Trading ships from as far back as the 12th century have plied Oriental waters. Revelling in their cultural diversity, Asian nations share a history of commerce due to their proximity. Herein lies the magic for latter-day visitors – for this mosaic is perfect for a seaborne odyssey.

‘Fragrant Harbour’ – the Chinese translation of Hong Kong – is a curious descriptor of such a frenetic port. Victoria Peak is reached by the 120 year-old funicular that rises 1,312 feet to Hong Kong’s summit. Here you not only get breathtaking views, there’s an aerial insight into this former Crown Colony of 7.3 million inhabitants.

The epicentre of Bangkok is the old royal city. It is here, nestled in an oxbow of the Chao Phraya, that most explorations of the City of Angels begins. Among the pinnacles and spires is Wat Phra Keo, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, protected by a nine-tiered bejewelled umbrella and surrounded by gold murals.

A highlight of any cruise in the South China Sea is a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Literally meaning ‘Bay of Descending Dragons’, over 3,000 limestone karsts rise from the jade waters of Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin.