The Best Train Trips Around the Planet

Symbol of the Past

Picture yourself aboard one of the most famous trains of them all, the Orient Express. The world has become a visual banquet, one to savor as it flows past your window. People catch your eye and smile, imagining themselves sharing your journey.

Only a few decades ago, farmers paused in Midwestern wheat fields to wave at the Santa Fe Super Chief as it puffed by carrying excited passengers to the distant West Coast. Sadly, passenger trains have become an anachronism in America, in danger of extinction. Fortunately for travelers, trains remain part of daily life in the rest of the world, aesthetically worn but still mechanically valiant.

On those trains, you travel close to the land, slowly enough to absorb life and landscape. You have as much privacy, or contact with other people, as you choose. You sleep deeply, rocking along to a soothing rhythm, waking to a new vista with each dawn.

A train passes through time as well as space. For example, the train north from Singapore leaves behind the futuristic mirrored-glass towers of the city and within an hour is chugging through a Malaysian countryside little changed since man discovered he could plant and gather his food.

My favorite trains are the old-fashioned ones that maintain the style of a half-century ago. Some of them depart from stations that are remarkable works of art, such as the soaring iron masterpieces designed by Gustave Eiffel. Most of those old stations have a character seldom found in nondescript Amtrak shelters.

Picture yourself traveling by train across some faraway land. Lean back, look out the window, and I'll tell you about some of the finest train trips in the world.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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