In 2023, rail travel emerged as a significant trend, heralded as an eco-friendly alternative to flying. However, looking ahead to 2024, the love for train vacations is set to soar even higher. This surge isn’t just about eco-consciousness; it’s also part of the “train bragging” phenomenon, where travelers take pride in adopting trains as their primary mode of transport. We’re delving into the luxurious world of train travel, where extravagant journeys redefine what it means to explore the world responsibly.
South Africa’s Blue Train – A Two-Year Waitlist Worth It
Topping the list of the most coveted rail journeys across the globe is South Africa’s Blue Train. What sets it apart is the two-year waitlist, a testament to its allure. This extravagant rail journey offers passengers a lavish “hotel-on-wheels” experience while traversing the awe-inspiring landscapes of South Africa. Covering 1600 kilometers in two nights, it showcases the diversity of the African sub-continent. Unique excursions, including visits to Kimberley’s Big Hole and Diamond Mine Museum, await passengers. The Blue Train promises attentive service, dedicated butlers, fine dining, exquisite wines, and cigars.
Twilight Express Mizukaze – An Exclusive Japanese Gem
The Twilight Mizukaze, or Twilight Express, embarks on a lavish journey through western Japan, hosting only 34 privileged passengers, making it one of the world’s most exclusive trains. The waitlist for this experience often stretches over half a year. Those fortunate enough to secure a spot relish a magnificent 5-star adventure with haute cuisine tailored to the route’s surroundings. Passengers can choose from three routes, each offering unique scenery. The most luxurious accommodation, known as “The Suite,” occupies an entire railcar and features a private bathroom and a personal tub.
Venice Simplon-Orient Express: Paris to Istanbul – A Legendary Route
Renowned for offering some of the world’s most authentic luxury train experiences, the Venice Simplon-Orient Express (VSOE) stands out with its Paris to Istanbul route, which operates just once a year. Passengers experience a five-night journey in the lap of luxury within the train’s glamorous 1920s-vintage Art Deco cars. Recognizable for its sleek navy and gold livery, passengers traverse continents, exploring cities like Paris, Budapest, Bucharest, and Istanbul. The journey becomes a page right out of Agatha Christie’s legendary novels.
Extra Point: Seven Stars Kyushu – A Japanese Extravaganza
The world’s only seven-star train, Seven Stars in Kyushu, takes travelers on captivating 3-night and 1-night circuits around Kyushu, one of Japan’s most breathtaking islands. Securing a spot on this sought-after train requires booking months in advance. En route, passengers indulge in onsens (hot springs), dramatic volcanoes, and picturesque coastlines. The plush interior features classic decor with chic, contemporary touches. Deluxe suites impress with sleeping areas, lounges, and private bathrooms, and Deluxe Suite A even boasts a rear window spanning the train car’s width. Days are filled with exquisite dishes reflecting the island’s nature and culture, while evenings are for fresh beverages, scenic views, grand piano melodies, and live performances.
Bonus Point: Singapore to Bangkok – Eastern and Oriental Express – An Asian Extravaganza
Launched by the same operators as the Venice Simplon-Orient Express, the Singapore to Bangkok journey is rumored to be even more luxurious. Travelers savor four-course meals and afternoon tea as they journey through picturesque landscapes. The adventure includes guided tours through rice paddies, raft cruises, visits to the River Kwai Bridge, local Malaysian villages, wet markets, and rice noodle houses. Each cabin boasts an ensuite bathroom and plush amenities, with grand designs featuring natural wood textures and rich tones.
In a world where eco-friendliness and luxury coexist, these exclusive train journeys redefine travel, promising both opulence and a kinder environmental footprint. It’s all aboard for the train journeys of 2024 – an era where passengers not only explore the world but also contribute to its well-being. All this, while they proudly indulge in “train bragging.”