Top 5 River Cruise Holidays Abroad

A river cruise could be the perfect way to explore a foreign country and see the sights. With everything arranged for you, you can kick back on deck and wait to be taken from one fascinating destination to the next.

Like cruise ships, a river boat often incorporates comfortable cabins, restaurants, bars and even swimming pools. Unlike cruises on the big blue ocean, a river cruise can offer you the chance to see spectacular scenery on a daily basis from the comfort of a deck lounger.

Our top five river cruise holidays offer a little something for everyone, whether you want to explore Egypt's treasures or catch sight of a rare Amazon River dolphin.

River Nile

A river cruise along the Nile is a great way to experience some of the magical, ancient sights of Egypt, from tombs and temples to pyramids and obelisks. River cruise holidays on the Nile give you the freedom to explore the area thoroughly over a short period of time.

Visit the temple of Karnak, the largest of its kind in the world. Karnak is just a few miles away from Luxor, and a must-see site to anyone visiting Egypt. Meanwhile, the temple at Luxor is also one of the great wonders of Egypt. Lose yourself amongst the tombs of the pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings, explore Tutankhamen's treasures, ogle at the great pyramids and admire the serene profile of the Sphinx. Wherever you go, you are sure to experience the magic of Egypt on a Nile river cruise.

There are many companies offering river cruise holidays in Egypt, and there's a cruise to suit any budget, from cheap and cheerful to luxurious. Most have sun decks where you can enjoy a meal or a glass of wine and watch the sun go down over the Nile.

Mekong River

River cruises along the Mekong in South East Asia are a relatively new concept. New cruise ships have been built over the last few years to accommodate the wave of tourists that want to explore this beautiful region. Many of the boats have natural wood exterior and interior walls, creating a comfortable and natural atmosphere.

The Mekong River journeys through Laos and Cambodia before spilling out into the ocean on the south coast of Vietnam. At 2,600 miles long, it is the 12th longest river in the world. A cruise along the river is a great way to experience the unique culture of this beautiful region of Asia.

In Laos, explore Khong Island or visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, a magical city that's packed with intricately decorated Buddhist temples. Experience the buzz of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, and visit the floating village of Kompong Luong on Tonle Sap Lake. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, you could buy local produce at the Cai Be floating market, or discover the lush green landscapes of Cat Tien National Park.

Yangtze River

A Yangtze River cruise is blessed by stunning scenery. Known locally as 'the Mother River', the 6,300km Yangtze River in China is the third longest river in the world, and it plunges through spectacular gorges. A trip on a Three Gorges tour provides particularly eye-catching scenery.

On a Yangtze River cruise, you could see real life pandas in Chongqing Zoo or explore the Fengdu Ghost City, which is a medley of ancient sculptures and temples. You might even get to visit the less touristy sections of the Great Wall of China.

Visit Shanghai or Beijing, two cities that are renowned for their dramatic architecture. Explore the City God Temple and the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai or gaze in awe at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Yangtze River cruise boats vary in style, from small makeshift wooden vessels to private luxury ships with onboard cabins and restaurants.

Amazon River

The Amazon River is one of the longest rivers in the world, which cuts through the rich jungle of South America where diverse wildlife mingles with fascinating cultures. A trip down any part of the Amazon River is an adventure of a lifetime.

Whether you want to wend your way through Ecuador or Peru, Brazil or Bolivia, your Amazon River cruise will be unforgettable and rich in wonders.

On a river cruise in Ecuador, keep your eyes peeled for rare freshwater dolphins, some of which are a startling pink colour, and visit Monkey Island, home to nine species of primates. Visit the Pacaya Samiria Reserve in Peru, also referred to as the ''mirrored forest'', or learn how local tribes survive in the Brazilian rainforest. A river cruise in Bolivia offers the chance to visit some of the least explored areas of the Amazon.

Many Amazon River cruise holidays incorporate ''get back to nature'' activities, including canoe trips, bird watching, jungle camping, nature hikes and fishing. Whether you like to keep active or relax on deck, there's something for everyone on an Amazon River cruise.

Mississippi River

Board an old fashioned steamboat on the Mississippi for a river cruise with a difference. Steamboats have been running cruises along Americas waterways since the 1800s. Mississippi steamboat cruises offer something different, from onboard casinos to Victorian entertainment and decor.

River ports along the Mississippi are steeped in American history. Explore New Orleans in the Old South, or find out what's on offer in St. Louis in America's Heartland. Or you might want to investigate Nashville, Louisville or Point Pleasant in the Wilderness Rivers.

Autumn is a fantastic time of year to take a Mississippi River cruise, when forested parts of the river adopt a golden hue. And if you like bird watching, then spring is a great time to explore the Mississippi as eagles are out in force.