Wednesday, January 16, 2008

... accross half the world by train

The fastest way from London to Singapore is definitely by the air, but the most interesting one is certainly the longest one, using an incredible amount of time and a few extra dollars to cross the entire European and Asian continents by train. I started dreaming about this long journey by reading Seat61, a compilation of information about all the trains in the world, and I was not sure about the feasibility of the journey. I did some research, and yes you can do this London-Singapore by train and bus.

Check this out!

1: Train from London (UK) to Paris (France)

Do I have to mention it? Ok then, it's an hourly departure, from London Waterloo, arriving in Paris Gare du Nord in less than 3 hours, from about £44 one-way in 2 nd class compartment.
2: Train from Paris (France) to Moscow (Russia)

Travel from Paris to Moscow by direct air-conditioned sleeping-car of the Russian Railways, arriving in Moscow two nights later. Departure are Tue, Thu, Sun in the winter time and daily, (except Sat), during the summer time. The 45 hours trip in 2nd class compartment ticket costs 330 € one way.
3: Train from Moscow (Russia) to Beijing (China)
by Trans-Siberian Railway! or, or, or,

Two trains a week, 6 nights, from about $350 one-way in 4-bed sleeper.There are two direct trains a week from Moscow to Beijing (Peking), one via Mongolia with Chinese rolling stock and one via Manchuria with Russian rolling stock.The route via Mongolia is arguably the most interesting one. The weekly train leaves Moscow every Tuesday night and takes 6 days to eat the 7,621 km (4,735 mile) journey. This train crosses Siberia, cuts across Mongolia and the Gobi desert and then finally enters China. This train has deluxe 2-berth compartments, 1st class 4-berth compartments & 2nd class 4-berth compartments. Fares start at around $350 (£180) one-way in 2nd class 4-berth or $500 (£260) in 1st class 2-berth. The route via Manchuria is a weekly train leaves Moscow on Friday nights and is taking just over six days to cover the 8,986km (5,623 miles). There are 2-berth 1st class compartments and 4-berth 2nd class compartments. Prices are similar to the Chinese train.
4: Train from Beijing (China) to Hanoi (Vietnam), or

There is a safe and comfortable twice-weekly 45-hours average train service between Beijing & Hanoi. A Chinese express train with 4-berth soft class sleepers and restaurant car runs from Beijing to Dong Dang on the Vietnamese frontier. Then you pass through customs and board a connecting Vietnamese train for the final leap to Hanoi. The fare is the equivalent of 143 Swiss francs (£71 or $120 or 1,939,000 Vietnamese dong) if you buy your ticket at the ticket office.
5: Train from Hanoi (Vietnam) to Saigon (Vietnam)

Vietnamese trains are the ideal way for independent travelers to get around. The trains are safe, comfortable and inexpensive. The train journey is also an experience in itself, and become an integral part of your visit to Vietnam. You'll see some wonderful scenery from the train between Hanoi and Saigon. The most scenic section of line is along the coast where you can see bays and islands and through the hills. Around 1000 VND Daily since 2nd Feb 2007, ticket fare policy applied for train starting from Hanoi Station sometimes.
6: Bus from Saigon (Vietnam) to Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
Thorn Tree

You go from HCMC to PP via a daily bus or riverboat. It's a total of 500-600km depending which mode of travel you take and will cost you $25-$40 roughly for the whole trip.
7: Bus from Phnom Penh (Cambodia) to BattamBang (Cambodia)

There's now only one train service in Cambodia, from Phnom Penh to BattamBang. This is a very slow, once-weekly train service via Pursat. The journey is scheduled to take 14 hours but may be much longer, even though the distance by rail is only 275 km. It costs US$5 one-way for foreigners. Saturdays, departs 06:20, arrives 20:00
8: Bus from BattamBang (Cambodia) to Aranyapratet (Cambodia)
There are currently NO trains on the Phnom Penh - Kampot - Sihanoukville route or on the Battambang-Sisophon route. There has been talk for years of rebuilding the railway to the Thai border, and building a new line to Saigon, thus linking Europe and Singapore by rail without a gap, but no action has yet been taken.
9: Train from Aranyapratet (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand)
I ve been there

Two different lines. 3rd class only and travels to Pattaya, Chonburi, Aranyapratet (Cambodia border). These are slow trains and no pre-booking is possible, but the train takes 5 1/4 hours and is only 48BHT (approx 70p) and it connects with the skytrain in Bangkok at Phaya Thai.
10: Train from Bangkok (Thailand) to Butterworh (Malaysia)
I ve been there

It's a 10 hours train ride for US$71.20 on a 2nd class Air Con sleeper. The train runs along the east side of peninsula Thailand. Connections to Koh Samui, Koh Phangan Krabi and Phuket are served by combo tickets which include bus and boat transfers. The train changes compartments at Had Yai and the 1st class carriages are removed.
11: Train from Butterworh (Malaysia) to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

With an extensive rail track grid covering the length of the Peninsula, what better way to see the country than via the rail service. KTM Berhad has a variety of services which runs from Kuala Lumpur to various parts of the Peninsula. 3 Trains a day, and for example if you start at 21:45, you will arrive next day at 06:10AM. Cost 67.00 MYR
12: Train from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to Johor Bahru (Malaysia)

Once aboard, you will agree that there is no better way of discovering Malaysia's myriad of attractions than by rail. Enjoy panoramic views in the comfort of the air-conditioned coaches. Stretch out and relax as your train takes you to the various places of interest. 3 Trains a day, costing around 64.00 MYR
Last: Cab from Johor Bahru (Malaysia) to Singapore
This is next door city, and for US$ 20 you can cross the border and arrive downtown Singapore.

To my calculation it is coming down to around US$1500, but the real question is how would you need to take that trip?