River cruising is one of the major success stories of the cruise industry right now. European rivers like the Rhine, Rhone and Seine have soared in popularity in recent years – by over 20% in the last year alone – leading to operators asking themselves, what’s next?
The answer, it seems, lies in waterways further afield. And, why not? The reason river cruising is so popular is that it offers a far more concentrated itinerary than ocean cruising. So, while an ocean cruise could include a huge number of countries, with a stop in each, a river cruise will take you right through the heart of a country. A truly great experience.
Given that many operators are moving into the exciting Asian market – with rivers like the Irrawaddy, Mekong and Yangtze – we thought it best to highlight what’s available on the Asian waterways. So here are our favourite itineraries from the most exciting area of the industry, sailing in the most exciting region of the world.
Treasures of China and the Yangtze
This 12-day itinerary begins in Shanghai and takes in some of the most stunning sights of the Yangtze River – including the Three Gorges Dam – before ending in Beijing.
The Asian waterways cruise includes both hotel stays and the river voyage itself, enabling guests to take in some of China’s most dramatic destinations.
Highlights include a traditional dumpling banquet, the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall of China.
Price upon request
Mandalay to Bagan
Local river operator Pandaw has a spectacular programme of itineraries covering one of the ‘hottest’ countries in the world right now: Burma.
Given that the country is only just opening up to tourism, to many it equates to seeing the ‘real’ Asia – but it won’t last. The more people that go to Burma, the quicker the country will become developed. Burma is currently riding on this frantic buzz and it’s no wonder.
The Asian waterways itinerary we’ve chosen takes guests from the country’s second largest city of Mandalay through to Bagan where over 2,000 Buddhist temples and pagodas survive on the plains. Passengers are able to take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise to get see the full beauty of the area.
Prices from £677 per person
Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong
Avalon’s extensive 16-day itinerary takes UK guests to Thailand’s capital city Bangkok, before transferring them to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where after six days touring the area guests will board the ship and begin their river cruise.
The Avalon Angkor will then sail south calling at Kampong Traiach, Angkor Ban and Phnom Penh where guests will visit one of the Killing Fields and prisoner camps of the Khmer Rouge regime. In this particular field it is believed that 200,000 people were killed.
From there the cruise will continue on through to Ho Chi Minh where guests will get an opportunity to see the Cu Chi Tunnels, used during the Vietnam War.
Prices from £3,843 per person
Indian river cruises are one of the lesser known gems of Asian river cruising – but a gem it undoubtedly is.
The river Brahmaputra snakes through Arunachal Pradesh and the Assam Valley before entering Bangladesh and joining the huge Ganges Delta.
The eight-day itinerary starts in Guwahati and finishes in Jorhat. Passengers will be able to visit monasteries, temples and enjoy yoga sessions onboard the luxury vessel.
There will also be visit the Kaziranga National Park which holds tigers, rhino and elephants.
Prices from £2,394 per person