Bangkok-based Cruise Asia Ltd. was created in 2003 for the sole purpose of providing upscale river cruise options on the inland waterways of Thailand.
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This is a simple vessel with elegant but basic accommodations and public spaces. The teak-lined cabins include air conditioning, safes and in-suite bathrooms with showers. All cabins are outside with outside entries, and all have twin-bed configurations. Dining is al fresco for all meals; the dining room is on the upper deck, which is covered with a collapsible awning (so the vessel can go under low bridges). The ship was built to resemble a colonial river cruiser in the style of the Irrawaddi Flotilla; by the 1920's, this Burmese company operated the largest fleet of privately-owned ships worldwide.
Meals are served buffet-style. All excursions and lectures are included in the fare, with the exception of the new "elephant driving" program, which has a surcharge of 1,900 Thai Baht ($55 USD, £37).
Passengers onboard this vessel will not confuse the luxury of this atypical glimpse into Southeast Asian culture and history with that of a six-star resort. Those who are looking for soft adventure with a convivial atmosphere, a great learning environment and offbeat experiences will relish these trips. Expect an international and eclectic mix of latter-day Indiana Joneses, who know that you can't get "elephant driving" lessons at your typical Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons resort, who can leave their cell phones and laptops behind and who want to avoid CNBC and CNN for a week.
Cruise Asia Fleet
At this time, Cruise Asia Ltd. offers one riverboat, the 156-ton RV River Kwai. There are 10 simple, teak-lined twin cabins on one deck with the public area on a second deck. The public areas include a restaurant, bar, observation area and a sun deck.
The boat does reverse itineraries on a seven-night schedule: Upstream from Bangkok or downstream from the Mae Khlong Dam (with bus transportation to and from Bangkok). Passengers can choose from four- or seven-night cruises; all start on Mondays. Stops include the Bridge on the River Kwai, Wat Tham Sua (tiger temple), Wat Phrasat Muang Sing (ancient Angkor temple ruins), the Thai-Burma train museum and train ride, the elephant camps and elephant rides, Lawa Cave, Hellfire Pass, Refugee School and more jungle and historic treks and Khmer history.