The fabled lands of The Far East are best reached (and in many cases may only be reached) aboard the smaller, more intimate ships that are the hallmarks of the luxury cruise line. A fascinating blend of ancient and modern, Oriental and Western, Asia's ports of call are home to a broad and exotic mixture of destinations – from bustling, modern cities like Shanghai, Seoul, and Bangkok to the golden pagodas and mysterious temples found in Kyoto, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. Depending on the luxury voyage of your choosing, an exotic or Asian itinerary may also include stops in India, Africa, and/or Arabia.
Taking in a thrilling performance by China's revered acrobats during a stop in Shanghai
Sampling sashimi and tempura, with tea or sake, in the markets and restaurants of Japan
An afternoon spent amidst the serenity of a Korean folk village or Buddhist temple
The chance to ride an elephant, in its natural habitat, on an excursion through Thailand
A boat tour of the farms, stilt houses, and rice paddies along Vietnam's Mekong River
POPULAR ASIAN/EXOTIC PORTS OF CALL
The commercial and spiritual center of Thailand. Bangkok boasts approximately 400 different Buddhist temples including Wat Po, the city's oldest and largest sacred site (home to the colossal Reclining Buddha). Famous for its elaborate series of canals, or khlongs, Bangkok was once dubbed the "Venice of the East." Today, however, it's a thriving economic hotspot – over 1,000 skyscrapers help make it one of the world's "tallest" cities.
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China's capital is also its most colorful destination. More than 14 million people call the country's second-largest city home, and like many popular ports included in an Asian itinerary it's an arresting mix of both ancient and modern attractions. Essential landmarks include China's Great Wall (the only man-made object that's visible from the moon) and the Forbidden City, home to the Emperor's Palace and closed to all visitors until the 1920s.
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Boulevards filled with bicycles. Vendors in rice paddy hats, selling traditional delicacies and silk goods in the shops of Dong Xuan Market. And more holy sites than any other city in Vietnam, including over 600 pagodas and temples. Hanoi, built on a bank along the sprawling Red River, is also home to one of Asia's most charming attractions – Mua Roi Nuoc, tales of local life told via colorful puppets and performed on a water-filled stage.
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Once Japan's capital, and arguably the country's loveliest city, Kyoto was spared from the bombing of World War II. As a result, it remains intact – a beautifully preserved living document of the Imperial Age. Notable sites include the Shinto shrines, or jinjas, as well as Shugaku-in Villa (featuring a gorgeous Japanese garden), Gion and Pontocho (geisha quarters and traditional teahouses), and Nijo Castle (constructed by the Tokugawa Shogun).
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The past and the present converge in the world's tenth-largest city. Soaring skyscrapers stand guard over ancient temples and the Grand Palaces of the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled the country for centuries and was the last imperial dynasty in Korean history. Encircled by mountains, Seoul's metropolitan area accommodates six major public parks, an indoor amusement park, and the former host sites of the Olympic Games and FIFA's World Cup.
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