Asia as a travel destination
Asia is a very diverse continent. Not only the nature is fascinating, the people are as well. For Europeans exotic ways of life, but also temples, palaces or modern cities with high-rise giants await the holidaymaker. The most beautiful destinations are located in the tropics and thus, with the warm and humid climate, some precautions have to be taken, be it with vaccinations or medication or also with the choice of clothes.
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Asia Ferries Offers
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Best time to travel to Asia
Ferry connections to Thailand and Malaysia are possible all year round, as the weather hardly changes. Only in Ko Samui you should avoid the monsoon season (November to about mid December), otherwise you are very limited in your excursions. Best time to visit Langkawi, Penang and Kuala Lumpur is from December to February. For the whole of Thailand it is between mid-November and the end of March, in Singapore from March to October and in Hong Kong from mid-October to the end of March. The best time to travel to Vietnam is from November to April and to India from December to March. Indonesia has different climatic influences. Around Medan (East Sumatra) the best time is from January to March, near Jakarta from April to November, Manado from May to October and Manokwari from July to November. The best time to visit the Philippines is from January to March and Bali from May to September. In summary, the best time for holidays in most areas of Asia is the period from November to April, although regional variations should then be checked against the specific itinerary.
Ports in Asia
Bangkok / Laem Chabang
The Bangkok port is located in Laem Chabang, about 100 km from the airport. In a large industrial port, many Fähredock at the same time. The terminal is located where large container ships are loaded and unloaded. As the port is rather remote, there is no public transport of any kind. Taxis run between Bangkok and the port or the airport and the port. In the rush hour the journey can take up to 2.5 hours instead of 1 hour. In addition, dubious taxi drivers like to charge far overpriced prices. If you as an individual traveller depend on a taxi, it is therefore advisable to hire a taxi company in advance.
In Penang, the Fähredock at Pettenham Pier, which is part of Georgetown. You can already admire the old colonial buildings at the harbour when you dock. Two exchange offices are located in the port building. In Penang you can pay with the Malaysian Ringgit or with a discount with US-$. In the immediate vicinity of the port there are also several banks with ATMs. The wifi at the port is very slow. As only buses and rickshaws chartered by the shipping company are allowed to enter the port area, local providers of excursions are waiting outside the port. They offer fixed prices for trips to places of interest. In Georgetown, the public transport network with buses is very good, so you can reach many sights in the city directly by bus.
Kuala Lumpur /Port Klang
Port Klang in Kuela Lumpur is the largest and most important seaport in Malaysia. There are regular buses from the port to the city centre, 60 km away, as far as the railway station. This takes 1-2 hours, also due to 4 tollbooths on the way. In the harbour building there is a taxi agency with fixed prices, exchange offices and shops as well as free wifi. From the train station you can take a taxi, a bus or the elevated train.
Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS) is one of the largest ports in the whole of Asia. The “waves” on the roof give the impression that they are in motion. Ships dock directly in Singapore and some directly at the harbour front, from there you can easily explore the city on your own. With more than one hundred hectares, the Gardens by the Bay are a destination in the immediate vicinity. You can only pay in Singapore with Singapore-$.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)/ Phu My
The port for Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is located far outside in Phu My. Most Fähredock here. From Phu My you drive by car via the QL 51 for about 2 hours to the city center. It can also take longer due to traffic jams near the city. There is no public transport for this route. If you choose a taxi for the return journey, you should look for a driver who can communicate with you in English. The industrial harbour in Phu My is huge and not always manageable even for taxi drivers. Some Fähredock at the closer Ho Chi Minh City Passenger Ferry Port. Just 200m from the harbour, buses leave every 10 minutes from Bến Bạch Đằng to the city centre. Take bus No. 3 to Thạnh Lộc (6 stops) and change to line 150 at Công Viên Lê Văn Tám, about 200m away.
The port of Kochi (formerly called Cochin) is located in the southwest of India. It is located on an island belonging to the city area. The island of Willington is located in the lake Vembanad. The ferry terminal is fully air-conditioned and modern. It’s called Samudrika. From here to the city center it is 5 kilometers, so you should rather take a taxi. They are located at the terminal and are very cheap. Very worth seeing are the stretched nets of the fishermen that can already be seen when entering the harbour.
The Colombo ferry port is located in the middle of the commercial port. The commercial port is an important port with a long tradition. There are some shops in the harbour area, but the harbour itself is rather functional. If you prefer to explore the city on your own, you can take one of the taxis that are already waiting at the port. You should negotiate the fare before you start your journey.
The port of Hong Kong is one of the most beautiful ports in the world. It is located on the old tarmac and the modern Kai Tak Cruise Terminal is well connected by public transport. Victoria Harbour is the deepest container port in the world. The popular harbour regularly hosts festivities such as the Sea Regatta, Victoria Harbour Day and New Year’s Eve fireworks. Since the city starts right next to the harbor, you can enjoy the skyline of skyscrapers from the ship, especially at night. Hong Kong’s cultural centre is located in the Tsim Sha Tsui district.
One of the world’s largest container ports is the port of Shanghai. It is located with 5 port sections alone on Hangzhou Bay in the town of Pudong. In addition, there is the Yangshan deep water port with the first fully automated terminal, a free port and 3 other ports on rivers. At the Huangpu River you will find the Shanghai International Cruise Terminals and at No.1 Baoyang Road in Baoshan the Wusongkou International Terminal. Several million people come to Shanghai every year as holidaymakers. From the port to the old town you can take a taxi or public transport.
The international port in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is growing in importance. This colourful and vibrant city is located on the west coast of India. There are exchange offices and small shops here. For the way to the city centre, a taxi is the safest (and also cheapest) way to get around, although it is only 2.5 km.
Most ferry boats dock on the west coast of Phuket in Patong. Here the passengers are brought ashore by tender boats. From the tender pier the bus parking for excursions is about 1200 meters away. From here you can reach Phuket Town or the beaches in the south of the island in about 30 min by taxi. For excursions on Phuket, it is best to choose one of the excursions offered by the shipping company, even if they are more expensive than those offered by regional operators. The tour times of the regionally offered excursions usually do not fit with the time available to you.
Hanoi / Halong Bay
The port of Hanoi is called Hai Phong and is located about 100km southeast of Hanoi. The city is also called the city of red flowers because of the red flame trees lining the streets. Hai Phong is located in the middle of the Red River and is the fish transshipment port of Vietnam. Hai Phong has a beautiful old town and 16 rivers cross the city, which is still strongly influenced by colonialism. Very worth seeing is the Ha Long Bay, a breathtaking world natural heritage, where thousands of limestone rocks rise out of the water. It can be navigated by kayak or you can take part in an organized boat trip.
The Langkawi Islands with their limestone cliffs are very popular for excursions and have dream beaches. Public transport is not available at the terminal, but you can take one of the waiting taxis. For excursions through your tour operator you will be picked up.
The port of the small Sultanate of Brunei is called Bandar Seri Begawan and is located in Muara. The Sultanate is located on the island of Borneo. Here you will experience a mix of 1001 nights and modern flair.
The main modern port of Jakarta is Tanjung Priok. From here you can get to Jakarta in about half an hour by car or in 1.5-2 hours by public transport (M10 to Cempaka Mas, M2 from Cempaka Timur to Gimbur1, then another 1.5 km walk). A trip to the old harbour is worthwhile by taxi (21 min) or organized trip, possibly in connection with a visit to the old town Kota Tua Jakarta. The trip is worthwhile because of the many colorful boats and the fish market. Here at the port, every job is still done by hand. With public transport you would need at least 3.5 hours just for the journey there.
Fähredock in the southeast of Bali at the port of Benoa. It is the most important port of Bali with national and international shipping traffic. At the entrance of the harbour you can discover the water temple Pura Sakenan, one of many temples on Bali. Pura Sakenan is said to be related to the pilgrimage of the Buddhist saint Dang Hyang Nirartha and is also the site of the Galungan festival held every 2 years.
Manila is a city of millions and has a very large port. Manila has several baroque churches, which belong to the world cultural heritage. The people here are particularly friendly and the white magnolias are blooming everywhere. A walk in the harbour area is interesting, as you can watch the colourful hustle and bustle. The old town of Manila can be reached by taxi in about 10 minutes. By foot you need half an hour, by public transport you can go from Finanze Road with one change, but you have to walk about half an hour to the bus stop.
TOP10 destinations and sights in Asia
Grand Palace in Bangkok
From the port in Laem Chabang you can take a taxi for about 2 hours to the Grand Palace. The royal temple used to be the residence of the royal family. Here is the most important emerald Buddha in the world. Just a short walk away is the golden Buddha at Wat Pho. It is a sanctuary and measures 15 by 46 meters.
National Park Mu Ko Ang Thong near Ko Samui
This excursion is offered as standard in Ko Samui. Furthermore, only licensed excursion operators are allowed to drive into the national park. With a speedboat the trip goes about 28 km over to the 42 islands of the national park. Most of the islands are very small and uninhabited. 82 % of the national park consists of water. From a viewpoint on Koh Wua Talab (island of the sleeping cow) you have a wonderful view over the archipelago. This island is often visited next to Mae Koh (Mother Island). Mae Koh has a saltwater inland lake. With a little luck, interesting animal species can be observed such as langurs, crab-eating monkeys, dolphins or whales. During the monsoon season from about November 1 to December 15, this trip cannot be booked.
Penang Hill on the island of Penang in Malaysia
Penang Hill is 830 meters high. You have a wonderful view of the mainland and the town of George Town below the mountain from the summit. A funicular goes in 2 stages up the mountain. You can reach the bottom station by bus 201 or 204 in about 1.5 hours, by taxi it takes half an hour. You should be here as early as possible to avoid long waiting times for tickets. The summit can also be reached in a jungle hike of several hours.
Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary near Kuala Lumpur
This day trip takes you to a sanctuary of Asian elephants. This became necessary when the habitat of the animals was increasingly lost due to extensive urban development. In the sanctuary, the elephants’ natural habitat would be recreated. They are cared for here until they have regained enough strength to be released into the wild. Comfortable shoes and swimwear are important here and spare clothes in case you get soaked. You can experience a bath together with young elephants. The number of daily visitors is limited.
Mount Faber Park and/or Sentosa Island near Singapore
You can reach Mount Faber Park by cable car. Right next to the Harbourfront is the station of the Singapore Cable Car. It is located in the Tower 2 high-rise on the 15th floor. During the trip you float with the cable car directly over the ships of the harbour up to 105 meters of the mountain Mount Faber. Another cable car goes to Sentosa Island and back. Mount Faber has 56 hectares of rainforest for you to hike and relax through before the cable car takes you back. Sentosa is an amusement island with aquarium, 4-D cinemas, water park, butterfly park, theme park etc.
The lagoons of the backwaters near Kochi
The backwaters are very widely branched waterways that stretch over an area of 1900 square kilometres from Kochi to Kollam in the south. Besides 44 rivers and 1500 km of waterways and natural canals, there are also 29 lakes and lagoons. The ecosystem used to be even larger, but is very much influenced by humans. The crocodiles living here are already extinct. Nevertheless, a trip to the mangrove forests, palm forests and rice terraces is worthwhile. There are trips offered on a houseboat from Kochi that travels through the canals all the way to Alappuzha. The times vary between 6 and 7 hours. Guided tours are available for up to 4 people.
Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara in Sri Lanka
This Buddhist temple is located on the banks of the Kelani River only about ten kilometers from Colombo. He is said to have been canonized by Buddha himself about 500 years before Christ. Very worth seeing are the famous paintings and the golden Buddha statue. The picture house shows splendid paintings with historical scenes, also from the Buddha history. This important Buddhist shrine is located in the middle of a four-hectare complex. The courtyard may only be entered without headgear and barefoot. By car you can reach the temple in about half an hour via the A1 and Biyagama Road/B214. You can also reach the resort with all public buses that go to the Kelaniya stop on Biyagama Road. Festivals are held in the complex every night of the full moon and especially big every year in January. The Buddha’s visit some 2500 years ago is commemorated with a procession, folk chants and drum music.
The Shanghai Tower is a particularly popular attraction throughout the country. Even from below you will find the 632 m high tower impressive. In the 118. On the second floor is the observation deck with a unique view over the city. If possible, you should order the ticket in advance. The World Financial Center, the Oriental Pearl Tower with its revolving restaurant and the Jinmao Tower are nearby landmarks and easy to see from above.
City tour Mumbai
The multicultural city has a lot to offer: Remnants of the colonial era such as the Victoria Terminus railway station, modern skyscrapers and traditional markets complement each other. The first destination is usually the Gateway of India triumphal arch, a landmark of the city. It stands directly opposite the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Dhobi Ghat is a washhouse that has existed like this for 150 years, arguably the largest in the world. And you shouldn’t miss the Crawford Market either. It is a traditional market that has a lot of exotic things for Europeans to discover.
Thai Cookery School of Phuket
As an organized excursion you can participate in a Thai cooking class. First we go to the market where traditional ingredients are explained and bought. In the cooking school you will learn from a chef how to prepare Thai food. He’ll help you make a 5-course meal. You can eat it yourself afterwards and you also get a certificate. The course lasts 4 hours.
Questions and answers about holidays in Asia
Which shipping companies offer Asia Fähre?
There are many shipping companies that offer Asia ferries.
What is the climate in Asia?
Southeast Asia generally has a warm subtropical to tropical climate. Thailand has average temperatures above 26 degrees Celsius all year round. In Ko Samui it is monsoon season from November to 15 December. In Bangkok it rains from May to November at least 12 days a month (September 18 days) and from June to September the sun does not shine as long as usual. In Ko Samui it is almost daily 30 degrees Celsius with high humidity. Malaysia also offers a warm and humid tropical rainforest climate all year round. During the rainy season, rainfall is usually short and heavy, and flooding can occur. After a few hours, however, the sun dried everything again. Around Kuala Lumpur most rain falls in March/April and October to December, around Penang in April/May and September/October. Singapore has a humid tropical climate all year round. Most of the precipitation here is in the months of November and December. In the north of Vietnam (Hanoi) the winters are dry but cooler and in the south the dry months are extended from November to May, although the south already has the tropical climate which is always warm and humid. In India, the monsoon dominates the weather particularly strongly. In the period from May to September, the heavy monsoon rains are particularly intense and the humidity rises noticeably even in the south. The climate in Sri Lanka is also determined by the monsoons from the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean and is tropically humid. The Philippines experience a southwest monsoon with typhoon danger from July to October, on the southern Indonesian islands the rainy season is from October to April, in the north rather in May.
What clothes should I take with me?
Although your travel destinations in Asia are primarily in the tropics, a warm jacket for evenings at the railing is still important. Rainwear is also essential. This is true even if your trip is not during the rainy season. Conveniently, it should also be windproof at the same time. For shore excursions you definitely need sturdy shoes. If you want to go hiking in the rainforest, you will need ankle-high hiking boots (waterproof) and long trousers. For the tropics, thin and loose clothing, preferably in light colours (dark clothing attracts the sun more) is the order of the day. The wind can blow through it well and you will bear the heat better. Swimwear is important and so is summer clothing. Not all shipping companies take it so strictly with the dress regulations, but as a precaution you should still ask before the journey. Some cruise lines expect dresses and suits at dinner or for evening shows. On board you can easily have your laundry washed, so you don’t have to take too much with you. If one suitcase disappears after the flight, it is best to divide everything into two suitcases (mixed with your partner) and the very important utensils should rather be put into the hand luggage as a precaution.
Is a trip to Asia with a baby or toddler possible and recommended?
In the meantime, all larger and modern ferries have medical care on board. It is therefore perfectly possible to take a baby or small child with you. You should inform yourself in advance in a tropical institute, which precautions or vaccinations are useful and necessary for your child.
Which excursions are recommended in Asia?
All shipping companies offer a variety of excursions for each port of call, from which you can choose the tour that suits you best. Very popular are excursions to protected areas for animals, national parks with exotic nature, temples or even city tours. Always wear sturdy shoes and bring rain gear as the weather can be unpredictable.
Can I organize excursions in Asia myself?
In Asia, the distances to the single sightseeings or from the harbour to the cities are partly very long. In addition, there are imponderables such as sudden inspections or weather problems that make it difficult or impossible to return on time. As long as you can do everything on foot or short distances by bus or taxi, self-organized trips are perfectly okay.
Is the sea state in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Thailand, East and South China Sea very strong?
The modern Fährein Asia are equipped in such a way that they do not capsize and you will generally hardly notice a strong swell inside. The stabilizers reduce strong movements of the ship, especially on the large Fähre. Nevertheless, a very strong swell in the monsoon winds can be quite uncomfortable and if you are prone to seasickness, you’d better take some medicine from home. You will also receive medical assistance on board if necessary.
Do I need a passport or is an identity card sufficient for the trip to Asia?
For trips to Asia you always need a valid passport, which must be valid for at least 6 months after your planned return. If you cannot travel by Fähre due to illness or other circumstances, the passport is urgently needed anyway. Depending on the length of your stay, a visa might be required and you won’t get one without a passport. Children of all ages need their own passport. You should have copies of your identity and travel documents with you as a precaution. If you are dependent on medication, you will also need an import permit from the local health authority. For China and India you need a visa for entry. You can apply and pay for your visa for India online. Please ask your tour operator about the exact requirements beforehand.
Our conclusion to the Asia trip
Asia is a destination that promises very special attractions for you as a holidaymaker. With the ship you will experience different countries and discover other cultures as well as unique natural beauties in a single holiday. On trips to particularly large metropolitan areas, try not to stand out immediately. Partly the crime rate is very high and who handles valuables or a lot of cash, comes faster into the focus of criminal gangs.