Asia is an intriguing land of paradox; a blend of old and new, wealth and poverty, noise and silence. Ultra-modern cities, spiked with towering glassy skyscrapers, are populated by millions and alive with technology. In contrast, in the countryside, ancient temples stand beside tea plantations and rice fields in a place where tradition and spirituality are the cornerstones of life. The region is filled with interest from pristine beaches to bustling markets, mangrove forests and bullet trains.
South East Asia cruises often visit the busy urban centres of Singapore and Hong Kong with further stops in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. November to March is considered the optimal time for these voyages where guests can expect to see the white sands of Thailand’s Koh Samui, magnificent limestone formations at Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Borneo’s orangutans, Komodo dragons in Indonesia and the Shwedagon Pagoda of Thilawa (Rangoon). Seabourn Sojourn accesses many of these sites in a range of ultra-luxury Asia cruises.
East Asia is growing exponentially as a cruise destination. China, Japan and South Korea are the main destinations on a journey to this part of the world, best taken in the winter to avoid scorching temperatures and the rainy season. Visitors can expect to see The Great Wall of China, the poignant city of Hiroshima in Japan, Kyoto’s Golden Pavillion, the energetic metropolis of Shanghai and embark on a scenic cruise the Yellow Sea. Silver Shadow brings together many of East Asia’s sights in one effortless itinerary, as does Crystal Symphony.
River cruising is also capitalising on the global interest in Asia as a tourist destination and is particularly well placed to access many of the regions most fascinating sites. Lindblad Expeditions ventures along the Mekong River in the new 48-guest riverboat Jahan, exploring the world’s largest religious monument, Angkor Wat, the Choeung Ek ‘Killing Fields’, Saigon and many small villages and colourful markets. Viking River Cruises also extend into China, taking in The Great Wall, Xian’s Terra Cotta Army and a scenic cruise of the Yangtze River.