Australians are sailing the rivers of Asia in ever increasing numbers, lured by more ships and better itineraries.
So what’s all the fuss about? We round up the best Asian river cruises so you can get there before everyone else!
The Yangtze is the longest river in Asia and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country, China.
The 6,357km river runs through 16 Chinese cities but most river cruises sail the Yichang to Chongqing route vice versa.
This route will take you through Yangtze River’s most picturesque area, the spectacular Three Gorges region. Enjoy the tranquil grandeur of sheer peaks and towering cliff faces of the mountains that surround the river.
River cruise lines like APT and Victoria Cruises offer itineraries that sail the Yangtze.
Victoria Cruises’ four-day itinerary is focused on exploring the Yangtze, departing Chongqing and concluding in Yichang.
Depending on river conditions, you will get to visit a historic temple, a local riverside village and take a tour of the world’s largest hydropower station, the Three Gorges Dam.
Meanwhile, APT offers longer itineraries from 13-days that will allow guests to cover main Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an.
There are also 17-day itineraries that will bring cruisers to additional cities like Tibet and 22-day itineraries that will also allow you to explore the Yunnan province.
Visit local riverside villages for a glimpse of traditional, rural Chinese life or attend arts and crafts demonstration and even Tai Chi lessons onboard.
This itinerary is also for the foodies as you’ll be treated to a farewell dinner before disembarking, in Chinese Banquet style.
The Mekong River which runs through China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia is perfect for those who want to explore Southeast Asia.
The itineraries sailing the lower Mekong to explore Vietnam and Cambodia are the most common.
Heritage Line offers a week-long itinerary departing from Ho Chi Minh City and sailing north to Siem Reap.
Begin with tasting Vietnamese coffee and visiting floating markets, followed by walking tours in rural villages to discover their food and artisanal specialities and to see how Cambodian Silk is made.
They also offer four to five-day short escapes that covers the Vietnam or Cambodian portion of their extended itinerary.
Viking River Cruises also offers a 15-day cruise and tour itinerary where an 8-day Mekong river cruise is part of a larger itinerary that includes hotel stays in Hanoi, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City.
For cruisers who are looking to explore the upper Mekong, Pandaw offers 10-night expeditions to experience Laos and 14-night expeditions that brings you all the way to China from Laos.
Minor Hotels launched the Mekong Kingdoms which offer both day trips and short sailings. The vessels will be sailing northern Thailand and Laos on the Mekong river.
A two-night cruise in the Mekong Kingdoms journey between ancient Lanna and Lan Xang kingdoms to see the sleepy shores of the Golden Triangle to Luang Prabang.
The Irrawaddy River flows from the North to the South of Myanmar.
Along the river are many villages, monasteries and one of the oldest pagodas in the world, Shwedagon.
The historic wooden monastery is covered internally in gold leaf and you can even learn how to produce those decadent leaves of gold at a local workshop.
Scenic offers a 14-day river cruise from Mandalay to Yangon to explore the land that has only recently opened to western travellers.
Explore the 2,300 temples that are dotted across Bagan and ascend to the top of a temple for a sunset view.
Another prime spot to catch the sunset is the iconic U Bein Bridge near Amarapura.
Walk through the grandeur of the Mandalay Palace, which was rebuilt after being destroyed during World War II.
As you cruise north of Mandalay, take in the teak forests and wildlife. You may even catch a glimpse of an Irrawady dolphin if you’re lucky!
The river which originates from the Himalayas and flows through North and East of India is central to Indian Civilisation and sacred to Hindus.
If being stuck in traffic on your holiday is the last thing you want to experience, river cruising the Ganges allow you to explore India while avoiding congested roads as much as possible.
The river boasts sights such as mosques, terracotta temples, the Maha Bodhi temple (UNESCO world heritage site) and palaces.
Avalon Waterways has a 13-day itinerary that brings you from Delhi to Kolkata, where you board your Ganges river cruise.
This way, you’ll be able to experience the bustling Delhi city as you take a rickshaw ride through the bazaar, see the legendary Taj Mahal, before getting a glimpse of life away from India’s big cities.
On your Kolkata river cruise, you’ll see muslin weavers, saree weavers, goldsmiths, pottery makers and even visit Saint Mother Teresa’s former home!
Pandaw river cruises offer seven-day itineraries that focus on the lower Ganges or a 14-night itinerary that brings you all the way into the upper Ganges where you also get to take a drive through the Indian landscape.
Daily excursions will also bring you to the famous Bihar School of Yoga, a centre of silk production and even the world’s largest opium factory.
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