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Travel The Historic Luxury Train Orient Express Comes to Singapore in December 2020

The Historic Luxury Train Orient Express Comes to Singapore in December 2020

The Historic Luxury Train Orient Express Comes to Singapore in December 2020
By Chloe Pek
September 30, 2020
Singapore will be the first destination outside of France to host this exclusive pop-up attraction at Gardens By The Bay

This story was updated on October 13, 2020.

It remains to be seen when leisure travel across the borders will be possible again, but in the meantime, you can embark on a journey through time onboard the historic Orient Express, arriving in Singapore this December.

Open to the public at the West Lawn of Gardens by the Bay until June 2021, Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express will satisfy your wanderlust as it brings to life the Orient Express experience with around 300 precious items and documents that showcase the rich and vibrant legacy of the train.

(Related: Singapore Airlines Cancels “Flights to Nowhere” Plan to Offer In-Plane Dining, Meal Delivery, and Tours Instead)

“Putting the pop-up attraction in place is a feat in itself as the artworks are classified as Historical Monuments. Weighing hundreds of tonnes, sailing the seas on such a long journey was unheard of, much less having to do so with additional safety measures in place. These all bring to mind the initial voyages of this legendary train designed by Georges Nagelmackers; voyages between Europe and the East,” said Jack Lang, President of Arab World Institute (IMA), which spearheads the exhibition.

“I am sure that the Orient Express will speak to the hearts and souls of Singapore’s residents.”

(Related: Travel The World On These Luxury Trains)

Synonymous with luxury and intrigue—which inspired novels and films—The Orient Express is a long-distance passenger train service by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL) that began in 1883, serving a selection of routes in Europe. It is most prominently associated with Paris, France and Constantinople, Istanbul.

The original train service ceased operation in 2009, “a victim of high-speed trains and cut-rate airlines”. However, its routes have been adopted by Belmond via the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train, which started running in 1982. The luxury train uses original CIWL carriages from the 1920s and 1930s.


The collection of artefacts on showcase includes two original 1930s train carriages—classified as National Treasures of France—and a locomotive made in France 158 years ago. Other items include posters, menus, crockery, cutlery, suitcases, stained glass windows and furniture—displayed in evocative giant trunks—that testify to the Orient Express’ centuries-old history and touch on social, cultural and technical themes linked to the train.

Documentaries, newsreels and film clips that will elicit the rich literary and cinematographic heritage inspired by the Orient Express will also be showcased, and you can experience it yourself in the immersive escape room experience, inspired by film and novel Murder on the Orient Express.

(Related: Kayaking, Stand-Up Paddling and More: The Best Water Sports to do During Phase 2 in Singapore)

That’s not all—relive the luxury rail experience by dining in the replica restaurant car for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or stop by the Orient Express road cafe for a breather and savour coffee blends from destinations where the Orient Express once disembarked. As you depart, don’t forget to bring home souvenirs from your journey at the merchandise section, which will feature children’s toys as well as exquisite collectors’ items.

Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express runs from December 12, 2020, to June 13, 2021, at the West Lawn of Gardens by the Bay. Tickets are available for booking from October 2, 2020.


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