Home to some of the world’s oldest civilisations, Asia is a harmony of countless cultures and histories, frenetic cities, tranquil landscapes, and mesmerising temples and shrines. Will you go snorkeling in sparkling seas surrounding fascinating Phuket? Explore the amazing futuristic gardens of Singapore? Or simply sample mouth-watering street food in Bangkok?
Prepare to be blown away by mysterious rainforests in Malaysia, pretty palaces in Vietnam and Japan’s mix of the ancient and new. The world’s most populous continent has a real place for you!
Key Ports and Places to Visit
As an economic centre of the Middle East, Dubai has always been a bridge between East and West. With a very western standard of living, duty-free shopping as well as beautiful beaches, sun and sea, Dubai has become a popular tourist destination. Main attractions include the artificial islands offshore, and some of the biggest skyscrapers of the world which dominate the skyline, along with classical Arabian buildings. Dubai is also the perfect starting point for breathtaking desert tours!
Goa always draws you in and keeps you under its spell. On a cruise that visits Goa, you’ll soon relax into the seductively slow pace of life – lazing on the soft sands of a palm-fringed beach, the crystal clear waters of the Arabian Sea lapping gently at your feet. If you can tear yourself away from the beach, a tour of the capital, Panjim, is a must, to marvel at temples, churches and architectural gems that tell the story of the region’s history.
Relish the experience of docking into one of the world’s greatest cities. One of the few Asian ports where the primary language is English, Singapore’s mixed culture is a mesmerising mix of Buddhist temples, British-inspired Victorian buildings, Arab souks and ultra-modern skyscrapers. The whole state is one big city – and the primary hot-spot is most definitely The Gardens of the Bay, a sheer masterpiece of technology and nature combined.
Ho Chi Minh City
Formerly Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is Vietnam’s most vibrant’s city. Catch the buzz in the streets around Saigon Square and get stuck into the best selection of restaurants and shops in Vietnam! You can check out the country’s fascinating story at the Museum of Vietnamese History, which features 30,000 year old relics and hosts performances of water puppetry – an artform unique to the country. Or instead, enjoy a performance of traditional Vietnamese music at Reunification Hall.
Bangkok will take you aback – if there’s one thing you have to do when visiting Asia, it’s to discover this grand city’s wonderful mix of ancient culture and modern living. Discover peaceful sanctuaries tucked among towering skyscrapers and shopping complexes, where you can have a tailor-made garment made just for you for a fraction of the Western price. Tour the amazing gilded temples and meet monks in saffron-colored robes – and be sure to ride a tuk-tuk for the full Thai experience!
What to Wear
Packing advice for the first-time traveler
In the Emirates and India the weather is very, very hot! Light clothing is best – linen seems like a must in this kind of heat, and it’s best to have headgear be it a hat or cap to protect you from sunburn. In the United Arab Emirates you may want to pack your best outfit – as the destination is known for being particularly elegant, glitzy and glamorous.
When planning a trip to South-East Asia, you don’t actually need heaps of baggage space. When cruising through this area of the world, you mainly need to pack light, loose, cotton clothing. You’ll thank us later! You also need to be mindful of the local culture – pack clothes that cover your shoulders and legs when visiting Buddhist temples, Muslim mosques, or Christian churches.
Asia is unique in many ways – and each country has laws which you have to respect. See our FAQ’s later in the blog!
If you like your food, then Asia will be the ultimate treat for you. Most of the time our pallet of Asian food at home doesn’t extend beyond the odd spring roll or chicken jalfrezi – but as you cruise to the original source of all these fantastic flavours, your tastebuds will seriously be tantalised!
Like many other global cuisine, Asian food is as varied as the countries on the continent. It’s very much a part of the culture and history here! In Asian cooking, the emphasis is on smaller portions, smaller amounts of meat, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Unlike the Asian-hybrid cooking that can be found elsewhere, traditional Asian food preparation involves very little fat, and very rarely is anything deep fried. With so many markets in so many ports, make sure you don’t go crazy on your inclusive buffet – there’s so many dishes that can’t be left untouched!
Key Travel Information
For some ports of call in Asia, customers need to obtain a visa –
Cambodia – If you’re a British citizen then you’ll need to obtain a transit visa on arrival to the port. The current cost of this is $30.
Malaysia – British Citizens can obtain a visa on arrival, free of charge.
India – British citizens must have a multiple entry tourist visa. These must be obtained prior to the cruise and cannot be obtained onboard or at the airport. You can find information on how to apply for a visa on the Indian High Commission Website.
Jordan – British Citizens can obtain a visa on arrival, free of charge.
Vietnam – Currently British Citizens do not require a visa for visits of up to 15 days. However this is subject to change – for the most up-to-date passport and visa info, click here.
UAE – British Citizens can obtain a visa on arrival, free of charge.
Oman – British Citizens can obtain a one month tourist visa on arrival at the airport for 20 Omani Rials (OMR), roughly £40.
- Currency – Bahraini Dinar
- Extra info – You must carry photo ID when off the ship. Dress modestly when in public places & religious sites.
- Currency – Cambodian Riel (KHR)
- Extra info – When visiting religious sites you should follow the official code of conduct. No skirts or shorts above the knees and no tops that show your shoulders.
- Currency – Indian Rupee (INR)
- Extra info – Hobbies involving cameras and binoculars like bird-watching and plane spotting, may be misunderstood, and could result in penalties for breaking a law.
- Currency – Israeli New Shekel (ILS)
- Extra info – You must carry photo ID when off the ship. If visiting Jerusalem, it’s recommended to dress modestly.
- Currency –Jordanian Dinar (JOD)
- Extra info – Jordan is a conservative society, therefore it’s recommended to dress modestly when off the ship.
- Currency – Omani Rial (OMR)
- Extra Info – Women should dress modestly when off the ship. The use of bad language, rude gestures or public displays of affection can get you in trouble with the police. It’s considered an offence to drink or be drunk in public. Hobbies involving cameras and binoculars – like bird-watching and plane spotting – may be misunderstood and could result in penalties for breaking a law.
- Currency – Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
- Extra info – Dress modestly when off the ship, particularly in conservative and rural areas, and when visiting places of worship.
- Currency – Singapore Dollar (SGD)
- Extra info – E-cigarettes and chewing gum are banned. E-cigarettes may be confiscated. Only one packet of cigarettes is allowed ashore, and you can be fined for littering and smoking in some public places.
- Currency – Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
- Extra info – You must carry photo ID when off the ship. Cover legs and shoulders and take off hats and shoes when entering a Buddhist temple. It’s also recommended to cover up any visible tattoos of Buddha when off the ship.
- Currency – Thai Baht (THB)
- Extra info – E-cigarettes and refills cannot be brought into the country. It’s also illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes per person – this is enforced at the airport and can result in being fined ten times the value of the items.
- Currency – Emirati Dirgam (AED)
- Extra info – E-cigarettes and refills cannot be brought in to the country. It’s a punishable offence to be under the influence of alcohol in public. Women should dress modestly when in public, and swearing and making rude gestures is an offence. Public displays of affection are also frowned upon.
- Currency – Vietnamese Dong (VND)
- Extra info – When entering religious or cultural sites, respect local customs and dress in appropriate clothing.
Ready to set sail?
Surely now you must be ready to jump onboard for an amazing Asian adventure! If you have any other questions at all, simply give us a call on 0800 027 8302 and a member of our friendly cruise team will be more than happy to answer any queries you may have. Take a look at Marella Cruises‘ page – their Winter 2018 Asia itineraries are certainly ones to consider!
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