After a long hiatus, The Eastern & Oriental Express, A Belmond Train, Southeast Asia is proud to announce its much-anticipated return to the rails in February 2024. Offering a reimagined adventure of Southeast Asia in motion, 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 (November to February) and Wild Malaysia (March to October). The iconic train’s 15 dark green carriages will leave Singapore’s Woodlands station, taking in destinations such as 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 continues to take railway travel in the region to new heights, while setting a new standard of excellence in Southeast Asia.
Essence of Malaysia: A Gateway into Malay culture
The Essence of Malaysia is a three-night journey through the country’s western wonders, from Singapore through Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and finally to the colourful island of Penang. After a relaxing first day of on-board indulgence, guests will disembark the train in Alor Setar and join a private cruise to Langkawi. For the first time, the Eastern & Oriental Express will offer guests the chance to go on a snorkelling excursion and rub shoulders with the sprawling underwater life that populates the Pulau Payar Marine Park, Langkawi’s prime snorkelling spot.
The third day is dedicated to discovering Penang, a multicultural island whose capital, George Town, boasts century-old UNESCO World Heritage sites, lively street art, and a thrilling food scene. Delving deep into the essence of Penang, guests can visit cultural highlights such as local art galleries and ancient temples in George Town’s Old Quarter; shop in the local markets and partake in an authentic 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 at their own pace, hopping on traditional tri-shaws and touring the surroundings in the company of local insiders, before rejoining the train and travelling south towards Singapore.
Wild Malaysia: Exploring sights unseen
A brand new destination for the Eastern & Oriental Express, the Wild Malaysia itinerary covers the untouched areas surrounding the ‘Jungle Railway’, towards the Eastern side of the peninsula, and gives guests the unique opportunity to visit the Taman Negara National Park. Devised in collaboration with global tiger conservation organisation, Save Wild Tigers, the journey combines blissful moments of relaxation on the train with a dash of adventure. One of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world and a true explorer’s paradise, the Taman Negara National Park is home to hundreds of species such as tigers, leopards, and Sumatran rhinos. Here, 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.
After an inspiring immersion in the rainforest, on day three guests will travel to the west side to visit Penang. With a choice of three different activities to explore Penang’s artistic, culinary and historic heritage, guests will immerse into local culture before getting back on the train for their last night on board.
Life on Board: A celebration of local culture
As they step on board the Eastern & Oriental Express, guests are invited to live and breathe the captivating culture of Southeast Asia at every moment. Days are punctuated by exciting encounters with local characters and passionate artisans, who will 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.
An elevated menu of contemporary dishes rooted in the Peranakan culture awaits guests of the Eastern & Oriental Express. A blend of Chinese, Malay, and other Southeast Asian culinary influences that originated in the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, Peranakan cuisine is known for its bold flavours, intricate preparation methods, and the sapient use of local ingredients. The train’s Executive Chef will celebrate this long established gastronomic tradition while adding a modern twist to ancient recipes turning every meal into a journey through Southeast Asia’s culinary suggestions.
Restyling of an icon
The Eastern & Oriental will return to the rails with 15 restyled carriages including eight sleeping cars, two restaurant cars, a Piano Bar Car and the iconic open-air Observation Car. From ornate marquetry, to Malaysian embroidery and oriental silks, the train will sparkle with a sense of contemporary grandeur, bringing in a layered and vibrant experience of Southeast Asia through carefully curated design details and colour schemes.
Warm sanctuaries of cherry wood panelling, the three different cabin categories – Pullman, State and Presidential – are all complete with air-conditioning and private bathrooms. The Pullman cabins are inspired by the radiance of 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 the eye-catching green carpet with a Tiger Orchid blooming across the entire length of the Piano Bar Car, carpets infilled with traditional Malay batik in the Malay restaurant, and the Observation Car’s laid back interiors paired with natural wicker details, colourful cushions and hand-painted pots that add a playful layer to the train experience.