When to go – January to May
From the colourful cultures of Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, to exciting experiences in Korea, Japan and Taiwan, a cruise is one of the most enjoyable ways to discover this exotic part of the world. In fact, there are so many exciting destinations to consider in the Far East that it can be difficult to narrow down exactly where you want to go.
Other once in a lifetime experiences include soaking up the views from Taiwan’s Taipei 101 – the world’s second tallest building, dining on a floating restaurant in Hong Kong or taking a ride through Bangkok’s bustling streets on a tuk-tuk.
Blessed with unspoiled landscapes, unparalleled beauty and diverse cultures, Asia boasts some unforgettable countries just waiting to be explored. So why not jump aboard to discover the best this Orient has to offer?
Must-sees include a visit to one of Asia’s manmade wonders like the Great Wall of China or the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. On the other hand, the pulsating cities of Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi are certain to impress – packed with a rich mix of cultures, towering skyscrapers, centuries-old architecture, incredible food and much more.
Peak season for cruises to the Orient are January to May, while the shoulder season runs from late March to May, and November to December.
The former imperial capital of Japan and the emperor’s residence for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto is a refined city full of splendid structures and fascinating formal traditions. A temple tour is one of the best ways to explore the city. Start with the Kiyomizu-dera temple which dates back to the 8th century, built across a waterfall, the temple has a veranda with sweeping views Kyoto and the tree gardens below.
Next on the list is Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion). The top two floors of this striking temple are covered in gold leaf and its pond-side setting, surrounding bonsai trees and gardens complete combine to create a stunning attraction.
Finally, the Ryoan-ji Zen temple is the site of Japan’s most famous rock garden, the origins and meaning of which remain a mystery.
Adventurous passengers could head to the Gion neighbourhood, Kyoto’s most famous Geisha district, to dine in one of ochayas (teahouse) that overlook Shirakawa Canal.
Bali (Benoa), Indonesia
Known for its forested volcanoes, terraced rice paddies and plantations, beaches and coral reefs, Bali is the picture of a tropical paradise.
For a dose of culture, head to the iconic lake-side Pura Ulan Danu Bratan water temple or the Uluwatu Temple, perched on a cliff, 70 metres above the sea, Uluwatu is one of six believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillars and is one of the islands top places to watch the sun set.
For something a bit more brash and lively then the beaches at Kuta and Seminyak are the places to be. Quality food, clubbing and excellent shopping characterise the south beaches of Bali.
The former capital of Myanmar (previously Burma) is, for now, relatively untouched by modernity. The city is dominated by colonial structures and some of the most stunning pagodas in the world.
Described as ‘a beautiful winking wonder that blazed in the sun’ by Rudyard Kipling, the 99 metre Shwedagon Paya dominates Yangon’s skyline. Nearly 30 tons of gold leaf, diamonds and gems adorn the pagoda which is one of the most important sites for Buddhists in the world. The nearby People’s Park is also worth a visit, offering brilliant views of the Paya as well as beautiful gardens and a decommissioned fighter jet.
Bogyoke Aung San Market (sometime called by its colonial name, Scott Market) is a vast, covered market offering the largest selection of local handicrafts and souvenirs in the city.