FIVE EXCITING RAIL JOURNEYS THROUGH ASIA.
Come on a romantic holiday by train, journeying through ancient lands with awe inspiring landscapes. Experience the diverse cultures of Mongolia, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Japan and China, as the clickety clack of the train rolling on the tracks takes you back in time to when this mode of transport was considered a luxury.
THE CULTURAL TRANS MONGOLIAN
A tour that leaves from Hong Kong can only be described as phenomenal. On so many different plains this rail journey takes you to places that have been captured in many stories during the rule of Genghis Khan. As you board your train for the onward journey through Guangzhou, the anticipation is overwhelming. Xian, the gateway of the great Silk Road and the home of the entombed Terracotta Warriors awaits. The land of the nomad holds many treasures as you head into the Terelj National Park for your first introduction to true Mongolian hospitality. The Ger – or home- of the Mongolian people has changed little over the thousands of years since the nomadic people settled the land. Ride horses, Yaks- mountain cows- then head to the capital Ulaanbaatar. Continue into Russia for the ultimate adventure.
Tokyo station if never experienced before is a must. Floor after floor of rail lines move millions of people with ease not seen in any other country. The SHINKANSEN or bullet train travels to Nagoya where you transfer to an express train to experience the tranquillity of Takayama or “Little Tokyo”. Noted for its wooden houses, Takayama is without a doubt one of the most traditional places in Japan. So it is only fitting that you stay in a Ryokan where you can sleep as the locals do – on the floor- if you so desire. Heading to Kanazawa to discover one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Nara once the capital of Japan features the Todaiji Temple reportedly the largest wooden building in the world. Here sits the great Buddha. Kyoto one of the oldest capitals unlocks the treasures of the Golden Temple and of course is the home of the Geisha in Gion. Sakai Minato is the final destination before choosing your onward journey- perhaps a ferry to Vladivostok Russia.
THE SILK ROAD ODYSSEY
Beijing heading Westbound, and exciting journey across China through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Beijing, home to Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven. This amazing journey takes you across the mighty Taklamakan- the Great Wall of China which was built to defend against the fierce Mongolian horsemen and through Xian the historic gateway to the Silk Road and home of some 6000 life-sized terracotta figures. Xian also marked the end of Marco Polo’s Golden Journey. Gansu Province slides into view when you stop at Dunhuang to visit the incredible “Caves of the Thousand Buddhas. Crossing a sea of dunes brings you to Turpan, famed for its irrigation channels under the desert. The Taklamakan Desert is a spectacle in itself but as you arrive in the Silk Road market town of Kashgar, you will see that little has changed in the bazaars over the centuries. From Kashgar you begin to climb through the Torugart Pass at an elevation of 3752 metres. The 10 century caravanserai of Tash Rabat greets you as you slowly descend from what can only be described as breath taking scenery. Crossing the Dolan Pass heading to Lake Issyk Kul is the next step in your rail journey before stopping in Bishkek for a short flight to Tashkent the capital of Uzbekistan. Bukhara with its crumbling city walls dating back over one thousand years, shows a rich yet turbulent history. Samarkand introduces you to an ancient way of life with the Bibi Khanym Mosque and the Uleg Bek’s Observatory.
MALAYSIA MYANMAR and THAILAND
Singapore as one of the most centralized stopping points both into and out of Europe is the signature city to begin this journey. As you cross the straits of Jahor onto the southern most tip of the Asian continent, the train now heads up the Malaysian Peninsula to Bangkok. A brief stop and then heading further north to Chiang Mai. As the scenery begins to alter with the mountains looming up ahead, excitement builds as you enter Myanmar. With the borders once firmly closed, Myanmar now offers an exceptional opportunity to discover the land of the Golden Pagodas. Once you have had your fill of stunning architecture it is once more time to move ahead to the intriguing Chinese Province of YUNNAN. Here at the foothills of the Himalayas you have your first taste of the vastness of the Tibet Plateau. Sichuan then Chengdu add to this exotic journey before arriving into Xian, the historic start to the Silk Road. Here you change trains to join the Silk Road Railway before heading west along the fringes of the Taklaman Desert into Kashgar.
Note: This journey is part of the 50th Anniversary Journey which is 55 days in length. You can chose to do all or part of the excursion.
VIETNAM AND BEYOND -THE EVER CHANGING JOURNEY.
Who hasn’t heard of Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon? But have you ever thought of a train journey that takes you through some awe inspiring country along the coastline of Vietnam? While this may not be the longest journey you can do through Asia by train, it certainly is a good introduction for those not sure how they will like the mode of transport. The “Unification Express” runs the length of the country from Saigon to Hanoi.
The first station is Nha Trang, a 7 hour trip allowing you to relax in your comfy arm chair and witness Sampans and a few larger vessels as they make their way into the many bays along the route. Continuing on to Danang takes a further 8 hours.
Vietnam Railways are by no means luxurious until you arrive in the town of Hue a further 3 hours north of Danang. Here you will continue your journey through Dong Ha, Dong Hoi, Vinh, Thanh Hoa, and Nam Dinh before finally arriving into Hanoi after a 12 hour journey. Of course the opportunity to break the trip at any destination to explore the towns further an option when you are travelling independently.
Hanoi is famous for ancient temples that stand alongside French-built villas with the Old Quarter, hundreds of years after its founding, selling goods along narrow lanes. Here you will fight for space with the many mopeds that clog the streets. In contrast the lakes surrounding the city give a true sense of calm in an otherwise chaotic city. Founded officially in 1010AD, Hanoi has no shortage of history to impress upon visitors.