In 1929, the Orient Express was stuck in snow for five days at Tcherkesskeuy, 130km from Istanbul. The incident inspired Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express... and now you too can relive the romance of the slow route by leaving the airplanes behind.
PALACE ON WHEELS
The Victoria Express Train is a ten-hour overnight trip passing through the exotic landscapes of North Vietnam, from Hanoi to Lao Cai. Featuring one dining carriage and two sleeping carriages, each cabin is equipped with air-conditioning, washrooms and oversized windows. The Victoria Express Train is exclusively reserved for Victoria Sapa Resort's in-house guests with departures every day except Saturdays. From US$105 per person. (+84-2087-1522 www.victoriahotels-asia.com/eng/hotels-invietnam/saparesort/victoria-express-train)
THE EASTERN & ORIENTAL EXPRESS
Travel in style through Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Choose from three grades in cabin luxury - Presidential Suites, State Compartments and Pullman Compartments. All are air-conditioned with en suite washrooms. Complete with dining cars, a piano bar, reading room with library and an open-deck observation car to enjoy the scenery along the way. Prices vary, for example, a Pullman Compartment for two people costs US$4,340. Meals and non-alcoholic drinks are included in ticket price. (www.easternorientalexpress.com)
Take a trip on the world's highest passenger railroad from Beijing to Lhasa. Air-conditioned and pressurized trains include oxygen as 80 percent of the journey is at altitudes above 4,000 meters. The 4,000 kilometer journey takes just under 48 hours and costs US$48 to $158 depending on your choice of hard seat, hard steeper and soft steeper. You will need to apply for a Tibet travel permit before departure. For details, call the permit issuing office in advance. (+86-10-9510-5105 www.chinatibettrain.com)
The Trans-Siberian line from Moscow to Vladivostok is the most popular route, though it is also possible to start your journey in Hong Kong or Beijing. Stopover in many of the Russian cities and towns along the route, from the historic Volga port of Yaroslavl to Irkutsk and the scenic Lake Baikal region. Tour prices for start at US$l,000 and vary according to how many stopovers you make and what level of luxury you prefer. You will need Russian, Chinese and Mongolian visas if you choose to journey the full 10,000 kilometers. (www.trans-siberia.com)
Adventures on Waterways
ROAD TO MANDALAY
The Road To Mandalay is a luxury river cruiser traveling along the Irrawaddy River in Burma between Mandalay and Bagan with occasional longer cruises to Bhamo and Pyi. The shortest cruise is three nights and options range up to ii nights with three types of cabin - single, superior and state all with en suite wash-rooms. There is a restaurant, piano bar, boutique, beauty room, library, lounge and observation deck with swimming pool. A visa must be obtained before entering Burma. One-way trips start at US$2760 up to $3800. (www.orient-express.com/web/rtm/rtm-a2a-home.isp)
Yangtze Cruises offers ships for every taste and budget, ranging from five-star luxury to economical local ferries. Ships sail between Chongqing, Yichang, Wuhan and Shanghai. Choose to cruise from three to nine days on the 6,300 kilometer Yangtze, the longest river in China. You'll pass through the western Wu Shan Mountains and controversial Three Gorges Dam. Costing from US$135 to over $1,000 per person. (+86-77-3281-0927 www.yangtzeriver.org)
Adventures at Sea
After departing Hong Kong, this cruise makes a two-week loop around the South China Sea, via the Philippines, Borneo, Singapore, Vietnam and Hainan. First stop is Manila, where you can visit the Taat volcano (a volcano within a take within a volcano), then it's onto the coral islands and rainforest of Kota Kinabalu, and Brunei. The ship calls at Singapore, Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Sanya before heading home to Hong Kong. (www.costacruise.com)
Filled with touches of Dutch life and exploration, the MS Statendam takes you on a two-week journey north from Hong Kong. On the third day of cruising, you'll arrive at Shanghai to dock for the night before the ship makes its way to Beijing. The seventh day of sailing wilt bring you to your last stop in China, Dalian before visiting Pushan in South Korea, followed by Nagasaki and its final stop in Kobe, Japan. (www.hollandamerica.com)
RHAPSODY OF SEAS
The five-night Gems of Asia tour makes a good introductory trip for first time cruisers. Departing from Hong Kong on March 12, the ship sails north for a day to Naha on the Japanese island of Okinawa. You'll spend seven hours ashore then you're whisked off to Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan before heading back to dock in Hong Kong. (www.royalcaribbean.com).