What makes cruising so magical is that the world is your oyster. Holidaymakers often choose cruises to the Mediterranean because the region is both beautiful and nearby, and they know that they can count on countries like Spain, Italy and France to offer them a good trip. Others cruise to the Caribbean because paradise islands like the Bahamas and St Lucia make the long voyage more than worthwhile.
Yet cruise lines and the passengers that sail with them are turning ever more attention to East Asia. This fascinating part of the world promises plenty of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as discovering the surprising historical relics of the Philippines and a chance to mingle with native wildlife in bustling Singapore. Here are a few of our top tips when cruising in Asia.
Destinations and adventures
It’s great to know that All Inclusive cruises to East Asia mix the prestige of the world’s best cruise lines with some of the most stunning locations on the map. If you’re on the fence about where’s best to head, we’ve got a run-down of what to expect from the most popular Asian cruise destinations below. We’ve also got tips for you on which cruise lines excel at visiting this diverse region.
Thailand cruise holidays are well worth your time and attention, and stopping by in the wonderful city of Bangkok is something you should do at least once in your life. Famed equally for its eccentricities and its religious buildings, Bangkok delights you with temples such as the 13th century Wat Traimit, with its three-metre, 5.5-tonne solid gold Buddha. Away from spiritual Bangkok, you can visit Phat Khong Talat and the flower market – the orchids, roses and carnations have turned this market into something of a tourist attraction all of its own.
Almost every cruise line that sails in Asia will pay Thailand a visit, although Princess Cruises’ luxurious Majestic Princess has made a comparatively recent debut in this part of the world. Experts agree that it’s allowed the prestigious cruise line to set a new benchmark for style and elegance amid these exotic waves.
Few city-states have played such a vital role in humankind’s life on the waves as Singapore. In fact, even as one of the most advanced cities in the world, it’s actually its natural beauty that tends to draw the crowds as far as cruising goes. While there, you might like to visit this city state’s famous botanic gardens, which are open until midnight. One of the main attractions here is the Swan Lake with its beautiful statue.
Alternatively, head to the zoo first – after all, it’s not often you can breakfast with orangutans! Take the chance to witness rainforest species all coexisting in astounding harmony in the biodome. Highlights include cheeky lemurs and the Malaysian flying foxes.
As for cruise lines visiting Singapore, it’s Cunard and its particular brand of luxury that’s turning heads. Cunard and its classic ships are designed to take passengers back to the golden era of cruising, and embark on a particularly packed array of itineraries that make their way around much of Asia. Many of these leave from Australia and either end in Singapore, or pause along these colourful shores with due diligence.
A trip to the Far East might not feel complete without a visit to the location of one of the greatest feats of construction in human history – the Great Wall of China. Beijing cruise deals are lighting up the market for that reason, among others, and it’s your port of call for the Great Wall. There’s another fine piece of ancient engineering and construction on offer too, the Forbidden City palace complex, which is right in the centre of the city.
As the beating heart of China and one of the world’s most defining nations, it’s safe to say that Beijing has plenty of modern-day fun to enjoy too. Bar-hopping here is a definite treat and shopaholics will be spoiled for choice like nowhere else. P&O Cruises offers a superb itinerary to this corner of China, with stops in Beijing’s nearest port of Xingang. This area acts as a gateway to China’s capital and the historic Forbidden City beyond.
Vietnam is likely to appear on your Far East itinerary, with cruise lines like Marella Cruises calling in on Phu My in Ho Chi Minh city on the edge of the Mekong Delta. In this deeply spiritual part of the world, temples such as Xu Loi Pagoda – famous for being a sacred relic of Buddha – and the Jade Emperor Pagoda will amaze you with their intricate architecture.
Vietnam is a uniquely shaped country, meaning that temperatures tend to be a little cooler up north than in the south. The good news is that it’s hot all year round either way, and the food here is unlike anything else among Vietnam’s Asian neighbours. Try the coffee too, as cafe culture here is a huge part of Vietnamese life. After all, milky iced javas are the best way to start the day.
With thousands of islands making up this distinctive country, it can be hard to know where to begin. Luckily cruise lines know the hotspots, and one place they always make for is Manila. The Filipino capital is known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’. With its skyscrapers and Fort Santiago, Manila won’t fail to impress, and also boasts a quaint museum that houses the skullcap of the Philippines’ earliest known inhabitant, the Tubon Man, who lived around 24000 BC.
There are also treasures recovered from the wreck of the Spanish galleon, the San Diego, which sank off the coast of Luzon in 1600. Luckily, the cruise ships we enjoy nowadays keep all their treasures afloat with ease. Princess Cruises often offers the best blend of luxury and diversity of destination, pausing in the Philippines on an epic North Pacific adventure.
When is best to cruise in East Asia?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but one factor to really keep in mind is the climate. East Asia, particularly south around the Philippines and Indonesia, veers towards the tropical end of the spectrum. What we call summer at home is a little more on the rainy side here, as rainforests are nourished by monsoons. It’s one of the reasons why autumn months and the odd winter itinerary prove so popular. As such, you’re going to find that many cruise lines prioritise their Asian voyages for months like October and November.
Cruising in East Asia is an experience that definitely comes recommended – and we’re only touching on what’s available to you in terms of destinations to explore. Take a deeper look into what’s available with us and you might just be surprised by what you find.
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