While more travellers choose to fly due to speed and convenience, rail travel has evolved into a bespoke experience, which the new breed of tourists are keen to tick off in their bucket lists.
Rail travel offers perks such as flexibility and stable fares, non-existent baggage fees and convenience to city centres. In addition, travelling by rail feels nostalgic and spontaneous and, in many cases, it’s a lower-carbon alternative to flying.
Travel activities and services booking platform Klook revealed that rail services bookings increased by more than 150% from 2018 to 2019.
Here are the five regions that are best explored through the tracks.
Japan Rail Pass
Route Inspiration: Kyushu → Osaka → Kyoto → Fukushima → Hokkaido
Home to poetic landscapes and remarkable architecture, Japan’s expansive archipelago is the treasure trove of discoveries. The easiest way to explore? By train, of course.
Snap up a convenient Japan Rail Pass – this discounted ticket provides unlimited access to transportation operated by the Japan Railways Group. With a choice of 7-, 14- or 21-day journeys, the Whole Japan Rail Pass covers railways and local buses across the majority of the country so you hop from Kyushu to Osaka, Kyoto, Fukushima, and all the way north to Hokkaido.
Hong Kong’s High-Speed Rail
Route Inspiration: Hong Kong → Shenzhen → Guangzhou → Hangzhou → Shanghai → Beijing
Newly opened last year, the cross-boundary High-Speed Rail provides hyper-efficient transport between Hong Kong and 44 Mainland cities. Day-trippers can take a 50-minute short-haul to Guangdong province to dine on Cantonese cuisine and soak up the heritage of charming Guangzhou.
Heading further afield? A long-haul rail journey will have you in the heart of Shanghai in just eight hours, and Beijing in 10! Better yet, build your own adventure with stops in cities like Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and Shanghai on the way.
Rail Europe Pass
Route Inspiration: Paris → Amsterdam → Berlin → Venice
To make the most of Europe’s convenient train network, book a Rail Europe pass before arrival. That way, you can hit the ground running without wasting any time or money. You can book a pass country by country, or traverse the entire continent. No matter how you slice it, these flexible passes enable travellers to visit all of the top destinations in one unforgettable city-hopping adventure. Start in beautiful Paris before making your way to Amsterdam, Berlin, Venice and more.
Korea Rail Pass
Route Inspiration: Seoul → Gyeonggi-do → Busan
K-Pop, K-Drama, K-Beauty… Seoul has become synonymous with culture and creativity. Of course, there’s much more to South Korea than the amazing capital. To explore the countryside without breaking the bank, check out the Korea Rail pass. Ranging from two to five days, this discounted pass provides unlimited rides on Korail trains.
With over 600 stations around the country, you can stop off in lesser-visited cities such as Yongin, Jeonju, and Daegu before heading southeast to the far-flung city of Busan. Moreover, the KR Pass provides discounts on accommodation and tourist attractions to make exploring that much easier.
Taiwan’s Joint Train Pass
Route Inspiration: Taipei → Taichung → Kaohsiung →Taitung
In Taiwan, the 5-day joint train pass promises unlimited rail journeys across Taiwan on the country’s major train systems: Taiwan Railways Administration and Taiwan High-Speed Rail.
The combo includes five days on Taiwan Rail as well as two days on the high-speed system, available anytime within the five-day period. Not only is the pass affordable and flexible, but it also encourages spontaneity. Hop on and off as much as you please to visit remote towns, dine at outdoor food markets or soak up the natural scenery.
Enjoy a whirlwind tour of Taiwan’s diverse landscapes, cities and food culture with stops in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung. After a short stay in Kaohsiung, travellers can take Taiwan Rail and end their trip in Taitung.