Experience China - a Country Wedged Between Tradition, History, Development and the Future
A country wedged between tradition and history, development and the future – travelling through China is also like travelling through time. From the medieval city of Pingyao to the bustling economic and political hub that is Beijing, China is full of stories and adventures.
One of the most cultural, scenic and historically diverse destinations on the planet, China is a land of incredible contrasts and is developing at a staggering speed. Experience the imperial grandeur of the city streets, see giant pandas amongst the mountain landscapes and medieval water villages which trace their history back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Shanghai. China's showpiece city, Shanghai is staggering in its scope and scale. A city of 24 million and growing, Shanghai is a global centre of soaring skyscrapers that is bursting with modernity and energy. The past hasn't been totally engulfed, however, and leafy colonial streets and delicate temples linger below the skyward scramble. Wealthy and wild, Shanghai is one of China's most welcoming cities, and you'll find a hedonistic flair of excess and exuberance below the iconic, jagged Lujiazui skyline. Shanghai's celebrated waterfront, The Bund, is adorned with grand European style buildings and Art Deco wonders. The glowing orb of the Pearl Tower, meanwhile, rockets above the bending Yangtze River, providing a tall exclamation mark to China's futuristic vision. Just as the urban spread and claustrophobic towers begin to overwhelm, you can discover the tranquillity of ancient temples and gardens. Then, stumble upon the contorted twist of the Shanghai Tower, a spectacular tube of glass and steel, that dwarfs the city as the world's second-tallest building. Join Shanghai's high rollers to drink in swanky bars and restaurants, or bite explosively flavourful street food, below a flood of neon lights. More earthy delights keep the city grounded - head to an open park where locals flow through tai chi routines en masse, or explore rich cultural treasures like the Jade Buddha Temple. A sensory assault, Shanghai is China at its most extreme and intense, yet perhaps most accessible and open-minded.
Xiamen. Xiamen is a major city, located on the Taiwan Strait coast of China. According to the statistics in 2014, around 3.8 million people live here. It was established around 282AD and continued to be a naval fortress until modern time. Xiamen is made up of Xiamen Island, Gulangyu Island and part of the rugged mainland coastal region, as well as a deep and warm harbour. Many endangered species such as the Chinese white dolphin, European lancelet and little egret can be founded in the national natural reserve region in Xiamen. Xiamen is also fruitful for cultural activities: Naamyam, Gaojia opera and Taiwanese opera display how the local people do musical and stage performances using different languages, tools and clothing. Apart from Chinese traditions, other attractions to be discovered in Xiamen are western colonial buildings, a Buddha temple, Catholic Church, and Mosque.
Hong Kong. A spectacular, serrated skyline of soaring towers and neon lights, Hong Kong is a vibrant, immersive metropolis and cultural hub. Dramatic harbour-front light shows transform the waterfront’s gleaming buildings into a colourful canvas – best seen from the Star Ferry, when the Symphony of Lights blares into life each evening. A city where future and tradition collides - perhaps best illustrated by the skyscrapers that feature gaping holes, designed to allow spirit dragons to soar from the hills to the waterfront unimpeded. Wander flowing shopping streets, wade through sprawling markets and soak up the neon glory of this one-of-a-kind city - which continues to reach for the sky. Hong Kong's dense jumble of activity is one of its main appeals, but once you've felt the thrill of rising to towering observation decks, to see the soaring city from above, it's surprisingly easy to find peace among Hong Kong's intense urban wonders. Victoria Peak is the highest point and it offers staggering views down over the city and harbour. The Peak Tram funicular can ferry you to the top, to the vantage point which was historically adored by the rich for the cooler air found here, away from the busy bustle of the city streets. Many elaborate temples add a tranquil element to Hong Kong’s whirr, and Tin Hau temple has a surprisingly urban location, considering its dedication to the Goddess of the Sea. It did once occupy the shorefront, but the city's growth saw land reclaimed from the sea around it, leaving the temple marooned inland. Having been leased to the British for 99 years, milky tea is a revered tradition here - enjoy your cup with a serving of local dim sum.While it's easy to think all the bright lights are the sum of today's Hong Kong, you need only walk or board a tram for the short jaunt west into Western district to discover a side of Hong Kong that is more traditionally Chinese but no less high-energy. You'll discover the real Hong Kong to the east of Central, too, in Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, and beyond. Amid the residential towers are restaurants, shopping malls, bars, convention centers, a nice smattering of museums, and—depending on fate and the horse you wager on—one of Hong Kong's luckiest or unluckiest spots, the Happy Valley Racecourse. Kowloon sprawls across a generous swath of the Chinese mainland across Victoria Harbour from Central. Tsim Sha Tsui, at the tip of Kowloon peninsula, is packed with glitzy shops, first-rate museums, and eye-popping views of the skyline across the water. Just to the north are the teeming market streets of Mong Kok and in the dense residential neighborhoods beyond, two of Hong Kong's most enchanting spiritual sights, Wong Tai Sin Temple and Chi Lin Nunnery. As you navigate this huge metropolis (easy to do on the excellent transportation network), keep in mind that streets are usually numbered odd on one side, even on the other. There's no baseline for street numbers and no block-based numbering system, but street signs indicate building numbers for any given block.
If you’re after a small ship cruise or an expedition ship cruise to China Wild Earth Travel can help you find a trip of a lifetime. We are ready to guide you through our range of different options with impartial advice so you can experience the very best of this unique destination. Our team are all passionate expedition & small cruise ship travellers and our knowledge and stories come from our own personal experiences.