The Eastern and Oriental Express Offers A Unique Way To Tour Malaysia

Step into the nostalgic essence of a bygone era aboard the Eastern and Oriental Express, a Belmond Train. First launched in 1993, this iconic train made history as the first to provide seamless transportation between Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. The carriages, originally built for New Zealand Railways in 1971, were later acquired by American entrepreneur James B Sherwood, who had the train remodelled in Singapore. Through this transformation, its interiors were redefined to reflect the allure of ancient Indochina.

In 2024, the Eastern and Oriental Express underwent another transformation, resuming its journeys with 15 restyled carriages, consisting of eight sleeping cars, two restaurant cars, a chic piano bar car, and an open-air observation car. The vibrant effervescence of Southeast Asia is captured through exquisite details. The luxurious spaces spark a sense of old-world charm, embellished with cherrywood panelling and ornate marquetry, while rich silks add an extra layer of opulence to complete the ambience.

The reconstruction extends beyond its lavish interiors. Along with its new look, the Eastern and Oriental Express also introduces two exciting seasonal adventures—Wild Malaysia and Essence of Malaysia—that depart from Singapore and journeys through Peninsula Malaysia, each spanning three nights.

The Wild Malaysia expedition officially begins as the train rolls out from Woodlands, Singapore. Guests are welcomed aboard with a charming afternoon tea experience, setting the tone for an enchanting journey ahead. Throughout the following days, guests can look forward to a curated menu inspired by local flavours, expertly crafted by the train’s newly appointed chef André Chiang. Formerly the head chef of the three-Michelin-starred Le Jardin des Sens in France, Chiang is a force to be reckoned with. His reputation soared to new heights with his own Restaurant André in Singapore, earning two Michelin stars and a place on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

“When we first started curating the culinary journey [for this trip], I wondered, if we were all blindfolded and you were fed the food, will you be able to tell where you are? How do you know where you really are?” Chiang said. Thus, he sought the use of spices to guide guests on a sensory exploration. “You can identify curry from North India, China or Southeast Asia, just from its spices,” he explained, encouraging guests to savour their first bites with eyes closed to discern the origins of each dish, featuring highlights such as the Laksa Bouillabaisse and Black-bone Chicken Consommé.

The activities kick off the next morning, as the train makes a stop in Merapoh station, Pahang, to visit the Taman Negara National Park, among the oldest tropical rainforests in the world. Guests are presented with a choice of three excursions. Adventurous souls may enjoy the Merapoh Caves Experience, discovering ancient caves believed to be more than 130 million years old. Meanwhile, Capturing Wild Malaysia is a more laid-back activity, where guests explore the jungle’s depths amidst the echoing calls of hornbills overhead. They will then be taken up the canopy layer, where traditional snacks and herbal teas brewed using jungle plants await. Finally, The Spirit of the Tiger is an enlightening excursion that aims to raise awareness of the critically endangered Malayan tiger, with fewer than 100 remaining in the wild. During this excursion, guests have the opportunity to explore the natural habitat of the tigers and gain deeper insight into efforts made to preserve their existence.

Soon after, everyone reboards the Eastern and Oriental Express for a leisurely ride through Kuala Lumpur. In the evening, the piano bar car comes alive with the serenading melodies of live music as guests indulge in cocktails and enjoy a captivating magic performance.

The following day, the train disembarks at Butterworth station, where guests are transported to the UNESCO Historic City of Georgetown via a ferry ride. One can explore its vibrant architecture and art scene on local Vespa motorbikes or buckle up for a jeep ride up Penang Hill, where the magnificent Eythrope Bungalow, an Art Deco-inspired residence, has stood for over a century. Here, partake in a cooking lesson against the stunning backdrop of mountaintop views. Alternatively, those who prefer to explore the city on their own are equipped with a map, a trishaw and a driver to discover local refreshments and fascinating stores at their own pace.

Lunch is served back on the train before the Eastern and Oriental Express makes its final stop in Ipoh, where guests have the option to disembark for a brief walk. Once known as the tin capital of Malaysia, Ipoh has transformed into a lively city filled with vibrant street art, and is also renowned for its colonial architecture and distinctive white coffee.

The final night concludes with a splendid dinner to bid farewell. As dawn breaks the next morning, head over to the observation car to witness the sunrise for the perfect ending to this unforgettable journey. Steeped in rich history and grandeur, the Eastern and Oriental Express continues to standout as Southeast Asia’s most iconic luxury train.


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