The Eastern & Oriental Express Is Back—With Two New Routes
Tickets are already on sale for the train’s first departures post-pandemic, slated to start in February 2024.
After a four-year intermission, a famed luxury train is returning to its track in Southeast Asia in 2024, this time with new routes. Belmond’s Eastern & Oriental Express, a sister train to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and the Royal Scotsman, is relaunching service starting in February with two new seasonal itineraries that spend time in Singapore and Malaysia. Here’s what you need to know about the celebrated train’s comeback.
Essence of Malaysia tour
The first itinerary to start chugging will be the three-night Essence of Malaysia tour, which will begin in February and run through November.
The round-trip journeys start at Singapore’s Woodlands station and roll northwest, passing rice paddies and rural villages as the train plunges deeper into Malaysia. It’s not until the second day that passengers can alight at Alor Setar station for an afternoon in Langkawi’s Pulau Payar Marine Park (which is on an island, a 25-minute boat ride away from the station), where guests can go snorkeling to see parrot fish and moray eels.
On the third day, guests will arrive at Penang Island, where they have their pick of excursions (all of which are included, though guests can also choose to explore independently), which range from cooking classes to an art-focused walking tour in the UNESCO World Heritage city of George Town. Before disembarkation on the final day, the train will cruise through the southernmost state of Johor, which is known for its rainforests, before arriving back in Singapore.
Wild Malaysia tour
The second itinerary, the three-night Wild Malaysia tour, starts in April and wraps up in October. Like the Essence of Malaysia tour, the first day is spent settling into the train as it departs Singapore, the third day is in Penang, and the final morning is filled with watching the landscape go by on the way back to Singapore.
However, on the second day, guests get to spend the afternoon in Taman Negara National Park (a first for the train company), home to one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world and wildlife such as water buffalo, macaques, and the critically endangered Malayan tiger. During the included excursion, guests will meet with representatives from local organizations that are working to protect the habitat of the big cat. There’s also the option to join a photography masterclass or go on a jungle foraging trip.
What it’s like onboard
The train includes 15 green- and gold-colored carriages, including eight sleeper cars, two restaurant cars where you can sample regional Peranakan, which combines Chinese, Malay, and Indian cuisine staples and methods, a piano bar, and an open-air observation car at the caboose. Each carriage is decorated with cherrywood paneling, Malaysian embroidery, and Thai silks.
Guests pick from three cabin categories, including Pullman, State, and Presidential, all of which include a private bathroom, Wi-Fi, and air-conditioning.
The Pullman cabins, for instance, include a couch that turns into a bunk bed, a small table, and pint-sized bathroom.
The Presidental cabins, however, include two twin beds, a larger sitting room and bathroom, welcome gifts including caviar, a fruit basket, and flowers, and free-flowing champagne throughout the journey.
Fares include a daily continental breakfast served to guests cabins, a daily three-course lunch, afternoon tea, and a nightly four-course dinner, as well as all house wines, spirits, and local beer (premium drinks are available at an additional charge). At night, there’s complimentary programming, including traditional storytelling and entertainers playing Malaysian music.
How to book tickets
Prices for both itineraries start at $3,410 per person and are bookable on belmond.com.