Gardens By the Bay, Singapore
A cruise to Asia never disappoints, how can you resist the charm of Singapore and Hong Kong, the frenzy of the night markets, the magnificence of Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia or the beauty of cherry blossoms in Japan? If you are looking for adventure, there are plenty of excursions to choose: trekking in the rainforest, close encounters with the Borneo’s orangutans or the dragons of Komodo Island in Indonesia. Strolling along the Great Wall of China, visiting the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas or kayaking in Phang Nga Bay, in Thailand, also known as James Bond Island, where the famous movie was shot, are just as many opportunities for recreation during a cruise in Asia.
A cruise is also a great option for those who want to get a taste of different countries and cultures in one single trip. A 14-day itinerary allows you to visit Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia and Thailand, while in three weeks you can also visit Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, South Korea and Japan. Although short, the stops in each country will serve to stimulate the desire to return to those places.
A drawback of cruising in Asia could be the distance between ports and cities or places of interest, but fortunately luxury cruise ships, thanks to their medium-small size have the privilege of mooring in the nearest ports, and can even sail up rivers such as the Saigon river to get to Ho Chi Minh City and the Chao Phraya river to Bangkok. Small-size ships can dock a stone's throw from the center of Yangon in Burma or at the Ocean Terminal in central Hong Kong. The cruise is a reassuring way to travel for those who are reluctant to visit places very far away and very different from those to which they are accustomed to, it is the ideal trip for single travelers but also the most comfortable solution to visit remote destinations that are difficult to reach independently such as Komodo Island, the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal and the Indonesian Borneo.
Many cruises in Southeast Asia depart from or arrive in Singapore and/or Hong Kong via Bangkok and three or four other destinations along the Vietnamese coast. A stop of one or two days in Halong Bay and an excursion on board a junk boat, the typical wooden boat, is the highlight of every cruise. Singapore, Asia's largest cruise port, is also the starting point for cruises to Yangon, the islands off Malaysia and Thailand (the preferred destination for mega-yachts and small ships), Indonesia and Borneo.
Hong Kong is the gateway for cruises to China, Japan and South Korea. Bangkok and Shanghai are also important ports of embarkation and disembarkation for cruises to China and Japan, thanks to the excellent connections offered by their respective airports. Extraordinary exotic itineraries circumnavigate the beautiful island of Bali where sinuous sailing ships can anchor off deserted bays and quiet fishing villages, dotted with temples, markets and majestic volcanoes. The itinerary through the Philippines and Borneo includes attractions and excursions to remote locations, from trekking on Mount Kinabalu, snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Malaysian Borneo, up to absolute relaxation on the beautiful beaches of Boracay.
Some cultural itineraries reach Taipei close to the Chinese New Year celebrations and allow you to visit Pingxi, a small town an hour from Taipei where every year hundreds of paper lanterns, guardians of wishes and prayers, light up the starry sky to celebrate the New Year. Ultimate itineraries reach the village of the Rising Sun in spring where the cherry blossoms offer an unforgettable experience.
There are also many overnights in major cities such as Osaka and Tokyo from which to take exciting excursions to the slopes of Mount Fuji or Hiroshima aboard the bullet train Shinkansen. The itinerary continues with an impressive stopover in Busan and Seoul, in South Korea before arriving in Shanghai, the Queen of the East, a mix of modernity and tradition, with its wonderful buildings overlooking the Bund, the iconic Pearl Television Tower and the Maglev, the futuristic magnetic levitation train.
India at last, an immense continent, impossible to visit in its entirety even by land in a single trip. Long cruises to the Indian sub-continent depart from Singapore to Mumbai, offering numerous overnights in the most representative cities of the various ports of call such as Phuket (Thailand), Yangon (Burma), Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Cochin in India. The itinerary includes long hours in port allowing you to explore the various places of interest during the day and in the evening. Excursions include a visit to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Thai cooking classes in Bangkok and a mini cruise along Kerala's backwaters from Cochin as well as numerous overlands from Mumbai to the most visited and admired monument in the world, the Taj Mahal.
The cruise season in Southeast Asia runs from December to the end of March and in some countries these months coincide with the rainy season (in Malaysia from October to December, in Indonesia from December to February), with humid heat and rainfall. However, since these are countries with tropical climates, rainfall tends to occur mostly in the form of short downpours rather than continuous rainfall with no damage to the itineraries and the visits.