Must do's aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express

Ulf Buchert, train manager of the Eastern & Oriental Express, has his favourite, not-to-miss moments. Many of them happen in the open-air Observation Car, so order a Planter's Punch and join him thereā€¦

Into Thailand's Northern Mountains - Bangkok to Chiang Mai
The round trip from Bangkok features spectacular changes of scenery. Make sure you're ready to enjoy them from the moment the train sets off.
  • When the train pulls out of Bangkok station position yourself in the open-air observation car to see, smell and "feel" the local life along the tracks.

  • About ten minutes after Ayutthaya look to your left and see an impressive golden Buddha.

  • When we stop in Lop Buri, look out for all the wild monkeys in the trees, parks and streets. The train snakes through the Northern Thai jungle as it climbs uphill to Chiang Mai.

  • Sit in the observation car and breathe in the fresh, morning scents of the forest that surrounds you.

  • When in Chiang Mai ask the locals where to get kao soi, a famous local dish of noodles with a chicken drumstick in a tasty curry gravy.

The beautiful landscapes of Chiang Mai; Ulf Buchert, Train Manager of the Eastern & Oriental Express.

Heading south through Thailand and Malaysia - Bangkok to Singapore

We travel south towards the equator through rice fields and rubber plantations. Make sure you're ready from the moment the whistle blows to soak up the amazing cityscapes of Bangkok.

  • In the morning we visit the Bridge over the River Kwai. At Wang Po, be sure to be in the observation car while the train is crossing the dramatic wooden viaduct of Tham Kasae. Also look out for the cave on your left with the Buddha inside.

  • While visiting the museum in Kanchanaburi, which tells the harrowing story of the Thailand-Burma railway during WWII, go to the second floor for a birds-eye view of the area. A few metres from the museum there is an old lady frying bananas: treat yourself to this delicious local snack.

  • When passing through the station at Hua Hin, stay in the observation car to wave at the many people who gather on the platform to see the train. Stay on deck and after an hour or so you will see the beautiful Thai coastline. Lick your lips and taste the salt in the air.

  • In the evening, while travelling through the Thai countryside, head to the observation car and observe the villagers having their dinner out in the open air. Smell the delicious scent of local spices mixing with the jungle-fresh Asian air. Magic!

  • After crossing the border into Malaysia you are surrounded by rice paddy fields - exceptional during the growing season when they are a beautiful, lush green. Glimpse golden temples in among them.

  • After the departure from Butterworth (Penang), depending on the time of sunset, gaze at exquisite Bukit Merah lake.

  • In the morning, sip a freshly brewed coffee in the observation car and see the vast palm oil plantations and little Malaysian villages called kampongs before arriving in Singapore.

  • While in Singapore be brave and eat at a Hawker Centre (a collection of stalls where delicious local food is cooked before your eyes). Try the famous Singapore laksa (a spicy bowl of noodle soup) and drink the milk of a fresh, young coconut with its top lopped off. If this is just a tad too adventurous for you, try the Hilton Hotel's StraitsKitchen or Food Republic in Wisma Atria for a similar, but more sedate, experience.

The Bridge over the River Kwai; Hugh Cope, one of the founders of Thailand-Burma Railway Centre.

Northbound along the Malay Peninsula: Singapore to Bangkok

As the train pulls off, be at the ready as the skyscrapers of central Singapore are swiftly swapped for tropical greenery and the causeway over to Malaysia. The golden domes of mosques shine out among slender trees.

  • Sip a Singapore Sling as you look out at the vast palm oil plantations and little Malaysian villages called kampongs.

  • Just before our evening arrival into Kuala Lumpur, the brightly-illuminated Petronas Towers - until recently the world's tallest building - will be in full view on the right.

  • After our departure from Butterworth (Penang) from the city of Alor Setar, be in position in the observation car and you are surrounded by rice paddy fields - exceptional during the growing season when they are a beautiful, lush green. Rearing up among this impressive scene are majestic outcrops of limestone rock.

  • After crossing the border at around sunset, the train snakes uphill through the jungle - truly atmospheric. This may be the first time that you have ever been anywhere so wild and remote, almost close enough to reach out and touch.

  • In the evening, while travelling through the Thai countryside, head to the observation car and spot the occasional fireflies flickering in the dark as you sip a glass of Champagne and soak up the rural Thai atmosphere. Magic!

  • The train continues to the Bridge over the River Kwai. While visiting the museum in Kanchanaburi, which tells the harrowing story of the Thailand-Burma railway during WWII, go to the second floor for a birds-eye view of the cemetery.

  • Before coming into Bangkok the train will cross the famous Chao Phraya River.

  • While in Bangkok arrange to visit the flower market (held in the evenings) and then enjoy the local food in one of the many small restaurants. My favourite is Balee Laos on Sukhumvit Soi 16.

What are your special memories of a journey aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express?

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