Wednesday, February 28, 2024
HomenewsSingapore To Portugal - The Longest Train Journey In The World, Across...

Singapore To Portugal – The Longest Train Journey In The World, Across 9 Countries & 18,700km

Journey from Singapore to Portugal by Train


Most of us probably spend a good amount of time riding the MRT to get around. If you take the East-West Line end to end from Tuas Link to Pasir Ris, that’s a 1 hour 15 minute ride – the longest non-stop line you can take in Singapore.

But that’s nothing compared to the longest train ride you can possibly take, as plotted out by Reddit user – u/htGoSEVe. It’s a journey that spans 2 continents and crosses 9 countries. u/htGoSEVe started his out from Portugal to Singapore, but we’ve reversed it, just in case you plan on making this journey yourself.

Here’s how you can journey from Singapore to Portugal by train:


Singapore


longest train ride - smrt mapTake the highlighted route to Woodlands North for the full “longest train journey” experience.Image adapted from: RailRouter

 The whole journey starts at Changi Airport MRT station, and yes, we see the irony in this too. Now, with our efficient public transport system, you could reach Woodlands North MRT station in about 1 hour if you use a combo of bus and train.

longest train ride - mrtImage credit: Ministry of Transport

But since we’re sticking to just trains, you’ll be able to stretch your travelling time by taking the East West Line all the way to Outram, then switching to the Thomson-East Coast Line to reach Woodlands North MRT station in 1 hour and 13 minutes.

Changi Airport to Woodlands NorthAverage travelling time: 1 hour 13 minutesPrice: From S$2.19/pax

How to book tickets: Use your EZ-Link card or tap your bank card at the gantries. 


Malaysia


longest train ride - woodlands signThe walk to Woodlands Train Checkpoint.

You’ll need to walk about 2.6km from Woodlands North MRT station to Woodlands Train Checkpoint for the next leg of the journey if you want to ride on trains only. But to get there faster, you could always take bus 856 from the MRT and alight at “Marsiling CC” bus stop. The walk to the train station will be much shorter from here – about 600m only.

longest train ride - shuttle tebrau

From here, you’ll cross borders into Malaysia via the KTM Shuttle Tebrau. Side note, it’s one of the better ways to get to JB, since you won’t be caught in jams at immigration. The 5-minute ride will lead you straight to JB Sentral, from which you can take trains further inland.

Woodlands Train Checkpoint  to JB Sentral Average travelling time: 5 minutesPrice: From RM17.60/pax (~S$1.44)

How to book tickets: You can secure tickets from the KTM Shuttle Tebrau website. They sell out pretty quickly so book yours early.

Since you’re in JB, why not spend a couple of hours touring Singapore’s favourite overseas spot? 

longest train ride - bookxcessBookXcess at Sunway BigBox.

KSL City Mall remains a popular place for a quick round of retail therapy with plenty of options for a new hairdo. Or, head to Sunway Big Box for an IG-worthy bookstore and indoor trampoline park. You can even grab snacks at the multiple supermarkets in JB before the next leg of your journey.

When you’re ready to carry on, head back to JB Sentral to make your way North. You’ll need tickets to Padang Besar with a transfer at Gemas – these you’ll be able to book on the KTMB app

JB Sentral to GemasAverage travelling time: 4 hours 40 minutesPrice: From RM21/pax (~S$1.44)

longest train ride - ktm diningThe dining car onboard the intercity train.Image adapted from: The Biannual Travellers via YouTube

If you weren’t able to grab a meal from one of the many JB cafes around, you’ll be glad to know there’s a dining car with a fully-operational mamak stall onboard on these intercity trains. For those who prize comfort a little more, there’s also the Electric Train Service (ETS) which has meals, additional legroom, and charging ports.

The KTM Intercity trains are known to make many stops – oftentimes unscheduled ones – on the way up to Padang Besar. So it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to make it to Padang Besar in time for the last Thailand-bound train across the border. We recommend taking it slow by making an overnight stop in Kuala Lumpur before continuing on the journey.

Gemas to KL Sentral Average travelling time: 2 hours 35 minutesPrice: From RM32/pax (~S$9.15)

longest train ride - ets business classIn-train meals, additional legroom, charging ports are just some of the perks of a business class ETS ticket.Image credits: KTMB

The capital is worth a day trip anyway to check off the many things to do in KL, where there are nature resorts and family-friendly hotels available. Otherwise, if you have a Business Class ETS ticket to Padang Besar, the KL Sentral Station has a lounge you can chill in before your departure.     

KL Sentral to Padang BesarAverage travelling time: 5 hours 33 minutesPrice: From RM76/pax (~S$21.86)

 How to book tickets from JB Sentral to Padang Besar: Tickets for Intercity & ETS trains can be secured from the KTMB ETS/Intercity website.


Thailand


After alighting at Padang Besar, pass through immigration before getting your tickets for a train to Hat Yai on the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). Have your passport ready, because you’ll need to show it before you can purchase a ticket at the SRT counter. 

There are only 2 trains that depart from here to Thailand, one at 9.55am, and another at 4.40pm each day. It’s also important to note that Thai time is an hour ahead from Malaysia’s so don’t mix them up! longest train ride - hat yai junctionHat Yai Train Junction.Image credit: Antti S.A. Penttilä via Google Images

Padang Besar to Hat YaiAverage travelling time: 1 hourPrice: From RM7 or ฿50/pax (~S$1.90)

How to book tickets: Tickets for trains headed to Hat Yai can be bought in-person at Padang Besar station. They don’t accept credit cards so have either currency ready.

longest train ride - samila beachSamila Beach at Hat Yai.

Now that you’re in Thailand, there are 2 trains you’ll need to take to cross the country. You’ll need to get off your first train at Hat Yai in order to board trains headed for Bangkok. But, again, if you’re in no rush, it’s worth exploring Hat Yai, a beach town with cafes and night markets as well.

From Hat Yai, getting into Bangkok will take a full day by train, so it’s best to secure a seat on websites like 12Go to avoid having to stand most of the way.

longest train ride - thai sleeper carThere are privacy curtains for each sleeper, so you won’t have to worry about strangers staring at you while you sleep.Image credit: 12Go

There are 4 Bangkok-bound trains available each day with the earliest departing at 3.11pm and the last leaving at 6.05pm local time. All 4 have sleeper cars, which you’ll need to book in advance. But trust us, they’ll be necessary for the 18-hour plus journey.

Hat Yai to Bang Sue Grand StationAverage travelling time: 18 hours 30 minutesPrice: From ฿605/pax (~S$23.05)

How to book tickets: Use the 12Go website to easily book the cross-country train to Bangkok. Tickets are also available at the station at a lower price.

longest train ride - central stationThe new central station is also linked to the local metro so you can explore Bangkok.Image credit: @etsumi_oden via Instagram

By the time you wake up, you’d have arrived at the capital’s relatively new Bang Sue Grand Central Station, which links to the local metro.Consider taking a couple of days to check out things to do in Bangkok to stretch your legs. 

longest train ride - chatuchakChatuchak market.

Even if you don’t plan on sticking around these parts, Chatuchak is only a 20-minute walk from the station. 

Your last train will take you to Nong Khai, the town closest to the Thai-Laos border. There are 3 trains available, with the earliest leaving at 8.25pm from Bang Sue and arriving in Nong Khai the next morning from 4.15am. 

longest train ride - srt nong khaiThese sleeper cars on the #25 SRT train to Nong Khai were introduced in 2016.Image credit: 12Go

Bang Sue Grand Central to Nong KhaiAverage travelling time: 10 hoursPrice: from S$48

How to book tickets: You can secure tickets through the 12Go website or at Bang Sue Grand Central. But if you want the more comfortable sleeper cars, you should book them in advance online. 


Laos


longest train ride - nong khai stationNong Khai station near the border of Thailand and Laos.Image credit: @yonyok via Instagram

Nong Khai is the closest you can get to the Thai-Laotian border by train, but it’s still quite a distance to actually reaching the next train station that will get you out of Laos and into China. For that, you’ll need to buy a shuttle train ticket from Nong Khai to Vientiane in Laos.

This ticket includes a train ride across the border to Thanaleng, as well as a minivan transfer to Vientiane. The total travelling time is just under 20 minutes and tickets can be easily secured at Nong Khai station.

Nong Khai to Vientiane via ThanalengAverage travelling time: 13-15 minutesPrice: From ฿300 (~S$11.40)

How to book tickets: You don’t have to; you can get tickets for the cross-border shuttle train with included minivan transfer at Nong Khai Station. 

longest train ride - vientiane railway stationVientiane Railway Station.Image credit: Sedtha Mahasantipiya via Google Maps

Vientiane is where you’ll have to get your tickets for the Lao-China Railway (LCR) that goes all the way to Kunming in China.

longest train ride - vientiane marketsMarkets in Vientiane also often feature dried fish caught from the local rivers.

It might be tricky for foreigners to get a hold of tickets, so it’s best to spend the night in the capital at a hotel or hostel, as the concierge should be able to book them for you. Go tour the night markets while you’re at it and get sticky rice – it’s a staple here, FYI.

There are 2 classes of seats available on board the LCR high-speed trains; both are air-conditioned and come with charging ports to keep your devices juiced up. The only real difference between the 2 classes is that first class seats have 2+2 seating arrangements, while the other has 3+2. 

longest train ride - lcr firstThe LCR’s first class seats.Image credit: C C Ng via Google Maps 

If the stations and trains look a lot newer than the ones seen earlier that’s because the railway only began operating in 2023 with 8 stations across this 1,035km-long line. You can also refer to the LCR’s Facebook page for the latest schedules.

longest train ride - lcr secondThe 2+3 seating arrangement in a second class Laos-China Railways car.Image credit: Chanyaphorn Ploy via Google Maps

The journey to Beijing should take about 10 hours, including the time taken to clear Chinese immigration and customs at Mohan station in China. Bear in mind that the LCR has a strict no-flammable items policy, so be careful what you bring along. 

longest train ride - laos sceneryTrainspotters recommend sitting on the right-hand side for views of the scenery from Vientiane.Image credit: Watchaatom Sangaemjit via Google Maps

Vientiane to KunmingAverage travelling time: 9 hours 30 minutesPrice: From LAK1,192,000/pax (~S$76.96)

How to book tickets: There are a total of 5 trains that travel from Vientiane to Kunming, tickets for 2 can be purchased online via 12Go, you secure passage aboard the other 3 at the station itself. 


China


longest train ride - kunming railwayThe new Kunming railway station.Image credit: Amber via Google Maps

The halfway point on this epic rail voyage is China. After pulling into Kunming, you might want to explore the historical capital of Yunnan for its parks and temples. If you’re making this voyage from 2028 and beyond, be sure to visit Paramount Park Kunming, which has rides based on popular TV serieses like Star Trek and Mission Impossible.

longest train ride - g404 cabinThe G404’s cabins with soft seats sell out the fastest.Image credit: China Ticket Online 

From here, you’ve got 2 options to get to Beijing: a pricey G-category high-speed train from RMB1,129.26 (~S$213.01), or a Z-category scenic sleeper train (from RMB873.58, ~S$123) that adds about 2 more days to the itinerary.  

longest train ride - soft sleeperThe Soft Sleeper car on the Z-category sleeper train.Image credit: China Highlights

Although the sleeper train will afford you vistas of China’s countryside, the high-speed train has more luxurious seating and even a buffet car to get your meals. Do note that if you want to get to Beijing faster with extra comfort, you’ll need to do so from Kunming’s South Railway Station. To do that, you’ll need to take the local Kunming Rail Transit’s Line 1 to get there.

Kunming to Beijing (West)Average travelling time: 11 hours 16 minutesPrice: From RMB298.29/pax (~S$56.21)

How to book tickets: You can get tickets for this leg online through China Highlights or Trip.com for either train type.

Whichever train you choose, you’ll eventually wind up at Beijing West Railway Station for the longest leg of the journey – the Russian-operated Trans-Siberian Railway.

longest train ride - trans siberiaImage credit: Wazari Wazir via Flickr

Tickets for this 8,981km-long ride out of Beijing can be procured online, but they get snapped up pretty fast. Your best bet is to book through a travel agent like Travel China Guide or China Highlights. Don’t forget that holders of Singapore passports require a travel visa to enter Russia. The Trans-Siberian Journey To Moscow | Singapore To London OVER LAND! | EP 1play buttonThe Trans-Siberian Journey To Moscow | Singapore To London OVER LAND! | EP 1

Beijing West to MoscowAverage travelling time: 7 Days 8 NightsPrice: From RMB3,887.10/pax (~S$729.63)

How to book tickets: Moscow-bound trains depart on Wednesdays and Saturdays and you can secure tickets online through China Highlights or Travel China Guide.


Russia


longest train ride - yaroslavi railway stationYaroslavi Railway Station. Image credit: @manutikatur via Instagram

After spending more than a week on the Trans-Siberian Railway, travellers will reach Moscow’s Yaroslavl Railway Station. If you took the Sunday train from Beijing, you would only need to spend a day in Russia’s capital before catching the Paris-Moscow Express Train, as that only operates on Tuesdays.

The Paris-bound train departs Moscow from Belorussky Station that’s about 6km away. So if you’ve been wanting to stretch your legs after a week stuck in a train car, this is the chance you’ve been waiting for. 

Moscow to ParisAverage travelling time: 3 Days 2 NightsPrice: From €245/pax (~S$358.26)

How to book tickets: You can book the Paris-Moscow train from Rail Europe.


Paris


longest train ride - gare de iestThe Gare de l’Est train station is conveniently connected to the local metro.Image credit: @lvis.xiv via Instagram

The Westbound train actually cuts across a few countries in Europe, including Belarus, Poland, and Germany. There are stops in Warsaw and Berlin, if you decide to take the chance to visit these capital cities.

The end of the train’s full journey is in Paris, France at the Gare de l’Est station, which will connect you to the local RATP metro’s Line 4. You’ll need to board the train in order to reach Gare Montparnasse to take the trains heading to Spain.

longest train ride - Eiffel tower

Those with time on their hands can transfer over to Line 6 for a quick detour. This line travels on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim bridge, from which you’ll be able to see an uninterrupted view of the Eiffel Tower. You’ll also be able to catch glimpses of Place de l’Étoile and the Arc de Triomphe from your seat.

longest train ride - montparnasse stationGare Montparnasse station.Image credit: @donde.esta.kiddo via Instagram

You actually have 2 ways to proceed from France to Portugal via Spain – through San Sebastián or Barcelona. But since we want the longer route, you should pick San Sebastián. As a bonus, it’s also cheaper. And we love savings.

longest train ride - tgv trainImage credit: @seatsixtyone via X

Before you get there, there’s still the matter of crossing France to get to the border at Hendaye. This train ride is a luxurious one on the TGV inOui, a high-speed rail with 2 seat classes, although the differences are insignificant. You’ll also find a cafe-bar and free Wi-Fi in most TGV inOui trains these days. 

There’s double-decker seating so you should try to secure a window seat on the upper floor if you want to see more of the French countryside.

longest train ride - tgv insideEvery train along this line has a cafe car, charging ports and the all-important Wi-Fi. Image credit: @seatsixtyone via X

Paris to HendayeAverage travelling time: 4h 36mPrice: From US$107.50/pax (~S$142.90)

How to book tickets: Tickets for trains headed for the Hendaye can be booked online through Rail Europe or Trainline


Spain


After you’ve reached Hendaye, exit the main train station and look for the Euskotren station just outside. The Euskotren is the one that’ll get you across the border into Spain. It’s easy getting a ticket from the station itself – most staff speak English and ticketing machines provide translations.

Trains depart from this point every half hour, but you can also download the Euskotren app for more precise updates.

longest train ride - euskotrenEuskotren carriages are air-conditioned, and even have toilets on board. Image credit: Gary JOUAN via Google Maps 

Hendaye to San SebastiánAverage travelling time: 37 minutesPrice: From €2.75/pax  (~S$4.02)

How to book tickets: At the Euskotren station upon arrival in Hendaye. The service runs from the early mornings till late just like our MRT. 

longest train ride - san sebastianImage credit: @sansebastiantourism via Instagram

There’s plenty to see in this Spanish seaside town of San Sebastián so it’s highly recommended you stay overnight if possible to get an authentic Basque Country-experience. Your connecting train at Renfe’s San Sebastián terminal is only 800m from where you first alighted, so there’s no real need to rush anyway.

longest train ride - urgullMonte Urgull peak.Image credit: @corinna.reiter1106 via Instagram

Check the postcard-worthy beaches of La Concha or hike up to Urgull for a panoramic view of San Sebastián – both are free to visit.

longest train ride - charmatin stationThere’s a cafe behind Charmatin station that sells coffee and unsweetened churros.Image credit: @akicho22 via Instagram

You will be swapping the regional Spanish metro for one of the Renfe Alvia trains that connect Spain to neighbouring countries. This is where the journey gets a bit complex, as you’ll need to take a train down to the capital city of Madrid before you move Westward to Vigo Guixar, your last Spanish city before crossing the border to Portugal.

There are multiple trains you’ll need to take here, so it pays to be meticulous here. You’ll have to ride 2 Alvia trains to Segovia Guiomar then Ourense. Here, you’ll have to switch to an Avant train and ride that to Santiago de Compostela. Your last train is the Media-Distancia railway, which will take you to Vigo Guixar at the edge of the Spanish border.

San Sebastian to Vigo GuixarAverage travelling time: 10h 37mPrice: from €23/pax  (~S$33.61)

How to book tickets: You can book all train tickets to Vigo from Rail Europe or Trainline.


Portugal


longest train ride - alvia renfe trainAn Alvia Renfe train.Image credit: @renfe via Instagram

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve almost reached Portugal from Singapore by train, mostly. All that’s left is to cross into Portugal. It’s simple enough, just take the Trencleta from Vigo Guixar to Porto Campanhã station to finally reach Portugal.

longest train ride - campanha platformImage credit: Key West via Google Maps

 Vigo Guixar to PortoAverage travelling time: 2h 22mPrice: from €14.95/pax (~S$21.86)

How to book tickets: Tickets from Vigo to Porto can be found on Rail Europe 

longest train ride - portugal metroImage credit: Comboios De Portugal

Portugal is the last country in this epic journey. But you still can extend the train trip even further. From Porto Campanhã swap to the local Comboios de Portugal line and take a train to Lagos station – the furthest possible station to earn the title of travelling the furthest distance by train.

Lagos station is near Duna Beach – about a 15-minute walk away. Head over, snap a selfie, then kick back and relax to celebrate the end of your journey. Phew.

longest train ride - duna beachLago’s Duna Beach is only metres from the station.Image credit: @maheer_khan via Instagram

Porto Campanhã to LagosAverage travelling time: 7 hours 17 minutesPrice: from €42.25/pax (~S$61.77)

How to book tickets: Tickets for the local Comboios de Portugal line can be purchased from their Comboios de Portugal website where you can also find updated schedules.


Would you take a train from Singapore to Portugal?


As the crow flies, it’s only 6,421 nautical miles from Lisbon, Portugal to Singapore, a journey that usually takes about 16 hours by plane, and costs about S$1,317 for a ticket.

This compared to this 18,755km train route that would take approximately 21 days to reach the Portuguese coast. And this is only if there aren’t any delays between transfers. It’ll also cost slightly more, at about S$1,605.65 total for the whole journey.

You’ll have to bear in mind that this journey isn’t feasible right now, since routes between China and Paris are still suspended. The furthest you can go right now is Beijing. For now, you can daydream about this trip until routes reopen.

For more long-haul travel ideas:Longest cruises from Singapore49-day cruise from Singapore to FloridaCountries that Singaporeans need a visa for


Cover image adapted from: Watchaatom Sangaemjit via Google Maps, Comboios De Portugal, & @renfe via Instagram  Avatar

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