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Setting sail from Benoa (Bali)
It's no surprise to us that Bali remains Indonesia's most popular tourist destination; though the island is not the undiscovered gem it once was, it's still a wonderful place to travel. The beaches, spectacular volcanic scenery and lush green rice terraces lend Bali a natural beauty that seems to dovetail perfectly with the island's distinct Hindu culture, which adorns the landscape with stunning temples. We advise steering clear of the backpacker beaches around Kuta, and heading instead for the quieter south coast resorts or the charming inland town of Ubud, the spiritual centre of the island.
Bali is seriously busy – it’s a long way for us, but just on the doorstep for Australians. The central mountains, or north and west coasts, are quieter.
The city of Probolinggo is located on the north coast of East Java, and is the jumping off point for excursions to Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park. The sight of smouldering Mount Bromo and Mount Semeru, looming over the fertile volcanic plains, is a highlight of any trip to Indonesia.
Indonesia: Karimunjawa Islands
The little known Karimunjawa Islands, off the north coast of central Java, are an unspoilt tropical paradise where white sand beaches are fringed by lush jungle, with barely another tourist in sight. There’s little to do except for relax or snorkel amongst colourful coral reefs.
The sweltering city of Semarang, on the north coast of Java, is an intriguing mish-mash of Chinese, Islamic and Dutch colonial influences. We recommend escaping the heat with a trip up into the mountains to visit a coffee plantation, or joining an excursion to the extraordinary temple complex at Borobudur.
On 27 August 1883 the island of Krakatau (Krakatoa) was torn asunder by the most famous volcanic eruption in history, a cataclysmic event that sent a devastating tsunami racing around the globe. Amongst the remains of the collapsed caldera sits the smouldering and still active Anak Krakatau, the ‘child of Krakatoa’.
Singapore’s heritage as an important trading post means that there is a real cultural mix, with four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Step away from the gleaming towers and you’ll find yourself transported into another world amongst the intoxicating streets of Chinatown and Little India.
Vietnam: Con Dao
The remote Con Dao archipelago lies far to the south of the Vietnamese mainland, made up of 16 sleepy islands blessed with beautiful beaches and the best diving in Vietnam. The main island, Con Son, has a darker side, used by the French and the Americans to detain political prisoners in grim conditions.
Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City
Still often referred to by its old name, Saigon, this is Vietnam's busiest city. Saigon was the capital of the South during the Vietnam War, and American-style capitalism has been embraced more enthusiastically here than in the North, with a clutch of shining skyscrapers standing as testament to Vietnam's surging economic growth. You can learn more about the city's turbulent recent history at the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum, shop for souvenirs at the colourful markets, or take a trip out of the city to the fascinating (and claustrophobic) Cu Chi Tunnels.
Ben Thanh Market has an eclectic mix of wares. From the usual tourist fodder to kitchen utensils and everything in between, go there for the atmosphere rather than the shopping.
Your home from home
Sleek and stylish, Ponant's wonderful Explorer yachts blend luxury and intimacy with a discreet elegance and tasteful décor.
What we love
Named after six of France's most famous explorers, Le Champlain, Le Lapérouse, Le Bougainville, Le Dumont d'Urville, Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier offer exciting and adventurous itineraries in the utmost comfort. Technologically advanced, with the latest in environmentally friendly hardware, the new ships embody Ponant's trademark élan and flair, with just 92 spacious rooms and suites, a stylish pool deck and an intimate, refined onboard ambience.
|Style||Refined with a wonderful mix of a modern super yacht and nautical tradition, all with a French flair.|
Tailor-make your trip
Where to stay in Saigon
We think the Park Hyatt is a good choice.
If you have time, make the slightly complicated journey via Labuan Bajo on to Rinca to see the Komodo Dragons.