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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 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.
Indonesia: Parai Beach
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.
The laid-back riverside city of Kuching is the state capital of Sarawak, and the gateway to some of Borneo’s most impressive natural sights. The lanes of old Kuching are a joy to explore, while nearby attractions include caves, mangrove swamps and the proboscis monkeys of Bako National Park.
Brunei: Bandar Seri Begawan (Muara)
Muara is the main port of Brunei Darussalam, a tiny Islamic sultanate on the northern coast of Borneo. The sultan’s wealth is legendary, as is his sprawling 300-acre palace, although the capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan, is a surprisingly understated and likeable place, with an intriguing mix of Malay, Chinese and indigenous cultures.
Malaysia: Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu is the gateway to the Malaysian state of Sabah and makes for an excellent base, whether you’re planning on scaling the commanding heights of Mount Kinabalu, exploring the islands and turquoise waters of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, or embarking on a trip into the jungle to encounter Borneo’s fantastic wildlife.
Philippines: Puerto Princesa
Puerto, as the locals call it, is the capital of Palawan province, founded by the Spanish in 1872. The city is the only major metropolis in this otherwise pristine and sparsely populated region, and the main attraction here is the spectacular Subterranean River National Park just to the north.
Philippines: El Nido (Palawan)
El Nido, in the northwest of Palawan province, is the gateway to the spectacular Bacuit archipelago. Dramatic jungle-covered peaks, karst cliffs and pristine beaches draw intrepid travellers to this remote corner of the Philippines, along with the incredibly clear waters, perfect for snorkelling.
Arriving in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a fantastic place to begin or end a cruise, a striking mix of ancient and modern, Chinese and British, and there is a lot more to the city than just skyscrapers and high finance. On Hong Kong Island itself you'll find the bustling financial centre of Central district, the more traditionally Chinese Western district and the shops of Causeway Bay, while on the mainland Kowloon Peninsula the district of Tsim Sha Tsui is where most of Hong Kong's best hotels are located, and the atmospheric markets of Mong Kok are just to the north.
The views from Victoria Peak. Accessible by the Peak Tram, a funicular railway which claims to be one of the oldest cableways in the world, the views across the city are excellent.
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
Our favourite hotel in Hong Kong
The iconic Peninsula Hong Kong is, in our opinion, the city’s finest, and the Harbour View rooms offer picture postcard views of Victoria Harbour.
If you have time, make the slightly complicated journey via Labuan Bajo on to Rinca to see the Komodo Dragons.