Novels and movies have featured the iconic Orient Express luxury passenger train, but now you’ll be able to see it for yourself.  Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express, a pop-up exhibition featuring two original Orient Express train carriages and other heritage items, is now at Gardens by the Bay. The 2,000sqm attraction runs from Dec 12 to Jun 13, 2021. Singapore is the first place in the world outside of France to showcase the Orient Express.

While travel is off the cards right now, you can now pretend you’re in another place and space when you hop aboard the exhibition. The exhibition features two original train carriages (which are official National Treasures of France, mind you) hundreds of heritage items from its heyday, and even a café and Michelin-starred restaurant and lounge.  previews the pop-up exhibition and tell you what you can expect at ‘Once Upon A Time on the Orient Express’.

Once you arrive at the West Lawn, just next to Bayfront Plaza (look for Café Aster and walk on), you’re greeted by a façade that’s reminiscent of the Paris train station in the 19th century. Well, apart from SafeEntry QR codes, of course.

01 exterior

There’s also a 158-year-old locomotive from France.

02 locomotive

The main attraction: The first class cabin— this is one of two actual carriages of the Orient Express, which used to ferry passengers from London to Istanbul.

03 train ext

Here, you’ll get a taste of the high life from days of yore.

04 first class

It’s no secret that Agatha Christie and other famous folk and even royalty were frequent passenger onboard the Orient Express, and you’ll get an idea of what their seats might’ve been like with replicas of their belongings artfully strewn around for that perfect #flatlay.

05 replica

06 famous ppl

You’ll also get a peek at the cargo carriage of the Orient Express.

07 cargo carriage

The pop-up also features an exhibition with hundreds of artefacts such as uniforms, vintage Louis Vuitton luggage, and other parts of the cabin.

08 exhbition

09 exhibiiton 2

10 lv luggage data

Among the exhibits is this train model, which didn’t just help engineers build the actual Orient Express, but it was a way for passengers to select their seats and sleeping cabins.

11 booking system

There’s a replica car as well specially built to house the Orient Express pop-up restaurant, which serves up high tea from Dec 12 (from $78++ per pax), and brunch ($250++), lunch ($188++) and dinner from a later date (before Christmas).

13 replica dining

Dinner is a showcase of three Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno’s and prices start at $298++.

14 dining

Visitors who purchase dining packages can also hang out in this sultry lounge.

15 lounge data

Looking for casual nosh? There’s also an Orient Express café, if you fancy some croissants ($7), sandwiches (from $14) and coffee (from $4.50). The Orient Express café and the merchandise store are open to general public, which means, yes, you can waltz in even without a ticket to the exhibition.  

Once Upon A Time On The Orient Express is on from Dec 12, 2020 to June 13, 2021, at Gardens by the Bay, West Lawn (next to Bayfront Plaza). Open Mon, Tue, Fri, Sun 10am-9pm; Wed, Thurs 10am-7pm; Sat 10am-10pm.Tix from $25 (free for children below three years old). More info at
Photos: Lionel Lai