Great Asian Railway Journeys

Great Asian Railway Journeys is a 20-part BBC travel and history documentary series produced by Boundless[1] and presented by Michael Portillo, a former Conservative MP and Minister of State for Transport.[2] Following the format of the highly successful Great British Railway Journeys and related series with Portillo as presenter, each episode features a railway journey in south-east Asia using Bradshaw's Through Routes to the Chief Cities, and Bathing, and Health Resorts of the World (1913)[a] as a historical reference, in order to consider how the places visited have changed over the preceding century.

Great Asian Railway Journeys
Great Asian Railway Journeys title.jpg
GenreTravel documentary
Directed byDave Minchin
Presented byMichael Portillo
ComposersJon Wygens, Joe Donohoe
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes20 (short versions)
10 (long versions)
Executive producerJohn Comerford
Production locationsHong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore
EditorAlison Kreps
Running time30 minutes (short versions)
60 minutes (long versions)
Production companyBoundless[1]
Original networkBBC Two
Original release27 January 2020 (2020-01-27) (short versions)
4 April 2020 (2020-04-04) (long versions)
Related shows
External links

During the course of the series, Portillo travels a total distance of 2,500 miles and passes through six countries,[1] beginning with the Chinese territory of Hong Kong then moving on to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia before reaching his final destination of Singapore.[3] One of the main themes he explores is colonial history, examining the legacy of the British, French, Dutch and Portuguese Empires, and how the countries involved gained their independence.[1][4] Filming for the series was carried out in two stages and took 7–8 weeks to complete.[4]


The programme was first broadcast as 20 30-minute episodes on consecutive weekday evenings on BBC Two, beginning on 27 January 2020.[3][5] It was re-broadcast weekly as ten 60-minute episodes starting 4 April 2020.[6][7]


No. Episode First broadcast
Short versions
1"Kowloon to Wan Chai"27 January 2020 (2020-01-27)
2"Hong Kong University to Lantau Island"28 January 2020 (2020-01-28)
3"Chiang Mai to Lampang"29 January 2020 (2020-01-29)
4"Ayutthaya to River Kwai"30 January 2020 (2020-01-30)
5"Bangkok"31 January 2020 (2020-01-31)
6"Bangkok to Hua Hin"3 February 2020 (2020-02-03)
7"Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet"4 February 2020 (2020-02-04)
8"Da Nang to Hoi An"5 February 2020 (2020-02-05)
9"Huế to Ninh Bình"6 February 2020 (2020-02-06)
10"Hanoi to Ha Long Bay"7 February 2020 (2020-02-07)
11"Jakarta to Bogor"10 February 2020 (2020-02-10)
12"Jakarta to Borobudur/Kutoarjo"11 February 2020 (2020-02-11)
13"Yogyakarta to Ambarawa"12 February 2020 (2020-02-12)
14"Ambarawa to Surabaya"13 February 2020 (2020-02-13)
15"Penang to Kuala Kangsar"14 February 2020 (2020-02-14)
16"Kuala Kangsar to Cameron Highlands"17 February 2020 (2020-02-17)
17"Kuala Lumpur to Melaka"18 February 2020 (2020-02-18)
18"Melaka to Johor Bahru"19 February 2020 (2020-02-19)
19"Raffles Place to Botanic Gardens"20 February 2020 (2020-02-20)
20"Chinatown to Gardens by the Bay"21 February 2020 (2020-02-21)
Long versions
1"Hong Kong"4 April 2020 (2020-04-04)
2"Chiang Mai to the River Kwai"11 April 2020 (2020-04-11)
3"Bangkok to Hua Hin"18 April 2020 (2020-04-18)
4"Ho Chi Minh to Hoi An"25 April 2020 (2020-04-25)
5"Hue to Halong Bay"2 May 2020 (2020-05-02)
6"Jakarta to Borobudur"9 May 2020 (2020-05-09)
7"Yogyakarta to Surabaya"16 May 2020 (2020-05-16)
8"Penang to Cameron Highlands"23 May 2020 (2020-05-23)
9"Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru"30 May 2020 (2020-05-30)
10"Singapore"6 June 2020 (2020-06-06)


  1. ^ Reynolds-Ball, Eustace Alfred (1913). Bradshaw's Through Routes to the Chief Cities, and Bathing, and Health Resorts of the World: A Handbook of India, Colonial, and Foreign Travel. London: Henry Blacklock. Retrieved 4 February 2020.


  1. ^ a b c d Our Shows. Boundless. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  2. ^ Gove, Michael (1995). Michael Portillo: The Future of the Right. London: 4th Estate. p. 160. ISBN 1857023358.
  3. ^ a b "Great Asian Railway Journeys – Episodes". BBC. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b Dunn, Gemma (25 January 2020). "TV preview: Great Asian Railway Journeys". The Herald. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Great Asian Railway Journeys – Kowloon to Wan Chai". BBC. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Great Asian Railway Journey". BBC.
  7. ^ "Great Asian Railway Journeys". Radio Times.

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See alsoEdit