ancien-bridge-longsheng-rice-terrace-chinaThe Silk Road … perhaps no route fires the imagination of people around the world as much as this fabled route that ancient traders travelled as they brought goods from China to points in great_wall_chinathe Middle East and Europe!  The route is 7,000 km. long and more than 2000 years old, and was instrumental in the development of all those lands and cultural exchanges between the people along the way.

shenzhen_splendid_chinaMost of the route is within the Chinese borders, and contains a wealth of ancient treasures.  These include the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of X’ian, as well as a host of temples, monasteries, ???grottoes, mausoleums, and gardens.  It passes through widely diverse people and cultures.

Shaanxi Province, the starting point for the Silk Road, served as the capital of 13 of China’s dynasties.  Thousand Iskand Lakes, ChinaIn the middle of the Yellow River area, it is also known for its natural scenery.  X’ian is one of seven ancient capitals.  This is where you will find the Terracotta Warriors and Horses in X’ian, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is also known for the Great Wild Goose Pagoda, Lesser Wild Goose Pagoda and the City Wall from the Ming Dynasty.

Ningxia is found along the Yellow River in northwest China, bordering Mongolia in the north.  It is viewed as one of the cradles of Chinese civilization.  There are many scenic spots in the region, and you can also raft on the Yellow River, do bird-watching at Sand Lake, hike along the Great Wall, enjoy ecological trips over the Loess Plateau, and much more.

Qinghai is an outstanding showcase of magnificent mountains, dazzling glaciers and lakes and rivers.  It is recognized by UNESCO as one of the four most pollution free zones in the world.  People have inhabited this region for over 30,000 years

Tibet is often referred to as “The Roof of the World”, has an average elevation of 4,000 m. above sea level, and is the home of Mt. Everest.  The capital city of Lhasa found at 3,650 m., showcases the Potala Palace, the highest palace in the world.  Monasteries are found throughout the area.  You will also find exotic wildlife at the Hongla Mountain Ecological Tourist Area.

Shanghai is famed for its towering and incredibly futuristic buildings, among them the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.  The city is home to 13 million people and is at the forefront of the Chinese economic boom.  Visit The Bund, a 2,860 m. long walkway dotted with greenery, flowers, sculptures, and fountains.  Explore Shanghai Old Street where you will find homes from the Qing Dynasty.  Advanced transportation and technology systems link Shanghai to other parts of China.

Bejing is China’s political, cultural, and international exchange centre and is extremely important to China’s tourist trade.  You can visit the Palace Museum, the largest imperial palace in the world.  And see the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace. The city contains over 7,300 historic sites.  One must-see is Tian’anmen Square, the largest city center square in the world.  The Great Wall is a short distance from the city.  Visit the Ming Tombs, featuring tombs of 13 Ming Dynasty emperors.  Tour the Olympic Green, the main venue for the 2008 Summer Olympics.  In Bejing you will find upscale hotels and world famous restaurants.

This is just a few highlights of this vast and ancient land.  There is much to experience in this land of extreme diversity.

In cruising news: Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, the Quantum of the Seas, will make its home port in Shanghai (Baoshan), China in May 2015.  She will join the Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas in the Asian seas.  This indicates a growing trend of accelerated interest in cruising in this region.

Here’s a hint to make your vacation memorable!  Plan well in advance.  I can help you sort through all the choices to create the perfect exotic adventure for you and the whole family!  Now you are ready!  All you now have to do is enjoy the experience and get ready for life-long memories!

More about cruise & travel to come in future articles.  Til then, keep cruisin’! – Gary Gallant