All inclusive cruise deals are a great way to see many different places at once. You get a glimpse into each place and if somewhere in particular takes your fancy, you can always book a longer holiday in that destination. (We’ve sailed around with my husband in Asia - got lucky with a last minute deal at Tui, they have amazing cheap all inclusive cruises.)
In this post you can read about the first half of our journey and learn more about each and every port and the things to do at each destination.
Cruise packages include a lot in a short space of time, while giving you the luxury of relaxing during your days at sea.
If your cruise is genuinely all-inclusive (ours included everything, even alcoholic drinks and tips) it means you don’t have to worry about spending for extras - you'll find cruise with flights included , too. And for food, you know that you will be getting a certain quality consistently with a hint of luxury.
The stress is taken out of your hands as most things will be booked in advance, so you don’t have to worry about getting transport at different places or where to travel to next.
An Asian cruise for Westerners is a great way to get a feel for different places throughout Asia. Asia is still seen as an exotic land, one that has a culture quite different to our own. It is steeped in history, with beautiful beaches and unique attractions. Each city and town have their own unique feel.
Laem Chabang is in Chonburi Province, 73 miles from Bangkok. It is a small town and while conservative, is home to a thriving nightlife.
The hot and humid air will make you glad of any breeze by the port. Even though you may be inclined to wear skimpy clothing with the heat, the town is conservative, and you do not want to offend the locals.
The area is not very fluent in English and is a port rather than a tourist destination. However, it has the Harbor Laem Chabang Mall, like a western mall, with familiar brands, including Starbucks and Levi’s.
You could try a Korean dessert or some bubble tea to cool you down. Bubble tea or Boba tea originated in Taiwan and is a flavored iced tea with ‘bubbles’, little chewy balls tasting of Tapioca or other flavors, that sit at the bottom of the drink. Just the thing to cool you down in the humid Thai air.
If you need a break from walking round the shops, stop for a traditional Thai or oil massage. Have your shopping bag shoulder eased and let the fragrant oil soothe your skin. What better place to get an authentic massage, right?
The Wat Lamchabang Temple (old), is a highlight of Laem Chabang. Its large golden statues of Buddha standing serenely in a lotus. The offerings at their feet. It is a peaceful place, close to the sea, to enjoy some quiet time away from the hustle of the port.
The best feature about Laem Chabang is the nightlife in Pattaya which you can reach by cab in about 30 mins. Walking Street is infamous for its discos and nightclubs. It is along Sai Song and Pattaya Beach Road where there are many bars, restaurants, shops, street vendors, and shows.
Walking Street is lit up like Times Square, the neon signs competing to entice you in. Their colors are dazzling against the darkness of the night.
The mile-long street has every entertainment you could wish for from go-go bars to ladyboy shows - this is actually an absolute must see. Even if you don’t want to dance the night away, this area is great to stroll through and people watch, while the music floats through the air.
Or for a more chilled out vibe, head to one of the many rooftop bars for views across the city.
Sihanoukville, also known as Kampong Som, sits on the southern coast of Cambodia, on the tip of an elevated peninsula.
Sihanoukville was once full of small fishing villages, beaches, temples, and waterfalls but now with an increasing influx of tourists, there has been lots of investment, mainly by Chinese.
There are now 70 casinos which attract a high volume of tourists which has changed the vibe of this sleepy town.
Taking a tuk-tuk around Sihanoukville is a fun and authentic way to see around the city or take you to the beach.
There are many beaches to choose from, ones jostling with crowds or quiet getaways.
Independence beach, also known as 7-Chann Beach, is a quiet place, away from the bustle of town. The pier reaches over the sea, a little thatched hut sits at the end so you can sit and enjoy the pinks and oranges of the sun set over the horizon.
The beach stretches over one kilometer long and grass umbrellas are dotted along the sand. A deserted hotel at the end of the beach often features Rhesus monkeys.
To the western side is Sokha Beach. Restaurants and bars line the beachfront, and the statues stand stately in the garden nearby.
Serendipity beach is the main beach, next to a pier and features a boardwalk with restaurants.
Otres beach is on the other side of Serendipity Beach and is quieter with restaurants offering Cambodian and western food.
Or wait until darkness falls to listen to the live music. Palm trees dot the sand and hanging swings, sway as people relax and listen to the waves sweep over the sand. Or hire a catamaran and sail over the beautiful blue sea.
You can’t go to Asia without heading to a market. The Phsar Leu Central Market is in the center of town and sells everything from fruit to seafood, clothing, jewelry, and local goods. It is a hive of activity offering local delicacies like jackfruit or if you are feeling brave, the durian fruit.
The Kbal Chhay waterfall is a highlight of the town. Its traditional khmer bamboo huts provide shade or hammocks to lie back and watch the water cascade into the brown rocks below. The large rock formations sprouting greenery from the cracks that trail down the rock face.
Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem are popular island destinations, situated off the coast of Sihanoukville. A ferry can take you across in forty-five minutes. The two islands are opposites of each other. Koh Rong is a party island and Koh Rong Samleom is a peaceful hideaway.
Phu My is a commercial port, an hour and a half from Ho Chi Minh, the largest city in Vietnam. While there is not a lot for tourists to see in Phu My, tourists can head to Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) or head south to Vung Tau.
Vung Tau is a set of mountains and beaches stretching along 100 kilometers of coastline. It offers a number of attractions including, Back Beach, temples, and impressive statues. Vung Tau is 30 miles from Phu My port, a relatively short distance to spend most of the day enjoying this southern district.
Back beach is surrounded by green hills and the beach is 10 kilometers long. Restaurants line the beach front offering authentic cuisine. The little fishing boats, a variety of blues, bob on the waves. A day could be spent relaxing, swimming or kite surfing, and enjoying the view.
The island of Hon Ba sits at the southern end and it is possible to walk here during low tide.
Hon Ba is not only a tourist destination but a spiritual island. The island has not been touched by modernity and the number of Buddhist temples here are worth a stroll around.
Hon Ba can be seen from Mount Nho where there is a famous Christ the King statue, rising 100 feet tall. It is white with a halo around his head, arms outstretched, in a similar stance to Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.
The views from the statue are impressive. The buildings, packed together, the rolling hills spreading their greenery down the hills, and undulating hills fading in the background.
The historic city of Malacca is situated in southwestern Malaysia. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a unique mix of influences, from Chinese, Indian, Malay, and European. The laid back atmosphere makes it great to stroll leisurely from one historic landmark to another.
The beautiful buildings are varied in their style and the mix of cultures is clear to see from their appearance. This merge of influences creates a unique blend of an atmosphere.
The Cheng Hoon Teng temple is the oldest traditional Chinese temple in the country, with engraved woodwork and statues to the goddess Kwan Yin.
The Porta de Santiago (A famosa) is great to explore. These Portuguese ruins lie at the top of a hill. You can wander around the stone buildings, the sun beating through the ruins where the roofs used to be, now exposed to the elements. So don’t forget your hat! Oh, and have a good camera on you too, the view is spectacular from the top.
The pink town hall and Governor’s residence, called Stadhuys, is believed to be the oldest Dutch building in the East.
If you want something a little livelier, Jonker Street, situated in Chinatown’s center, is a hive of activity. With a night market and bars with live music. Stop in the warm night air for the specialty of fried egg ice cream.
Situated off the mainland coast of Northwestern Malaysia, it is part of an archipelago of 99 islands, a popular honeymoon destination. The largest of the islands, it is known as “legendary island” due to the myths surrounding its geological formations.
In the southwest coast of the island you will find the Langkawi SkyCab. A cable car rising 708 meters above sea level, up to the Gunung Machinchang Mountain and SkyBridge.
The yellow and red glass bottomed cable cars glide amongst the thick forest. The view is of the undulating peaks of mountains, like a camel’s humps. A waterfall can be glimpsed amongst the trees, its water glinting like diamonds. The luscious greenery rolls down to the shore. Fauna covered islands rising from the aquamarine sea, the coast of Thailand in the distance.
As the cable car travels upwards seemingly level with the fluffy white clouds, the air cools.
After the fifteen-minute ride, the car leads to the longest cantilever skywalk in the world, the SkyBridge. A huge construction jutting out over the mountain as if suspended in air.
Walking along the bridge, there are glass panels, showing the plummet to the thick greenery below. Note that it’s only accessible in clear weather, if it’s rainy or too cloudy you won't be allowed up there.
Back down from the dizzying heights of the mountain is Pantai Cenang beach. The white sand beach stretches as far as you can see in either direction. Palm trees rise above the canopies of the cafes below. If you want to get your adrenaline pumping, there are jet skis and parasailing available.
Or watch the sun slowly disappear behind the mountains, the blues and greens of the landscape fall into darkness and lamps and candles spread their glow. Music drifts through the night air from the multitude of establishments along the beach. The bars offer live music, dining, and cocktails.
Be sure not to overdo it on the cocktails as there is a host of activities available in this amazing landscape. Visit the Pulau Payar Marine Park for snorkeling or diving. A catamaran or speedboat can take you out to dive and look in awe at the Coral Garden, a secluded area with colorful corals, along with all the sea life.
The Telaga Tujuh waterfalls are locally known as the home of the faeries. It is situated in the western headlands and has seven natural pools connected with seven separate waterfalls. Swimming is permitted in the water or there is a steep, forty-five-minute climb to the top of the waterfalls.
There are many parks to explore the variety of wildlife the island has to offer. From Crocodile Adventureland to Underwater World. Or the Langkawi Wildlife Park and Bird Paradise has a walk-in aviary. If Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds, scares you, this might not be for you, as the birds swoop overhead.
Each stop on the cruise is a glimpse into another world. Each unique and offering something different. The range of landscapes from serene beaches, thick jungles, and bustling cities create an atmosphere unique to Asia. And it was only halfway through the journey, you can read about the second half of our trip here.