Blink, and you’ll miss it; China is fast becoming the world’s most coveted cruise destination – achieving record cruise passenger visits in the past few months alone. Every cruise line worth its salt is in the process of expanding its fleet to exploit the growing number of cruise-goers heading to China – with Carnival and Royal Caribbean leading the charge.
But what is it about China that has sent cruise lines into a proverbial feeding-frenzy, and what can the average cruise-goer expect during a visit to the region? To find out, we set out to find the cruise highlights not to be missed on your trip to China.
Mount Lao, Qingdao
Towering 4,000ft above the coastal city of Qingdao near the Easy China Sea, Mount Lao – or Laoshan as it is commonly known – lies in the Qingdao Laoshan National Park, an area renowned for its exquisite natural beauty. The mountain is located just nineteen miles from Qingdao’s cruise terminal, and makes a tranquil place to visit for those weary of China’s overwhelming urban hubbub.
Thanks to its age-old affiliation with Taoism, Lao has become spiritually and culturally important – housing a number of historic, spiritual sites like the Temple of Supreme Purity. There a number of guided walks throughout the national park, as well as the opportunity to summit Laoshan’s highest peak – for those brave enough to try.
Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong
No, you haven’t stumbled across the Hollywood Walk of Fame – but you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Instead, this is the Avenue of Stars, China’s answer to memorialising the country’s best-loved movie stars in solid concrete. Located on Hong Kong’s beautiful Victoria Harbour waterfront, this novelty tourist attraction is not only fun to explore, it’s a damn sight prettier than LA’s version – offering dramatic views of the city beyond.
Yu Garden, Shanghai
If you’re out to experience the traditional Chinese way of life during your cruise, navigate your way from New Shanghai to Old Shanghai and enjoy an afternoon stroll in the charming grounds of Yu Garden. Characterised by its traditional Chinese architecture, vast emerald ponds, decorative rockeries and beautiful flora, Yu Garden proves an essential stop-off on any visit to Shanghai.
Conceived in 1559 by Ming Dynasty governor, Pan Yunduan, Yu Garden features a handful of historic buildings arranged in the typical Suzhou Style. The garden is divided into six distinct areas – each as unique, charming and elegant as the next.
Jinsha Beach, Dalian
Whilst China isn’t known for its beaches, there are several sandy spots that belie this stereotype. During your port call in the northern city of Dalian, skip the architectural wonders and head directly to Jinsha Beach on the city’s south east coast. Wrapped around a peaceful cove and flanked by sub-tropical flora, Jinsha offers the perfect place to lay your beach towel and enjoy a well-earned rest after all that sightseeing.
Gulangyu Island, Xiamen
Despite being home to 200,000 locals, Gulangyu Island is one of the most peaceful spots on the Chinese coast. Why? This tiny island, which is located minutes from Xiamen cruise terminal, has banned all cars, making its scattering of traditional streets almost silent – save the clamour of local commerce.
With beautiful beaches, exquisite colonial architecture and wonderful markets just waiting to be discovered, Gulangyu is the ideal day-trip destination. Chinese tourism boards often rank the island among the best places to visit in the region, and it is on the country’s list of National Scenic Spots.
Yearning for a waterborne trip to China? Then visit our dedicated China cruises page, where you can browse a range of upcoming cruise holidays to China. Alternatively, if you’d like to speak to one of our advisors about booking a Chinese cruise, call us on 1300 857 345.
Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: SaraYeomans, lawtonjm, oinonio.