Explore China, where dynasties mingle and buildings scrape the heavens.
With every passing century, the ancient and intricate society that is China becomes more complex and alluring. Get drawn into the palaces and courtyards of Beijing's Forbidden City, a huge palace complex once inhabited by rulers in the Ming Dynasty, and stroll through the Hall of Great Perfection at the Confucius Temple. In Hong Kong, see towering skyscrapers that give way to misty mountaintops, rich with birdlife and tumbling waterfalls. Jump onboard a China cruise to stand on the Widows Peak of the Great Wall and get a sense of China's magnitude while the wind rushes around you. In between your adventures, keep your energy levels high by heading into China's vibrant marketplaces, where you'll find jewel-like dim sum dumplings and tangles of delicious saucy Zhajiangmia noodles with sweet bean paste, ground pork and pickled vegetables.
In every port you visit, from Hong Kong to Shanghai, nature is just around the corner. Head up into the mountaintops for crisp air or down to the rivers and sea for city panoramas.
The giant Buddhas of China, set a little way out of the city centers, are a sight to behold. Hong Kong's Tian Tan Buddha is 112 feet high and weighs 200 tons, and you have to climb 286 steps to reach it. In a standing position, Sanya's beautifully painted Buddha is even taller at 354 feet. You'll feel humbled among these giants during your China vacation.
Leave the bustle of Hong Kong behind and hike up the fabled Dragon's Back mountain near the city. Up high, the air is cool and dry, while the mountaintops are shrouded in a light silky mist. Head to the Great Wall's Huangya Pass in Beijing to see the landscape unfold from the high point of Widow's Peak.
Say "Nia Hao" (Chinese for "Hello") to Sanya, a tropical city known for its picturesque beaches and perfect sunny weather. Take a dip at Tianya Haijiao beach, and take in the breathtaking views while kayaking around the bay. Be swallowed by the lush Yanoda Rainforest, and stay cool zip-lining through the treetops. Don't forget to pay your respects to the Buddhist goddess Guanyin, who watches over the city from the sea.
China's cities are some of the biggest in the world. Sprawling and advanced, entertainment, shopping and good food is around every corner.
Vermilion temples, grand palaces, flowering gardens and old-style wooden architecture are some of the things you'll see on your city wanderings. Head into Shanghai's Bund neighborhood and get a sense of what China looked like 100 years ago. The Five Great Avenues district of Beijing will inspire you with its colonial architecture and olden-day charm.
You'll really see the enormity of China's cities from viewpoints high above the cityscapes. Take Beijing's Tianjin Eye ferris wheel and see the skyscrapers grow small as you climb uparagraphCopy to the highest point. Trek up Shanghai Tower, with the world's fastest elevators and the second tallest observation deck for an experience you won't forget.
Haggling in China is so popular it's practically a national pastime. Brush up on your bargaining skills when you head to a market, and win your items on the cheap. Head to Silk Street or Tianyi Market in Beijing, and check out Tian Zi Fang in the Old French Concession quarter of Shanghai. If you're into antiques, don't miss Shanghai's Dong Tai Road Antique Market or Beijing's Liulichang.
China has a unique and vibrant culture with distinct customs, weather and cuisine.
When you're frequenting the many large shopping malls, be sure to haggle, as this practice is accepted and encouraged in China. To nab your best bargain, decide the highest price you're willing to pay and offer 50 percent of it.
The weather in China varies from city to city (it's a big place!), but winters are usually cold and dry while summers are hot, humid and rainy. Monsoon season ranges from May to August, and it's always best to check the weather forecast before leaving the ship.
Street food in China is generally safe and delicious, but trust your instincts as you navigate the noodle stalls and dumpling vendors. Foodie favorites are steamed buns, deep-fried Chinese donuts and egg fried rice.
Rice or noodles? This is the burning, personality-defining question on the mind of every Chinese local hunting down their next meal. Across all of China's regions, street food markets are undoubtedly the most popular places to eat, serving up ultra-fresh, authentic fare at unbeatable prices.