The charms of Asia are several and varied, from the exotic food to vibrant temples and palaces filled with invaluable jewels. There’s the Forbidden City in China, super trees in Singapore and sandy beaches in Indonesia. With several attractions and cities on or close to the coast, a cruise is the simple way to see tons on one vacay as you only unpack once and awake every morning somewhere completely different, or are on the way to a new journey. Country collectors will notch up six or more countries during a few weeks. People who like a lot of focus will select from a growing variety of single country cruises.
You accumulate many memories and passport stamps on vacays that visit five or six Asian countries. This would be an arduous prospect by air however it’s none too testing on a cruise with many days at sea.
Port calls of Hong Kong and Singapore are continuously common, the latter for the sheer audacity of a country that packs large shopping malls, a rain forest bio-dome and spectacular high-rise hotels into an area less than the size of London.
Bangkok has buzzing tuk-tuks (open air taxis), street markets, and also the sprawling Grand Palace, housing the sacred Temple of the Emerald Buddha and a 26-inch Buddha carved from one piece of jade.
In Ho Chi Minh City, chaotic markets exist side by side with hipster bars. A cruise that stays in port two days means that you’ll be able to see the city and visit the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels where the Viet Cong lived during the Vietnam War.
Japan is so popular with cruisers that Cruise lines are devoting whole itineraries to discovering its attraction. It’s very easy to be dazzled by its cities and uncover its culture without fear of not knowing the language. Visit in the spring enjoy the notable cherry blossoms.
Some city names are familiar. There’s exciting Tokyo, the imperial city where neon lights, sushi restaurants and busy streets coexist with quiet gardens, shrines and temples.
Historic Kobe, a cosmopolitan city with shogun shrines, palaces and castles. Kyoto was the imperial capital till 1869.
And then there’s infamous Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where peace parks remember the atomic bombs dropped in 1945.
Elsewhere there are hot springs, festivals and ancient castles to discover. Aomori’s Nebuta museum displays vibrant floats that fill the streets throughout the August Nebuta Festival. Kanazawa’s DT Suzuki museum is devoted to the eponymous author who introduced Zen Buddhism to the west.
Island nations like the Philippines and Indonesia are hard work to explore if you get the urge to venture from one coral reef to another to check what treasures you may be missing there. For the most part, it’ll mean taking a ferry. Even though there are flights, that’s a waste of good vacay time going to and from airports.
Travel on a cruise and you’ll visit a distinct island each day. Indonesia has beaches, wonderful scuba diving and nice snorkeling.
On Komodo Island, rangers armed with sticks take guests in search of the eponymous ‘dragons’.
Philippines cruises combine the traffic-laden streets of Manila with blissful islands ringed with beaches, rain-forest, limestone karsts and granite cliffs. Palawan is a favorite for snorkeling.
Coron has the peaceful Kayangan Lake. Borocay guarantees white sands since it recently has reopened after a six-month clean-up.
China in your hands
Climbing the Great Wall and exploring the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square in Beijing are exciting enough, however cruise around China and the Far East and it’s easy to add many more experiences to only one vacay and not come home in want of another break.
Still in China, Shanghai has narrow alleyways, colonial design and acrobatic shows.
Visit Hong Kong and stay up late to be part of the crowds for an exciting night out in Temple Street night market.
Incheon is the gateway to Seoul and the DMZ that separates North and South Korea. Tours below the DMZ visit tunnels dug by the north however they were discovered before an invasion could be launched.
In Busan at the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula try some native raw specialties at the spirited fish market.
Taiwan has temples, museums and Taipei 101, one among the world’s tallest buildings.