Welcome to China, a fascinating mix of history, imperial architecture and delicious food.
Fragments of The Great Wall of China leave a trail across much of north China. Originally built between 220 and 206 BC and further added to between 1368 and 1644, The Great Wall was built across the historical northern borders of China to protect and consolidate territories of Chinese states and empires against various nomadic groups. Hike along the Jiànkòu Great Wall, witness breathtaking views from Zhuàngdàoko ̌u or confront weathered slogans from Mao’s Cultural Revolution at Jiāyùgān Fort.
You’ll find majestic architecture everywhere you turn in China. Běijīng’s standout imperial residence is Forbidden City, China’s largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings and the largest palace complex in the world. A UNESCO listed site, Forbidden City receives continuous restoration to preserve it. Summer Palace, also in Běijīng, holds an epic display of traditional Chinese aesthetics; hills, lakes, bridges, pavilions, temples and tantalising sunsets.
China is a true culinary adventure. Hong Kong is home to the very best dim sum – small bite-sized steamed or fried savoury dumplings containing various fillings such as beef, duck or vegetables. Dim sum is usually served alongside tea, which together form a full tea brunch known as yum cha. Try the finest peking duck (strips of roast duck served with shredded vegetables and a sweet sauce) in Běijīng. Or dine on xiǎolóngbāo, delicious steamed buns, in Shànghǎi.
Japan and South Korea could be considered as the furthest islands of the Far East. Two nations on the edge of Asia, both steeped in rich and fascinating history, able to seamlessly blend ancient tradition and futuristic modernity - you’ll find what seems like another world. Another world that offers so much to those taking a cruise to their enticing shores.
Japan is a land of contrasts. Their culture has been cultivated for millennia and they still cling to the values that have been in place for centuries, yet this somehow blends perfectly with the high-tech, neon lights and skyscrapers. Traditional wooden homes mingling with large glass and steel structures is a common sight, but as you explore this captivating destination, you’ll see that things just make sense here.
Japan’s neighbour, South Korea, is at the end of a mountainous peninsula and has a similarly rich history. With the ability to surprise, you’ll find many memorable places and sights to enjoy on a cruise to South Korea. The capital city Seoul is a kinetic 24-hour metropolis, where there is so much to explore, but among the hustle and bustle you might stumble across a humble ancient tearoom or a centuries-old palace.
The contrasting and varied nature of the many different countries in South East Asia offer a tremendous amount of experiences that will satisfy any travellers appetite.
Vietnam, specifically Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon) is perhaps the most unique place in South East Asia. Nicknamed Paris of the Orient, this Asian city has hints of French colonialism dating back to the 1860s. The cafés and French façades mix well with hot new bars, Vespa-scattered streets and traditional foods. During your cruise to Vietnam, be sure to try a steamy bowl of pho noodle soup, fresh from Ho Chi Minh’s valleys. To the nation’s north, the striking Halong Bay will take your breath away, with its enormous limestone peaks protruding from the water – undoubtedly one of the very best views available when cruising the Far East.
Cruising to Singapore finds you discovering a surprisingly lush and green garden city that blends seamlessly with such impressive architecture as the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum and Marina Bay Sands hotel. Of course, the food is also something to write home about. Singapore’s mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay influence means that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to tantalising flavours. Visiting the famous ‘hawkers’ in the food halls will surely surprise and delight in equal measure.
Langkwai, known as the ‘Jewel of Keddah’, is an archipelago of islands that sit in Malaysia’s silvery waters – the northern isles are peaceful and secluded, offering sand spits and freshwater lakes. For lovers of colourful bugs, the Butterfly Farm in Penang is one of just a few in the world. There are also plenty of botanic gardens to stroll through in between shopping trips to Penang’s exciting cities on your cruise to Malaysia.