05 July 2016

My dream round-the-world rail tour

The ultimate rail journey is a new 53-day trip on some of the world’s most iconic trains, including the Tsar's Gold Private Train from Mongolia, the Venice Simplon Orient-Express and the British Orient Express Pullman. Travelling from London across the USA, China, Russia and back through Europe before returning to London, the Great Rail Journeys new Around The World In 53 Days Tour is an exp­lorer’s dream .

This epic trip of 37,000 ks was launched in 2015. It is a once in a lifetime trip for an eye-watering £21,995 per passenger in a shared room. At least the ticket offered by Great Rail Journeys crosses three continents in the style one would associate with a golden age of rail travel.

Fly from London to New York, for three nights at the Waldorf Astoria.

DAYS 2-3
A tour of the Big Apple includes Fifth Avenue and Central Park, before a cruise around Manhattan harbour. Have lunch on board, looking at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Day at leisure in New York

DAYS 4-5
Take the train to the nation's capital Washington D.C. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of its landmarks including the White House, Pentagon and Capitol Hill. Then transfer to the hotel for two nights. Day 5 is at leisure to explore.

Monument Valley USA
The vivid red colour comes from iron oxide in the siltstone

DAYS 6-7
Leave Washington on the Capitol Limited sleeper service to Chicago. In Chicago, tour the Windy City, including the Little Italy neighbourhood. This afternoon cruise on Lake Michigan, enjoying lunch on board and admire Chicago's skyline. Spend tonight at the Intercontinental Hotel, on Chicago's 'Magnificent Mile' where the evening is free.

DAY 8-9
Breakfast high above Chicago at 360 Chicago, formerly the Hancock Tower, and join the overnight California Zephyr to Denver. Arrive in Denver, the Mile High City, exactly a mile above sea level. Go on an orientation drive of the city, flanked by majestic mountain peaks, before arriving at the Brown Palace Hotel & Spa for two nights.

DAY 10
Go on an excursion on the Royal Gorge Railroad. Travelling in restored 1950s carriages, embark on a journey through the stunning Royal Gorge, enjoying lunch on board on the wild Arkansas River.

DAY 11
Follow the route of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, the most scenic rail journey in the USA, into the Rocky Mountains. Arrive in Grand Junction for an overnight stay, and enjoy dinner at the popular Rockslide Brewery.

DAY 12
This travels through canyons, forests and the Aminas Valley to Durango.

DAYS 13-14
Monument Valley is a truly legendary location. Later arrive in Flagstaff for two nights at the Little America Hotel. Maybe explore the hotel's private 500-acre pine forest, below the majestic San Francisco Peaks.

DAY 15
On today's excursion, join the heritage Grand Canyon Railroad in Williams to the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon. Formed millions of years ago, the Canyon is up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep in places. Arrive at the South Rim to absorb the dramatic vistas, before a flight over this natural wonder. Later join the Southwest Chief Sleeper service to Los Angeles.

DAYS 16-18
Arriving in Los Angeles, discover the dream factory of Hollywood on a guided tour. Transfer to our base for a night, RMS Queen Mary, a former U-boat dodging ocean liner. On Day 17 board the iconic Coast Starlight for a journey along the Pacific coast shoreline to San Francisco. Enjoy spectacular views of golden beaches. In San Francisco transfer to the elegant Fairmont Hotel on Fisherman's Wharf. On Day 18 go on a tour of San Francisco, admiring landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge. Day 19 is at leisure. Perhaps visit the infamous prison island of Alcatraz or explore Chinatown’s vibrant streets. Tonight mark our final evening in the USA with a farewell dinner cruise.

DAYS 20-21
Today fly from San Francisco to Shanghai arriving on Day 21.

DAYS 22-25
Spend the next three nights at the Grand Mercure Central Shanghai. On Day 22 embark on an introductory tour of Shanghai, beginning at the Shanghai Museum, a dynamic city where traditional markets and futuristic skyscrapers stand side by side. Discover more with a city tour of Day 23 where highlights include Yu Garden, the French Concession and the Xintiandi district. On Day 24 leave Shanghai and make the short journey by train to beautiful Hangzhou. Spend two nights here at the Courtyard by Marriott by Wulin Hotel. A guided tour on Day 25 includes the Lingyin Temple and a cruise across West Lake.

 Terracotta Warriors
in Xian

DAYS 26-28
Go on an internal flight to Guilin today and go to the Park Hotel for two nights ahead of a cruise down the spellbinding River Li on Day 27. On Day 28 join the high-speed rail service northwards through rural China to Zhengzhou.

DAY 29
Journey to Luoyang to visit the UNESCO listed Longmen Grottoes, a site where 100,000 images of Buddha have been hand carved into the cave's lime stone walls. Then to Xian for two nights at the Grand Mercure Hotel.

DAYS 30-31
Built as a replica of the first Emperor of China's army, the 6,000 life-sized statues were designed to protect him in death. Then enjoy a tour of Xian's ancient landmarks such as the city walls, Grand Mosque and Muslim Street. On Day 31 embark on the high-speed train to Beijing, for four nights at the Novotel Peace Hotel.

DAY 32
Discover Tiananmen Square, the polit­ical heart of the city. Surrounding the square are reminders of China's communist power, and Imperial rule. Then into Forbidden City, the Emperor's seat for 600 years, and a vast complex of wooden imperial palace buildings which has 9,999 rooms.

DAYS 33-35
Travel to Mutianyu to visit the majestic Great Wall of China. Stretching from the Gobi Desert to the Korean border, the Great Wall is a genuine relic of dynastic China's proud history. Ascend onto the Great Wall by chair lift, to closely admire this magnificent structure, as well as the stunning mountain terrain. On Day 34 explore Beijing with a full-day at leisure. On Day 35 transfer to the airport for the journey back to London or continue the epic adventure. Travel by sleeper train through the great steppes of the Gobi Desert arriving at the Mongolian border onDay 36.

DAYS 36-37
Join the elegant Tsar's Gold Private Train for the incredible journey west Moscow on Day 36.  Arrive on Day 37 at the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. Then enjoy a guided tour of the city, which goes past sights including the Lama Museum and the Choijn Lama Temple.

DAY 38
Visit the Tibetan-style Monastery. Then an excursion into the heart of Mongolia. Experience a traditional lunch in a tent settlement populated by nomadic herdsmen and enjoy a horse-riding show.

DAY 39-40
Arriving in Russia, reach Ulan Ude and enjoy a city tour. Visit a typical Siberian village before continuing to Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake. Day 40 Travel on a private line directly on the lakefront, for a boat ride on the waters and picnic dinner on the shore.

DAYS 41-43
Arrive in Irkutsk and explore it on a guided tour. Spend tonight at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Irkutsk, then re-join the train on Day 42 and travel across Siberia, arriving in Novosibirsk on Day 43. Upon arrival, go on a guided tour including Russia's largest Opera House and the iconic Trans-Siberian Monument.

DAY 44
During a city tour of the capital of the Ural Mountains, visit Cathedral on the Blood, a memorial built where the Imperial Romanov family were murdered in 1918.

St Basil's Cathedral,

DAY 45-47
Crossing the Asia-Europe divide, on Day 45 reach Kazan and learn about its past on a guided tour of its magnificent Kremlin. On Day 46 arrive in the captivating Russian capital, Moscow, then disembark the Tsar's Gold and spend two nights at the InterContinental Tverskaya Hotel. Explore the city. Cross the vast Red Square to see the artistic treasures of Moscow's metro system, then a magnificent tour of the Kremlin the city's iconic walled citadel, and St Basil's Cathedral, on Day 47.

DAY 48
Head to Moscow's International Airport for the flight to Venice.

DAYS 49-51
Enjoy a guided tour of the Floating City. On the morning of Day 50, join the world-famous The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Relax and watch the stunning scenery as the train eventually pulls into Paris on Day 51. Then continue by rail to Calais, enjoying brunch on board. Emerging from the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone, board the steam-hauled Belmond British Pullman. The dream journey around the globe ends in London Victoria station.

A voyage around the circumference of the globe. 
Press to expand.


Andrew said...

I think you quite enjoyed writing this post, imagining yourself 'on board'as you wrote. It is a dream holiday and if drinks and most meals are included, I think it is quite good value. Have you booked, Hels? Your kids are not poor. Spend the money.

Train Man said...

How much are two kidneys worth??????? Hell, just the Shanghai, Beijing, Lake Baikal section would make it worthwhile.

Dina said...

You're right about it being a dream!

Hels said...


It IS a very cool tour and I think the food and drink are very special. I had a good look at the just one of the luxury trains on offer and that is the Tsar's Gold Private Train. Peking duck, caviar and vodka tasting, a picnic on Lake Baikal and the Tsar's feast - all in a luxury restaurant car. The bar carriage looks good but less formal; the concerts en route seem excellent fun.

Hels said...

Train Man

that is so true. Many of us have been on luxury train trips WITHIN one country that are fun, but not long and not terribly expensive. I loved the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada for example, The Palace on Wheels in India and the Royal Scotsman. But never across entire continents.

Hels said...


what a dream!! Who has 53+ days to spend on one holiday? And who has £22,000 per passenger or £44,000 per couple? I am therefore assuming the target market is recently retired people who are time and asset rich but are still fit enough to go charging around exotic landscapes.

Parnassus said...

Hello Hels, Actually, this sounds somewhat overwhelming to me. My idea of a dream vacation would be to select just one or two segments of this trip, but to spend a much longer time at each.

Annie ODyne said...

No Vline journey?
I love Indian rail with 400 people on top of the carriages. So many Indians work in that yellow pod which runs Southern Cross [aka SoCross] Station in Melbourne that I wonder if we will end up like them. I do enjoy the Michael Portillo train journeys TV series though, and my friend is just off The Ghan and said it was fabulous, and oh yes the Venice to Simplon. Thanks Hels.

Hels said...


farrrrrrrrrr too many ks covered in one trip, of course. But if you have a plan to cover all 193 countries on the planet before you die, this would be a great start. And in splendid comfort.

My only experience with rushed (and spartan) travel was back in the early 70s when spouse and I lived in Israel and we were moving, by car, to Britain before the first baby was born. Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Britain, all in 3 months. I still have all the photos, diary entries, maps and official documents to remind me of that amazing tour.

Hels said...


*cough* we are talking luxury travel here :) No crappy, squishy local train service.

I too love the Michael Portillo trips, especially since they are grounded in the Edwardian era. We were born at the wrong time - imagine being born in 1890 and coming of age in 1910!

Invite your friend to read my review of the Ghan and perhaps to add their own comment: http://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com.au/2009/04/ghan-luxury-train-trip-from-adelaide-to.html

bazza said...

How fabulous that would be. Leah and I have done the Orient Express starting with the former Brighton Belle from London to Dover. My dream is to travel on the trans-Canada train to Vancouver (and then cruise to Alaska!)
I think the price for this journey is worth it -provided one has the cash!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Hels said...


starting with a short train tour (or ship cruise for that matter) is definitely smart - noone knows how they are going to feel on board until they have actually tried it. Funny you mentioned the Canadian trip! Our Rocky Mountaineer trip was one of our first, specifically because it was only from Vancouver via Kamloops and Banff to Calgary. Fabulous, by the way:

In luxury train trips and ship cruises, my principle is to book with the Company that allocates the most time to the destination cities/islands and the least time on board the train/ship.

CherryPie said...

Thank you for commenting on my blog :-)

I have enjoyed reading your recent posts and will be following your new ones :-)

Hels said...


I can see you love travelling...and will be having a look at your post on Belgian Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudule, for example, this semester. Have you been on any luxury train tours?