The Ultimate Eastern & Oriental Express Guide

The Ultimate Eastern & Oriental Express Guide

Everything you need to know about this timeless luxury train.

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, or 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, complete with cocktails, wine, and live music before finally returning to your cosy cabin for a good rest.

The History

The legacy was started by an American businessman named James B Sherwood. Built in Japan by Nippon Sharyo and Hitachi, this 31-carriage train was later remodelled in Singapore 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 averages 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 to Penang, Cameron Highlands and Kuala Lumpur on your way from Singapore to Bangkok. It also includes a night in the Cameron Highlands Resort and one night in Singapore’s lavish Raffles Hotel.


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.

Where else can you enjoy exquisite fusion food for every lunch and dinner and have the cost be included in your train ticket? You’ll even get to start off your day with a mouth-watering continental breakfast served in the comfort of your cabin every morning.

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 in the spacious carriage as the train makes its way through the serene countryside.

Although the bulk of the itinerary takes place on the train, 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 – 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, or 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, choose to either take a guided tour through rice paddy fields and sample local produce, or to follow an expert naturalist on an invigorating hill trek – 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.

Traveller 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, where you’ll get to surf the net in the comfort of your spacious cabin.

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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