"Shropshire Union Canal at Stoak Cheshire" by Terry Kearney via Flickr Creative Commons

The very best of the world’s waterways can punter you down an English canal, set you in the middle of the Amazon, explore Australia’s most rugged terrain, journey back in time in Africa’s historical sights and have you rubbing shoulders with a fair volume of Asia’s humanity.

  1. Llangollen Canal, United Kingdom England is the place for canal boating with numerous waterways meandering past historic towns and rustic canal side cottages. The Llangollen received a touch of glamour when Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart punted it in 2004. The 46 glorious miles of canal start in Shropshire and continue to the purple tinge of the northern Welsh hills passing mossy pastures, through underground tunnels, by a 1000ft aqueduct, soaring limestone cliffs and beautiful falls.
  2. Amazon, South America The world’s largest river has to be on your to-boat list but it’s not for the faint hearted especially when you consider anacondas and piranhas call this home. Picture the world’s longest river that is not crossed by a single bridge, fabulous ecosystems, jungle culture, six adjoining nations and 3,728 miles to explore and it should be more than enough to wet your appetite.
  3. Slow boating the Mekong River, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China The pace of life and travel on the Mekong is best described as “lounging”. It is the heart and soul of Indochina and courses through six countries for 2,610 miles. It’s also one of its last travel frontiers and the twelfth longest river in the world. Attractions include the floating villages, fishing boats and river life plus ancient monuments, royal capitals and even UNESCO sites like Angkor Wat and Luang Prabang.
  4. Holland The best time to glide through Holland is in springtime when the tulips bloom and the weather brightens amongst a feast of canals and windmills.
  5. Li River, China This river in the southern province Guangxhi is famous for its exquisite fairy-tale landscapes and conical peaks swathed in mist. Iridescent green fields, small villages and men plowing with buffaloes surround these dramatic limestone peaks. On the river fishermen boat on bamboo rafts using tethered cormorants to catch fish. It’s a complete picture of tranquility but if you can’t make it, treat yourself to the scenes on the back of the 20 Yuan note.
  6. Paddlewheel Steamboats on the Lower Mississippi The deep South and land of Huck Finn is best explored via a steamboat on the Mississippi River. Enjoy the home of jazz and gospel and all the benefits of Cajun hospitality as you meander past the mansions of sugar and cane plantations, Civil War memorials, French-Acadian settlements and the bustling river ports of New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Memphis.
  7. Nile River, Egypt Cruising the Nile is like taking a history lesson through the 5000 years of ancient Egypt as your boat glides past temples, palm-studded river banks, farmers using animal-pulled plows, sand dunes and the elegant felucca sailboats. Along the route are some of the world’s oldest and most amazing archaeological sites like the Valley of the Kings with its tombs of the pharaohs and the 3000 year-old temple of Abu Simbel.
  8. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand Peter Jackson has forever cemented Fiordland as Middle Earth and you can’t argue with his choice. This windy, isolated region carved out by glaciers is definitely mystical and there’s plenty of stunning sheer rock walls, plunging blue depths, wildlife and snow capped peaks. There are 14 fjords in the park including the famed Milford Sound.
  9. Murray River, Australia This is the world’s fifth largest river and courses 1,864 miles across the Australian continent. The best way to explore its gorges, farmlands, red gum forests and wetlands is via a historic paddle steamer. Wildlife is also abundant as the Murray is a haven for 350 species of birds, sulphur crested cockatoos, kangaroos, goannas, black swans, pelicans and Murray Cod.
  10. Columbia River Gorge This impressive gorge offers spectacular cruising for 81 miles through the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. River depths reach up to 4000 feet and the river hugs an assortment of steep sided passages, evergreen forests and an incredible array of waterfalls at the western end.

Click here for the Top 10 River or Canal Cruise Vacations in Europe