Southeast Asia covers a lot of ground — and a lot of water. Cruises bring you to the historically significant places like Hanoi, Vietnam, and Siem Reap, Cambodia, and along the verdant coasts to authentic towns that are best reached by water. Trips usually depart from Singapore and either travel along the western coastline of Malaysia and Thailand on short three- to seven-night journeys, or on longer runs between Singapore and Hong Kong focused on ports along the coast of Vietnam. River cruises ply the Mekong through Cambodia and Vietnam, and along Myanmar’s Irrawaddy.
What We Love
Food: It's hard to pick a favorite, from the curries and noodles of Thailand to Vietnam’s noodle soups and beef dishes, and Indonesia’s satay meat skewers, fried chicken, and nasi goreng (stir-fried rice) eaten with sambal (red chili sauce).
Shopping: Southeast Asia is a shopper's paradise. Pick up authentic lacquer in Vietnam, gorgeous silks in Thailand, and batik fabric from Indonesia.
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Hanoi: Historic Hanoi is a walkable city with great museums, dining, and shopping, and the colonial-era French Quarter and even older Asian quarter are a step back in time.
Penang, Malaysia: This city’s old quarter is a lovely area of colorful shop houses, old temples, and narrow lanes that gives you a good indication of what Singapore was once like.
Langkawi, Malaysia: Outdoorsy types will like the jungle treks to waterfalls and kayaking excursions through mangroves teeming with birds, not to mention the island’s beautiful sugar-white beaches. Langkawi is unspoiled and naturally beautiful.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Be Prepared for the Weather: It can get boiling hot in Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia, especially in February, March, and April. On the other hand, northern Vietnam is chilly between December and March.
Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.