Why cruise to Asia?
There simply aren’t enough vacation days to see all the wonders that Southeast Asia has to offer, but exploring by cruise ship can provide an impressive overview of the area. From striking temples and golden Buddhas, to Singapore’s iconic half-fish and half-lion Merlion, you can unpack once and wake up somewhere new, day after day.
Let someone else do the planning
Planning a Southeast Asia itinerary can be bewildering, but cruising does a great amount of the legwork for you. Holland America’s 14-Day Far East Discovery itinerary sails from Hong Kong to Singapore and vice-versa, stopping along the way in ports in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
Give yourself a day or two to adapt after a long haul flight; Hong Kong’s A Symphony of Lights happens nightly at 8 pm and is worth fighting jet lag to stay awake for.
Cruising can reassure travelers
Travel on a cruise ship offers a comfortable way for folks who might feel nervous about visiting far-flung destinations like Sihanoukville, Cambodia. It’s also a friendly option for families and solo travelers.
Visas made easy
Cruising is also a good way to see multiple countries without the time-consuming hassle of obtaining visas. You’ll need to trust the ship with your passport, but on Holland America Line, they take care of a majority of the paperwork for their passengers. It limits time waiting in line, giving cruisers more time to explore places like Vietnam’s Halong Bay.
Learn about temple etiquette
Most temples welcome visitors, but the dress code can vary from place to place. Informative port talks give cruisers a heads-up about what to expect. As a general rule, knees and shoulders need to be covered.
Some spots like the Po Nagar Cham Towers in Nha Trang, Vietnam offer loaner clothes. Sarongs are lightweight and can come in handy for women when visiting religious sites.
Unique, unforgettable experiences
It’s easy to forget that while you sleep, cruise ships steam ahead to the next location, often covering more miles than you might realize.
You’ll wake up to each destination with unique things to do and see. For instance, the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, Thailand is built entirely from intricately carved wood, without any metal nails.
Luxury and comfort on a budget
Lodging, food and in many instances, even room service, are covered in cruise fares. So you don’t need to worry about finding breakfast before beginning a day of exploring.
Onboard spa experiences come in handy, especially after visiting the Long Son Pagoda in Nha Trang, Vietnam, where it takes hundreds of steps to reach the great Buddha statue on Trai Thuy hill.
Extended stays in port
Cruise ports in Asia are still predominantly commercial. Along with little services for travelers, they can be a long haul from popular attractions.
For example, Bangkok and its famous Wat Pho Buddhist temple is a good two-hour drive from the port of Laem Chabang. But that can also lead to more opportunities for spending a couple days in port, allowing interested cruisers to spend a night in a hotel within the city.
See the places you’ve only heard about
Southeast Asia cruise itineraries are designed to visit as many must-see destinations as possible. From iconic cities like Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong, to the colorful town of Hoi An, cruisers have a plethora of opportunities to see old and new.
Often missed locales
Da Nang spends a bit of time in the shadow of its more popular neighbor, Hoi An. Free shuttles make the less than half-hour drive from the port to the city center where you can go shopping in Han Market, check out the Dragon Bridge or visit the Lady Buddha.
Comfort zones to call your own
Regardless of where you go or what excursion you choose, you will rarely, if ever, be alone. After a long hike to the top of Hin Lad waterfall in Ko Samui, knowing a hot shower is waiting for you, and maybe even a cheeseburger and French fries for dinner, makes all the difference.
Find a new favorite place
With a taste of places like Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand all wrapped into one vacation, it’s hard to go wrong. You won’t be disappointed by the experiences you have at places like the Niet Ban Tinh Xa monastery in Vung Tau, Vietnam, and you’ll no doubt find yourself thinking a return visit should be in your future.
10Best is a part of the USA TODAY Network, providing an authentically local point of view on destinations around the world, in addition to travel and lifestyle advice.
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