River cruises are one of the best – and most popular – ways to see Europe, but did you know you can explore more exotic destinations by river?

River cruises also sail to Asia and Africa on voyages full of fascination. Ancient temples, breath-taking wildlife and unique cultures lie around every bend, stealing your heart and filling your mind with wonder.

Take a look at these places you might not know you could river cruise, and prepare to be inspired.


Walkway of the Great Wall of China

The Yangtze is one of the most spectacular rivers in the world. Flowing through 11 provinces on a 4,000-mile journey from its source in Qinghai Province, it passes through some of China’s most iconic cities; including Beijing.

This is where ancient and modern China meet in perfect harmony. The ancient buildings of the Forbidden City and sprawling Great Wall of China sit alongside towering skyscrapers and hip neighbourhoods. And don’t forget the food – a mixture of authentic street food and delectable fine dining.


Hazy view over the temples of Mandalay

Myanmar’s cultural capital is a diamond in the rough. Look beyond the bustling streets and honking car horns and you’ll find picturesque pagodas, peaceful monasteries and little tea houses that no doubt inspired Rudyard Kipling’s poem, Mandalay.

The starting point of many Irrawaddy river cruises through Myanmar, this energetic city will whet your appetite for the ancient wonders ahead. But first thing’s first: head to the top of Mandalay Hill for a spectacular panoramic view over the city.


Two young boys fishing with suspended nets in Assam

Bordering magical Bhutan, Assam runs the length of the Brahmaputra valley. Naturally, it is a popular stop on cruises along the Brahmaputra River, and not just due to convenience.

Assam has a vibrant artistic heritage and a skyline populated by elegant Hindu temples. What really makes this Indian state stand out, however, is its national parks, including Kaziranga National Park. Home to tigers, sloth bears and prehistoric-looking Indian rhinos, there is spectacular wildlife at every turn.

Siem Reap

Angkor Wat seen from across a lake on a sunny day in Cambodia

Siem Reap is a gateway to an ancient world: a stunning stop on Mekong River cruises to Cambodia. Temples abound, and the awe-inspiring presence of Angkor Wat is this city’s main draw.

That said, guests on river holidays shouldn’t discount taking a closer look at Siem Reap. Hip hotels, world-class dining and a creative cultural scene are turning the area into more than just a vessel for Angkor Wat. It is an up-and-coming city that can’t wait to share its secrets with you.


Mist above the canopy of a rainforest in Borneo

The Kapuas River flows for an impressive 700 miles, coursing through the Indonesian wonderland of Borneo. River holidays here are bordered by mountain ranges and rich jungles that team with wildlife, including gorgeous orangutans.

Elsewhere in Borneo you will find picturesque coastal villages, indigenous tribes and age-old traditions, as well as sublime Malay cuisine characterised by warming laksa, apom balik (stuffed pancakes) and delicately spiced curries.


An elephant silhouetted against the setting sun in Botswana

Flowing along the fringes of Botswana, the Chobe River is one of the most underrated waterways in the river cruising world. It is also home to Chobe National Park, which contains a quarter of Africa’s total elephant population.

Wildlife is, undoubtedly, the main draw of river cruises to Africa. Herds of zebra graze on golden grasses, mighty lions patrol the plains and hippos wallow in the water. Paired with landscapes of unparalleled beauty, these charismatic animals will leave you spellbound.

River holidays are the perfect way to explore lesser-known destinations. Take to waterways off the beaten track and be inspired by a whole new way of life.

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About Emma Smith

Emma has more than six years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for over two years. She loves learning of new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in diary for 2021! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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