China is a prominent feature on many Asia & Fast East cruise itineraries. From the bustling cities of Shanghai and Beijing to the ancient gardens and hallowed temples, you'll find so much to enjoy about this fascinating country.
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China’s famously populous capital lies inland, but fortunately for cruisers in search of a little eastern enlightenment, not too far. It’s served by the port of Tianjin and transfers from there will get you into Beijing in a couple of hours. The star attraction for many visitors will undoubtedly be an excursion to the Great Wall of China. Owing to its length and winding progress, there are a number of spots to choose from but Mutianyu, though it’s a little further out, is a great choice as it has been fully restored and there are typically fewer crowds, too. Other must-sees include the Summer Palace and its accompanying 290-acre park. Bridges over tranquil lakes, pavilions and temples – it’s everything you’d expect from a Chinese garden and more. The Palace Museum meanwhile is far more than a few shelves of exhibits; this is none other than the former Forbidden City, where there are over 9,000 rooms to explore and so much to see.
Shanghai is every bit the shimmering cityscape you’d imagine, with soaring skyscrapers, lofty viewing towers and neon lights contributing to a true assault on the senses. Look a little longer though and the city’s colonial past will soon come into focus. At 1,500 feet tall the Oriental Pearl Tower is the city’s most recognisable landmark. Obviously a relatively recent addition to the skyline, it’s nevertheless sympathetic to traditional Eastern architectural traits and offers some fantastic views. Another popular viewing point and one which represents perfectly China’s role on the world stage is the Shanghai World Financial Centre, which offers the highest observatory in the world. The Bund remains Shanghai’s most popular district with visitors and consists of some stunning colonial architecture. It’s always a joy to explore but by night, it’s lit up to showcase its buildings beautifully. The Gardens of Contentment, meanwhile, certainly live up to their promise and offer visitors the perfect green escape from the city.
Actually a special administrative region of China with its own autonomy, Hong Kong has long historical ties with the West, having once been a colony of the British Empire. The city offers its visitors what many believe to be the world’s finest skyline, along with a wealth of natural and architectural sights. An attraction to be absorbed rather than explored, Hong Kong’s world-famous skyline really has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The sight of traditional junks crossing the expansive Victoria Harbour and passing beneath the ultra-modern buildings which line it illustrates the city’s contrasting facets perfectly. By night it’s all about neon illumination but by day, the majestic Victoria Peak provides an altogether more natural backdrop to the bay. Indeed, the Peak and the famous tram which scales it are both popular tourist attractions and from the Peak Tower, you’ll be able to enjoy an unrivalled view of both the city and the harbour. For a little, or rather, a big taste of Hong Kong culture, make sure you visit the Big Buddha.
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