What to Expect on The Eastern & Oriental Express!

What to Expect on The Eastern & Oriental Express, Asia’s Most Luxurious Train!

Who needs flying when you can enjoy a cosy and scenic train ride?

Not to be confused with the Orient Express (Agatha Christie, anyone?), the Eastern & Oriental Express is the Southeast Asian counterpart of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Run by luxury train operator Belmond, this slow train houses polished wood-panelled corridors and opulent furnishings with a touch of Asian intricacies.

Spend your hours admiring the view from the observation car. Indulge in an exotic fusion cuisine in ornamental dining cars. Following that, take the chance to bask in the Bar Car’s jazz-club ambience. The club is complete with cocktails, wine, and live music!

The train’s history

An American businessman named James B Sherwood began this legacy. The original train was built in Japan by Nippon Sharyo and Hitachi. Later on, the now 31-carriage train was remodelled in Singapore. They redesigned it to reflect an elegant colonial aesthetic that was true to the spirit of classic Indochina.

In September 1993, the Eastern & Oriental Express made her maiden voyage from Bangkok to Singapore, and has been impressing all her patrons since then!

Where, when and how much?

The Eastern & Oriental Express runs from January to April and September to December, with approximately 8 to 15 trips scheduled every month. Prices start at US$2,400 and average about US$3,000 to US$4,000 for a standard ride.

The duration of trips between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok is two days, whereas the trips between Singapore and Bangkok last between three to four days.

Their most exclusive — and expensive — trip is the 7D4N Fables of the Peninsula, which costs almost US$8,000 and takes you from Singapore through Penang, Cameron Highlands and Kuala Lumpur on your way to Bangkok. It also includes a night in the Cameron Highlands Resort and one night in Singapore’s lavish Raffles Hotel.

What else you should expect

Located in the centre of the train, the Bar Car (also known as the Piano Bar Car) features signature cocktails, champagne and wine, as well as live music every evening. It’s the perfect place to put on your Great Gatsby-esque dresses and socialise with your fellow travellers over drinks.

Did we mention that the executive chef is French-born Yannis Martineau? Martineau is known for combining traditional local recipes with modern twists and European flourishes all within the confines of the small kitchen onboard.

You’ll even start off your day with a mouth-watering continental breakfast served in the comfort of your cabin every morning. Where else can you enjoy exquisite fusion food for both lunch and dinner? With the cost included in your train ticket, this is a sweet deal!

What’s a train ride without the opportunity to admire the view as you chug by? Enter the Observation Car, which boasts an observation deck lined with teak wood and plush benches. Nurse your drink and chat over the refreshing breeze through the window. Enjoy the spacious cabin as the train makes its way through the serene countryside.

The bulk of the itinerary takes place on the train. But you’ll also be treated to various excursions during your time off the train.

In Thailand, take a break in Kanchanaburi, where you’ll have a choice between two excursions. The first takes you on a guided cruise along the River Kwai and a trip to the Thai-Burma Railway Museum; this is an interactive museum and research facility dedicated to the history of the Thai-Burma Railway from World War II. Alternatively, you could go on a cycling tour through rice paddy fields to a local farm; you may also explore a wet market, sample local dishes and even attend a cooking class on a raft!

In Malaysia, you’ll have a rare opportunity to follow a guided tour to Labu Kabong – a local Malaysian village in Kuala Kangsar. From there, either take a guided tour through rice paddy fields and sample local produce, or follow an expert naturalist on an invigorating hill trek. This would be a great chance to learn more about the local flora and fauna!

Thereafter, you’ll be greeted with a refreshing drink on your return to the Eastern & Oriental Express before you get on the tracks again.

Travel tips

  • Before you make your booking, keep your eyes out for special deals and promotional itineraries during festive seasons like the New Year and Easter.
  • Foodies, pay attention! Some scheduled trains are hosted by celebrity chefs like Ian Kittichai, Luke Mangan and Didier Corlou.
  • With that said, spaces on this train are limited, so remember to book early.
  • Don’t forget to check and ensure your travel visa and passport validity for the duration of your trip.
  • When you’re itching to update your social media, head over to the Observation Car for free WiFi. Alternatively, you could splurge a little more and book one of the Presidential Cabins. There,  you’ll get to surf the net in the comfort of your spacious cabin.

And that’s about it for this quick guide on the Eastern & Oriental Express! Not that complicated, right? Enjoy the journey and remember to take lots of photos!

About Author

Chan U-Jane
Chan U-Jane

U-Jane is non-stop, a lover of all things Disney, and may or may not be slightly obsessed with musicals. When she's not off gallivanting, she's probably binge-watching some show on Netflix. That, or she's meticulously planning her next adventure.


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