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Whether you’re trying to cut down on your carbon footprint or you’re simply looking for new layers of adventure, slow travel might just be the perfect trend to jump onto when planning your next holiday. The options for train travel across Asia are second-to-none; from sleeper trains transporting passengers across the length of Vietnam, to Japan’s famous bullet trains. For inspiration for the next excursion, see below for Marriott Bonvoy’s recommendations on the best locomotive adventure:
Tokyo to Fukuoka
Duration: 5 hours
Japan’s high-speed trains have become a symbol of the country’s iconic efficiency, superior design and engineering prowess. These uber-punctual, deluxe railway icons provide guests with a comfortable, safe and modern means to jet across the country. While Tokyo is the top of every traveller’s list, Fukuoka is fast making a name for itself worldwide with its burgeoning start-up scene and outstanding culinary culture. Thanks to this speedy railway journey, getting from Tokyo to the capital of Japan’s Kyushu Island couldn’t be simpler.
Where to stay:
The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo and The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka
When travelling in modernised style, only the most fabulous of hotels will do. For an urban oasis atop a dramatic skyscraper, travellers are invited to stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo. Complete with uninterrupted views of Tokyo vistas from the top of the 53-story Midtown Tower in the city’s Roppongi District, guests can feel truly immersed in Japan’s predominant cultural hub. Recognised across Asia for its luxurious spaces and amenities, the guest rooms and suites offer a beautiful design blend of East and West. This sky-high hotel’s Michellin-star dining, superior service and calm interiors contrast beautifully with the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s streets outside.
Reaching similar heights, the newly-opened Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka occupies the nine topmost floors in a 25-story glass tower designed by Kume Sekkei. Expansive views overlooking the Genkai Sea and surrounding hills form a dazzling backdrop for guests to marvel at throughout their stay. The hotel’s four restaurants and two bars reflect the vibrant food culture of Fukuoka, from sustainably produced local ingredients transformed into creative farm-to-sky Western cuisine at Viridis, to Japan’s finest culinary traditions showcased at the stylish Genjyu. For guests to thoroughly relax, the spa, located on the 24th floor, features an indoor swimming pool overlooking the bay, a gymnasium with exceptional city views, and rooms for indulgent spa treatments using local ingredients.
Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Duration: 10 hours
As Thailand’s first long-distance train route, this quintessential Thai rail journey is a must-do for slow travellers. Departing Bangkok in the afternoon and travelling through the night, travellers are treated to the waking view of the Thai countryside. Tired eyes will be awakened by highlights including the rugged forest of Doi Khun Tan National Park, just south of Chiang Mai. For a little extra than the normal price, a ticket aboard one of Thailand’s shiny new SRT trains guarantees a luxurious and ultra-modern journey.
Where to stay:
W Bangkok and Le Méridien Chiang Mai
Situated within walking distance from BTS Station for easy access to trains and the rest of the city, the modern and iconic W Bangkok is perfectly located for a Bangkok adventure. Guests can cruise down the Chao Phraya River and take in the sights and sounds of this incomparable city within seconds of leaving their hotel door. W Bangkok offers 24/7 hotel facilities including an outdoor swimming pool, a cocktail deck, and a fitness centre, all of which are located on the hotel’s 6th floor; guests can make the most of these uber-cool spaces while soaking in Bangkok’s impressive skyline. Since opening in 2015, the hotel’s restaurant The House on Sathorn has taken place among the city’s most distinctive food and drink venues, famous for its exquisite seafood dishes featuring lobster, crab, prawns and fish. The Experience or Discovery menus allow guests to sample the very best of the restaurant’s kitchen.
After a night on the sleeper train, Le Méridien Chiang Mai provides an ideal resting spot upon arrival in Chiang Mai. Located in the heart of Thailand’s northern capital, just steps away from vibrant markets and a wealth of dining and nightlife destinations, the Le Méridien Chiang Mai is the perfect base to explore the bustling city. After a day on foot, guests are invited to relax in the rolling rooftop infinity pool, overlooking the stunning vistas of the city and faraway mountains. Having worked up an appetite, the award-winning Favola restaurant serves contemporary Thai cuisine for the perfect end to the day.
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)
Duration: 30 hours
By far one of the most beautiful countries to view from the window of a train, Vietnam offers stunning landscapes calling to be marvelled at by onlooking slow travellers. The Reunification Express, connecting the capital of Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, offers a comfortable, efficient and impressively scenic rail adventure. A 30-hour train ride awaits adventurers, and multiple options are available for stop-offs if 30 hours sounds a little too daunting. Among them are the Van Long Nature Reserve, a bird-watching paradise, Hoi An and Huē, a stunning city and itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Where to stay:
JW Marriott Hanoi and Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers
Rising high above Hanoi’s skyline, the JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi stands as an inspiring destination in the centre of all the action of Vietnam’s capital. This modern hotel showcases world-class services and curated amenities including a spa, vast indoor pool, sauna, gym and fitness trail, as well as a brand-new signature JW Herb Garden and Greenhouse. There is even a tranquil lakeside garden to find peace in nature, where guests can enjoy a healthy à la carte menu, or opt for a calming lakeside afternoon tea and picnic experience, or a BBQ experience for the ultimate outdoor party.
Nestled on the famous Dong Khoi Street in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, The Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers is surrounded by some of the city’s most famous attractions and restaurants. The hotel’s striking rooftop pool, expansive fitness centre and dining options make it stand out above the rest. One such option, Saigon Café boasts high ceilings, modern interiors and stunning green, leafy views which create an overall sense of calm and comfort for guests to savour with every bite.
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