There’s something magical about a journey by train that provides an adventure, an experience, and an insight into the heart of a nation. Here are some of the world’s most fascinating train journeys.
Some railways rattle through historic cities; others swoosh beside spectacular coastline. A few have an epic history, and one or two are remarkable for the colourful characters on board.
This line, also known as the North–South Railway, fulfils all these criteria. One of Southeast Asia’s best-loved railways, its fortunes have waxed and waned with those of the country it traverses.
Traveling more than a thousand miles from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, there is no more atmospheric way to haul into Vietnam’s twin metropolises and explore all the glories in between.
For soaking up the scenic grandeur of the North American continent, nothing compares with Amtrak’s California Zephyr train.
This classic three-day journey travels across prairies, deserts, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada on its way from Chicago to San Francisco. The scenery is magnificent throughout.
If you can only do one section, opt for the stretch between Denver and Glenwood Springs, traveling through an often roadless wilderness of deep, narrow gorges near the Colorado River’s headwaters.
Traversing the Altiplano, from the shores of Lake Titicaca to the beating heart of the Inca capital, the railway cuts a ponderous but picturesque path through the peaks and valleys of the Andes.
Between drinks in the bar and enjoying entertainment and fine food in the restaurant, passengers aboard Perurail’s Lake Titicaca train can ogle the vista from an open-air observatory car.
Then rumble across the epic Peruvian plains, passing hardy bowler-hatted llama farmers and traveling through remote towns and villages.
Linking the futuristic architecture and imperial wonders of Bĕijīng with the dreamlike monasteries and palaces of Lhasa, this train transports its passengers from urban China to a once-remote land.
As it chugs westward the train climbs nearly 16,400ft on its journey to the roof of the world: the Tibetan plateau, where it glides past yaks, fluttering prayer flags and snow-capped mountains.