A river cruise across Asia is a truly inspiring experience, with a cornucopia of fascinating destinations and stunning areas of natural beauty to be found along the banks offer the continent's major waterways. Wherever in Asia a river cruise takes you, you will uncover a wealth of intriguing ancient landmarks, deeply spiritual cultures and bustling districts brimming with exciting excursion possibilities and authentic local experiences to savour.
Asian river cruises are available with an array of the finest river cruise lines, either travelling along the majestic Yangtze through China’s beautiful heartland, across exotic Myanmar on the Irrawaddy or to Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia via the mighty Mekong River. Each of these magnificent Asian rivers has its own distinctive character and diverse cultures to discover, so whichever you choose to cruise, you are guaranteed an unforgettable adventure.
The Mekong is Southeast Asia’s most iconic river, flowing for over 2,700 miles across the boundaries of six nations including Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. River cruises along this wonderfully exotic waterway, therefore, offer guests a diverse and enchanting Southeast Asian experience, encompassing a diverse range of cultures and destinations across a vast area of the continent.
Although not situated on the banks of the river, most Mekong itineraries will provide time in Vietnam’s bustling Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – formerly Saigon – at the beginning or end of a voyage, where travellers can appreciate the nation’s fascinating heritage and contemporary culture.
Elsewhere on the Mekong, featured ports across Cambodia include the nation’s capital of Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham and Siem Reap – the gateway to the ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat.
The Yangtze is Asia’s longest river, stretching almost 4,000 miles across China from its source in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to the East China Sea at Shanghai. As China’s most important waterway, this mighty river offers the perfect opportunity to experience a plethora of captivating destinations across this vast nation, from iconic, vibrant cities to scenic settlements and spectacular landscapes.
Most Yangtze river cruise itineraries will travel between two of China’s most famous cities – Shanghai and Beijing. Although Beijing is not actually located on the river, flights from Xian take guests into the heart of the city, from where they can visit an array iconic landmarks including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China.
Yangtze cruises also offer the chance to see the incredible Three Gorges Dam, the ornate pavilions and temples of Shibaozhai as well as Chongqing, the largest city in western China.
Flowing more than 1,300 miles from north to south through Myanmar, the Irrawaddy boasts an array of wonderful and exotic destinations as well as astonishing natural beauty along it verdant banks. On an Irrawaddy cruise, travellers will visit and explore a number of beautiful ports, where stunning temples and colonial heritage stand as testament to Burma’s rich past.
Some of the most spectacular destinations to feature on Irrawaddy river cruise itineraries include historic Bagan, enchanting Mandalay and the nation’s former capital of Yangon, most famous for its stunning golden pagodas.
Whichever Asian river you choose to cruise, you'll be guaranteed the chance to try some truly exotic dishes on your travels, making Asian river cruises an excellent choice for foodies and those who like to get a taste for local food. Ancient religious sites and temples are also a common fixture, so it's always a good idea to take both strong walking shoes for exploring and lightweight longer clothes for the purpose of modesty when entering temples and monasteries.