A cruise down a river offers a new and exciting way to see the world. For ship and destination information, check a review site such as CruiseCritic.com or CruiseMates.com.

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Danube, Hungary and Austria

Still recovering from decades of neglect behind the Iron Curtain, the ornate buildings of Budapest have a mysterious, haunting beauty. Upriver in Vienna, as a clip-clopping horse draws your carriage through the ancient streets, ask your driver to drop you at the Volksgarten, home to one of Europe's loveliest rose gardens. At the nearby Natural History Museum, see the 24,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf.

Rhine, Germany and France

Cologne, the German city with a French name, and Strasbourg, the French city with a German name, have been passed between the two nations for centuries. Too many ships and riverboats skip Cologne. Inside its medieval cathedral, tradition says, are relics of the Three Wise Men. With its black-and-white timber-framed buildings, Strasbourg's Grande Ile is a UNESCO site.

Mekong, Cambodia

Stop at the port town of Siem Reap, near the tranquil 1,000-year-old Buddhist-temple complex of Angkor Wat. About 200 miles to the south is Phnom Penh, which was called the Pearl of Asia, thanks to its beautiful French-built city center. But its most awe-inspiring buildings predate that, including the graceful, gold-topped 19th-century Royal Palace.

Yangtze, China

Rising waters from the Three Gorges Dam required construction of a dam around the dramatic 17th-century all-wood pagoda at Shibaozhai. Climb 12 stories to the top to see the Buddhist temple with painted statues. The Yangtze's gorges are less dramatic than they were before the waters rose, so be sure your cruise includes a side trip through the narrower, still-impressive Lesser Three Gorges.