Asia is ancient, mysterious, and exotic. Asia is cutting-edge and technologically savvy. China claims the world’s oldest continuous civilization, but its metropolis of Shanghai is firmly fixed in the 21st century, with levitating high-speed trains, and a jaw dropping cityscape of space age towers.
Bangkok’s traditional temples will also catch your eye – colorful and abundant, they sport golden spires and layered roofs that appear to float one upon the other. And everywhere the markets – rainbow-hued, spice-scented, and boisterous, they are a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local lifestyle. Stand in the silence of a 14th-century Shinto shrine. Tour a Chinese garden unchanged for 600 years. Rocket forward to the 21st century via Shanghai’s Maglev train. Slow down again along Vietnam’s ethereal coastline.
Cruise to Bangkok, an exciting, sprawling metropolis filled with gilded temples, shining skyscrapers, and bustling open-air markets.
Everywhere you look are shades of celadon, smaragdine, and viridian. Located in the Gulf of Thailand about 400 miles south of Bangkok, Koh Samui is an island of towering coconut trees, generous sun, and powdery white beaches. Chaweng is the island’s high-energy beach. Lamai is less busy. Maenam is quiet, and closest to port. Cruise visitors will enjoy the Big Buddha, an important symbol for the locals, the Na Muang waterfall, and the beaches.
The great Vietnamese poet and statesman Nguyen Trai called it the “rock wonder in the sky.” It’s name translates as “Descending Dragon Bay.” Geologists call it karst topography, and say it’s what happens when soluble bedrock wears away over millions of years. Halong Bay, located on Vietnam’s northeast coast, is otherworldly no matter what words you choose. About 2,000 limestone islands stipple the vast bay, most of them rising hundreds of feet sheer from the sea.