The theme of this months Cruise Club blog is exotic Asia, we’d like to guide you through some of the most fascinating locations whilst offering great ideas for cruising...
Visiting Hong Kong is an experience of a lifetime! It’s a big city with overwhelming bright lights and bustling urban areas as well beautiful countryside only a few miles out of Kowloon. Deep Water Bay is a very beautiful place to visit. Hong Kong is huge on entertainment, heritage, retail therapy and dining. The skyscrapers of modern Hong Kong sit cheek by jowl with old Chinese markets, sampans and junks bobbing in the harbour. You ship will dock at either the original Ocean Terminal in Central Kowloon or the new cruise terminal at Kai Tak which is 10 minutes away from central Kowloon. This city is full of unexpected sights and traditional culture mixed with 21st century commercialism. One thing not to miss is to go up on the funicular to the top of the mountain on the Island and look down at one of the most famous harbours in the world.
Many cruises arrive and depart from Hong Kong, and we can easily arrange a pre or post stay on your cruise. We especially like the Silver Whisper’s 11 day cruise leaving Hong Kong on 23rd February 2015, which visits Vietnam and Bankok before arriving into cosmopoliton Singapore.
South Korea is one of the economic powerhouses of Asia, yet still retains its traditional culture. Still not a popular destination with European tourists, it is very popular with the Chinese. There are 3 main ports of call, Incheon, Jeju and Busan. Incheon is a 90 minute drive from the centre of Seoul, Jeju is a volcanic island and Busan has a mixed culture, history and great beaches. Although Seoul has temples and palaces, Busan is emerging as the more popular destination for cruise ships.
You can visit Busan and Jeju on the Silver Shadow operated by Silversea cruises. The cruise will leave Tokyo on 2nd October 2015 and call in at the South Korean ports on a 16 day cruise terminating in Hong Kong
Singapore is very much a 21st century cosmopolitan city which combines the East with echoes of it’s colonial past. It is the perfect introduction to the Far East where modern skyscrapers sit alongside Colonial British buildings and the preserved areas such as Little India, Chinatown and Bugis Street. Singapore is linked to Malaysia by 2 causeways, so you can take excursions to southern Malaysia. Nothing is really far away in Singapore and its easy to get around due to the excellent Subway system. Singapore comes into its own at night when the skyscrapers are lit up and there are spectacular laser shows. A Singapore Sling at The Long Bar in Raffles is an essential in this super clean and dynamic city.
Of the many cruises that start or terminate in Singapore we really like a 21 day cruise to Burma & the Malay Peninsula operated by Voyages To Antiquity leaving Singapore on 4th January 2015. Why not spend a few days in Singapore before it sails?
Travellers from all over the world visit China to soak up its unparalleled cultural attractions, although many are surprised to discover how modern it has become. The ancient traditions are still there in abundance but nowadays they sit alongside the new – this creates a stark and often surreal contrast right across the country. An increasing number of ocean cruises call at Tianjin, which is just over 2 hours from Beijing. Excursions to Beijing include the Forbidden City and Tiamen Square.
You can visit Shanghai and Beijing on Holland America’s Volendam leaving from Hong Kong on 13 April 2015. The cruise terminates in Japan at Kobe, the port for Osaka and also calls at Beijing, Jeju and Busan in South Korea and Nagasaki in Japan.
Vietnam is a mix of Chinese and French colonial culture. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is an extraordinary Mekong River and ocean cruise destination. There are French colonial buildings that sit quite happily next to traditional pagodas. The must see sights include the Chu Chi Tunnels, the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. Ha Long Bay, the UNESCO listed seascape of limestone islands is definitely worthy of a visit, as well as Hanoi with its impressive colonial buildings.
A river cruise along the magnificent Mekong river is a great way to explore the Vietnamese countryside. Many river itineraries along the Mekong continue from Vietnam into neighbouring Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat. This 5 star river cruise also includes 2 nights in Ho Chi Minh city at the start of the cruise and 2 nights in Siem Reap at the end of the cruise. The whole package is from £1999 from London, departing on most Saturdays on Singapore Airlines via Singapore. A great bargain!
Most itineraries that include Cambodia, also call at Thailand and Vietnam on a cruise through the Gulf of Thailand. River cruises now the Mekong pass lush vegetation and paddy fields before arriving at Seam Reap for a visit to Angkor Wat, which has temples and monuments that cover an area equivalent to the area of France. River and ocean cruises often include a visit to the capital Phnom Penh to see the Royal Palace and the famous Silver Pagoda.
Britain’s link to Burma and its reputation as a cultural treasure house has made cruises to Myanmar, as it is now known, increasingly popular. A closed country until a few years ago, tourism is still in its infancy. Cruises down the Irrawaddy River often start with a hotel stay in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) and smaller cruise ships are able to negotiate up the river to the capital. Larger vessels dock on the coast about an hour away from Yangon. Rudyard Kipling said about Burma “it will be quite unlike any land you know”. Match this with the always smiling Burmese people who are warm and welcoming and you are assured of a wonderful experience that will give you memories to last a lifetime.
Japan is usually known for it’s hi tech revolution but there are also many historical sights to see. Osaka was the first trading port in Japan and its pagoda like palace is world famous. Try and visit at cherry blossom time when the castle gardens will at their most beautiful. Osaka is also the port for a trip to Kyoto where there are many UNESCO sights including the Kyoto Imperial Palace. Yokohama is the port for Tokyo, and is reached by metro.
Laem Chabang cruise terminal is a 2 hour journey from Bangkok, although larger vessels can navigate the Chao Phraya River and dock on the outskirts of the capital. Bangkok is a vibrant city packed full of stunning Buddhist temples, colonial treasures, floating markets and shops galore, so it’s no wonder it’s the main port of call for a cruise in and around Thailand. Many cruise lines also visit the idyllic Thai islands that are dotted around its shores, with Phuket being popular for its coral reefs and the chance to spot the amazing leatherback turtles.
Hopefully this has wet your appetite for an Asian cruise, please get in touch with us to find out even more!
The Travel Bureau