The more famous of the trains is, without question, the Oriental Express. From the moment you step onto the train, you know you are in for a treat. Surrounded by opulence from the very first moment, you will find yourself seemingly transported back in time to an age of romantic and exciting rail travel. Experience Asia as never before, winding your way along the tracks past exotic locations and stopping along the way for sightseeing tours in some of the area's most beautiful sites.
Accommodations on the Orient Express begin at "merely" luxurious and only go up from there. Complimentary tea and coffee are included in the price of your accommodation.
The Orient Express contains two gourmet restaurant dining cars which serve a variety of Eastern and European dishes in a beautifully atmospheric setting. Special requests for dietary needs can be easily met by the professional staff. For those wishing to relax, unwind and socialize with other travelers, the bar car offers such an experience, enhanced by wonderful piano music. One simply must try the cocktail known as the Shanghai Express.
The observation car includes an outdoor area for an unobstructed view of the gorgeous countryside. This is an excellent location to sip cocktails and take photographs of the scenery as it rolls by. Additionally, smoking is allowed on the outside areas of the observation car.
Such an exquisite trip demands souvenirs, and these can be bought on the train itself in the boutique. The boutique is situated near the center of the train and includes a wide range of products sure to satisfy even the most discriminating of clientele.
Oriental Express and the Shangri-La Train Journeys
Packages range from 3-day, 2-night excursions to week-long epic journeys. In addition, more inclusive packages, including such benefits as stays at upscale hotels and trips to ancient temples or visits to gorgeous beaches, can be purchased.
For the ultimate experience, consider chartering the train for private parties. These parties require a minimum of 12 guests, but the price is well worth it for the unforgettable experience.
Make sure that you bring your passport, as this will be asked for by the steward, and you will need to fill out immigration and customs paperwork. To be on the safe side, you will want to make sure that your passport has at least 6 months before it expires. Your passport will be returned upon disembarking the train.
If you are staying less than 30 days, a Visa will not be required for the visits to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore unless you are a national of certain Middle East, African or South American countries. However, if you are visiting Laos on your train trip, you will need a Visa and it is a good idea to have one anyway, just in case. It is not possible to obtain these Visas on the train itself.
Luggage weight is restricted to 30 kilos per passenger for Pullman and State Car accommodations, but those with Presidential Suite accommodations have no such restrictions. Additionally, durian fruit must not be taken aboard the train.
Though there are no health precautions required to ride the Orient Express, those with yellow fever will find themselves quarantined.
If you're willing to sacrifice some luxuries for a lower price, the Shangri-La Express is also an excellent choice. While the Shangri-La Express is not considered a luxury train like the Orient Express, it still provides and extremely comfortable and enjoyable trip and would be, by no means, considered an "economy" trip even if the price says otherwise! The Shangri-La Express offers some of the roomiest compartments and cars seen on Chinese trains.
One of the main attractions of the Shangri-La Express is its travel along the Silk Road. The Silk Road refers to the trade routes that once connected Asia and Europe and was made famous by the explorer Marco Polo. The train allows you to follow in these historic footsteps and travels by such areas as Xi'an, which holds the famous terra cotta soldiers.
Voltage on board the train has 48 volts in the cabins and 220 volts in the corridors, and adapters are available on the train. Also, because of the limitations of storing water on the train, passengers who shower later may find that the water temperature runs on the cold side. Tipping is customary, and you should figure on about $10 per day to tip the staff on the train.
Tours last either 10 or 12 days, and include excursions off of the train. During times spent off-train, accommodations are often provided at 5-star hotels. In addition to trips along the Silk Road, tours can be taken into Tibet.
The train itself includes one dining car and a bar car. Daily room service and a complimentary fruit tray are included in your accommodation.
Like the Orient Express, one should bring a passport and obtain a Visa.
As you can see, these two trains can provide a unique way to see some of the sights of Asia. View history as it rolls by outside of your window, relax in the dining and bar cars and sleep knowing that the next day holds an incredible adventure for you. Travel on these trains is an unforgettable experience to be sure!