1. Mandalay to Bagan
Duration: 4 days/3 nights
Boat: Outfitted with 28 cabins and suites, an on-site spa and gym. Each room comes with an en-suite, a balcony or floor-to-ceiling windows, complimentary Wi-Fi and 24-hour butler service. The upper deck holds a pool, sun loungers and shaded seating.
Route: Journey along the fabled Irrawaddy River with stops at ancient capitals like Mingun and Ava before disembarking in Bagan.
See & Do: Apart from admiring numerous gold-topped wats, excursions include the Hsinbyume Pagoda, a horse cart tour of Ava, as well as visits to the magnificent Shwe San Daw temple, Sulamani temple and Gubyaukgyi temple in Bagan. A sunrise hot air balloon ride over Bagan can be organised separately.
Dining: From wine tastings to alfresco barbecues and local cuisine, the on-board cellar is a major plus for wine lovers.
Best For: Honeymooners and mature travellers
2. Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Duration: 4 days/3 nights
Boat: Designed as a floating five-star hotel, the 205ft-long Aqua Mekong features cabins with king-size beds, floor-to-ceiling windows and rainforest showers. There’s even an on-site spa, gym and a top-deck plunge pool with private cabanas.
Route: Available July to November, the trip along the Tonlé Sap River gives an intimate peek into daily Khmer river life before finishing at the vast Tonlé Sap Lake.
See & Do: Aside from admiring the abundant birdlife, visit the silversmith village of Koh Chen and the archaeological site at Kampong Chhnang. You can also kayak around Moat Khla floating village.
Dining: With noted chef David Thompson as consulting chef, the kitchen utilises fresh river catch and market-fresh produce to serve Southeast Asian dishes.
Best For: Foodies and active travellers.
Fun Fact: The maximum width of the Tonlé Sap Lake is 100km, the largest in Southeast Asia.
3. Halong Bay, Vietnam
Duration: 3 days/2 nights
Boat: The Paradise Prestige is fitted with 15 air-conditioned, ensuite cabins spread across four decks. For extra privacy, the Terrace Suites come with outward-facing balconies.
Route: The route takes in the dramatic limestone karsts of Halong Bay and the quieter but equally stunning Bai Tu Long Bay.
See & Do: Start the day with a sunrise tai chi session on deck before embarking on a string of activities. Highlights include exploring Thien Canh Son Cave, kayaking to the fishing village of Vung Vieng and swimming off Ban Chan beach. There’s also Le Parfum Spa onboard – guests are entitled to a 50-minute massage daily – with a full treatment menu.
Dining: Dinners are lavish a la carte meals with both Vietnamese and Western dishes available plus free-flow drinks. There’s even a dress-up theme for the final night on board.
Best For: Honeymooners or large groups.
Fun Fact: Halong Bay’s famous karsts has taken 20million years to develop.
4. Laos to China
Duration: 15 days/14 nights
Boat: This refitted river barge has been designed for sailing on the fast-flowing Upper Mekong, with a low draft and extra powerful engines. The elegant cabins are finished in teak and brass.
Route: Until May, the route begins in Luang Prabang, while from September, it sails from Vientiane. The boat heads up the Mekong River via Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle before docking in Jinghong in China’s Yunnan province. You can also do the trip in reverse.
See & Do: As well as on-board cultural performances, talks and cooking classes, excursions include visits to local villages, waterfalls and Tachilek Shwedagon Pagoda.
Dining: Meals are an alfresco affair with both Asian and Western options.
Best For: History buffs.
Fun Fact: The Mekong River is 4,350km long.
5. Kochi to Thottapally, India
Duration: 8 days/7 nights
Boat: The Sauver Nigam – a traditional kettuvallam (rice barge) – has just two cabins, but each comes with ensuite facilities and air conditioning. The lounge chairs on the upper deck are the best spot to admire the idyllic scenery.
Route: A leisurely cruise through Kerala’s palm-fringed backwaters with stops at various villages before ending at Thottapally.
See & Do: Birders can spot everything from kingfishers to Siberian storks. The voyage stops at Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, an elephant camp and an Ayurveda centre, and includes encounters with local farmers.
Dining: Feast on traditional south Indian cuisine carefully prepared with indigenous ingredients.
Best For: Small family groups.
Fun Fact: 38 rivers feed into the backwaters.
SEE ALSO: Why New York’s evolving waterfront is the place to be this fall
This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of Silkwinds magazine