Tag Archives: Thailand

Eastern & Oriental Express Still Southeast Asia’s Brightest Luxury Rail Star

25 Nov
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The Eastern & Oriental Express.

IRT’s Angela Walker travels to Thailand next week to inspect the Eastern & Oriental Express, one of our World’s Top 25 Trains®, and sister train to Europe’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

What should Angela expect from her 4-day Bangkok to Singapore adventure?

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Gracious, friendly steward on the E&O. IRT Photo by E. Hardy

Just take it from IRT guest J. Samuelson, who traveled on the October 2019 departure of Fables of the Peninsula:

“That Eastern & Oriental is something else. It’s a wonderful train. The most impressive part of the whole thing is the staff. They [the train staff] were perfect. They were attentive. Your wine glass was never empty. The food is exceptional…. The presentation is just as good as you’d find in any fine restaurant.”

And, the E&O has undergone several IRT-approved enhancements to its services that make it more all-inclusive, more personalized, and — we think — even more thrilling than before.

The four most exciting new enhancements, in our opinion?

1. All well drinks and house wines are now included (premium drinks are additional). Cheers to that!

2. The train has slashed its maximum capacity dramatically, from 132 to just 82 guests — and typically runs with around 65. The result is an exclusive, clubby feel.

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The open-air observation platform on the train is an IRT traveler favorite.

3. The train now offers guests choice in off-train touring, with an eye towards accommodating those wishing to be more physically active.

For instance, on the classic Bangkok-Singapore and Singapore-Bangkok journeys, guests can choose between a classic cruise along the Khwae Yai River and a visit to the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre; a cycle tour through farms and fields to a village; or a culinary tour to a vibrant market and an ancient noodle house.

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Lounge car attendants. IRT Photo by E. Hardy.

On the once-a-year Fables of the Peninsula journey, guests can choose between a tour of the Sungai Palas Tea Garden, where they will experience the tea-making process “from bush to cup,” or a hike with a naturalist on the Jim Thompson trail in the Titiwangsa mountain range.

4. Guests in Presidential Suites now enjoy an even longer list of amenities, including private limousine transfers to and from train stations in Bangkok & Singapore; a bottle of champagne and fruit basket on arrival; complimentary mini bar, stocked with a selection of spirits, local beer, soft drinks and chocolate; complimentary on board pressing service; more.

Two parting IRT tips?

1. Extend your Southeast Asian journey at one of our five-star partner hotels.

Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor is a sparkling gem near Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s fabled temple complex; Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao is a tropical oasis in the Laotian mountains. Both are just a short flight from Bangkok.

2. If you want to travel in 2020, don’t delay. Space is already at a premium, especially on the once-a-year 6-day Fables of the Peninsula journey in October.

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The Eastern and Oriental Express runs from September through April. All cabins are en-suite. A few Pullman cabins for sole use are available on each departure without a single supplement. Inquire for availability.

For more information, or to book, call us at (800) 478-4881 (+1 502-897-1725 if outside the US/Canada), or email us at tourdesk@irtsociety.com.

 

Rachel M. Hardy is Vice President, Sales & Marketing, and Virtuoso luxury travel advisor for The Society of International Railway Travelers®. She specializes in luxury rail and adventure in Europe, South America, Africa (rail & safaris) and Canada.  She was the first advisor from the Americas invited to see the new Grand Suites on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Our agency is a proud member of Virtuoso.

Elephants, ceramics, markets: Which would you choose?

9 Feb
Eastern & Oriental Express

View from Eastern & Oriental Express compartment window. Photo by Jim Butkus

I knew I was going to like the Epic Thailand journey we are offering next year on the Eastern & Oriental Express.  But little did I know the incredible array of choices our travelers will enjoy. In Chiang Mai alone, there are two all-day choices and 10  half-day options. Each sounds more tantalizing than the next.

I leave next Thursday for Bangkok to prepare for our 2012  Owners’ Choice Epic Thailand journey (Feb. 26-March 3). Which of these included off-train experiences would you choose if you were doing this trip?

This is just a partial list:

  • A full-day visit to the Pang Song Nature Trails Project, a new collaboration between tourism interests and a local village working to protect the stunning Mae Lai Community Forest
  • A Day at the Mandarin Orient Dhara Dhevi Resort, with its spa and two swimming pools
  • Antiques and textile shopping
  • An introduction to Thai ceramics, meeting a ceramics expert John Shaw, educated at Oxford and a lecturer at Chiang Mai University, at his home and viewing his personal and private collection
  • A visit to an elephant camp, where visitors can see them at work – or even ride one
  • Tour of Doi Suthep Temple, an important monastery and symbolic landmark of Chiang Mai.
  • Tour of Pak Chong “wet market,” a truly “authentic” institution that is giving way to supermarkets and convenience stores, says the ground operator in Thailand “But be prepared for some strong smells and sights: all parts of animal produce will be on display.  This is ideal for those who wish to see a slice of daily rural life in Thailand. Due to lack of refrigeration in the old days, most Asians do daily marketing at the wet markets.”
  • Khao Yai National Park will be the obvious choice for nature and adventure seekers,. Khao Yai was Thailand’s first national park. Today, it is the second largest in Thailand, and along with the surrounding mountains was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This will include hiking one of three trails, each lead by a highly qualified park guide.

What would you choose?

Of course, the Eastern & Oriental Express is one of our World’s Top 25 Trains™ — and reason enough to go by itself — as shown in this short, experiential video:

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