If you’re looking for one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cruises imaginable then Asia is a good option for you. In just a few days or weeks it is possible to visit countries as different as India and China, Japan and Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia, or all of them together. It should come as no surprise that Asia is still virgin territory for many cruise lovers – all of the top 10 most popular cruise ports in the world are in the Caribbean islands. However, this only makes it more of a unique experience for those who choose to go off the beaten cruise route and try something different…
In recent years, many of the larger and more well-known cruise providers such as Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean have begun to send cruise ships to Asia, enabling cruisers to flit between destinations as distant as Qingdao and Singapore. On the other hand, many smaller ships are also available for seeking out the many smaller cruise ports of the region such as the tiny port of Larantuka(pic below), nestled at the base of a beautiful forested mountain on the island of Flores, Indonesia.
High season from December to March which means the best time for budget travellers is October/November or April.
Top 5 Cruise Excursions in Asia
1. The Great Wall of China
If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the Great Wall then an Asian cruise is an excellent way of going about it. Most cruises that stop at Beijing will have excursions to the Great Wall but if not then it is only about an hour’s journey by road if you would like to organise it yourself. Beijing actually has two cruise ports, Tianjin and Xingang, both of which are located in the city of Tianjing which is itself a two hour drive from Beijing. As such, if you want to take an excursion to the Great Wall it will take up a whole day but the trip is undeniably worth the effort.
2. Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is the largest, grandest religious monument in the world and was described by one of the first Western visitors as “a rival to that of Solomon… erected by some ancient Michelangelo. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest must-sees in the East Asian area. Unfortunately, the nearest cruise port is a 7 hour journey away from Angkor Wat. Nevertheless, the cruise companies recognise its popularity and offer overnight stays in port in order to make this excursion popular.
It is possible to visit the temple from either Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s only cruise port and one which is surrounded by four beaches, or Bangkok.
3. The Grand Palace, Floating Markets and Many Temples of Bangkok
There are well over 20 highly ornate temples in the city of Bangkok (known in Thai as the City of Angels) as well as the Grand Palace of the King of Thailand and the world’s largest floating market. In fact, it’s hard to recommend the best thing to do in Bangkok when so many things compete for the top spot. Taking a walk around the city and soak in the sights and sounds might be enough on its own.
4. Kerala Backwaters, Cochin Port, India
Many cruise ships offer boat excursions to the Kerala backwaters on the local ketuvallam, hand made house boats, with thatched roofs and private rooms. The Kerala backwaters themselves are a series of lagoons lined with tropical palm trees and known worldwide for their exceptional natural beauty.
5. Tokyo. Just Tokyo.
It’s almost a cliché to point that Japan is about as different from America and the UK as it can get but as we all know there’s an element of truth to every cliché. There are a million exotic experiences you can have in Tokyo, even if you’re only docking for one day: meet a geisha, take a traditional Japanese bath at the Oedo Onsen Monogatari or hang with the famous rockabillies of Yoyogi Park. Like Bangkok, Tokyo is one of those larger than life Asian cities that represents a microcosm of the country it’s in. This makes it the perfect way to sample all that’s Japanese about Japan in a short period of time.