After a couple of days enjoying the best of Singapore, we had the pleasure of traveling on the Eastern and Oriental Express up to Bangkok – the train took us through the jungles of Malaysia and rice fields of Thailand during 3 luxurious and unforgettable days.
Eastern And Oriental Express – A Journey Like No Other
Check-In & Boarding
Since Woodland’s train station is slightly out of town, we checked in for the train at the Regent Hotel, a five star hotel on Orchard Road with the same luxurious, traditional style of the Eastern and Oriental Express train.
The air was filled with excitement, and looking around the room there were all sorts of people who were taking the journey: solo travelers, couples, friends and families.
From the hotel we were driven by bus to the train station, where the border crossing was the smoothest I’ve ever experienced (why can’t all border crossings be like this?), a world away from how we crossed the border into Singapore just a few days earlier …
When boarding the Eastern and Oriental Express, your steward takes you to your “room” – there are 3 types of compartments: Pullman Cabins (bunk beds), State Cabins (twin beds) and Presidential Suites.
They’re all very well appointed and beautifully designed with walls of cherry wood and romantic decorations in Oriental style.
We stayed in a Pullman Cabin, which was slightly small but well laid out – each cabin has a bathroom with shower, a writing desk, panoramic windows and a couch that is converted into beds by the steward when you’re out for dinner.
The observation car was one of the highlights on the Eastern and Oriental Express, and one of the first things we decided to check out.
When there is no window separating you from the rice fields, jungles and rural countryside, it feels more real: you can smell the country – hear it – feel it.
The view from the train was exactly like in the movies, where children play by the tracks and farmers look up and waive their hands with a big smile as you pass.
The saloon car, library car, restaurant cars and piano bar car really made you feel like you had stepped back into a glamorous past.
There was a traditional luxury over the whole train, both in the design as much as in the service and general vibe.
Chit-chatting over a tray of peanuts and a glass of wine while listening to beautiful piano music was a reality I never thought possible on a train – everything was immaculate and so full of character and charm.
We felt truly spoiled with the exceptional food we indulged in during the trip on Eastern and Oriental Express.
A lot of thought and skill were put into every single dish, from the unique mixture of Asian and European influences to the presentation – I have no idea how the chefs managed to make such great food in such tiny kitchens on a bumpy train!
Breakfast is served in the cabin on a big tray with everything from Danish pastries to local Malaysian tea.
Lunch is served in one of the restaurant cars, and we were surprised to find that even this was a full 4 course meal!
Afternoon tea was served in the cabin, with a nice selection of local treats to try.
We really liked how they used a lot of local Asian ingredients and specialties – the local cuisine is a big part of experiencing a country, and on the Eastern and Oriental Express you really got a taste of South East Asia.
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much food in the span of three short days..!
The dinner on the Eastern and Oriental Express is quite an event, where suit jacket and tie is compulsory for men, and women dress up in evening dresses.
To see everyone dress up in their finest clothes, from a Kimono to evening gowns and lots and lots of glittering jewels, really enhanced the whole occasion – and I got to enjoy the rare sight of Nathan in a suit 😉
In the romantic dining cars you’re served a 5-course meal every evening, with some absolutely delicious desserts and chocolates to finish the night in perfection.
With fruit tasting, palm reading, foot massage and a Thai dance show, there are many things to keep you busy on the Eastern and Oriental Express, and on both days of the journey you take a small excursion.
In Malaysia you go for a guided Trishaw tour around Georgetown, Penang, and in Thailand you visit the Bridge on the River Kwai for a boat tour and a museum visit.
These are great ways to take in the culture of the places you visit, but it’s the journey and the Eastern and Oriental Express in itself that is the real experience.
While the Eastern and Oriental Express truly knows how to provide a glamorous vibe and luxurious experience, what made the journey most memorable, were the exceptional staff.
They treated it like something more than just a job, they were really enjoying it – and it showed through.
They were professional and yet personal, making us feel very pampered and special.
The staff makes all the difference, and the people working for this company were what made the journey the best it could possibly be – this trip was something very special for everyone onboard the train, and the staff treated it as though it was special also for them.
Our journey with the Eastern and Oriental Express was exactly what people say it is: a journey like no other!
VIDEO: Eastern & Oriental Express – Singapore To Bangkok
Earlier this year we had the opportunity to travel on the Eastern and Oriental Express from Singapore to Bangkok.
The 3-day trip was one of pure indulgence with good food, beautiful views and 5-star service!
It’s a beautiful train and a trip of a lifetime, and we made a short video summing up our experience – check it out below:
You can also read more about the trip below:
It’s Time For Another Epic Train Journey
Our days in Malaysia have mostly consisted of an identical pattern: eating, working, walking, eating, working, walking – in other words, just what we had planned to do.
Malaysia is unlike any other country, more multi-cultural than you can imagine, and the people are incredibly friendly – it was the perfect place to settle down for a couple of weeks to work and relax.
Our next stop is Singapore, a place we’ve never been to before and are really excited to explore.
BUT the bigger news is that next Tuesday (after spending a week in Singapore), we’ll be embarking on a train journey in what is perhaps the most romantic, and definitely the most luxurious way to see South East Asia – with the Eastern & Oriental Express.
This epic train journey will take us through the dense rain forests, wide open orchards and remote towns with the comfort and luxury of a five star hotel.
It will be a three day trip from Singapore to Bangkok, with daily excursions along the way.
The Eastern & Oriental Express is a luxury train (with 3-day tickets starting from 2,400US per person) a world away from the usual trains that run along this route: pure indulgence in luxury and comfort – the perfect match to the famous quote:
“It’s all about the journey, not the destination”.
This is the ideal train journey for travelers who enjoy the comfort of luxury resorts, but want to explore more of the country they visit than just sitting by the beach.
The Eastern & Oriental Express route was created in 1992 by the same people who operate the Simplon Orient Express.
They bought the Japanese made coaches that served the Auckland – Wellington route in 1972-1979.
The exterior is the same, but internally the coaches have been completely rebuilt inside to top luxury standards, with en suite sleeping compartments, two dining cars, piano bar car, observation car, observation car lounge and a saloon & reading room car.
The different Orient Express trains that have been operating around the world for centuries awake mythical tales and stories of murder and mystery, spies such as exotic ‘artiste’ Mata Hari and Robert Baden Powell, a French president who “fell off the train”, and more.
Novels like Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” have shaped this idea of exotic mystery, and while some of these tales are probably less true than others, we look forward to find out what stories await us on our own journey.
While we will be offline during our trip, we’ll tell you all about it when we get back to “real life” again on arrival in Bangkok.
(photo credit: 1)
Eastern & Oriental Express – The Photo Essay
The best way to describe what the Eastern & Oriental Express was really like is to simply show you – after all, don’t they say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Below we have put together a photo essay to showcase the best of our train trip (you will even see us dressed to the max in a suit & evening dress :P) – also if you would like to read more about the train and our personal journey.
The observation car was one of our favorite things about the E&O – located at the very end of the train, you could enjoy the landscape sweeping past, slowly changing as you traveled from the south in Singapore all the way up north to Bangkok.
Those getting up early to watch the sunrise through the mist were served hot tea, which added a nice touch to the colonial ambiance of the car.
Our conversations during lunch were always interrupted by one of us going “hey – look at that!” pointing out the window, seeing something odd, funny or amazing.
Like Agatha Christie says: Trains are wonderful… to travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns… and rivers, in fact, to see life.
This journey was all about relaxing, indulging and enjoying yourself.
After all the extra hassle that comes with planning your own travels, it was really nice to have a break and just sit back and relax letting the exceptional and friendly staff take care of everything for you, from the excursions to the wonderful food.
When darkness fell outside the window, the train got even brighter and livelier inside – men dressed up in tuxedos and a tie, women putting on their evening dresses and glimmering jewels, and the piano bar full of people mingling after dinner with a glass of wine or two.
And finally, the food – those who know me are well aware that I have a SERIOUS sweet tooth, so as you can see I was very spoiled with all the beautiful desserts and sweets served on the train.