Trains are an excellent way to travel the world, taking you through truly spectacular scenery that is often inaccessible by other modes of transportation and at a pace that allows you to take in the scenery. On the eve of National Train Day, here's a list of stunning train destination landscapes from around the world for everyone to enjoy. From straw mats on a bamboo track to a coal-powered steam train chugging through the Himalayas, save these incredible train journeys for your next trip.
Darjeeling 'Toy Train', India
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway rumbles through the misty mountains with a shrill whistle and plumes of steam and smoke billowing from its coal engine. This locomotive, affectionately known as the 'Toy Train,' has been transporting tea and passengers up the steep inclines of the Lower Himalayas since the late 1800s; an engineering feat at the time that still impresses today.
The blue carriages of the train skim buildings and traffic by inches along the old Hill Cart Road as it travels from Darjeeling to Ghum, India's highest train station. Before unfolding to reveal breathtaking views of terraced tea plantations and the snow-capped Himalayas. Stay at the Dekeling Resort, which has a view of the Darjeeling Hills and the Kanchenjunga Range.
Battambang Bamboo Train, Cambodia
The Battambang Bamboo Train is a warm-weather toboggan ride powered by a small motorcycle engine. The infamous 'bamboo train,' located in the northwestern part of Cambodia, is a piece of back-to-basics engineering for thrill-seeking travellers. You'll be hurtling through rice paddies and over rickety bridges at up to 40km per hour while perched on straw mats laid across a bamboo platform.
Hold on tight with the wind in your hair and try to take in the tropical Cambodian scenery as you speed by. Ramchang is a budget-friendly, orange-and-yellow-painted guesthouse in the heart of Battambang.
Puffing Billy, Australia
Puffing Billy in Australia is an unforgettable experience because you can dangle your legs out the window of an old steam train as it chugs through a verdant mountain range. The path takes you through the Dandenong Mountains and the Yarra Valley, past cascades, creeks, and lime-green ferns, with sunlight filtering through tall, thin gum and mountain ash trees.
The Monbulk Trestle Bridge, an old timber bridge that carries the train out of Belgrave and towards Menzies Creek, is probably the most photogenic part of the train journey. It's also only an hour's drive from Melbourne, so bring a picnic for a relaxing and whimsical afternoon in the bush. Make this highly-rated apartment in Melbourne's South Yarra your home base.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, USA
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway tracks follow the Animas River through wilderness inaccessible by road, and are a heritage railroad cutting through some of Colorado's most epic scenery. The railway was built in 1882, but steam locomotives are still used today, albeit for tourists who want to take in the breathtaking scenery. You'll see river canyons, pine-covered valleys, waterfalls, snowy peaks, and if you're lucky, elk, deer, and moose.
Choose from open-air viewing gondola carriages to take in the fresh mountain air, or sit in one of the Historical Narration cars to hear on-board narrators in period costume discuss the railroad's and the region's history. The journey takes three and a half hours each way, and you can board at either end, so plan accordingly.
The Presidential Train, Portugal
For more than a century, the Presidential Train, Portugal's crown jewel, has hosted kings, presidents, heads of state, and popes. The Presidential Train, built-in 1890, is a time capsule in which passengers travel through history with a special aroma and purposeful music.
The Presidential Train, which travels from Porto to Quinta do Vesuvio on the eastern shore of the Douro Valley, brings together the world's best chefs with the world's freshest food, paired with wines from the region. While waiting for meal service, passengers can unwind in private cabins and gaze out the windows at the golden valley.
(National Train Day is celebrated on the second Saturday in May annually.)