The Eastern & Oriental Express is back on the rails in Southeast Asia after a long hiatus.
Beginning February 2024, the train will launch two new seasonal journeys departing from Singapore and travelling through Malaysia’s ever-changing landscapes and vibrant cities. “The Essence Of Malaysia” from November to February and “Wild Malaysia” from March to October.
The iconic train’s 15 dark green carriages will leave Singapore’s Woodlands station, taking in Penang, Langkawi and, for the first time, the Taman Negara National Park, before heading back to the garden city.
With restyled interiors, elevated on-board experiences and enthralling journeys encompassing culture, gastronomy architecture and the arts, the Eastern & Oriental Express will take regional railway travel to new heights.
“The Essence Of Malaysia” is a three-night journey, from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and Penang. After a first day of on-board indulgence, guests will disembark at Alor Setar and join a private cruise to Langkawi. For the first time, guests will go on a snorkelling excursion and view the underwater life that populates the Pulau Payar Marine Park, Langkawi’s prime snorkelling spot.
Discover Penang on the third day, a multicultural island whose capital, George Town, boasts century-old Unesco World Heritage sites, lively street art and a thrilling food scene. Visit art galleries and ancient temples in the Old Quarter, shop and partake in a Peranakan cooking class in a private hillside residence followed by a traditional tea ceremony, or soak up the views of George Town’s picturesque streets, before heading back to Singapore.
The “Wild Malaysia” itinerary covers untouched areas surrounding the “Jungle Railway”, towards the eastern side of the peninsula, allowing guests to visit the Taman Negara National Park. Devised in collaboration with Save Wild Tigers, the journey combines relaxation with adventure. One of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world, the Taman Negara National Park is home to tigers, leopards and Sumatran rhinos. Guests can embark on a variety of excursions, from learning about the safeguarding of the Malayan Tiger, to a one-of-a-kind photography masterclass and a foraging experience in the jungle. Guests travel to Penang and have a choice of activities before getting back on the train.
Aboard the train, days are punctuated by encounters with local characters and passionate artisans, who unveil the secrets of the region as they teach ancient crafts and tell century-old tales, while the sound of Nanyang jazz and vintage Malay tunes will accompany guests throughout the evenings.
Contemporary dishes rooted in Peranakan culture awaits diners on the train, with a blend of Chinese, Malay and other Southeast Asian culinary influences that originated in the Straits settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore.
The Eastern & Oriental’s 15 restyled carriages, include eight sleeping cars, two restaurant cars, a piano bar car and the iconic open-air observation car, on which I have sipped many a sundowner. Warm sanctuaries of cherry wood panelling, the three different cabin categories — Pullman, State and Presidential are inspired by different cities. The Pullman cabins are inspired by Kuala Lumpur, boasting red sofas juxtaposed with blue cushions, drapery and pelmets that reflect the city’s dramatic skies, while the State cabins reflect Penang’s marine locale with a bright blue and green colour palette. The Presidential cabins celebrate regional opulence, with hues of gold and embroidered décor elements.
Further design highlights include a green carpet with a Tiger Orchid blooming, carpets infilled with traditional Malay batik and laid back interiors paired with natural wicker details, colourful cushions and hand-painted pots that add a playful layer to observation car.