HOW TO TRAVEL THE WORLD BY TRAIN
Trains are one of my favorite transportation options. When my wife and I were in Bangkok back in 2012, we took an overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai and managed to have a great sleep, waking up rested in a new city the next day. It was far better than taking a bus. Trains provide a smooth (usually) and slightly romantic experience through scenery you may never see otherwise. Trains are also usually more comfortable than buses and if you can get a bed, you’ll save money on accommodation as well. Here are some websites to get you started.
How to Book Train Travel Around the World
The Man in Seat 61
This website is the ultimate guide for traveling by train. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, use this site first.
As mentioned before, this website is a multimodal transport engine, which means you can search various modes of transportation to get where you want to go including planes, trains, automobiles, buses and ferries.
Trains in Canada
Via Rail Canada
If you’re thinking of taking a train across the wild wilderness of Canada, this is the company you’ll be using.
Trains in the USA
If you’re thinking of taking a train across the continental United States of America, this is the company you’ll be using.
Trains in Europe
If you’re thinking of taking a romantic journey throughout Europe, this is the place to start.
Europe Train Guide
This website shares the expertise, travel experiences, and other Europe train information from a team of enthusiasts. This website includes ticket fares and discounts, rail network maps, schedules, how to book tickets, and more.
This app is great for booking train travel across Europe. You can buy tickets, view live information, and save your tickets within the app.
Trains in Japan
If you’re looking to explore a lot of Japan in a short amount of time (three weeks or less), a train pass might be a good idea. Although they can be expensive, Japan’s bullet trains will get you around the country faster than any other mode of transportation (even planes once you factor in airport times, etc). Traveling by train in Japan is an unforgettable experience. You may want to Google “Japan Rail Passes” in your home country as you’ll need to buy the pass before entering the country in order to get the special tourist rate. Note: If you’re only going to one or two places, buying the tickets while you’re there might be best.
Trains in Southeast Asia
Some of my best travel memories have been traveling on trains in Southeast Asia. In both Malaysia and Thailand, my wife and I took sleeper trains, which gave us a full lie-down bed for $25! We also took very rickety trains in Myanmar for less than $2. Most of these trains are better booked in the country via the train station itself or a trusted travel agent.
Trains in India
Traveling around India by train is another great experience, although you’ll have to stretch your comfort zone. Quite often, these trains are very busy and dirty, even in the higher classes. Regardless, it’s often better than a bus and you’ll have an opportunity to experience one of India’s most popular modes of transportation. The best way to book trains in India is to go to the train station and book directly through the agents there. When in India, DO NOT book trains with a travel agent or a “government office”. Most of these are scams. In Delhi, people will physically try to stop you from going to the train station to buy a ticket. DO NOT BE FOOLED! Be aggressive and don’t let anyone stop you. Once inside the train station, you’ll find the real train booking agents who will book your travel at the normal price.
Traveling by train is a great experience. I’ve traveled by train throughout Australia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and China. Some were incredibly comfortable. Some were not. All were an adventure and I can’t wait to get back on a train soon!
Do you have any tips for booking train travel around the world? Share in the comments below and I’ll add them to this page!