“If a train is large and comfortable, you don’t even need a destination” wrote Paul Theroux in his book “The Great Railway Bazaar”. He showed the marvellous adventures that could be had by some spectacular train journeys.
The art and luxury of traveling are often lost in the fast-paced hyper-active commuter environment that is the 21st century. However, anyone that knows trains especially luxury ones, will tell you that taking a journey can be an experience outside of the destination. Here are five luxury train rides where the journey is as exciting as the destination.
If you’re looking for an adventure, explore South Africa’s, Rovos Rail. Enjoy the scenery and wildlife as you travel from Victoria Falls to Pullman, for just $1,504 per person. The train never travels faster than 60 kilometers per hour (37 m.p.h.) to enables passengers to take pictures of lions, elephants, buck, and an abundance of other African wildlife. With destinations in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, you can immerse yourself in a truly African adventure and soak up the rich and diverse culture along the way. Their local craftspeople produce beautiful carvings and beadwork that are a must for your memento collection. You can also arrange a true African village experience which includes traditional dancing, singing, and delicious ethnic food.
Located in Kyushu, Japan, the Seven Stars is known as Japan’s most luxurious train. At $2,271 per person, you can select the two-day option which will take you around Fukuoka, known for ancient temples, beaches, and the Canal City Maizuru Park. A four-day journey will take you on a trip that that loops around the southern Japan island. If you choose the four-day option, take some time to enjoy the views at Kagoshima-Chuo, one of Japan’s most famous railway stops featuring a Ferris wheel. If shopping is your game, you will not be disappointed.
The beautiful Rosewood and Maple interiors feature breathtaking Japanese craftsmanship. The observation deck gives you the best views of the gorgeous countryside while you enjoy a drink at the bar listening to the mellow tunes of live classical music. It’s no surprise that these tickets are in high demand, with only seven cars and the capability to service just 30 people per trip, securing a seat is a challenge. To get a spot, you need to enter a lottery process in which the company randomly selects individuals. If you are a Club Swan member, you can contact the 24/7 dedicated Club Swan concierge service to help you book a trip.
The Maharaja’s Express emulates the opulent era of Indian Kings and Queens with its extravagant décor. You can travel from Delhi to Mumbai, stopping along the way to enjoy beautiful ruins of ages past. This 6-night 7-day journey will cost you around $3,850 per passenger, but it’s a small price to pay for this all-inclusive, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Guided tours of the Taj Mahal, private cocktail parties in secret and exclusive locations, and an unparalleled bazaar shopping experience, all add up to a truly memorable experience.
Experience the iconic Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Vladivostok in complete luxury. The train takes you on a two-week tour of Russia’s most popular landmarks, with frequent stops and beautiful scenery along the way. Passengers can visit the Mongolian capital of Ulaan Baatar, where one can visit monasteries that seem as old as time and meet the nomadic individuals who traverse Mongolia’s beautiful landscapes. The cost is $15,895 per person, for this, you can expect five-star accommodation, including a resident pianist, a doctor, laundry services, TV, and en suite bathrooms; creating memories that last a lifetime.
For those who are looking for something less glamourous and not as structured, look to Sweden’s many traveling-by-train options. Due to the country’s commitment to sustainability, traveling by train is highly encouraged, so trips are cheap and accessible. One of Europe’s most sought-after routes is from Stockholm to Swedish Lapland. This trip combines Stockholm, a modern and trendy city bursting with culture, and a visit to the Swedish Lapland which lies beyond the Arctic Circle. It is home to the midnight sun, unspoiled landscapes, and mountain expanses.
Stop over in old-town Gammelstad to see Sweden through the lens of ages past. End the trip to Narvik, where you can enjoy Norwegian fjord tours and killer whale safaris. Luxury is not the top priority, but you don’t care because the Swedish scenery will more than make up for glitz. With prices below the $1,000 range, it’s hard to pass on this entertaining trip.
Last but definitely not least is the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. It has an incredibly interesting history, and it is worthwhile reading up on how it came to be. The original Orient Express service was created in 1883 by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. The route and carriages have changed many times over the years, but the train line has always maintained its status as the epitome of luxury travel. It became famous not only for its opulence, but also as the set for many iconic movies including, From Russia with Love and Murder on the Orient Express
The Venice-Simplon Orient Express train as it is now called, is run by Belmond. It has the original CIWL carriages from the 1920s and 1930s and it has been painstakingly restored to reflect a bygone era of luxury and indulgence. It runs from London to Venice and to other destinations in Europe. Tickets range from $1050 to $3500 depending on the route. The Belmond group also runs the Eastern & Oriental Express from Singapore to Bangkok, the Royal Scotsman cruise train and the PeruRaila trains to Machu Picchu. It is important to note that the VSOE should not be confused with the original Orient Express created in 1883 and then decommissioned in December 2009. However, there is no doubt that its original charm has been meticulously reproduced.
From Japan to Sweden, the experience of travelling in five-star comfort to see many different countries and cultures is an experience of a lifetime that one will not forget. There are so many options when it comes to taking a different kind of break. Club Swan’s concierge service can help you plan your itinerary and book your train experience, anywhere in the world.