Asia is a continent made what it is by the huge and breath-taking rivers that course powerfully through it. With mighty rivers such as the Mekong, Irrawaddy, Yangtze and Chalakudy providing the lifeblood of the land, as well as facilitating trade and supporting fascinating cities, a cruise down one of Asia’s great rivers is an exceptional experience for travellers. We’ve taken a look at some of the best river cruise experiences you can enjoy in Asia, featuring voyages through the wonderful nations of Burma, Vietnam, China and Kerala.
Burma, officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a welcoming and fascinating Buddhist nation that is famed for its astonishing hills, green pastures and beautiful temples and monasteries. A cruise along the Ayeyarwady – the nation’s largest river – will allow you to witness some of the most spectacular natural and manmade features that Burma has to offer whilst often enjoying traditional food and entertainment along the way. On this cruise, you’ll be likely to see oxen, water buffalos and traditional fishermen living as they have for generations on the river, as well as huge and beautiful paddy fields. A cruise along the Ayeyarwady River is also a great place to see Burma’s famous temples and monasteries, a highlight of these manmade wonders is the stunning Mingun Pahtodawgyi, a huge, incomplete temple which is home to the world’s largest bell and looks over the river with a majesty and beauty.
Vietnam is also home to a number of spectacular rivers, the largest of which are the Red River in the North and the mighty Mekong River in the South. A cruise along the Mekong, starting from Cambodia and travelling along the river to Vietnam is a wonderful way to experience the best that the two nations have to offer. Beginning a Mekong cruise in Cambodia will allow you to experience the beautiful capital of Phnom Penh, a city which is home to many amazing Buddhist temples and palaces, as well as wonderful traditional markets and a vibrant, lively atmosphere. As the river passes into Vietnam, the Mekong fans out into the several smaller rivers of the Mekong Delta, an area affectionately known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam. The traditional Vietnamese way of life remains in the towns and villages of the Mekong Delta, with floating villages, houses on stilts, fishermen and rice paddies acting as living reminders of why the world fell in love with Vietnam!
China is home to two great rivers, the Yellow River in the north, and the Yangtze River in the South. Whilst the Yellow River is important historically – with its basin thought to be the birthplace of Chinese civilisation – the Yangtze is China’s truly mighty river, Gorges, an astonishing area of natural beauty where large, green mountains tower over pristine water and the third largest in the world.
This area is also home to the Three Gorges Dam, an amazing feat of engineering which – as well as bringing electricity to many people – has raised the water levels in the Three Gorges, making them even more spectacular to behold.
The Three Gorges area is also home to the White Emperor City; a highand majestic temple, surrounded by water on three sides and offering amazing views of the Yangtze River and its mountainous surroundings. Another must-see when cruising the Yangtze River is the Fengdu Ghost City, a unique location where legends of ghosts and the afterlife have shaped some amazing sites. The city is nearly two thousand years old, and is full of astonishing temples, shrines and monasteries from a combination of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.
With forty four rivers flowing through in the south-west Indian state, Kerala is simply abundant in beautiful cruise locations; arguably the best of which runs between Kochi and Alleppey. This voyage begins with a visit to the coastal city of Kochi; a fascinating location, complete with a unique combination of great Synagogues and Mosques, as well as Chinese fishing nets, Portuguese houses and British relics! Once you pry yourself away from this remarkably diverse city, your cruise will take you on a peaceful, rural adventure along Kerala’s famous backwaters, through stunning Indian scenery and past traditional villages and wildlife. The town of Alleppey is a highlight of any Keralan boat trip; made up of a vast web of waterways, canals and houseboats, this unique town is often romantically referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’.
The cruises featured in this post offer just a glimpse of the wonderful opportunities on offer if you take a trip to Asia’s great rivers. These rivers have created the natural beauty, livelihoods and cultures of people across the continent, and will give you a portal to the water-based lifestyles that many around Asia still live to this day. So why not look into an Asian river cruise on your next trip abroad? The combination of peaceful river life, beautiful cultures and astonishing landmarks mean that this is an adventure with something on offer for any traveller.
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|Burma||12 days||from £2095pp|
|China||10 days||from £1095pp|
|Vietnam||9 days||from £1095pp|
|Kerala||12 days||from £1095pp|