If you are the type that feels the journey is the best part of the adventure then you are probably already sold on train travel. Here are some train journeys in surprising destinations that you may not have thought of.
We come from a big country, but for some reason Turkey feels even bigger once you start traveling it. Buses seem to be the default transport for travelers – there is a plethora for good value companies and departures are frequent. But who wants to spend 12 hours on a bus?
The inexpensive air-conditioned train, with a bed in your private sleeper, meals in the restaurant car, whilst gently swaying as Turkish scenery rolls past is the best way to get to the great interior.
Try: Overnight from Istanbul to Göreme for the magical landscapes of Cappadocia.
You will have heard of the great rail trips in Russia, like the Trans-Siberian, but what about neighbouring Kazakhstan? Comfortable and safe in your private sleeper, you’ll cross the endless sea of steppe where two humped camels flicker past your window. Observe the frenzied action at impossibly remote villages as the train creates an instant, fleeting marketplace on the platform.
Try: Moscow to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, over five days. Continue from there to China.
Why would you fly between destinations in this long country when air-conditioned, safe and cheap trains get you there in much greater comfort, seeing gorgeous scenery on the way? You’ll pay the same price as the Vietnamese, have a bed to stretch out on may meet some locals.
Try: The stunning coastal section between Hué and Danang over the Hai Van Pass.
Long-distance passenger trains are perhaps South Africa’s best-kept travel secret. It’s another big country that can be experienced at ground level in much greater comfort than days on a bus. The trains link major cities and are cheap and safe. Enjoy the restaurant cars and the tourist class of sleepers with two and four berth compartments.
Try: Johannesburg to Cape Town over 2 days.