The Inside Track: thrilling train travel odysseys across Asia and Australia

Train travel through Vietnam, from Da Nang to Nha Trang, aboard the Vietage

This article on train travel was first featured in EXPLORE, a complimentary travel magazine curated for members of Westpac Concierge and Lifestyle Services.

Experience the luxury of time on slow travel odysseys across Asia and Australia, where the rhythm of the tracks complements panoramic vistas and heritage landmarks.

Train travel through Vietnam, from Da Nang to Nha Trang, aboard the Vietage
The Vietage by Anantara: Crossing south-central Vietnam, this 12-seat carriage takes you from Danang to Nha Trang.

In an era when time is a luxury, railway travel emerges as a beacon of opulence. Hop aboard one of these legendary trains for a soothing journey blending comfort, cultural immersion, and contemplative moments. As a greener alternative to air travel, every mile traversed becomes a mindful exploration of the world’s treasures.

Westpac Concierge travel experts can help you plan your slow-travel odyssey as well as assist with booking a hotel to complement your train trip. And if you’re a Westpac cardholder, you might already be eligible this service.

Train travel: these are the adventures to add to your bucket list to experience the thrill of slow travel

Indian Pacific train

The Indian Pacific train takes you from Perth to Sydney

Route: Perth to Sydney
Duration: three nights (four nights available from 2025)

Watch as Australia’s narrative unfolds on this transcontinental voyage from one ocean to another. Between laid-back coffee shop-fuelled Perth and sparkling Sydney, delve into gold rush history at Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill. Stand in awe at the majestic Three Sisters rock formation, experience the vast Nullarbor Plain, and as twilight descends on your second day, surrender to the allure of a stargazing night in the remote outpost of Cook.

On board, indulge in dishes featuring indigenous Australian ingredients at the Queen Adelaide Restaurant, and sip barista-made coffee or sample local wines as you socialise in the Outback Explorer Lounge. A highlight is the exclusive wine dinner at Seppeltsfield Winery in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. And when it’s time, retire to your private cabin, where loungestyle seating transforms into a cosy bedroom retreat.

Conscious travel: Leftover fruits and vegetables are donated to food rescue organisation OzHarvest, minimising waste and feeding those in need. The train also delivers groceries to the remote Nullarbor Plain outpost of Forrest.

Eastern & Oriental Express, a Belmond Train

Eastern & Oriental Express, A
Belmond Train
(c) Ludovic Balay

Route: Singapore to Penang to Singapore
Duration: three nights

Embark on an elegant adventure, evoking the legendary Orient Express, with a choice between two itineraries. Experience the untamed beauty of ‘Wild Malaysia’ (March to November), venturing into Taman Negara National Park, or discover the ‘Essence of Malaysia’ (November to February), journeying through vibrant Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi archipelago and the Pulau Payar Marine Park. Both routes lead to the state of Penang, and the streets of its capital, Georgetown – where Buddhist temples stand in silent reverence alongside colonial buildings.

Five-star hospitality awaits in opulent cabins adorned with cherry wood panelling, reflecting the forested landscapes you traverse. Marvel at the views from the open-air Observation Car, savour Peranakan specialities by award-wining chef André Chiang, and immerse yourself in Southeast Asian culture with craft workshops and enchanting storytelling at the Piano Bar.

Conscious travel: Partnered with Save Wild Tigers, the train enriches your journey through meaningful encounters with wildlife photographers and local tribes involved in Malayan tiger conservation.

Trans-Mongolian Railway

Eagle hunter on horse in desert in Mongolia
Eagle hunter on horse in desert in Mongolia

Route: Beijing to Ulaanbaatar
Duration: one night (approximately 30 hours)

While not as opulent as other featured journeys, a trip aboard a TransMongolian train is a testament to the enduring spirit of travel. You’ll depart from Beijing, so explore the wonders of the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven before boarding the train.

The landscape transitions from cityscapes to rugged mountain ranges, farmland, and rice fields, before an exciting border crossing in Erlian – where the train is lifted to change its wheels for the Mongolian gauge tracks. This allows ample time for intrepid culinary explorations at Erlian Train Station’s restaurants, while further gastronomic discoveries await in the restaurant carriage, which serves Chinese dishes on one side of the border and Mongolian specialities on the other. The odyssey continues through the expansive Gobi Desert and the rolling hills of Mongolia, dotted with nomadic villages. Upon arrival in Ulaanbaatar, witness the capital’s rapid modernisation juxtaposed against the country’s untamed wilderness.

Conscious travel: An essential means of transport for the people living along it, the Trans-Mongolian Railway offers authentic insights into the local way of life without adding extra fuel to your adventures.

The Vietage by Anantara

Crossing south-central Vietnam, the Vietage by Anantara - 12-seat carriage, takes you from Danang to Nha Trang, passing through Quy Nhon

Route: Da Nang to Nha Trang
Duration: six hours

Crossing south-central Vietnam, this 12-seat carriage takes you from Danang to Nha Trang, passing through Quy Nhon. Tranquil vistas reveal water buffaloes grazing, rural villages, lush green fields, and sights such as the crumbled ramparts of Trà Kiệu, which was the first capital of the ancient Champa Kingdom. On board, rattan partitions and private booths evoke rail travel’s golden era. We recommend indulging in Vietnamese iced coffee or a tropical rendition of a Moscow Mule cocktail with coconut liqueur and passion fruit juice. What’s more, you’ll enjoy a three-course menu blending French techniques and Vietnamese flavours and relax with a head and shoulder massage as the train’s rhythmic sway brings calm.

Conscious travel: The Vietage is operated by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, which supports care and vocational training for disabled Vietnamese children through its Dollars for Deeds programme.

When you’re ready to embark on an exciting adventure, the travel and dining experts at Westpac Concierge can with every aspect of your travel, including booking flights and arranging hotel nights with upgrades. Remember yo check if you’re eligible for the service already.


Aude Camus

Parisian-born Aude visited her first restaurant aged just a few days old – now she's always ready for her next meal. When not interviewing award-winning chefs or looking for a new restaurant to visit, you’ll find her planning her next getaway from Hong Kong where she’s lived since 2015. Her travel writing has appeared in online publications such as Destination Deluxe and The Hotel Journal, and she runs a lifestyle platform for French expats living in Hong Kong.

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