Cambodia is stippled with sugar palms. Skyscrapers ladder Singapore’s city. Malaysia will carve and weave you its treasures. Bangkok – a breathtaking golden Buddha. Perhaps Vietnam is most unusual; specifically Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon). Nicknamed ‘Paris of the Orient’, this city has accents of French colonialism dating back to the 1860s. The cafés and French façades mix well with hot new bars, Vespa-scattered streets and traditional foods – try a steamy bowl of Pho noodle soup, fresh from Vietnam’s valleys. To the nation’s north, the striking Halong Bay will take your breath away, with its enormous limestone peaks protruding from the water.
Hong Kong’s iconic skyline is sure to grab your attention but beneath the mega metropolis façade you’ll find a deep complexity to the city’s makeup. Colonial relics, traditional fishing settlements and Taoist temples all recall days gone by and inhabit the world beyond bright lights. You may want to take a trip up to Victoria Peak and view the city from over 500 metres high or sit back and enjoy one of the famed Cantonese operas.
Lesser known is the city Laem Chabang, home to Thailand’s largest port and world class golf courses. Langkawi, known as ‘the Jewel of Keddah’, is an archipelago of islands that sit in Malaysia’s silvery waters – the northern isles are peaceful and secluded, offering sand spits and freshwater lakes. For lovers of colourful bugs, the Butterfly Farm in Penang is one of a few in the world, and there are plenty of botanic gardens to stroll in between shopping trips to Penang’s exciting cities.
Sailing to Singapore finds you discovering a surprisingly lush and green garden city that blends seamlessly with such impressive architecture as the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum and Marina Bay Sands hotel. Of course, the food is something to write home about. Singapore’s mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay influences means that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to tantalising flavours. Visiting the famous ‘hawkers’ in the food halls will surely surprise and delight in equal measure.
Of course, only so much can be absorbed – cruising along rivers and coastlines to various cities and ports, your senses will be inundated, no less invigorated. From its spicy trade routes to prehistoric landscapes and fragrant spiritual festivals, a voyage to Asia and the Far East is undoubtedly a life-changing, sensory experience.