Get on board y’all, it’s time to go on an Asian adventure! Though there are many perks to venturing cross country by train, the main one for couples with the young explorers in tow is the chance to focus solely on enjoying the journey. On these rides you can eat, sleep, play and soak in some awesome scenery!
The Little Steps team has toured its way across Asia to compile some epic family-friendly train rides that will suit even the pickiest of riders!
Ready to roll? Let’s go! Choo, choo!
It’s well known that traveling by train in Vietnam is not only affordable but also an opportunity to taste the local vibe and experience the culture. Vietnam’s main train journey is the 35-hour long ride connecting North-South –and vice-versa- from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, covering over 1700 km of awe-inspiring landscapes! Most likely, you’ll hear people referring to this train ride as the “Reunification Express”! Bear in mind though –to avoid confusion when planning- this is just a term that became popular after the massive efforts of the government to fix the lines and connect the country after years of war. Trains are operated by Vietnam Railways. Although the trip can be booked through many different travel operators, the most popular is Baolau as they feature an easy to use interface that accepts international cards! One of the main perks of taking the little tykes on a Vietnamese train holiday is that kids under the age of 5 travel for free –peace of pocket! Also, kiddos between 5 and 9 years old get a juicy discount! When planning your trip, you can choose between 5 different types of seats! For couples with pint-sized globetrotters we recommend getting a Soft Berth or a VIP Cabin as otherwise, you may end up trying to get some sleep on a wooden bench –ouch! Tickets are not multi-stop, so if you want to spend a few days here and there, you’ll need to get separate tickets, so it’s super-duper important to plan!
Vietnam Railways Official Website, https://vietnam-railway.com/
Riding the Shinkansen offers families the chance to experience a one of a kind train journey that pretty much lets you do whatever you want of your itinerary! Shinkansen bullet trains reach 320 km/h with such ease that you can only tell by the blurry sights from the window! The Japan Rail Pass can be purchased to use over 7, 14 or 21 days. It gives pass-holders unlimited train rides while it lasts, but important to note is that the validity is only for consecutive days! So planning your itinerary is a must if you want to really take advantage of it! To purchase the pass you must go online and place your order before the date you’re planning to start using it! You can do that before heading to Japan or you can also receive the Exchange Order at your accommodation. But again, we highly recommend purchasing it well in advance for peace of mind! After your arrival, you can head to any Japan Rail office and get the actual pass.
Japan Rail Pass Official Website, https://www.jrailpass.com/
Getting out and about in Korea with a Korail Pass is a convenient way to tour the country if you and the little ones feel like covering a lot of ground! Most people make the most of the pass by day-tripping to different regions or villages from Seoul, and then moving to Busan for a few more days or sightseeing and munching on Korea’s great food! The pass is sold only to foreigners and comes in two versions. The first one allows you to travel on consecutive days whereas the second lets you select 2 or 4 days within 10 days. In some ways, this pass is similar to the Japan Rail Pass or the Eurail pass in Europe! Our favorite traits of journeying Korea by train –apart from breathtaking scenery- are the Tourist Trains! These beautifully designed, packed with amenities wagons will add a twist of fun to your travel –plus, kids love it! Get a better understanding of how this pass works!
This 30-hour train ride connecting China and Mongolia via the Trans-Siberian Railway takes passengers from Beijing to Ulan Bator spawning a distance of 1553 km! As both China and Mongolia require visas to enter the countries and this is an international train ride, your Trans-Mongolian adventure needs careful planning. You can purchase your tickets in advance if you are not yet there through a booking agent. If you have the blessing of time to spare you can get your tickets at the station counter! Kids under 4 years old that don’t require a separate bed can travel for free, whereas kids between 4 and 10 get a 30 % discount. Families keen to take their trip to a whole new level can also book up several legs of the whole journey! Who knows? You may end up cheering in Moscow! Vashe zdorovie!
Tran-Siberian Express, www.transsiberianexpress.net
Linking Hong Kong with mainland China, this brand new high-speed train ride takes just 9 hours to cover 2440 km –kinda Fast and Furious on rails! The train departs West Kowloon and passes through 7 provinces. You can purchase your tickets online through the official website, get a private operator or directly at the train station. Another perk of connecting Hong Kong with mainland China this way is that you get to clear customs for entering China before boarding your train!
Hong Kong High-Speed Rail, www.highspeed.mtr.com.hk/en/ticket/cross-purchase-way-hk.html