Southeast Asia & China Cruise
Day 1 - Shanghai This fabled port on the Huangpu River has played a pivotal role in the history of modern China. One of seven treaty ports inflicted by the West on Imperial China, the city was famed for the Bund, an elegant section of riverbank lined with European mercantile houses and elegant mansions. Shanghai was also the cradle of the Chinese Communist Party, and it is here that the People's Republic created its vast commercial and industrial bastion. Shanghai is also one of the most fascinating cities on the face of the earth. Its streets are packed with individuals, cars and bicycles, weaving an extraordinary tapestry of humanity. Yet serenity and beauty are always present, be it a class practicing early morning tai chi or the serene repose of the city's jade Buddha. Shanghai's attractions are legendary, from exquisite temples and superb museums to the Bund's elegant 19th-century European architecture. The city is also your gateway to the Grand Canal and the legendary city of Suzhou.
Day 2 - At Sea
Day 3 - Busan The second largest city in South Korea, Busan is your gateway to a fascinating land whose culture is a unique amalgam of old and new. Modern high-rise towers dwarf ancient Buddhist temples. The city's bustling business district offers a stark contrast to the serene grounds of Yongdusan Park. In short, Busan is a microcosm of South Korea, a nation whose startling economic success often obscures one of Asia's most sophisticated and venerable cultures. Busan was the scene of bitter fighting during the Korean War. The United Nations Memorial Cemetery marks the final resting place for the troops from 16 nations who gave their lives during the conflict.
Day 4 - Nagasaki For most travelers, Nagasaki is a symbol of the horror and the inhumanity of war. An estimated 75,000 people perished in 1945 when the city became the second target of a nuclear attack. Today, Nagasaki's Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum draw visitors from around the world. But this beautiful city on Kyushu offers other sights. Often described as the San Francisco of Japan, the city occupies verdant hills surrounded by a deep-water bay. For three centuries, Nagasaki was Japan's sole window on the world. The city is also celebrated as the setting for Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly."
Day 5 - At Sea
Day 6 - Hualien This well-kept seaside secret is your gateway to the beating heart of Taiwan, a vibrant island nation that stole the spotlight with the ousting from China of Nationalist, Chiang Kai-shek. Its serene beauty belies the continuing conflict with mainland China and welcomes you with open arms. Imagine a truly unspoiled place - Taroko Gorge National Park - a must for any nature and wildlife enthusiast where mineral hot springs offer rejuvenation and bliss. Traditional Chinese and Japanese temples with their unique architecture and magnificent landscape design, awaken the senses and transport you to a world of grace and timeless heritage.
Day 7 - Kaohsiung Tucked at the southern end of Taiwan, Kaohsiung is a thriving city with a foot firmly planted in its past yet with an eye towards the future. As Taiwan's second largest city, it's rapidly becoming an economic powerhouse, yet it fully embraces its historical heritage. Through the centuries, Kaohsiung, like the rest of Taiwan, would be bounced back and forth between the Dutch, Chinese and Japanese, and today it's a thriving metropolis that's home to the World Game Stadium, the world's largest solar-powered stadium, and Lotus Pond, a delightful attraction overflowing with colorful temples and shines. It's also the gateway to a number of spectacular must-see sights: Tainan, Taiwan's oldest city and its capital for 200 years; and the Fokuangshan Monastery, a Buddhist retreat known for its spectacular scenery, serenity and Buddha statues.
Day 8 - At Sea
Day 9 - Hong Kong Skyscrapers form a glistening forest of steel and glass, junks and sampans ply the busy harbor waters, and the green, dragon-crested hills of Kowloon beckon. Welcome to Hong Kong, one of the world's great travel destinations. Now a semi-autonomous region of China, Hong Kong - literally "Fragrant Harbor" - has lost none of its charm, excitement or exoticism. Modern skyscrapers and luxury hotels climb the slopes of Hong Kong Island. Narrow streets are crammed with noodle vendors, fortunetellers and bonesetters. The endless array of shops offer the visitor everything from hand-tailored suits and ancient porcelain to the latest consumer electronics. And everywhere more than seven million people are moving at a breathtaking pace in one of the world's great monuments to capitalism, commerce and enterprise. The former Crown Colony has enough attractions to last a lifetime. To take in the entire spectacle, head to Victoria Peak for panoramic views. Enjoy lunch on one of the city's floating restaurants. Walk down one of the crowded streets to take the city's rapid pulse. And whether you think you are in the mood or not - shop. After all, you are in the duty-free capital of the world.
Day 10 - At Sea
Day 11 - At Sea
Day 12 - Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My) Over three decades have passed since the Vietnam War ended with the fall of Saigon. Today, the name of this bustling metropolis on the Mekong River is Ho Chi Minh City. Yet, the essence of the city, a major trading center since the 18th century, remains unchanged. The air is filled with the cries of street hawkers and honking horns. Bicycles, motorbikes and automobiles fly down the boulevards at dizzying speeds. And everywhere, friendly faces and warm greetings meet you. The port of Phu My (pronounced "Foo Me") is your gateway to Ho Chi Minh City and the seaside resort of Vung Tau.
Day 13 - At Sea
Day 14 - Bangkok (Laem Chabang) Laem Chabang is your gateway to Bangkok. This enchanting city on the Chao Phraya River is a magical place where graceful dancers perform in shimmering silk gowns, temples with gold-leaf spires harbor priceless Buddhas and riverboats cruise a maze of canals. The only nation in Southeast Asia to escape colonial rule, Thailand offers a rich and ancient culture that flowered unhindered by Western influence. Proud and strongly nationalistic, the Thai people call their nation Muang Thai - "Land of the Free."
Day 15 - Ko Samui Thailand's third largest island has been attracting international travelers for less than half a century. Before then, this island in the Gulf of Thailand was noted for its coconut plantations and rubber production. Today, Ko Samui's premier charms are its powdery white beaches, its Buddhist temples or wats, and its crystalline waters. Despite the island's increasing popularity, it retains a casual and unspoiled air that offers a bracing tonic to the experienced traveler. The majority of the island's population resides in Nathorn, Ko Samui's capital. The island's first settlers were a mix of Hainanese coconut farmers and Malay fishermen.
Day 16 - At Sea
Day 17 - Singapore Singapore - the very name summons visions of the mysterious East. The commercial center of Southeast Asia, this island city-state of four million people is a metropolis of modern high-rise buildings, Chinese shop-houses with red-tiled roofs, sturdy Victorian buildings, Buddhist temples and Arab bazaars. Founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles of the fabled East India Company, the city is a melting pot of people and cultures. Malay, Chinese, English and Tamil are official languages. Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity are the major faiths. Singapore is an ever-fascinating island boasting colorful traditions, luxurious hotels and some of the finest duty-free shopping in the world. Lying just 85 miles north of the Equator at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, the island was a haven for Malay pirates and Chinese and Arab traders.
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