Travel has always been something that can be done for whatever price range each traveler chooses. Holidays and adventures don’t need to be lavish, expensive undertakings thanks to a variety of options available to help keep the costs down.
Trains have always been a friend to the budget-conscious globetrotter and while there certainly are some extravagantly-priced journeys out there, it is still possible to find cheap and cheerful jaunts to take on the rails of the world. Here are ten of the coolest train trips that won’t have you reaching for the credit card.
10 Belgrade, Serbia to Bar, Montenegro
When it comes to train journeys, is there any surer sign that you are getting value for money than the unique panoramic views provided by a well positioned and locomotive-accommodating bridge? Those proficient in the mathematical arts will tick off 435 bridges by the time the journey from Belgrade to Bar pulls into its final destination.
The 296-mile trip requires no more than $24 by way of payment and links the Serbian capital with the beautiful coastal Montenegro town and even crosses Europe’s highest railway bridge in the process.
9 Hanoi to Saigon, Vietnam
Harboring the potential to be daunting when seen on the departures board, the 1,056-mile journey between Vietnamese cities Hanoi and Saigon is nothing short of wondrous. Taking just under 40 hours if done from point to point without stopovers, the best way to experience the Reunification Express is to explore the different locations it rolls into.
Hugging the coast as it connects with Hue, Danang and Nha Trang, passengers get a sense of the vastness and individuality of one of the world’s most beautiful countries aboard this mix of old and new world Vietnam. With prices starting at just $55, it also leaves plenty of room in the budget for further exploration.
8 Illinois to Emeryville, United States
A cursory investigation into the cost of traveling throughout North America can often leave travelers wishing they had accepted more of those overtime shifts offered recently. Traditionally an affordable method of distance-covering, even trains have many explorers checking their bank accounts with dread after purchasing a ticket.
Shining like a soothing beacon on the train timetable is the three-day, 2,438 mile experience linking Chicago and California, available for just $134. It is one of the most stunning track-travelling trips imaginable and will renew a sense of optimism in affordable train journeys.
7 New Delhi to Goa, India
Few would disagree that being transported 1,300 miles in just under 40 hours for the sum of $12 is quite reasonable. A true bargain in fact. Amazingly, this is exactly how much the kind ticket seller in New Delhi will ask for upon request of a ticket to Goa.
Traversing the remarkable coastal region of Vasco da Gama, passing through Rajasthan, pushing through thick jungle, tip-toeing past waterfalls and strolling along the beach, this journey is the best use of $12 travelers will ever make.
6 Chiang Mai, Thailand to Singapore
How much would you pay to roll gently and majestically through three countries? How about to gaze lovingly at the entire Thai Peninsula? Brush alongside lush and lively mountain ranges?
All of this and more is what awaits as travelers climb aboard the train from Chiang Mai to Singapore and the price they have paid is just $60. This will also include a space to sleep during the 1,375-mile jaunt and even a few delicious local snacks just to add to the incredible bargain.
5 Istanbul, Turkey to Tehran, Iran
Entering a train carriage in Istanbul and exiting in Tehran is like transporting to another world, a miracle that will set travelers back as little as $56. Two days will pass along the way and in that time gorgeous countryside will roll past the windows, wildlife will be watched and a border lake will even be traversed.
Once in Tehran, explore the beating heart of a misunderstood nation and don’t miss a chance to discover the watchful Alborz Mountains that peacefully guard the city. $56 gets you so much more than a train ticket here, it opens your eyes and warms your spirit.
4 Marrakech to Casablanca, Morocco
Easily the most convenient way to travel around Morocco, trains are reliably comfortable, well-run and relatively cheap for the service provided. A simple two and a half hour journey between the storied cities of Marrakech and Casablanca will set the enterprising traveler back just $15 and will grace the user with value for every single cent.
First and second class options are available, and while the first class is of course a preferable option, the second class is by no means dire. In fact, a window seat in second class while crossing magical Morocco is one of the happiest places a traveler can find themselves in.
3 China to Tibet
Connecting Beijing and Lhasa, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway reaches 1,200- miles across glorious landscapes and is often referred to as ‘the Rocket to the Roof of the World.’ The name comes from the fact that the journey, also known as the ‘Tibet Train’ is the world’s highest railway, reaching a peak elevation of 5,068 meters.
Passengers cover this remarkable route through impossibly long tunnels and staggeringly vast mountain ranges over 40 hours and are asked to pay just $100 for the privilege. This is one of the most incredible travel legs any traveler will ever have.
2 The Far North Line, Scotland
Bearing the moniker of Britain’s most rural railway, the Far North Line opens up Scotland like a book and gently inserts its passengers into the story. Discover wild and remote countryside, castles that once stood proud over their villages and touch the most northerly inhabited point on the mainland all in the four and a half hour round-trip journey.
All of this is possible for just $30 one way or approximately $50 return, making it one of the best value for money options when it comes to moving through the ever-changing landscapes of the United Kingdom. This is not one to be missed for travelers of all ages and desires.
1 Ella to Kandy, Sri Lanka
Filling seven hours in a travelers life with some of the most incredible scenery on the planet, the Sri Lankan journey from Ella to Kandy simply has to represent the best possible value to be found anywhere on tracks. A third class ticket is the cheapest option, coming in at just $1, and does not give the sort of experience its name would usually denote.
Some of the best train experiences are had in the lower classes and this route is a prime example. Mix with the locals, sample the delicacies being sold through slowly moving windows and really get to grips with a unique and marvelous culture from your front row seat to this wondrous country.