The Eastern & Oriental luxury train restarted this week — here’s what a trip costs

After nearly four years, the Eastern & Oriental Express is back on the rails.    

The train, which is operated by the luxury travel company Belmond, this week welcomed its first set of passengers since it stopped running as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.   

The luxury train has been operating in Southeast Asia since 1993, when it first began shuttling travelers between Singapore and Bangkok.  

What’s new

Several key elements about the train have changed, however, including its route.

Now Thailand is out, replaced with two new journeys, which start and end in Singapore and explore different sides of Malaysia.

Arnaud Champenois, Belmond’s senior vice president of marketing and brand, told CNBC this is because travelers have changed in the past four years, with more preferring to explore destinations on a deeper level.

The Eastern & Oriental Express luxury train is back, but different

“The idea was to focus on one country here and to offer two different routes. So on the West Coast, we go through Singapore to Penang, and then Langkawi. And then on the other one, we go on the national park of Malaysia to really kind of get the jungle and the natural feel.”

The new routes are seasonal, with the “Essence of Malaysia” running from November to February, and “Wild Malaysia” from March to October.

The E&O’s new routes

“Essence of Malaysia” — passes through Kuala Lumpur, before reaching the islands of Langkawi and Penang

“Wild Malaysia” — explores Taman Negara National Park before heading to Penang

As a result of the new route, the train has received a Malay-inspired revamp, from the cabin interiors to the food. Dinner and afternoon tea service were created by Andre Chiang, the celebrated Taiwanese chef behind Singapore’s two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Andre, which closed in 2018.

The cost

Rates for four-day, three-night journeys start from $3,410 per person, which includes meals, beverages and scheduled activities.

This is less expensive than other trains that use versions of the “Orient Express” name, including the Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, which has run routes through Europe since 1982. Prices start from £3,530 ($4,430) per person for a one-night trip in a historic cabin, according to its website.  

Accor’s “Orient Express La Dolce Vita” trains, which are set to start operating in 2024, are priced at €2,500 euros ($2,686) per person per night for a deluxe cabin, according to a press release. Travelers can pre-register for trips that mostly operate in Italy, according to its website.

Rates for Accor’s La Dolce Vita trains have increased since pre-booking first opened in December 2022, with stated rates then priced at 2,000 euros ($2,153) per person per night.