Asia is a land of spices, rustic charm, and an amalgamation of several cultures, cuisines, and religions. It is crowded and vibrant in several aspects. The ever-changing landscape, terrain, languages, and age-old traditions attract tourists worldwide to experience Asia.
While one can book a flight from the UK or the US straight to Singapore, Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, or Hong Kong, the best option is a cruise voyage. As they say, the journey is more beautiful than the destination. One can choose from many itineraries ranging from a two-week trip between Hong Kong and Singapore while stopping at Vietnamese ports or exploring the Indonesian islands.
Many cruise ships frequent Thailand, Malaysia, China, and South Korea. Myanmar and Japan are emerging cruise destinations in Asia. The cruise season in Asia lasts from November till March. Some cruise companies, such as Chinese companies that target local markets, offer year-round services.
Let us have a look at the ten major cruise ports in Asia.
1. Tanjung Benoa Cruise Port, Bali
Indonesia is lined with paddy fields, steep slopes, fruit plantations, welcoming people, and unique Buddhist architecture. Bali is a resort vacation that offers several tours and exciting excursions. The most exciting cruises in the itinerary fall in line with Nyepi day or the Balinese New Year in March.
The principal port of Bali, Indonesia, Tanjung Benoa cruise terminal, is assessed by a three-mile channel. It has an eastern and southern berth for accommodating two cruises simultaneously.
The cruise terminal hosts famous cruise lines, including the Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Costa, Celebrity Cruises, and P and O Australia. More than 50,000 foreign tourists visit Bali on a cruise every year, boosting the local economy, which is almost entirely based on tourism and related services.
The modern terminal building is endowed with all the facilities. An added advantage is the port’s proximity to famous places such as Sanur, Denpasar, and Nusa Dua.
Most cruise ships dock near Berroa town. Take a taxi to explore Ubud Monkey forest and Taro Elephant Safari Park. Adventure lovers can go rafting on the longest river on the island and relax in resort hotels. Denpasar airport is around 11 kilometers from the port.
2. Laem Chabang Port, Bangkok
The Laem Chabang cruise terminal serves the capital of Thailand. Bangkok is an enchanting city on the Chao Phraya River close to the Gulf of Thailand.
Thailand is the only Asian country that was never colonized and was founded in 1782 by King Rama I. Nationalistic in essence; the people call their country ‘Muang Thai’- The land of the Free.
Bangkok is known for its gold spire Buddhist temples, ancient architecture, canals, mountains, and the traditional lifestyle unhindered by western influences.
The large cruise ships are welcomed at the Laem Chabang International terminal, 25 minutes from Pattaya. This terminal has food and beverage kiosks, an information center, a duty-free zone, and souvenir shops.
Small cruise ships use the second cruise terminal, called the Khlong Toey. It was opened in 1947 and functioned as the principal cruise port till 1990. It is close to the city center and the food market.
3. Ha Long Cruise Port, Vietnam
Vietnam is a land of misty hills, glistening rice plantations, high waterfalls, sparkling white sand beaches, and clear waters. It is a nature’s paradise and home to beautiful towns and cities. Vietnam is also renowned for producing the cheapest beer in the world. Bia Hoi is locally brewed without any preservatives and is said to be good for health if consumed properly.
Given its merits, Vietnam is a famous Asian cruise destination. Tourists can visit Hanoi, the capital, from Halong Bay port, Ho Chi Minh, or the Cai Lan port. However, the Ha Long international cruise terminal is the only harbour capable of accommodating the world’s biggest cruises and yachts headed toward Ha Long Bay.
The modern terminal design is inspired by the tranquil and poetic villages of Vietnam, which produce food for the country. It is situated amidst Bhai Chay Tourist hub along the Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The port has six wharves, four for yachts and cruise ships and the other two for the biggest international cruise vessels.
4. Hong Kong Cruise Terminal
Cruise ships in Hong Kong either dock at the Ocean Terminal, close to Tsim Sha Tsui on the Kowloon peninsula, or the Star Ferry Terminal or Kai Tak terminal, the newly built facility located in the heart of Victoria Harbour. The former became operational in 1966 and contains two berths for accommodating cruise ships weighing up to 50,000 tonnes. The latter was constructed in 2013 and welcomes 220,000 DWT cruise ships on its 380 m long cruise berth.
Victoria Peak, the Temple Street night market, and the Stanley market for shopping are famous attractions. One can enjoy harbor cruises or ride on ferries. Many excursions are organized to Lantau island, which houses the monastery containing the world’s biggest outdoor Buddha statues, and Macau, known for its nightlife and casinos.
Hong Kong’s maritime location offers it an added advantage in trade and tourism, two essential revenue streams for its economy. The natural deepwater harbours can berth the most advanced vessels while providing swift services.
5. Port Klang Cruise Terminals, Malaysia
Port Klang is the biggest and busiest port in Malaysia. It has two cruise terminals that receive international cruises. The Port Klang Cruise Centre, owned by the Glenn Marine Group, serves Kuala Lumpur, the capital and one of the most visited cities. It is a port of call for cruise lines such as the Royal Caribbean, Costa Cruises, and Star Cruises.
Tourists can visit exotic temples, magnanimous mosques, breathtaking skyscrapers, traditional buildings, and calm beaches. Kuala Lumpur is known for the Petronas Twin towers, fresh seafood, curries, rice puddings, and much more. History lovers must explore the National Museum and the Royal Selangor Club. The Batu caves are home to one of the largest Hindu shrines, the temple caves.
Boustead Cruise Centre is the second facility owned and operated by Bousted Holdings Berhad, one of the nation’s oldest conglomerate groups. The three-story terminal has many amenities, including foreign exchange counters, gift shops, duty-free outlets, eateries, ATMs, phone booths, and parking.
6. Port of Incheon, South Korea
The International Cruise Terminal of Incheon is the gateway to the South Korean capital of Seoul, housing over 10 million residents. It is a center of commerce and tourism. Seoul offers a perfect blend of modernism with traditionalism; bustling streets alongside palace gardens and skyscrapers contrasted with ancient shrines.
Incheon is a historic city, first entered by Westerners in the 1880s. It was also the place where General Douglas Macarthur landed during the Korean War. South Korea has become a preferred destination of travel, owing to the Kdrama popularity worldwide.
The Cruise terminal strives to provide the best customer service and develop an aesthetic passenger facility. It was constructed in 2017 and began operations in April 2019. The terminal covers 7,400 m2 and has two floors, a departure hall, a mobile gangway, an arrival hall, baggage check-in, and an information desk. It has several piers to receive cruise ships and yachts. Approximately 50,000 tourists disembark at the terminal annually.
7. Port of Shanghai, China
The Shanghai Cruise Port has three international terminals and is an essential port of call for Asia Pacific Cruises.
The Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal lies on Paotaiwan Bay, at the confluence of the Yangtze and Huangpu rivers. Its natural water depth and service infrastructure accord it the title of the best natural harbour in China. It has a quayage of 1500 meters with a width of 40 meters.
Three cruise ships weighing 100,000 to 150,000 DWT can berth at the piers simultaneously. The harbour district covers 160 hectares, and the core area is spread over 49 hectares.
Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal is situated on the Huangpu River, close to the downtown, with a waterfront covering 40 hectares. It can accommodate four passenger liners of 70,000 to 80,000 tonnes at once, with an annual passenger throughput of one million.
Shanghai Waigaoqiao Port Cruise Terminal lies in Pudong New Area, about seven kilometers from Wusongkou Port and 30 kilometers from downtown Shanghai. It is 13 m deep and welcomes the world’s largest cruise ships weighing over 200,000 tonnes. It has a 1000 m berth capable of accommodating four cruises at once.
8. Port of Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo Cruise port has four terminals, Harumi, Takeshiba, Hinode, and the new Tokyo International Cruise Terminal.
Harumi passenger terminal was opened in 1991. It handles domestic and international cruise ships. It also has a conference center and an observation deck. It hosts the annual Tokyo port festival in May, accompanied by a beautiful firework display. It has three berthing facilities covering over 1500 m.
The Takeshiba Terminal was refurbished in 1995. It connects Tokyo with Izu and Ogasawara Islands. Small and medium-sized cruise ships dock at the Hinode terminal, while the Shinkayu pier of the Tokyo International Cruise Terminal can handle Oasis-class cruise liners. It has a 550 m berth with a 12 m depth. The four-story building was constructed in 2020 and covers 19,000 m2.
9. Manila Port, Philippines
The Philippines is known for its tropical beaches, beautiful teal waters, lagoons, rivers swirling around rocky coastal formations, and modern skyscrapers. Tourists visiting the country might dock at Boracay cruise port, Manila, Puerto Princesa, or Ilocos port.
Each of these facilities offers a different and unique experience. Boracay and Puerto Princesa are known for their white sand beaches, resorts, restaurants, and local food, while Manila has exciting nightlife, pubs, and clubs. Ilocos has many historical buildings.
The cruise port of Manila has two piers measuring over 450 meters. Once tourists arrive, a small welcoming party is organized by the staff for the tourists and the crew.
When in Manila, tourists could visit Fort Santiago, the historic fort that once protected the city from invasions. Art lovers can explore the Metropolitan Museum of Pinto Art Museum and the many sculpture gardens. Manila is ideal for shopping, and you can find rare pieces of art, clothes, and jewelry at affordable prices.
10. Thilawa Port, Myanmar
The deepsea port of Thilawa is situated 24 kilometers from Yangon. It is known as the Myanmar International Terminal Thilawa or MITT. The cruise ships must sail for three hours upstream before reaching the dock. Most cruise liners offer a shuttle bus service to the port exit. People cannot walk on the port premises since it is a busy commercial facility.
One of the most famous hotels in Thilawa is the Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon. It is a 5-star hotel offering a royal holiday experience. Yangon is famous for its handicrafts and handmade pottery and clay items. Most of these are made by disadvantaged groups.
Yangon has many ancient temples and shrines. Also, water buffaloes are common, and people can see them as they exit the cruise terminal.
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