Any traveller can attest to the routines and rhythms that come with a flight. While each person’s personal experience may vary, many of us at least take in the panoramic sights that come from an aeroplane window—especially when we’re near our destination.

While planes bring you up into the skies, trains can bring you right into the heart of any landscape. In this piece, we’ll highlight five scenic train rides that each offer breathtaking views and unparalleled travel comfort.

1. The famous Eastern and Oriental Express trains from Singapore to Malaysia

Sometimes, you don’t need to travel far to find luxury train rides with a view. In this case, it’s the renowned Eastern and Oriental Express luxurious trains that can take you from Singapore to Malaysia.

You wouldn’t need to plan an extensive weekend-long itinerary for Malaysia as well—the train will take you through Penang, Langkawi and the Taman Negara National Park. There’s plenty to choose from, but we’re not exactly here to discuss destinations. In this case, the journey is the destination.

This year is a big year for the Eastern and Oriental Express. From February 2024, these trains resumed operations after a brief hiatus—and with a fresh coat of paint too!

The Eastern and Oriental Express has eight sleeper cars, two restaurant cars, a piano bar and, at the back, an open-air observation car where you can take in Malaysian sights thoroughly unencumbered.

Its interior has been refurbished for the occasion too: Malaysian embroidery and silks line up its walls, while cherry wood panelling adds a nice touch of warmth amidst the tropical humidity that exists outside. You’ll get to pass by royal towns and rice plantations, alongside jungles that might give you a peek at wildlife in its natural habitat.

Three cabin categories are open to guests: Pullman, State and Presidential. All come replete with private bathrooms. To make things more exciting, this is far from the only luxury train experience in the region: learn about Vietnam’s luxury train rides here.

Bookings are now open—you can make your reservation here.

2. The Swiss Glacier Express, and other scenic train rides in Switzerland

In Switzerland, luxury train rides are exceedingly popular with visiting tourists—primarily due to the Swiss Alps, along with a consistently high standard of service and amenities.

Among the country’s train ride offerings, none stand taller than the Glacier Express. 

The Swiss Glacier Express normally travels between Zermatt, best known as a mountain ski resort, and St. Moritz, an alpine resort town filled with tourists and athletes alike: the latter mainly due to its Olympic-sized ice skating rink. 

Through the eight-hour ride, the train travels pass stunning landscapes, picturesque villages, and iconic landmarks, like the leaning tower of St. Moritz or the Gornergrat mountains of Zermatt.

You’ll find countless snow-capped mountains, deep shimmering valleys, and charming alpine scenery—St. Moritz itself is known around the world for popularising alpine tourism itself, so you’re headed right into the perfect alpine country here.

Its trains typically offer cabins with large windows and endlessly comfortable amenities, allowing passengers to fully appreciate the views—if not from their cabins, then from its observation deck. 

Its two classes for guests to choose from are Classic and Excellence: both just as luxurious as the other. As you can imagine, the Glacier Express sells out pretty quickly, so it’s best to make your mind up for your next European sojourn and book here.

3. The Hokkaido Shinkansen trains of Japan

If there’s one country that knows the beauty and efficiency of trains, it’s Japan, where vehicles like bullet trains have become an irreplaceable part of its public transport infrastructure. When it comes to scenic train rides, however, it’s the Hokkaido Shinkansen trains that give the most complete and elegant train experience in Japan. 

If you’ve seen the action film Bullet Train, or seen these trains in person during a trip, you’ll know just how beautiful these trains are inside. Thankfully, a ride will be far less bloody and fatal than anything in the movies.

The Hokkaido Shinkansen train takes the usual route from Tokyo to Hakodate—along the way, it passes through major cities such as Aomori and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, offering scenic views of the Japanese countryside.

This is especially true when it passes through the Seikan Tunnel beneath the seabed between Honshu and Hokkaido. You’ll literally be travelling underwater! Albeit, without glimpses into seafaring wildlife.

At Hakodate, you can enjoy a variety of seafood all year long thanks to its bounty of nearby fishing grounds. You should be able to spot its famous red-brick warehouses along the bay as well. 

Its train cars offer three different classes for your budget: GranClass for the big spenders, Green Car for a dash of luxury, and Ordinary for the budget-conscious. You can select from one of several here and learn how you can book your tickets here. Like many other Japanese services, you’ll have to buy your tickets in-person.

4. The Flåm Railway trains of Norway

The Flåm Railway, also known as Flåmsbana by locals, is a wondrously scenic railway line.

The journey offers travellers a close-up view of the Norwegian fjords and the surrounding nature.

In Norway, it runs between the southwestern village of Flåm—a sleepy town situated on the Aurlandsfjord—and the high mountain plateau of Myrdal. Here, sweeping landscapes, immersive views, and steep, ice-capped gradients abound.

The Flåm Railway, first opened at the onset of World War II in 1941, was initially built to transport goods and passengers between its mountainous regions and fjords. The route includes numerous tunnels, bridges, and loops—the challenging terrain requires a sophisticated way for transport, and the fact it’s remained intact since its launch decades ago is a testament to Nordic engineering! 

One of the most notable landmarks you’ll be able to spot is the majestic Kjosfossen waterfall. Fortunately, the train will stop here during the journey, so you’ll be able to disembark and observe the waterfall in person. 

Unlike most luxury train rides, travelling through the Flåm Railway is as practical for a tourist as it is awe-inspiring: it connects with the Bergen Line at Myrdal, which itself is linked to major cities like Bergen and Oslo. 

It’s the perfect option for those either making a complete stop at Norway and its neighbouring countries, or for those who want to plan a thorough trek through Europe for the summer. Book tickets here.

5. The KiwiRail trains of New Zealand

If you find yourself on a New Zealand train, it’s known locally as a KiwiRail train! It’s not a term of endearment, but rather a reflection of the company that handles the majority of rail operations in the country.

It’s through KiwiRail that you’ll get to have a seamless and scenic train ride through the New Zealand countryside.

KiwiRail handles three distinct train services:

  • The Northern Explorer, which is a long-distance train service that operates between Auckland and Wellington. 
    • This is arguably the most popular one, as it offers splendid views of familiar New Zealand landscapes, including the Tongariro National Park, the Waitomo Caves, and the alpine town of Ohakune.
  • The Coastal Pacific runs from Picton and Christchurch, taking passengers along the picturesque, summery east coast of the South Island.
  • If you’re game for another train ride further into the country after taking the Coastal Pacific, the TranzAlpine is perfect for this. 
    • It connects Christchurch and Greymouth through the Southern Alps, which will provide a change of scenery from the relatively tropical east coast. Here, you can find some of the highest mountain peaks in the country!

Because of the multitude of options available, KiwiRail offers different rail packages, where you can plan ahead for a smooth-sailing and spellbinding route through multiple locations. You can find packages to book yours here.

6. The Rocky Mountaineer trains of Canada

The Rocky Mountaineer trains offer some of the most breathtaking journeys through stunning landscapes that you’ll find in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. 

One of the highlights of the Rocky Mountaineer experience is its glass-domed ceilings. Passengers will get to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding natural beauty, including snow-capped mountains, dense forests, pristine lakes, and winding rivers, all from the comfort of your seat. Don’t worry about fainting from such awe-inspiring sights when you’re seated.

The Rocky Mountaineer offers several routes, each with its own unique charm and natural wonders. The "First Passage to the West" route takes you from Vancouver to Banff or Lake Louise, showcasing the dramatic landscapes of the Canadian Rockies, including landmarks like the Spiral Tunnels, Kicking Horse Canyon, and the majestic Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies.

Depending on the season, the Rocky Mountaineer will offer different experiences. Spring showcases the vibrant colours of wildflowers blooming against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Summer, instead, allows longer days for sightseeing and outdoor adventures. Fall and winter are exactly what you’ll expect: picturesque landscapes draped in gold and red hues during the former, and snow-covered vistas in the latter. 

If that’s enough for you, make your reservations here.

 

Whether it's through dense, elusive jungles, past monolithic mountains, or even underneath an entire seabed, train rides will bring you through a holiday experience you won’t soon forget. Be sure to plan ahead—the most important thing is to find the right class of seats for your comfort and budget!

 

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