With so much to see in this part of the world, the best way to get the most out of a trip is by planning a cruise or multi-centre tour. You'll discover exciting new destinations that you could only dream of visiting, such as Buddhist temples, panoramic views of rice fields, exciting cities and gorgeous sun-drenched beaches.
India's premier metropolis, Mumbai, is a city of stark contrasts; modern towers of steel and glass stand next to stately stone edifices from the days of the Raj. The fabled 'Gateway of India' is a place of haunting beauty, from the marble serenity of the Jain Palace to the Elephanta Caves, where sculptures of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu were carved out of solid rock over a millennia ago.
Goa is India with a hint of Portuguese flavour. It's famous for swaying palms carried on soft breezes along the white sands, evocative but crumbling architecture, richly decorated churches, and the custom of siesta, eagerly embraced by the local population. Head to the surrounding Indian countryside for traditional villages, spice plantations and an exhilarating bird-watching experience at the wetland sanctuary.
One of the best ways to explore the interior of countries in this part of the world is on a river cruise. Waterways like the Brahmaputra and Ganges allow you to see how life is really lived here and take you to unique sights that lie off the well-trodden tourist routes.
Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is a land of primeval jungles inhabited by leopards and elephants, wondrous ruins of the great civilizations of ages past, and a modern city. The island became famous for producing the world's finest teas. Bright, fragrant spices; sparkling sapphires; and the colourful trappings of a variety of ceremonies and religious festivals make this a most rewarding destination for those who keep their eyes and ears open.
The Maldives is a chain of 1,200 or so low-lying islands south-west of India. Male is one of the world's smallest capitals, but is nevertheless home to a third of the Maldives' population and boasts big-city-style skyscrapers and shop-lined main streets. Protected from a capricious ocean by sea walls, it's a green, pleasant mini-metropolis surrounded by isles renowned for white-sand beaches and world-class snorkelling and diving.