Congratulations for joining the 2015 Atlantis gay cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong! It could be your adventure of a lifetime. And Purple Dragon is here to help you get the most from your time ashore.
Shore Excursions in GeneralShore excursions are day trips organized by the cruise line when the ship makes port. They are a big profit center for the cruise line, which crams people into a fleet of buses so that thousands of passengers can invade local sights all at the same time. Unfortunately Atlantis is not able to organize their own shore excursions or they might have chosen Purple Dragon. Atlantis Events are not able to offer shore excursions as a consequence of their contract with the cruise line. However, passengers on cruises are not forced or restricted to taking the cruise line's shore excursions under maritime law. We are simply offering these as an alternative that you can choose if you prefer to be in a smaller group with a gay guide.
About Purple DragonPurple Dragon is Asia's oldest, largest gay tour operator. Our owner is a gay American who has 40 years experience in tourism and has worked in Asia for more than seventeen years. If you have taken a quick look around our website already, you know that we do not like the idea of cramming people into buses. All of our tours are private and we have a staff of talented, gay, English speaking guides to take care of our guests in ten countries. We hope to have the opportunity to take care of you before, during and after your magical cruise.
The 2015 CruiseThe 2015 cruise is a repeat of Atlantis' 2013 cruise. We provided a series of shore excursions, including an overnight in Bangkok for the first time in 2013. More than 300 people signed up with us for one or more of our days and nights ashore. Needless to say, we learned a lot.
So what's new in 2015? Quite a bit, actually. Experience has made us better prepared to offer a better experience. In 2013 we picked up about 110 people from Laem Chebang port near Bangkok in two extra large buses and divided them into smaller groups in large vans and mini buses on the outskirts of the city. This year we are going to save time and confusion by skipping the big buses completely, and provide from one to three vehicles--each for one hotel. That will add about one hour for sightseeing on each of the days you are in Bangkok. For 2015 we will have a better selection of hotels at every price level. In addition to the two day/one night shore excursion we will offer two new options:
One day of touring and overnight. A few of the passengers will sail from Singapore only as far as Bangkok. Those passengers can take advantage of our transportation into the city, the first day of touring, and overnight. No activities are planned for the second day. We are happy to arrange transportation to the airport if you like.
Day trips from the ship and return. If you want to sleep aboard you can still take a day to see the sights in Bangkok. We pick you up on either of the days you are port, drive you into the city for a day of touring including lunch, then return you to the ship in time for a late dinner.
We were not able to offer Saigon in 2013 because of a staff shortage, but we will in 2013. We used a local company to handle our our Hue and Hoi An trips. The guides were awful and time was wasted on nonsense. In 2015 we will use our own Saigon and Hanoi guide staff in Central Vietnam since they are skilled, speak English fluently and will avoid "factories" and shops where tourists get ripped off. Unfortunately the ship had to skip Hanoi and Halong Bay in 2013 because of a mechanical problem. Chances of that happening again are remote.
First, please note....
We began to receive enquiries from people almost as soon as the 2015 Asia cruise was announced. We are still in the process of determining some 2015 prices. We are accepting reservations for everything using the form you will see when you click on any of the "Reserve" buttons on thi spage.. Only the Bangkok prices are firm. We will not send you a bill until prices for everything else are set. Every one of our shore excursions sold out in 2013, so we strongly advise getting on a list for the trips you want early.
Early Bird Discount
Every one of our shore excursions sold out in 2013, so it pays to reserve early. Reserve and pay before 31 October 2014 and you can take a 10% discount on anything you reserve. We accept Visa, Master Card, American Express and Paypal.
Despite its legendary cleanliness and conservative government, Singapore is pretty gay. There is plenty of nightlife and the city has a lot to see and do. We have limited guide staff in Singapore so we are organizing a small group program of no more than 25 to enjoy the city for two nights (or more if you want to dig below the surface of this fascinating island nation) before you sail. Besides famous sights like the Merlion, Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay complex, and the city's Chinese and Indian neighborhoods, Singapore has sleepy fishing villages, huge natural preserves to explore, and one of the biggest and best botanical gardens in the world.
Our package includes one or two nights hotel (including tax, service and breakfast, private airport transportation from the airport, a full day tour the day before you sail with transportation, English-speaking guide (yes, he's gay), and admission costs. You begin with a visit to Gardens by the Bay, two enormous contemporary conservatories plus outdoor gardens showing off flora from around the world. Even if you are not a plant person, you will be dazzled by the architecture and inventive sculpture. The second addition is the "Tale of Two Quays," a river boat cruise through the city ending up at the famous Merlion. The third is a "flight" on Singapore's iconic Singapore Flyer (www.singaporeflyer.com). Chinatown, Kampong Glam, Little India and Bugis Street are still a part of the itinerary.
We are using the The Scarlet, Singapore's first luxury boutique hotel, set in the midst of Singapore's equivalent of Soho. The hotel occupies a 1924 art deco building and an entire block of converted shophouses. It is close to great restaurants, galleries, and minutes from the local gay scene. You will enjoy the luxurious touches and the whimsical, flamboyant decor.
If you want only one night with airport transportation and transport to the ship let us know. You will miss the tour, but we will get you from the airport to the hotel to the pier stress-free. (Prices below are based on 2015 room rates and 2013 tour costs so they may be subject to a slight increase if necessary.)
Our All-Inclusive Singapore Pre-Cruise Package
One Night Hotel + Transportation
The Big Mango is the place we call home, so we are excited that you will have the chance to spend the night in the city to see the sights and enjoy our legendary nightlife.
Our Bangkok overnight package includes your choice of hotel, transportation from Laem Chebang port and back, two days of sightseeing with a highly experienced gay English speaking guide, lunch and admission costs. We regret that we will we will not be able to offer private tours or provide sightseeing to those who make their own hotel arrangements. We have a great selection of optional nightlife experiences below that are available to anyone (even if they have made their own hotel arrangements).
Bangkok sightseeing is designed for first-time visitors. You will see the Grand Palace, Wat Po (home of the famed Reclining Buddha, Wat Arun, with its iconic spire covered with broken Ming pottery, Vimarnmek Mansion, and the eclectic and eccentric connected houses created by Jim Thompson, the gay American who revived Thailand's silk industry. You will also have a daytime boat ride on the Chao Praya River. Sightseeing will begin at 09:00 on the second day, so you can enjoy some of Bangkok's legendary nightlife the night before.
There is not a set itinerary because everyone will be split into groups by hotel beginning when we pick you up at the port. There may be more than one group for each hotel. Groups will vary from 8 to 18. Guests staying at Hansar Hotel will be in groups of no more than eight. They will all travel a different route so they are not all at the same place at the same time. However, each group will visit all of places mentioned above. We know how to move efficiently around the city in order to avoid the inevitable mobs caused by bus invasions. Lunch will be included on both days and we will see that you return to Laem Chebang at least an hour sailing.
We are offering five hotel choices, each in a different price category from budget to five stars, so price depends on the hotel you choose. All of these hotels are centrally located and within easy reach of gay nightlife venues. In the interests of time, all group members must stay in the same hotel.
Cost depends on your choice of hotel and whether you want a room for one or for two. Our program includes:
* Unfortunately, it is customary for group tours to visit one or more "factories" where low quality jewelry and tourist crap are made and sold to tourists at exorbitant prices so that the guide can take a big envelope full of commission back to the boss. Since our guests are travelers and adventurers and not mere tourists, we have a policy of not wasting their time by holding up a tour until everyone has spent their quota. Other tour companies do this, and we can almost guarantee that the ship's shore excursion operators are among them.
Not included: beverages at lunch, phone calls, mini-bar, or anything of a strictly personal nature.Prices are in US$ and depend on the hotel you choose. To see a photos, a profile and location of each hotel, click on the hotel name. Prices are based on exchange rates of 20 August 2014 and may be increased or decreased in the event of major exchange rate changes..
If you plan to stay aboard the ship and still want a day of sightseeing in Bangkok or if you want to overnight in Bangkok on April 1st and want a day to do your own thing on the 2nd we will pick you up at 09:00, provide a full-day Bangkok Highlights tour and return you to the ship by 20:00 in time for a late supper. If you plan to spend the night in the city we are happy to accommodate you in one of our hotels but cannot guarantee that we will be able to provide transportation back to Laem Chebang on the second day. Group sizes are 12 to 18 people.. Cost for a one-day tour is $149 per person.
Optional Add-OnsWe offer three options in Bangkok after dark:
Loy Nava Dinner Cruise on the River of Kings
You can join us for a seven course Thai feast aboard a lovely converted teak rice barge as you sail the Chao Praya River to enjoy the fantastic, glittering skyline. At the end of the cruise we will make a stop at Pak Klong Talad, Bangkok's exotic flower market, where everything happens at night. Cost: $ per person.
Spectacular Siam Niramit Show
Another option is the Siam Niramit show, performed atop the world's largest stage (according to Guinness). Siam Niramit is Cirque du Soleil, the Metropolitan Opera, and Thai history, culture, and spiritual fantasy all thrown together. It is, in a word, dazzling, and nothing like a hotel's "cultural performance" beside the pool. This option includes round trip transportation from your hotel ad back, and a buffet dinner. Cost: $65 per person.
Gender-Bending Calypso Cabaret Extravaganza
Calypso Cabaret bla bla bla
We will offer shore excursions in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), CentralVietnam (Hue and Hoi An), and Hanoi from Halong Bay. You will not need a guide in Nha Trang because there is nothing to see there except for the anticlimactic Bau Dai Villa. You might want to poke around on your own and rent a motorbike to see nearby fishing villages and enjoy some of the local seafood.
SaigonThe shop docks in Phu My, which is in the Mekong Delta.
Hue & Hoi AnChan May Port is half way between the two towns, which are both UNESCO World Hertiage sites. It is not possible to visit both Hue and Hoi An on the same day since the drive between the cities is approximately four hours, so we offer two different excursions for no more than 25 people. The cost is $ per person and includes lunch. Once we have a group of 25 we will take a waiting list until we have enough for another vehicle. In 2003 we had three buses to both Hue and Hoi An.
Hue was the capital of what is now Vietnam well into the 19th century. What remains of an imperial city (much like a scaled-down version of Beijing's Forbidden City) still remains. Emperors built palatial summer retreats that would eventually where their mausoleums were to be erected. You'll have a chance to visit at least two. Hue also has its own unique cuisine, costumes and dance. In Hue we expect you to disembark at 10:00 so you will arrive in Hue at 12:00. After a lunch of Hue specialties, you will visit the Forbidden City, Tu Duc's tomb (actually his summer palace), and the Thien Mu Pagoda on the shore of the Perfume River. Monks from this pagoda set themselves on fire in the streets of Saigon during the war. You will probably have a chance to buy handicrafts available on the streets, particularly the colorful incense sticks made in Hue. If time permits you will visit Van Mieu Hue, the "temple of literature" that dates to the time of the late 17th century emperors. You depart Hue around 4:00 pm so that you can reboard the ship by 6:00 p.m.
Hoi An dates back to the 15th century, when it was one of the busiest trading ports along the coast of what is now Vietnam. The Portuguese, Chinese, Malays all settled here and left their own unique architecture. No vehicles are allowed into the center of this picture-postcard town. You will be able to visit local family mansions that have been converted into museums, see the canals that still pass through the town, and indulge in some very unique shopping. (You will fall in love with the colorful silk-and-bamboo lanterns made here.) If you plan to party hard on the ship, this laid-back little town could be the perfect place to catch your breath.
If you disembark the ship at 10:00 you will arrive in Hoi An at around 11:30. You will have a traditional Vietnamese lunch in the old quarter, which is closed
to cars and motorbikes. This wll be followed by a walking tour that visits several historic homes and temples. We have set aside an hour for shopping or, if you are up to a bike ride, a
quick trip past rice paddies and quaint homes to the beach. We need to know in advance if you want a bike. Back to the ship before 6:00 p.m..
Arrive in Hanoi in time for a quick lunch of Hanoi's iconic "pho" noodle soup..
Hanoi sightseeing from arrival until 18:30. We plan to include Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter, Ba Din Square (Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and, if time permits, Ho Chi Min's House on Stilts), and the Temple of Literature.
At 18:30 you will enjoy a performance of uniquely-Vietnamese water puppets. This is not a show for kids, but a fundamental reflection of Vietnamese culture that dates back hundreds of years. Born in riverside villages, water puppetry is a pageant of colorful carved wooden puppets that glide across the water. The puppeteers manipulate the characters with long bamboo poles from behind a backdrop to the music of a traditional Vietnamese orchestra. You will get a CD of the music to take home as our gift.
The show will be followed by a sumptuous buffet dinner of Vietnamese specialties. If there is time, will make a quick stop at one of the few gay pubs in Hanoi before returning to Halong Bay.
This shore excursion includes round trip transportation from Halong Bay, lunch, the assistance of two of Purple Dragon's fantastic English-speaking local guides, entrance fees, water puppet show and buffet dinner (including tax and service). Cost $TBA per person.
Your cruise ends in Hong Kong, the "pearl of the Orient." We are happy to take care of you there if you care to spend a night or two. Due to our limited local staff we will not be able to provide private tours and sightseeing will be limited to guests who also use the hotels we provide, so please reserve well in advance. We are using the (hotel to be decided) on Hong Kong Island. Because the period of the ship's arrival coincides with two major trade fairs, rooms are scarce.
Our day tour begins on April --, the day you arrive in Hong Kong. You will visit the Man Mo Temple, travel by tram to Victoria Peak, the highest point in Hong Kong to enjoy spectacular views, continue to Aberdeen Fishing village, where you have a dim sum lunch on a floating restaurant, visit the must-go Stanley Market for bargain-hunting, ride the historic Star Ferry between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, and stop at the "Old Clock Tower." Cost for the tour only: $TBA .
Extra nights including tax and service: $TBA per room. Since two major trade fairs (Security and Electronics) begin on 12 April room prices are substantially more than normal and availability is extremely limited. A deposit is required to confirm. If you have already made hotel arrangements in Hong Kong you can have the tour beginning at the pier and ending at our hotel for $TBA per per person.
. . . And BeyondYour cruise will end at the perfect time of year to visit China and Southeast Asia. If you plan to linger in China, we would love to show you Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an and Guilin. Or if you plan to return to North America over the Atlantic, you can add a post-cruise adventure in Angkor Wat, India, Bhutan or Nepal. With Purple Dragon Asia is all yours. Follow the links on the right to explore the rest of our website.
ReservationsPlease use the form below to join our programs. If you have questions and are not yet ready to reserve, shoot us an email first. We promise to reply as soon as we can (Please keep in mind that we are probably 10-12 time zones away.) If you are reserving for a group of friends, you can supply all names separately later. We accept payment by Visa, Master Card, American Express or Paypal. We look forward to welcoming you in our little corner of paradise!