From the Trans-Siberian railway to the Orient Express, there is something old-fashioned and romantic about train journeys. Below are some of the best ones as experienced by our readers
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My tip for a great train journey is the Chepe from Los Mochis to Creel in Mexico, commonly known as the Copper Canyon Railroad.
The journey starts at around 06:00 from Los Mochis on the Pacific coast and over the course of the next nine and a half hours travels 300km and winds from sea level to an altitude of around 2400 metres to the old logging town of Creel, Chihuahua.
The journey begins travelling through scrub and desert before moving into lush greenery, mountainous backdrops and eventually, the canyon itself. The Copper Canyon, a huge network of canyons which in total dwarf their more famous neighbour in the USA, the Grand Canyon, (which would fit inside it). The journey crosses over 40 bridges with huge drops on either side and climbs the canyon by traversing the steep sides, the train switching back on itself numerous times to climb to the top. As the altitude changes so does the vegetation, from the tropical plants on the canyon floor to the fir forests at the top.
The highlight of the journey is a brief stop at Divisidero, a spot allowing 100 mile views across the canyon. The canyon can be seen to fall away beneath your feet and the spectacular colours and variety of flora can be appreciated from this spot.
The train does carry on to Chihuahua but the journey demands a stop in Creel, a town that has more than a little of Twin Peaks in the air. While the town itself is unremarkable, the rock formations, waterfalls and hot springs that can be accessed from it, on foot, mountain bike or 4x4 are stunning and it is well worth spending some time here. From Creel a bus can be taken that shadows the train line to Chihuahua city but reaches its destination quicker (5 hours), and has a more regular service.
The tickets come in first class and economy. The first class train has comfortable seats, a bar and a dining car, it is also possible to open the windows between carriages to appreciate the scenery first hand. A first class ticket one way train costs around £50, the economy train leaves later and takes longer but is cheaper. Aero California fly to Los Mochis and from Chihuahua from Mexico City, the journey is better taken from the coast as from Chihuahua the best of the scenery may be hidden by darkness. Casa Margerita's Plaza Mexicana offers basic half board accommodation from around £30 per room per night.JonnyManchester
The Reunification Express, Vietnam
Get a different perspective on this enigmatic, colourful country and its charming people with a train journey from Hanoi, perhaps to Dong Hoi, Danang, or even for those with stamina, the 1000 miles to Ho Chi Minh City. This is a great chance to talk to local travellers, have a drink with your carriage guard,and reflect on the passing rural scene.
The name Reunification Express is about as dated as the train itself, as most people in this vibrant country are younger than the unified state. Only the 'express' bit remains purely a longer term ambition with a possible Shinkansen style train designed by Japanese rail engineers.
Right from the experience of trying to buy a ticket as a foreigner to the moment you get off, this is a true journey. You'll be bombarded by sellers, so won't be short of food or drink, but you might like to take a few blue cheese baguettes and a bottle of wine from a stall in Hanoi if you think you'll tire of rice, beer and fruit.
Buy the soft sleeper for overnights for some comfort, and expect to share with a local or soldier if you are less than four. Let life unfold at a leisurely pace for a day or two, and avoid the typical, could be anywhere airport frustrations. bladeaway
My top tip for rail travel is a simple one:
Always take real glass glasses to enjoy your drinks with. This way, every journey in a window seat will feel like your are in a dining car.Frog Stone
Mostar to Sarajevo
The two hour journey from Mostar to Sarajevo may not be Europe’s most widely appreciated train journey but is a real hidden gem offering breath-taking scenery at a credit crunch-busting bargain fair of around £5. Connecting these two beguiling cities in a truly fascinating corner of Europe, that for now at least remains a little off the beaten track, the train follows the emerald green Neretva River from Mostar as it winds its way up into the Dinaric Alps before emerging into a lush green valley, nestled at the heart of which is the sprawling city of Sarajevo.Adam Sturch
There’s a forgotten train ride through the middle east that no-one mentions or goes on; it lasts from 8am on Sunday to 8pm Sunday and goes through two vast countries. This train departs Istanbul and arrives in Damascus and on-route it meanders its way through the interior of Turkey bordering mountain ranges and plains and going through medieval cities such as Konya and the rarely visited town of Antep. You then you enter Syria and immediately hit the mecca that is Aleppo, with its bustling streets and many souqs and then you travel through Syria and finally end up in the oldest continually habited city on Earth, in one of the greatest cities in the middle east, Damascus… and all of this for £50.adam1982
One of the most scenic train journeys you can go on is the train whick links the beautiful Italian cities of Florence and Venice. The first wonderful surprise is the magnificent train station at Florence, a building of architectural worth and beauty in its own right. Get there early for the train and have a snack in the cafeteria while drinking in the rococo decor.
The train itself is superbly clean with comfortable seats and ticket inspectors with stylish uniforms. It feels like a 1960's Italian movie. The scenery is worth watching, no need to take a book to read on this journey. The excitement of arriving in Venice is hard to describe, look forward to walking from the station to the Piazza San Marco (try to arrive just before dusk to see the full magnificence of one of the world's most perfect scenes.......) Caroline McNally
The inside track on rail travel
As an enthusiastic and regular traveller, I love to make use of all modes of transport when travelling. Train journeys are so much more than getting you from A to B, they allow you to see the local environment, save money, reduce carbon emissions and if you are lucky, you may get to meet some locals and get a great insight into real life. My top highlights and tips to train travel around the world are:
1) The bullet train (Shinkansen)
Japan's iconic bullet train lives up to its reputation. Fast, clean and always on time, the bullet train (Shinkansen) travels up and down Japan's main rail network, transporting you from hub cities like Tokyo and Kyoto in a matter of hours. Trains travel at speeds up to 300 kph and are a great travel experience. The city to city centre network means that they can be time saving as well, much quicker than travelling via Japan's notoriously remote airports.
The downside is that train travel can be very expensive, particularly at today's exchange rates. A single ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto starts from GBP100! However, there is a solution... if you are a visitor to Japan then before you travel you should get yourself a Japan Rail Pass. Available in 7, 14 and 21 day flavours, you can save a huge amount of money if you plan to travel more than a couple of times on Japan's rail network. A 7 day Japan Rail Pass costs around GBP235 at current exchange rates - just slightly more than the price of a return journey.
More details can be found at http://www.japanrail.com/JR_shinkansen.html
Your local travel agent or www.japantravel.co.uk
can sell you a Japan Rail Pass
Remember, you have to get a Japan Rail Pass before you leave for Japan and it must be validated once you arrive in Japan. My recommendation is that get yourself a reserved ticket whenever you travel, as services can get quite busy at times. You can get reservations just 30 mins prior to travel. When you get to the Shinkansen station, go to the ticket office and ask for a reserved seat or go to the English speaking Tourist Information centre in the main stations for further help.
One additional tip, if travelling with a group of friends, also note that the seats also spin around so that you can sit face to face. Just place your foot on the lever under the seat and spin (thanks to a local passenger for showing my friends and I this!)
London to Paris in just over two hours? Yes we can with Eurostar departing from the newly redeveloped London's St Pancras station. The grandiose building solicits great thoughts of the history and romanticism that is linked with a train travel. Train travel for this popular route is recommended over air travel as it is quicker, cheaper and all the more comfortable. There are different classes of service available depending on your desires and travel times. My personal recommendation is to double check the price of leisure select ticket - the business class travel for leisure travellers. It often is available for just a small supplement and adds to the journey experience with food and a shorter minimum check-in times. The great thing about the Eurostar is that it goes straight into Gare de Nord, right in the heart of Paris. Here you can join the metro system and get to wherever you want in Paris.
My top tips would include being flexible with times to get the best deals and consider visiting some other of France's cities like Lille which offer an interesting alternative to Paris. Also try and avoid restaurants near the station, they tend to be more catered for tourist but as a result more expensive and less authentic.
Book tickets on www.eurostar.com
but also look out for special offers.
3) Maglev - Shanghai
I had to end the tip with the world's fastest train. Shanghai's Maglev airport train shoots you across 30km at over 500 kph - the world's fastest. Take it for an experience rather than ease, unfortunately it doesn't take you right into the city centre but the station is well connected by taxis which wait around the station.
A one-way ticket is just around GBP5 so well worth the experience.
Hope you enjoy your train journeyjonyee
The most scenic train journey ever taken had to be Ploce on the Croatian coast, east to Sarajevo. Riding the dated German train, rolling through tunnels in the mountain side by the river, the mind wanders to the recent scars of war. A magical journey, made all the more special on arriving in Sarajevo to the sights and sounds of the East.Colette Godfrey
Take Gladys, with gin and tonic (or a local ale) from Hythe to Dungeness and watch the scenery change from small seaside towns to the bleak windswept beaches of Dungeness. Enjoy a fantastic plate of local fish and chips and the Pilot followed by a Knickerbocker Glory if you've room. Walk off your lunch exploring the Dungeness beaches - Prospect Cottage, the former home of Derek Jarman is a wonderful place at all times of year, and the listening ears are strangely beautiful.
If you fancy making it a weekend of windswept walks then Romney Bay House is a suitably eccentric place to stay.
British beaches in the wintertime (preferably with a good breeze and a kite) beat most other romantic locations hands down.kaird
I would like to share my best tips for train journeys for people who don't plan ahead. These were shaped from my travel experience riding seat-less in China with three friends as we criss-crossed our way down through the country using the busy train network. We travelled on a shoestring budget, and with no fixed agenda we often arrived at stations with only a loose idea of where we were heading. However, demand for seats and beds on these trains is huge and when there are literally millions of citizens using the network at anyone time, these spaces are booked days in advance... Surprisingly, my tip isn't to plan ahead, be sensible and book in advance - but top tips for surviving and enjoying an overnight train journey with no seat or bed to speak off. Following these tips allows you to get closer to the fascinating Chinese character and fully involve yourself to feel like a true and accepted local which is lost in 1st and 2nd class travel.
My first tip is to play the Chinese at their own game in order to get the best floor positions for your overnight journey. Your competing 3rd class companions will be travelling with half their kitchen larders strapped to their backs, which can include two or three 'cash and carry' style bags of rice or even sacks of chicken feet! So i would advise teaming up with a friend or fellow westerner, which combined with your likely height advantage and 20kg backpacks, you'll find yourselves with some kind of purchase on the crowds of surging travellers to get to your carriage first.
The second tip is on boarding and locating your floor space. With competition fierce, and the odds stacking against you, you will need to prepare for your mini sprint. Try and establish from platform gates, which end of the train your carriage is in; you don't want to find your self running in the opposite direction as you are then likely to be stood beside the toilet for the next 15 to 20 hours. So, once at the carriage doors, I would recommend boarding at the same time as your friend, guarding yourselves from the beating crowds to give you the opportunity to seek the best position, ideally not near the toilet or wash basin, but next to a guards door, which is likely to leave you some good leg room and uninterrupted sleep from people getting on and off through the night.
The third and final tip is spread yourself out, as selfish as it might sound, conceding early on or showing weakness will leave you sharing your pillow another guy who likes to chain smoke and cough up loosening flem from his lungs. This early initiative also gives you the flexibility of lying down and sitting up to read throughout your journey, as fidgeting to get comfortable will become your new best friend. Once you have your little enclave, you can pick and choose who you share your space with, and observe the fascinating culture and characters on board your train as people pass through and squat to chat to the unlikely westerners slumming it on floor.
These light-hearted tips are really just great memories and a product of clashing national psyches, for which I believe brings so much colour, character and adventure to a train journey and gets you right under the skin of a nation which is quite literally on the move.
Many thanks for reading my top tips for character rich 3rd class train travel in China. Vahidmichael
Beginning from Puno on the shore of the magical Lake Titicaca, the Orient Express Company's luxurious train works it's way across high Peru to the historical city of Cusco - fine food and wine, an observation car, and a midway stop for local entertainment - magical.Richard P
This is a tip for any journey, going anywhere... well, any journey you want to savour! Sit with your back to the engine - it seems to make beautiful views last forever, rather than flash by in an instant.
All good wishesSophie Kirtley
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