Love soaking up the scenic vistas of a new country while taking a beautiful railway journey? Well, its old fashioned charm is one thing. But other than that there’s something refreshing about taking a train, particularly if you're traveling over a long, multi-night route. Reading books, playing cards or simply enjoying the scenery rush by is part of the charm.
Another draw would be railway journeys allow the traveller more comfort and relaxation. Rather than cramming yourself into an ever shrinking airplane seat or squinting at road signs trying to figure out where to make your next turn, why not relax on a train?
But which are the best journeys the world has to offer? Here, we look at five of the most scenic railway journeys in the world, to cater for all budgets.
1. Switzerland, (Jungfraubahn)
The Swiss boast three world-class rail journeys: the Glacier Express, the Bernina Express and, most magnificent of all, the Jungfraubahn. Climbing to over 3,000 metres, the hourly train trots up the north face of the Eiger before sliding across Monch and then climbing the Jungfrau to pull in at Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe. Dating back to 1912, the line offers the most picturesque views of the Alps you’ll ever likely encounter from a train and is about an hour long journey. Jungfraujoch station is a spectacle to behold in itself too. Don’t forget to carry a multi currency travel card for greater security, flexibility and to lock favourable currency rates.
2. Canada (Jasper to Vancouver)
The more expensive option would be the Rocky Mountaineer train, but it’s not the only way to travel through the Canadian Rockies. Some believe, the more satisfying option is to glide down to Vancouver from the ski resort of Jasper on The Canadian. This is the iconic train that rolls in across the plains from Toronto in far off Ontario, over 20 hours away. As it drifts its way through the mountains, passengers can enjoy the view from observation cars and the charming art deco-style lounges. If you’re lucky you may be able to spot moose, eagles and, the occasional bear. Remember to carry your prepaid travel card to save money while travelling.
3. USA (Chicago to San Francisco)
The California Zephyr is a daily service that thunders its way across the US from Chicago to San Francisco, (Emeryville), crossing Denver, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, the several canyons in Colorado, the Rockies and California’s High Sierra among other attractions. It’s surprising that it isn’t better known than it is. It takes a pleasurable 52 hours to travel over 2,437 miles so its passengers have plenty of time to watch the country illustrate its natural beauty from the comfort of the train’s sightseer Lounge and Café or a very fancy private cabin.
4. South Africa (Cape Town to Johannesburg)
You’ll leave Table Mountain behind you, pass through the shanty towns and channel through to the Cape vineyards at the start of this 26hour train journey. By the time lunch is served in the dining-car, the train would have wound its way through the Hex River Pass and is chugging gently across the semi-desert of the great Karoo. After dinner, travellers can enjoy a drink in the lounge, then settle down for the night in a cosy private sleeper. There’s plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast before a late-morning arrival at Johannesburg’s Park Station. The exclusive and more expensive Blue Train takes exactly the same route, but the weekly Premier Class train makes the experience more affordable, for those on a tighter budget. Remember you can save tons of money by using the rate lock feature in international prepaid travel card.
5. Thailand (Bangkok to the River Kwai)
One hundred baht, (about $3) will buy you a ticket on the twice-daily train from Bangkok to Nam Tok. The cars will be a bit basic but will be comfortable, vendors traverse up and down the aisle selling fruit and soft drinks, (do try the fresh pomelo, if you get a chance!). Eighty-two miles and two and a half hours from Bangkok, the train stops at Kanchanaburi and then heads gradually across the infamous bridge on the Kwai. The train goes along the peaceful river for several miles, clinging to the cliffs above the river on the picturesque Wampo viaduct. There’s very little at Nam Tok, but for those that understand railway journeys, it’s the journey at is the allure.
Prior to setting off on your epic railway journey, devote some time to researching the many currency exchange services open to you. We hope you’ve enjoyed our top five picks of the most scenic railway journeys in the world. For whichever journey you do choose, we wish you a happy one.
Keywords: multi currency travel card, international prepaid travel card, currency exchange
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