Famous Train Trips

Famous Train Trips
Nearly every corner of the world has a railway, but that doesn't mean that every country has a rail trip worth taking. Some of the most famous rail routes traverse national migration routes, the fields of ancient empires and historic battlefields. They also cross the deserts, mountains, jungles and waterways of some of the most beautiful landscape the world has to offer.

The Trans-Siberian Railroad

Take a ride through the fields and forests of Siberia, past Lake Baikal in southeast Russia --- the world's deepest lake --- across the plains of Ghengis Khan's former empire and the southern deserts of Mongolia, along the Great Wall of China and into the booming metropolis of Beijing. The Trans-Siberian Railway can be traveled straight through or in sections. For those riders who stay on the rails, the dining cars change with each country, so you'll get a taste of Russian, Mongolian and Chinese fare. For those who wish to hop on and off, you've got over 9,000 kilometers of track and one-third of the world to explore.

Yaroslavsky Railway Station
5 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad
Moscow, Russia
011 (+7) 495 9215914

The California Zephyr

While this train runs from Chicago to San Francisco, the real heart of the journey is a little stretch through the Rocky Mountains and the wild west. Between Denver and Salt Lake City, the California Zephyr runs along the old tracks of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, whose motto was "through the Rockies, not around them." This portion of the trip take 15.5 hours (a small chunk of the 50-plus hours of the whole route), and runs past the Continental Divide, snakes the Colorado River and crosses the scrub desert of the American frontier, even chugging past the gravesite of famous gunslinger, "Doc" Holliday. The train departed daily as of December 2009.

Union Station
225 S Canal St.
Chicago, IL 60606

The Reunification Express

The 1,070 miles of track connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City pass through the narrow strip of land that once kept the country divided. The trip takes 30 hours, but National Geographic recommends a few stop-overs. In Hoi An, you can visit one of the few Vietnamese cities that stands perfectly preserved. During the Vietnam war, Americans and the North Vietnamese both agreed that Hoi An was too charming to bomb. Hiking around the caves and temples of Marble Mountain, or the jungle ruins of My Son, both near Da Nang, or the imperial tombs of Hue are also recommended excursions from the long ride.

Saigon train station
(Ga Sai Gon)
1 Ð Nguyen Thong, District 3
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
011 (+84) 88 230 105

Article Written By David J. Harvey

David J. Harvey has worked as a journalist since 2006, while earning a degree in political science and writing at the University of California, San Diego. He has written and edited for the UCSD "Guardian" and the AUC "Caravan" in Cairo, and currently freelances with San Diego's "Uptown News."

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