6 Must-Visit Asian Destinations for a South African Cruise Charter

Asia has much to explore and has always fascinated South African tourists with its diverse landscapes and cultures, favorable exchange rates and visa-free or visa-on-arrival options.

While the continent is easily accessible via airlines with extensive route networks, cruises are also a fun way to explore the continent.

Global cruise lines are increasingly offering a range of Asian itineraries that allow travelers to experience diverse destinations more seamlessly, board a ship, pack their bags and depart.

Whatever you want, a cruise to Asia is the perfect hassle-free vacation, whether you’re traveling alone, with your partner or with kids.

Kevin Bubolz, Vice President and Managing Director, Continental Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) at Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), said that after a three-year hiatus, their Asia itineraries are back and better than ever, while carefully Curated to provide the perfect balance of exploration, relaxation and cultural immersion.

“We know South Africans especially value freedom and flexibility, having plenty of time off to do what you want. There is no better way to experience Japan, Bali, Thailand, Vietnam from a new perspective or in an easier way than on a cruise Waiting,” Bubolz said.

Here are six Asian destinations worth exploring in 2023 and beyond, according to Bubolz.


If witnessing sakura “snow” (i.e. pink cherry blossoms falling from the trees) is on your bucket list, then book your vacation for March 21, 2024 now.

NCL’s new Sakura Cruise will depart from Seoul, South Korea on the same day and arrive in Tokyo, Japan ten days later. Marvel at the architecture where “old meets new” and indulge in delicious food in South Korea’s ultra-chic capital.

The highlight of this cruise is undoubtedly the cherry blossoms that bloom every spring.

While the timing of the blooms varies from year to year depending on the weather, with a little luck you’ll see delicate blooms in Seoul or Beppu, Japan (top cherry blossom viewing locations).


Thailand attracts tourists from all over the world, including South Africans, who fall for the food, relaxed culture, sweltering cities and nightlife, affordable shopping and stunning beaches.

But maybe you’ve also always dreamed of traveling to Vietnam? Let’s not forget Singapore and Bali. It’s unlikely you’re planning a multi-country visit to Southeast Asia, due to logistics and additional costs – but you can do it with a cruise.

Visit the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, choose your favorite beach while enjoying beach time in Koh Samui, Lombok (Indonesia) and Nha Trang, Vietnam, eat your fill of pho and banh mi in Ho Chi Minh City and spend two days An incredible day exploring the diversity of Singapore.

Cruises allow you to experience these different countries and ports in the easiest and most affordable way.


Along with Thailand, Vietnam remains one of the most popular Southeast Asian holiday destinations.

In March 2023, the Vietnam Tourism Information Technology Center reported that the country had attracted 1.8 million tourists in the first two months of 2023, and the government aims to attract 8 million foreign tourists by the end of the year.

Of course, Thailand’s Phuket and Koh Samui islands are stunningly beautiful, but many tourists are surprised to find Nha Trang’s three kilometers of sandy beaches.

Take the cable car to Hon Tre Island, visitors can have a bird’s-eye view of the bay, after visiting the beach, don’t miss the famous White Buddha.


While Indonesia may be less well-known among South Africans compared to Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, the entire country has a tropical island feel with stunning beaches, stunning volcanic landscapes, temples and bustling markets.

Nestled in the Riau archipelago in Indonesia, Bintan Island is rich in natural beauty, stunning beaches, cultural fascination and many more things to do for leisure or active living.

You also won’t want to miss the Instagram-worthy acai bowls, yoga, plant-filled cafes, surfers and famous Bali’s endless rice fields.

Philippine Islands

You know that unbelievably perfect beach that pops up every once in a while on your Instagram feed?

That could be Boracay or Palawan. Known for its pristine beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and stunning limestone cliffs, Palawan is a tropical paradise that attracts tourists.

Boracay is “same, same but different”, offering a vibrant nightlife but equally stunning beaches. White Beach is famous for its 4 kilometers of powdery white sand and turquoise waters.

NCL is expected to visit the Philippine islands of Boracay, Palawan and Salomag for the first time.


Taiwan may be one of the most underrated Asian holiday destinations. It offers fascinating cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, gourmet cuisine including Nihao bubble tea, xiaolongbao and pineapple cakes, an incredibly seamless public transport system and warm hospitality.

Also, the country is consistently ranked as one of the safest countries in the world. For the first time, NCL stopped at Hualien at the entrance of Taroko Gorge. With majestic mountains, lush forests, and the Liwu River flowing through the gorge, Hualien boasts breathtaking natural beauty.

Explore the canyon’s winding paths, suspension bridges, and hidden temples for an awe-inspiring experience.

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