Many cruise lines are adding itineraries with more ports of call in China than ever before for the 2016/17 seasons.
China has 33 provinces amongst six geographic regions with much of the country inland.
Take a look at a selection of the top places of importance that have been included on the itineraries of the major cruise companies.
Beijing is the gateway to two of the most popular Chinese attractions that visitors like to see. The iconic Great Wall of China dates back to 453 B.C. and was erected as a defence system to keep out the Mongols. The largest wall in the world is really comprised of several walls made of varying materials and stretches from the Bo Hai Sea to the Gobi Desert.
The Forbidden City is equally famous as the largest imperial palace in China. From 1420 to 1923, the 9999 room palace served as home to 24 Emperors. This World Cultural Heritage site is considered one of the most important palaces in the world.
Size is important in Beijing, home to nearly 30 million. Tiananmen Square is an open plaza the size of 90 football fields and gives access to the Forbidden City. Standing at the centre of the square is the 121-foot pillar Monument to the People’s Heroes.
Shopping in Beijing is on a grand scale too. Its Panjiayuan Market is a bargain hunter’s delight and is sure to be the place to pick up a few trinkets in the form of paintings, jewellery, antiques, porcelain vases and much more.
Chongqing is a modern port city located in Southwest China. The city is known as the Mountain City and for their water reserves, enormous forests and interesting flora and fauna.
The Dazu Rock Carvings are a series of elaborately carved statues that date back to 650 A.D. and there are more than 5000 statues spanning centuries there. Many of the statues are affiliated with Buddhism although there are Taoist and Confucian figures as well. The considered standout statue is Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, or the “Oriental Venus”.
The nearby ancient village of Ci Qi Kou, also known as the Porcelain Village is brimming with profound Bayu culture. The local residents of this less than 2 square miles village are dedicated to their traditional way of life which is still in practice such as Shu Embroidery.
In Cantonese, the word Hong Kong means “fragrant harbour”. It is has one of the most photographed harbours and it is easy to see why it is so impressive.
Hong Kong was a British territory until the new millennium. Although remaining very Western in nature, much of the Chinese culture prevails such as the 34 metres high bronze statue of Tian Tan Buddha. Take a 25 minute ride aboard the Ngong Ping Cable Car to reach this the statue set amongst lush mountain scenery.
The Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple follows the laws of Feng Shui with all five elements, metal, wood, water, fire and earth utilized within its complex. The temple is home to Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism and at one time was a private shrine. Its Good Wish Garden promises to ‘make every wish come true upon request’.
Families will enjoy the Ocean Park Amusement Park or Disneyland offering enough entertainment for all ages.
Sanya on Hainan Island is a masterpiece of nature. This is the place to kick off your shoes and bask in the warm sunlight. The crystal clear water is perfect for a motorboat ride.
Asian Dragon Bay is adorned with hills and gulfs alongside its iconic crescent shaped bay. One attraction located in the centre of the bay is the enormous 27 metre high Totem Pole which contains engravings of gods and legendary creatures.
Venture further into the Hainan Forest to explore the exotic flora and fauna such as betel nut trees, a native plant to Hainan Island.
Shanghai is an international metropolis that has been luring visitors for centuries. With a multicultural style and a World Financial Centre, it’s no surprise as to why Shanghai has become a tourism hotspot and an embarking point for several cruise ships.
Shanghai’s striking waterfront known as “The Bund” contains many picture perfect photo opportunities.
Although most of the city centre is ultramodern, one neighborhood that has been left untouched by time is Zhujiajiao. Commonly known as “Venice in Shanghai”, it encloses quirky shops, boat rides on the canals and back alleys.
For a great introduction to Buddhist culture, visit the Jade Buddha Temple. It serves as home to two Jade Buddhist Statues brought to the city by a Burmese Monk. The original temple was destroyed during the revolution of Qing Dynasty. A new temple was erected in 1928 and displays the Sitting Buddha in green jade and the Recumbent Buddha in a rare ivory colour.
Further historical and rare cultural relics can be found at the Shanghai Museum. Over 120,000 pieces are housed within of ancient Chinese art as well as fine illustrations of calligraphy throughout the ages.
History and fantasy lovers will obtain a sense of magical and spiritual with the Shibaozhai Pagoda located on the Yangtze north bank. Dating back to the Ming Dynasty, the pagoda’s name translates to ‘Stone Treasure Fortress’ and is dedicated to the Goddess Nuwa. The 56-meter high structure is fascinating especially when entering its yellow access gate with an inscription telling you to climb into a “Little Fairyland”.
There are many more inscriptions of past dynasties on each floor, allowing visitors to see what life was all about centuries ago. Climbing to the top of the Temple affords historical and cultural relics waiting for guests to discover, along with the legends behind each of them.
Xi’an is well known for the Terracotta Army. The group of 6000 soldiers made out of clay were there to protect the tomb of the first Emperor Qin. Constructed around 206 B.C. the soldiers have a large amount of detail and rumour has it that their faces were based on the Emperor’s soldiers.
One of the oldest and best preserved Chinese city walls is the 40-foot high Ancient City Wall of Xi’an. There are 98 flanking towers in total and stretched out every 120 meters. Construction of the wall began during the Ming Dynasty.
Most ships that have China included in their itineraries will be departing from Shanghai or Hong Kong. There will be sailings from 3 days to over 100 days on World & Exotic sailings although 9 to 14 nights is the average.
The following major cruise lines that are visiting China in 2016 and 2017 are:
Celebrity, Costa Cruises, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, P&O, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn and Silversea.
Written by Veronica Shine