insights from the ultimate cruising team

Your Guide To Cruisign South East Asia

Your Guide To Cruisign South East Asia

Exotic beauty, ornate temples, rich culture and tantalising cuisine… the charms of Asia beckon! It can be a hard choice when cruising Asia – a river cruise on the Mekong, an idyllic sail around Thailand’s beautiful islands or an expedition cruise to discover the rainforests? Perhaps it’s Japan that’s calling you, or the picturesque Philippines? There’s so much to discover in Asia that it gets a bit overwhelming deciding where, how and when! Let’s break it down a bit.

The beauty of sailing South-East Asia is that you get a taste of a huge variety of experiences in a short period of time. You can barter for all you’re worth in Bali, relax on pristine, palm-lined beaches, discover gorgeous temples, shop ‘til you drop in Singapore and Hong Kong or get back to nature in Borneo. You can pack a huge amount of sights into a short space.

Let’s do a quick Q&A:

Which countries does “Southeast Asia” encompass?

From a maritime perspective, Southeast Asia (historically known as Nusantara) includes Indonesia, East Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Christmas Island and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India. From a land perspective, it also includes parts of Northeast India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

When is the best time to travel to Southeast Asia?

Well, this all depend on which country or countries you’re travelling to. Although it only covers around 4.5 million km2 (or approximately 3% of earth), the climates vary considerably! And while it may be dry in one area, it may be monsoon season in another. This is one of the reasons why cruising is so good – the cruiselines have already worked out for you the best time to travel to each area. They don’t sail year-round so they pick their itineraries to coincide with the best travel times.

Here’s a general guide:


April – October is when the weather is drier, although July and September are peak holiday times. December –February is the rainy season but like most tropical areas, it’s usually not days of endless rain but more short, sharp downpours and then clears up again.


Sitting on the equator, Malaysia is hot and humid pretty much most of the year but if you want to go when there is the least rainfall, travel in either January- March or June to September. The rainy season is generally October to December, but stretches through to February for Borneo.


Singapore is fairly consistent climate wise. November and December are prone to more rain but other than that you’re pretty much good to go for the rest of the year.


Thailand isn’t as settled and experiences different weather patterns in different areas. For Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket, November to February are the cooler months (read: more comfortable months!) with May to October experiencing more rain and possibly monsoons. Koh Samui on the other hand is generally better from April to September or January to March with more (a lot more!) rain from October to December.


Vietnam also experiences varying climates. Central Vietnam is best January- May, Hanoi is best March to April and Ho Chi Minh City is best March to May.

What types of cruises are available in Southeast Asia?

River cruises, expedition cruises, luxury expedition cruises, motorised yacht cruises, charters, adventure cruises… you name it, Southeast Asia has it! There are a host of cruises and cruise lines to choose from – it’s simply a matter of deciding on your preferred cruising style and preferred destinations.

What if I don’t know the language?

This is where cruising is perfect! You can book excursions and sightseeing onboard (if it’s not already included in the fare) and you’ll have English speaking guides everywhere you go. You also don’t have to worry about who to trust, who is a reputable company or how to pay a fair price.

There are loads of cruises to choose from in Southeast Asia. One that has our Ultimate Cruising team excited about is Ponant’s “Gems of Southeast Asia” departing in September 2019. Cruising from Bali to Hong Kong, this cruise gives you some of Southeast Asia’s best experiences! Fishing villages, white-sand pristine beaches, rice paddy fields, volcanoes, ancient kingdoms, bustling cities, rainforests and wildlife encounters – this one has it all! It’s a 16 night cruise on board Ponant’s luxurious Le Laperouse. You can find out more about this Southeast Asia cruise here or have a chat to our Ultimate Cruising experts by requesting a call here.