A river cruise is one of the best ways to explore Asia. Here’s the first of three Asian cruise highlights for you, we’ll start with China’s longest river, The Yangtze

cruise holiday

Asia river cruises reach the heart of the destinations in this fascinating region. The Yangtze, the third longest river in the world after the Nile and Amazon, is a place of spectacular scenery, topped by the limestone cliffs of the Three Gorges, where the recently-built dam is dominated by giant locks. Most cruises are paired with land tours to make the most of the region.

Three Gorges Dam

An awe-inspiring 11-night cruise, from Chóngqìng to Nanjing, visiting the Han Dynasty city of Fengdu, the 12-story Shibaozhai Temple of the Qing Dynasty, the modern dynasty’s Three Gorges Dam; you’ll also cross Dongting Lake, the country’s second largest freshwater lake, and stay in Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai.

The 18-day China’s Cultural Delights cruise with Viking River Cruises, departs 9/22 March, 27 July, 9 August and 4/17 November 2014 and costs from £3,345pp, including flights, 17 guided tours and wine with meals (0800 319 6660; vikingrivercruises.co.uk).

Terracotta Warriors

A four-night cruise along the most scenic stretch of the river starts with a visit to the Three Gorges hydroelectric project then continues through the Gorges with a small boat trip along the Lesser Gorges with their caves and waterfalls, where you can see the 18th-century, 12-story Shibao Pagoda. There’s a walk on the Great Wall of China, three nights in Beijing, and two in Xi’an (for the Terracotta Warriors) and Shanghai.

The 13-day Treasures of China and the Yangtze tour, departs regularly from April to October and prices start from £3,449pp, including flights, drinks with dinner and Titan Travel’s VIP Home Departure Service (0800 988 5867; titantravel.co.uk).

River highlights

This trip does the river highlights on a three-night cruise through the Three Gorges, with a motorboat excursion along the placid Daning River and Lesser Three Gorges. It is preceded by three nights in Beijing, two nights in Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors and a night in riverside Chóngqìng followed by two nights in Shanghai.  The cruise is on board one of the US-owned Victoria Line five-star ships, carrying between 200 and 360 passengers.

The 13-day Essential Plus Cruise tour, departs regularly from April to December and costs from £2,298pp, including flights (0843 506 4028; chinalinkstravel.co.uk).