Everything, everywhere, all at once, all the time Sum up touring Asia in a paragraph? Good luck. Positively massive by just about every measure, the sole thread that unites this diverse continent is the sheer diversity of experiences it presents to travellers. Arid deserts and towering peaks; secluded temples and bustling markets; tiny villages and sprawling cities; ancient history and cutting-edge modernity; teeming crowds and places so remote you won’t find another human being around for miles—Asia encompasses all this and so, so, so much more. Don’t expect to absorb it all; dive on in and let it seep into your skin.
Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My): Cu Chi Tunnels
Step back in history as you explore tunnels dug up to 36 feet below the earth stretching all the way to Cambodia. Explore the tunnels, used by Viet Cong fighters during the Viet Minh fight and Vietnam War, which still display meeting rooms, kitchens, guerrilla tools, and weapons.
Halong Bay/Hanoi (Cai Lan): Halong Bay / Luon & Sung SOT Caves
Take a scenic boat ride along Halong Bay, the World Heritage Site, brimming with over 3,000 limestone Islands and islets contrasting against the emerald waters. You’ll have the opportunity to stop at islands along the way. But, don’t miss one of the most popular natural wonders, Thien Cung Grotto and Dau Go Cave, revealing beautiful stalactites.
Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang): Batu Caves
Explore the sacred temple complex along the limestone hill brimming with statues, caves and long-tailed macaque monkeys. One of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India, Batu Caves, draws thousands of visitors each year for the Hindu festival of Thaipusam.
A modern metropolis with a deep-rooted past, the city offers a vast array of exciting excursions, from beautiful botanical gardens to a river cruise. We suggest spending the day at the Singapore Zoo only because it’s considered one of the best in the world. Nestled in a rainforest environment, animals roam freely within “natural boundaries.”
Private Feng Shui Heritage Tour
Dive deep into the philosophy of Feng Sui with visits to a Hakka cemetery, a monastery, the Marina Bay Sands, and Orchard Road and discover how home elements can be used for harmony. Explore sites built around the yin- yang concept and the five elements of nature.
Phuket: Phi Phi Island
Known for pristine beaches and breathtaking coastline, Phuket is home to Phi Phi Island. Spend the day swimming and snorkeling in the crystal waters, climbing the dynamic rock formations or relaxing on the splendid beaches. On the drive back you have the opportunity to visit the charming town of Phuket and a local monastery.
Bangkok: Grand Palace & Chao Phraya River cruise
Laem Chabang, the gateway to Bangkok exudes excitement. Visit the Grand Palace, the gem of the city, and former residence of the royal Siamese court. The most sacred temple in Thailand is not only an architectural masterpiece but boasts a beautiful emerald, Buddha. After, glide along the Chao Phraya river for a fantastic view of the picturesque shores and the mystical sights along the way. Find out why this charming town is dubbed “Venice of the East.”
Probolinggo: Mt. Bromo
Lush landscape and beautiful beaches infiltrate Indonesia. Be sure to visit the highlight of Probolinggo: Mt. Bromo. The active volcano is one of the most visited areas in East Java where you can discover the myths and legends surrounding the mountain.
If you’re in search of idyllic white sand beaches, this is your port. With its crystal waters, Sihanoukville is the perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Don’t forget to stop by the nearby villages for fresh seafood.
Emerald Waterways, winner of Cruise Critics Editor’s Pick for “Best River Line for Value” for the third year running, is now accepting bookings for their 2019 river cruise season. Guests booking any 2019 sailing before April 30 will pay 2018 fares and receive an additional discount of $1,000 US per couple on sailings of 15-days or longer, and $500 US per couple on sailings of 8-14 days. Emerald Waterways 2019 preview brochures are available for order now.
Emerald Waterways’ 2019 season will bring two new ways to explore one of Europe’s most popular rivers for cruising. On the new 8-day Classic Danube river cruise, guests will sail from Nuremberg to Vienna with more time to learn about the fascinating military history of Nuremberg and take in some Austrian culture in Passau and Melk. The 8-day Lower Danube Waltz itinerary, which takes guests from Vienna to Belgrade, pays a visit to the vibrant Eastern European city of Budapest before taking guests to Osijek, Croatia to enjoy lunch in the home of a local family and onto culturally rich Serbian towns of Novi Sad and Belgrade.
Emerald Waterways is a four-star river cruise line boasting contemporary, deluxe ships, outstanding service and an incredibly inclusive pricing plan. Cruise fares include all transfers; all port charges; all onboard (and some on-shore) meals; unlimited specialty tea and coffee, wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner; bottled water in the cabins replenished daily; continental breakfast, pre-dinner canapés and after-dinner sweet treats served in the top suites; complimentary Wi-Fi onboard the ship; most shore excursions as well as all onboard and excursion gratuities.
Part of Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Emerald Waterways’ seven Star-Ships offer sailings in Europe and an exclusive charter on the RV Mekong Navigator for sailings in South East Asia. Scenic’s 15 Space-Ships offer truly all-inclusive, five-star river cruises in the same destinations as well as the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar and the Volga River in Russia. In 2018, Scenic is introducing the world’s first Discovery Yacht, Scenic Eclipse, that will take 228 guests on polar adventures as well as the Mediterranean, Caribbean, the Americas and Europe.
Emerald Waterways, www.emeraldwaterways.com
AmaWaterways is gearing up for its most exciting year yet, with the much-anticipated arrival of three new ships, and the company released its 2019 preview brochure. Offering guests and travel professionals a first look at its new ‘Luxury of More’ messaging, the brochure introduces AmaWaterways’ most innovative additions to-date – including many new ways to experience each destination along the rivers of Europe, Asia and Africa.
“Innovation is at the forefront of our business and we’re always challenging our teams to think about ‘what’s next’ in terms of services, itineraries and ship design,” said Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways. “We can’t wait to see the fruits of our labor and innovation enjoyed by our friends, family and guests!”
In 2019, AmaWaterways will add three new ships to its European fleet – the most in a single year since the company’s 2002 launch – with each meeting a different need of the growing river cruise market. AmaWaterways’ ship, AmaMagna, will be almost twice the width of traditional European river cruise ships, giving guests onboard more space than ever before to enjoy their river cruise experience. Sailing the Danube river, this game-changing ship will welcome just 196 guests offering luxurious living spaces, a majority of staterooms 355 sq. ft. or larger, multiple dining options – including an al fresco restaurant – more onboard activities and enhanced evening entertainment.
“Research has shown that many ocean cruisers and active travelers have yet to experience river cruising because they thought the staterooms were too small, or the dining options and activities too limited. We are confident that AmaMagna, with the additional space and more diverse onboard programs will overcome these objections and open up a whole new market for us,” said Rudi Schreiner, president and co-owner of AmaWaterways. “I’ve had this unique ship on my mind for many years and am confident that now is the time to introduce my vision. I can’t wait to see AmaMagna sailing the Danube in 2019.”
Additionally, the line will introduce AmaMora, sister ship to AmaLea and AmaKristina, which will sail the Rhine river. AmaDouro, sister to AmaVida, will be a welcome addition to the Douro River as the region’s popularity continues to grow.
In 2019, AmaWaterways’ European fleet will also offer guests several new onboard activities and amenities. The company’s recently expanded Wellness Program will be rolled out to most European ships, giving guests the opportunity to join group exercise activities – including morning stretches, yoga, cardio/core strengthening, resistance band workouts and circuit training – complemented by healthy eating options and relaxation techniques taught onboard.
In addition to further expanding its Wellness Program, AmaWaterways will enhance the company’s popular Wine Cruise Program. In 2019, the line will offer 60 hosted Wine Cruises – the most ever – giving more guests the opportunity to dive into the region’s rich wine culture. AmaWaterways’ Wine Cruises blend the best of both New and Old-World viticulture by offering guests unparalleled access to some of North America’s top winemakers, and the opportunity to experience the iconic wine regions along Europe’s stunning waterways.
Furthering its commitment to bringing guests the most immersive cultural experience possible, AmaWaterways will greatly enhance its land programs in 2019. For the very first time, the company will offer an optional pre-cruise land extension for every cruise, with new ways to experience landmark cities like Amsterdam, Budapest, Lucerne, Munich and Zurich. Adding a two- or three-night pre-cruise land extension provides travelers the chance to adjust to the time change and eliminate jet lag while fully acclimating – and exploring – the destination. AmaWaterways is also adding new pre-cruise extensions in Bilbao and San Sebastian, Spain prior to embarkation on its Taste of Bordeaux itinerary, as well as a post-cruise option in Rwanda, Africa, which may be added to each of its five African itineraries.
Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world, drawing millions of tourists each year — and for good reason. The pristine beaches, year-round sunshine, friendly locals and, of course, the beloved Thai cuisine make it the perfect place to escape the stresses of life. This country’s popularity, which can translate to bustling cities and crowded resorts on the mainland, is why the more discerning traveler is opting for a hidden gem, known as Phuket. This remote island in Southern Thailand offers a different Thailand experience, where the focus is on the experience.
Star Clippers offers four unique, seven-day sailing adventures in Southeast Asia aboard the 170-passenger Star Clipper, all with Phuket as its home base. The Northern Phuket and Southern Phuket sailings explore the islands of Southern Thailand, while the Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand itinerary begins or ends in vibrant Singapore and features ports of call in Malaysia. Here are six great reasons why a sailing in the waters around Phuket:
Escape the Hustle and Bustle: Many travelers don’t realize that in addition to the popular (and sometimes crowded) mainland, Thailand is comprised of hundreds of tiny islands in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, where crowds are few and life moves along at a leisurely pace. Guests on the Star Clipper visit some of the most secluded of these islands, including Ko Surin, a national park, that comprises five islands near the Myanmar border, and Ko Adong, an important nesting area for sea turtles.
Get the Long View: The topography of Southern Thailand is like no place else, with its sheer limestone crags, lush rain forests and crystal clear blue water – making for a paradisiacal setting. What better place to enjoy the view (and get a few photos) than from the deck of a tall ship as it sails through these picturesque island chains? Guests are welcome (and encouraged) to climb the 100 feet to the top of the ship’s crow’s nest for an unforgettable vista.
Dive In: Divers and snorkelers love Thailand, especially the waters around the Similan Islands, known for offering some of the best diving experiences in the world. With water clear enough to see nearly 100 feet down, the underwater panoramas here are worthy of the hype. A certified dive master on board the Star Clipper means guests can choose from diving or snorkeling adventures here.
Don’t Sacrifice Luxury: Resort lovers looking for a change will love the modern luxury and relaxed pace of a Star Clippers sailing. Spacious accommodations, gleaming teak decks with ample space for sunning and multiple pools, and gourmet dining allow for a luxury vacation. Guests looking to get active can try their hand at hoisting the sails with the crew or trying out a variety of complimentary water sports like paddle boarding, wind surfing and water skiing.
Go Solo: Cruising can be expensive for solo travelers. So Star Clippers is waiving single supplements on all Far East sailings in 2017 and 2018, which translates to starting fares of $1,360 for a seven-night sailing. The intimate size of the ship – just 170 guests – and welcoming environment makes it easy for single travelers to make new friends.
See More: The trek to Thailand is a long haul, so it only makes sense that travelers want to get the most out of their time in the Far East. Star Clippers’ affordable land tour packages, which can be added for pre- or post-sailing, include hotel nights, tours and transfers. The three-day Lion City Tour in Singapore, for example, includes two night’s accommodation with breakfast, a half day city tour and two complimentary transfers, and starts at $369 per person, double.
For more than 25 years, Star Clippers has been introducing travelers to the thrill of modern tall ship sailing to remote ports in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indonesia and Far East. The company operates three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels: Star Clipper and Star Flyer are traditional clipper ships with modern amenities carrying 170 guests, while the 227-guest Royal Clipper holds the Guinness World Record for being the largest and only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship in service today. All three ships have expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, convivial tropical bars on deck and piano lounges. The brand’s newest vessel, Flying Clipper, will debut in Fall 2018.
Star Clippers, www.starclippers.com
It is never too early to plan a Mekong cruise and Scenic makes it easier with its announcement of free airfare for guests booking the 13-day Treasures of the Mekong cruises. Guests get to explore and learn about the amazing cultures and histories of the cities, towns and villages that reside along the banks of the 2,700-mile long, six-country river. The offer, encompassing 25 U.S. gateways for bookings made by July 31, 2017, is good the few remaining departures in 2017 and through April of 2018.
The 13-day all-inclusive itinerary, aboard the five-star, 68-guest Scenic Spirit, sails between Siem Reap, Cambodia home of the 12th-century Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The route includes guest experiences such as a traditional monk’s blessing, high tea at the landmark Raffles, private shadow dance puppet performances, and a magical themed gala dinner at an Angor Watt Temple with Apsara dancers – as well as views of floating canal villages, verdant paddy fields and picturesque islands. Multi-night stays in Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap offer both guided tours and free time to explore and enjoy a true sense of the magic of these ancient places.
To explore the exotic treasures of the Mekong, the year-old purpose-built ship, Scenic Spirit, named by Condé Nast Traveler as the most luxurious vessel on the Mekong, will provide an intimate boutique cruising experience with only 34 private balcony suites. The all-inclusive experience includes: private butler service, unlimited complimentary beverages, included gratuities, cultural entertainment and regional cuisine in customized settings: poolside to cabin, al fresco to fine dining, personal service with nearly 1:1 guest-to-staff ratio; elevator access to all service decks; on-board English-speaking guides for lectures and local insight; plus sleek swimming pool, fitness center, steam sauna, beauty salon, guest laundry, library and open-air cinema.
Asia river cruise pioneer Pandaw is offering limited availability savings on Christmas-time expeditions, including a 50% reduction offer on a unique Burmese double.
Pandaw’s Christmas and New Year cruises are amongst the most popular products in their 28-route range, offering passengers the chance to mark the special days in the ancient sites, glorious landscapes and charming peoples of Southeast Asia, while their acclaimed chefs serve up special seasonal fare. The expeditions offer an unforgettable alternative to traditional Festive Season celebrations.
For the first time in its 21-year history Pandaw is offering a limited-availability special on its new 10-night Ranong to Rangoon and the Mergui Archipelago expedition, for departures on 18 and 29 December 18, 2016 and December 29, 2016 from $3,995 (excl USD 350 port tax) ppdo, PLUS a 50% discount on the Mandalay-Pagan Packet cruise when booked together. Running consecutively, the two expeditions combine to offer an unprecedented in-depth insight into Burma’s extraordinary variety of natural landscape, history and culture.
The Ranong to Rangoon expedition is the first ever-scheduled cruise to explore the spectacular unspoiled islands and coastline of peninsular Lower Burma, another world first from Pandaw.
Passengers on board over the festive season can enjoy an especially lavish choice from their chefs’ celebrated Christmas and New Year’s dinner menus, offering slow-roast turkey with all the trimmings, slow roasted strip loin steak with red wine jus, and steamed Christmas pudding with brandy custard and vanilla bean ice cream.
Pandaw’s Ranong to Rangoon and the Mergui Archipelago, which launches in October, marks a new departure in the 21-year history of the company, which was the first to pioneer river routes deep into the interior of Southeast Asia. The 10-day expedition will explore Lower Burma’s fascinating Andaman Sea coast and some of the 800 islands of the Mergui Archipelago on board the MY Andaman Explorer; Pandaw’s newly acquired 10-suite classic 60’s cruiser
Pandaw’s founder Paul Strachan said: “It has long been a dream of ours at Pandaw to venture into coastal cruising, and at last we have found the perfect vessel for the task. The Andaman Sea coast and the Mergui Archipelago are rich in stunning natural beauty and strong human and cultural interest.”
From markets and cultural sights to delicious local eats while in port Continue reading “The Hotspots of Ho Chi Minh City”