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Rail Service in Asia – Overview

Here is a quick overview of the widely divergent kinds of rail service in the huge expanse of Asia. We have already posted details in a few areas, with more to come. Visitor Utility Here are countries where visitors from North America will find trains useful for getting around regionally, between either major visitor centers or excursions from centers to important attractions:

  • China: World's largest high-speed rail network covers most of the country; also, day trips from Beijing to the Great Wall (official railway website in Chinese only; buy on arrival or through travel agency such as chinahighlights.com/china-trains/).
  • India: Delhi to Agra (indianrail.gov.in/)
  • Japan: Entire country on high-speed lines plus extensive day-trip options from Tokyo to Nikko and other nearby visitor centers; Osaka to Nara. See our report on Japan Rail Pass.
  • Malaysia: Train Kuala Lumpur to/from Singapore (travel agency easybook.com/). Rail pass available.
  • South Korea: High-speed lines from Seoul to Busan and other points. Rail pass available (website currently down).
  • Taiwan: Taipei to Kaohsiung City high-speed line (http://www5.thsrc.com.tw/en/). Rail pass available.
  • Thailand: Excursions from Bangkok to River Kwai, the Cambodian border (for Angkor Wat), and Chiang Mai (website inactive).
  • Turkey: High-speed trains Istanbul-Ankara (tcdd.gov.tr/; English version "under construction").
  • Uzbekistan: Daily high-speed Talgo train from Toshkent to Samarkand (uzrailpass.uz/).
  • Plus: Metro systems in Almaty, Ankara, Baku, Bangalore, Bangkok, Chennai, Delhi, Dubai, Izmir, Jaipur, Kaohsiung, Kolkata, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Mumbai, Novosibirsk, Singapore, Taipei, Tiblisi, Toshkent, Yerevan, and most important cities in China and Japan.

Mountain Fuji and Shinkansen bullet train at Fuji city Bigstock - Mountain Fuji and Shinkansen bullet train at Fuji city - 81153548

Sightseeing and Land Cruises

In these countries and regions, travelers who just want to get somewhere will almost always favor flying, but rail enthusiasts can find all-day or multiday trips that feature outstanding scenery and, in some cases, luxury service:

Multicounty:

  • Trans Siberian: Regular and luxury excursion trains from Moscow to Vladivostok or Beijing (useful travel agency realrussia.co.uk/).
  • Silk Road: Regular and luxury excursion trains between Russia and China through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
  • Malay Peninsula: Through sleeper or luxury excursion trains between Bangkok and Singapore.

Single Country:

  • China: Excursion to Tibet
  • India: Several luxury excursion train options (see our luxury trains report)
  • Myanmar: Yangon (Rangoon) to Mandalay (no website)
  • Sri Lanka: Excursions from Colombo to Kandy and Matara, some with luxury services (exporail.lk/ and rajadhani.lk/).
  • Viet Nam: Hanoi to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City (dsvn.vn/#/).

Ed Perkins, editor

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