Colombo to Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Taking in Indian Ocean vistas and rainforest vegetation, Sri Lanka's train system, known as the "Blue Train," is one of the world's most scenic and evocatively quaint, with old carriages, worn interiors, and open-air windows and doors. Visitors can book online in advance through Seat 61, but it's often easiest to book one or two days ahead of time while you're actually there. Emma Sothern, a travel writer at Lady Alopecia, recommends going off the beaten railway by taking the new, indirect, but more local-friendly route to Jaffna in the north. "You'll have the distinct feeling of moving through uncharted territory," she describes in an email. "This train ride provides the same epic views but with a distinctly more local flavor. And speaking of flavors … Jaffna cuisine is renowned for being the best in Sri Lanka — look out for dolphin kottu when you're there (don't worry, no dolphins are involved)." Alexandra Feig, an expat travel blogger at A Maiden Voyager, also recommends that travelers not "miss out on the spectacular view of the jungle between Ella and Kandy, where you'll find the famous Nine Arch Bridge," adding: "You might just get an Insta-worthy shot leaning out of the train door with the famous blue carriages drifting behind."