Most people associate cruising with big ships, tropical islands, and clear Caribbean waters. However, the world of river cruising–visiting the world’s inland ports via smaller luxury vessels while meandering down scenic rivers–is gaining popularity as an efficient way to experience the world’s most interesting cultures. With countless treasures hidden around river bends throughout the world, river cruising appeals to everyone from history buffs, to wine lovers, to art enthusiasts. Here are some of our favorite destinations for scenic river cruising.
1. The Mekong
The Mekong River is the longest river in Southeast Asia, stretching 2,700 miles through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. For travelers looking for history, archaeological sites, unique cities, and an amazing cultural experience, a river tour through the timeless wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Mekong offers all of these and more. Some itineraries provide a once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore Ho Chi Minh City’s Cu Chi tunnels from the Vietnam War, the Angkor Wat temple of the former Khmer empire, and the stone faces and roots of large banyan trees at the Bayon Temple. Still others provide a cyclo tour of Hanoi’s historic district and a traditional water puppet show. The Mekong River offers an authentic and exclusive look into the natural beauty, history, and culture of Southeast Asia coupled with an adventurous yet relaxing cruise down a scenic river.
For nontraditional cruisers looking to delve into artisan shops, to summit mountains, or to meditate in tranquil monasteries, Myanmar contains an ideal river cruise through a myriad of unforgettable sites. When traveling through Myanmar on a river cruise, you can explore historic cities such as Yangon, a former capital of Myanmar, and Mandalay, the Golden City. In Yangon, you’ll find local shops in Bogyoke Aung San Market, as well as Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Myanmar’s most iconic religious sites. Also along your journey, you’ll have the opportunity to climb up 777 steps to the top of Mount Popa and take a trip up Tant Kyi Taung Mountain to see its famous pagoda built by King Anawrahta in 1059. Whether you’re interested in local art, adventurous hikes, or sacred sites, a river cruise through Myanmar has something for everyone.
Moving west from famous rivers such as the Mekong, you’ll find medieval castles and rich vineyards along the Danube River, the longest river within the European Union. Also referred to as “the river of kings,” the Danube has been used for centuries as a mode of transportation and trade, stretching 1,785 miles between Germany’s Black Forest and the Black Sea. A Danube river cruise allows you to explore haunted Transylvanian towns and enjoy musical evenings in architectural gems such as Prague, all in one trip. You can even revel in romance along the Danube with a classical concert in Vienna or by enjoying Wachau Valley wines.
4. Rhine River
A cruise on the Rhine River is fitting for travelers yearning to adventure to fairy-tale castles and unbelievable summits. The Rhine itineraries offer access to Jungfraujoch, known as “the top of Europe,” as well as the irresistible food, wine, and art found of Colmar, France, in Alsatian wine country. While cruising through the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland, you’ll constantly discover medieval castles at every turn, and you will even have the chance to explore a fifteenth-century German castle, Schloss Ehreshoven.
5. Africa – Chobe River and Nile River
For more adventurous travelers looking to experience wildlife first-hand, Africa offers bold cruises down the Chobe and Nile Rivers. When sailing the Chobe, cruisers can expect to find white sand beaches in Cape Town and an unforgettable safari in Chobe National Park. This area contains Africa’s densest wildlife population, with elephants, giraffes, zebras, cape buffalo, and even prides of lions. If you’d rather travel as the pharaohs did, a river cruise on the Nile allows you to voyage through ancient sites and ruins in luxury. You’ll expedition through the pyramids of Giza and the tombs of Hatshepsut royalty and King Tutankhamun, all while encountering Egypt’s new and old wonders.
6. Amazon River
There are incredible river cruises on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, too. In South America, the Amazon River stretches 4,000 miles, making it the second largest river in the world. An Amazon River cruise will take you through jungles, native villages, and exotic species as you wind through Colombia, Brazil, and Peru. On the Amazon, you’ll have the opportunity to spot pink and gray dolphins, sloths, and piranhas, as well as venture through the “Mirrored Forest.”
With so many amazing options available around the world, you may be ready to experience a river cruise for yourself. Our professional team of expert travel consultants at Global Escapes have experienced many of these itineraries first-hand and are a fantastic resource for help in planning a flawless experience. For more information, request a consultation online or give us a call at 800-226-1164.