A Holland America Line Far East cruise is filled with awe and wonder. From bustling and buzzing cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, China; to the tranquil vistas and beaches of Thai islands like Koh Samui, these cruises feature one highlight after another.
This region of the world is also highlighted by some incredible history, experienced with visits to peaceful pagodas and ruins of imperial cities on Holland America Line’s expertly crafted Journeys Ashore.
In particular, Holland America Line’s “World Wonders Collection” of tours highlights natural treasures, architectural marvels and technical sites in regions around the world. It takes the Seven Wonders to a new level, adding our own list of awe-inspiring attractions. In Asia, there is no shortage of impressive places to see, here are our top five World Wonders Collection Journeys Ashore.
THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA ON TWO TOURS
Beijing, China, features a multitude of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Places like Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City and the National Stadium built for the 2008 Olympic Games are all impressive and worth seeing. One of its most famous landmarks, though, is the Great Wall of China.
Construction on the Great Wall began in the 8th century, reaching its height under the Ming Dynasty. The Wall stretches over 3,600 miles, from Dadong in the east to Lop Lake in the west. A variety of materials were used to build it throughout the years, including stone, brick and wood. On a tour, guests can walk along a restored section of the Wall’s battlements, wide enough to allow cavalry and chariots to pass.
Guests can visit the Great Wall during a call at Xingang and Hong Kong. At Xingang, the Summer Palace & the Great Wall of China tour also includes a visit to Summer Palace and the Garden of Cultivated Harmony. At Hong Kong, the Beijing & Great Wall Overland Adventure is the tour of a lifetime. Aside from a visit to the Great Wall, guests will tour the Forbidden City, stop for a photo at Tian’anmen Square, enjoy a feast of traditional Peking Duck and visit the Peking Opera — and that’s all on the first day. On the second day, guests will visit the Temple of Heaven before flying back to Hong Kong.
XI’AN AND THE TERRA COTTA WARRIORS
In 1974, archaeologists unearthed an incredible collection of thousands of life-size terra cotta warriors and their horses. The artifacts had been created under the direction of unified China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, who wanted the “army” to protect his burial site. Each warrior is different and features incredible detail, and the sheer number of them is impressive in itself. On this Xi’an and the Terra Cotta Warriors overland tour during a call at Hong Kong, guests can walk through the vaults where the warriors were found.
Guests will transfer from the ship to the airport to head to Xi’an for a visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum. The tour also includes an exploration of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda — a temple built to house Buddhist scriptures — and the Jade Factory.
ANGKOR WAT & SAIGON OVERLAND ADVENTURE
Angkor Wat is the largest temple and religious monument in the world. Stunning and majestic, it also is unlike all other Khmer temples because it faces west and was inspired by 12th-century Hinduism. This impressive temple took 30 years to build and has been occupied continuously by Buddhist monks. Angkor Wat’s symmetrical towers were stylized on the modern Cambodian flag and the sight of it will instantly take your breath away.
On the Angkor Wat & Saigon Overland Adventure from Phu My, Vietnam, guests will transfer to the airport in Nha Trang to fly to Ho Chi Minh City. Over the next two days, guests will enjoy some incredible experiences like visiting Independence Palace, the History Museum, Siem Reap in Cambodia, Beng Mealea temple and Angkor Thom.
AYUTTHAYA & BANGKOK OVERNIGHT TOUR
Ayutthaya was the ancient capital of Thailand from 1350 to 1767. With a visit, guests can step back in time to the days when Thailand was called Siam and take in its unforgettable beauty. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya is the full name of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, located just north of Bangkok. By 1700, it had become the largest city in the world with a population of one million, partly due to its convenient location between China, India and the Malay Archipelago.
Guests can see this incredible place on the Ayutthaya & Bangkok Overnight Tour from Laem Chabang. After a visit to the city, guests will enjoy a three-hour scenic drive to the exquisite Bang Pa In Summer Palace and the Chinese Wehat Chamrun Palace. Other highlights of the tour include a traditional Thai dinner at the Sala Rim Naam, a visit to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
BOROBUDUR BY MOTORCOACH OR TRAIN
During a call at Semarang, Java, in Indonesia, guests can travel by motor coach (or train) to the inspiring temple of Borobudur — one of the most incredible sights in southeast Asia. The 56-mile trip from Semarang to Borobudur includes views of the Candi residential district, highlands, volcanoes and Gunung Merapi.
Borobudur is unique among Buddhist temples and its creation — without the use of modern engineering and technology — remains a mystery even today. It was built by the Buddhist kings of the Sailendra Dynasty. For more than 1,000 years it lay hidden under dense jungle and vegetation, but was rediscovered in 1914 by Sir Stamford Raffles. Over the next century it was cleared and the process of restoring the two-million pieces of andesite stone began.
Borbudur has arguably the finest examples of Buddhist reliefs in the world and is a awe-inspiring site to see. Each of its ten terraces symbolize the path to Nirvana, and you’ll feel like you made it there upon viewing the Great Stupa at the top.
CRUISES THAT TAKE YOU THERE:
Volendam’s 12- and 14-Day Cruises
Guests can see the Great Wall on Volendam’s 14-day China & Japan cruises. The ship sails from Yokohama, Japan, to Hong Kong, with calls at Kagoshima and Nagasaki, Japan; Jeju (Cheju) City, South Korea; and overnight calls at Xingang and Shanghai along the way. The ship departs Yokohama Oct. 13, 2016, and Feb. 28 and March 28, 2017.
Volendam’s 14-day Far East Discovery cruises from Hong Kong to Singapore include calls at Halong Bay, Da Nang (Hue), Nha Trang and Phu My, Vietnam; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; Koh Samui; and an overnight at Laem Chabang. The ship departs Hong Kong Oct. 27 and Dec. 6, 2016; and Jan. 17, 2017. The reverse itinerary also is available.
Volendam’s 12-day Indonesian Discovery cruises sail roundtrip Singapore. The ship calls at Tanjung Priok, Semarang, Surabaya Komodo Island, Lembar, Benoa (Denpasar), and Probolinggo, Indonesia. The ship departs Singapore Nov. 20 and Dec. 20, 2016, and Jan. 31, 2017.
More departures are available in winter 2017 so you can start planning ahead.
Have you taken a Holland America Line Asia cruise yet? Tell us which of these sights you saw — or would love to see in the future — in the comments below!