it’s on our list, is because of its special cars built with a panoramic glass dome! This allows passengers at every level to experience the true charm of Canada. With a limitless view like this, you’ll feel like you’re flying right through the snow-peaked mountains! Ticket prices start at $444 per person for the full cross-country trip and vary between seasons.
You would have noticed by now that these five train routes cover a range of experiences (and budgets), both scenic and cultural. The majestic mountains of Switzerland, dazzling coastal views in Vietnam, the amalgamation of three cultures along the world’s longest train ride, the great plains of an African safari that’s teaming with wildlife, and the great Rockies and vast prairie land of Canada with uninterrupted panoramic views. Whatever your preference might be, pick one and book the next flight there with Mayflower.