Flying in to Shanghai Airport take the Maglev bullet train for a 250mph experience into the city. Cruises on the Yangtze river often start with a stay in Shanghai before sailing the Three Gorges section and visiting the amazing dam. Depending on itinerary, these tours can feature the main sights of China, often finishing in Beijing with visits to Tiananmen Square and the Geat Wall. See our guide to Yangtze River Cruises and China Land Tours for more information.
The mouth of the River Yangtze is south of Shanghai, but smaller ships can cruise up the Huangpu River to moor opposite the tall TV Tower and the skyscrapers of the Pudong financial district. Nearby is the famous Bund with a waterside walk on one side and historic buildings dating back to British influence on the other. Pedestrianised Nanjing Road in Shanghai's bustling centre is a shopper's paradise with all types of stores and wares. Quieter is the Old Town and the Yuyuan Garden, a fully restored Chinese classical garden. The old French quarter has interesting buildings.
Home of the 2008 Olympics, Beijing has been the cultural centre of China for over 800 years. It is notable for the walled Forbidden City with its grand palace of 9,999 rooms and the huge Tiananmen Square, scene of many historic events. Attractions include the Imperial Summer Palace with its lakeside Chinese gardens, and a must-do excursion to the Great Wall of China snaking across valleys and hills into the distance. Sea cruises call at the Xingang cruise terminal in Tianjin, some 85 miles from Beijing.
Hong Kong has been part of China since 1997, but place names such as Aberdeen and Stanley reflect the former British rule. Sail into the busy harbour, perhaps mooring at the Ocean Terminal in Kowloon. Next to the Star Ferry, it is a short trip across the harbour to the famous skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island. Kowloon itself has superb shopping. Its waterfront is a good place to watch the nightly 'Symphony of Lights' with laser displays from the financial centre buildings across the harbour.
Overlooking the harbour is the Peak, a superb vantage point, best reached by the historic tramway up a steep incline. The compact shopping centre is easy to stroll around, or take a colourful tram. See stalls and shops at Hollywood Road and the nearby Man Mo temple. If time, go out of town to Aberdeen and its floating restaurants or Stanley and its market.
From Hong Kong or Beijing a sea cruise may call at Keelung, the port for Taiwan's capital Taipei, home to Taipei101, until recently the world's tallest building. See reminders at the Martyr's Shrine and Memorial Hall of Chiang Kai-shek and the democracy struggles. A sea cruise may also visit Naha on Okinawa island for a taste of Japan and reminders of the Battle of Okinawa. The World Heritage site of Shurijo Castle is a highlight of Naha.