As the Earth’s largest and most populous continent, Asia has much to offer any kind of traveler. From the beautiful gardens of Singapore, to the East-meets-West culture of Hong Kong, or the innovative Harajuku style and fashion of Tokyo, a visit to Asia will leave you wanting to return. Thanks to Windstar Cruises, the sponsor of this article, your Asian vacation will be smooth sailing.
Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo
Asia covers over 17 million square miles of land, and with that kind of space there is never a shortage of sights to see, destinations to visit, or cultures to experience. Singapore, located in Southeast Asia, is made up of 63 islands including the main island of Pulau Ujong. In 1967 Singapore was declared a “Garden City” by its government to soften the blow of the urbanization of the country, and since this nearly 10% of Singapore’s land has been set aside for nature preserves and parks with plans to protect the remaining wildlife in the near future. This makes no trip to Singapore complete without perusing through the exhilarating nature, like at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Located along the banks of Bukit Timah Hill, the highest natural point in the whole city at 537ft. Bukit Timah Nature Preserve only spans 400 acres, but is regarded as one of the most productive pieces of nature. Take a stroll or a bike ride along the recently renovated trails that vary in difficulty. Bukit Timah Nature Preserve is also considered one of the largest patches of primary rainforest remaining in Singapore.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the neighboring Central Catchment Nature Reserve collectively house over 840 species of flowering plants as well as over 500 species of fauna. These two reserves as well as the Labrador Nature Reserve and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve make up the four gazetted reserves found within Singapore. Gardens By The Bay, a nature park created with reclaimed land consisting of three waterfront gardens, is another beautiful testament to the diverse nature found throughout Singapore. The park’s main goal was to improve the quality of life in Singapore by enhancing the greenery, and Gardens By The Bay does not disappoint. Containing more than one million plants ranging from species found in cool temperatures, to species found in tropical habitats, Gardens By The Bay is enjoyable for all types of visitors.
Hong Kong is another popular destination found within Asia. The autonomous territory is known not just for its Martial Arts film genre and notable actors, though. Hong King is considered one of the world’s leading international financial centers, and is one of the Four Asian Tigers: the four economies that underwent massive industrialization in Asia. Hong Kong’s skyscrapers are one of many sights not to miss on a trip to the bustling area. The International Commerce Centre reaches 1,588ft. and spans for 108 stories. It is the world’s 10th tallest building by height, and 5th by number of floors; the International Commerce Centre is home to a 5-star hotel and a handful of Michelin star restaurants as well as the offices. Take a ride up to the 100th floor and peek out onto the skyline at Sky100 Observatory, an observation deck located in the centre that allows visitors a panoramic view of the city. Be sure not to skip out on a little shopping at Elements Shopping Mall, locatedon the lower floors of the skyscraper. For a view of the beautiful harbor, take a tour of Central Plaza, the third tallest tower in Hong Kong. One of its more unique features is a neon clock located at the top of the structure. It blinks and changes color every fifteen minutes to indicate the time. It is also home to the highest church inside a skyscraper in the world!
For more literally breathtaking views on your trip to Hong Kong be sure not to miss Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island. At a dizzying elevation of 1,811ft. Victoria Peak offers views of the Victoria Harbour as well as Lamma Islands. The Peak is a highly popular destination among visitors and residents alike, and due to this The Peak Tower and The Peak Galleria were built. The Peak Tower contains not only leisurely shopping, but a handful of attractions such as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! and Madame Tussauds. The Peak Galleria, located atop the public bus terminal, also includes an array of shopping and dining options. The Temple Street Night Market can give visitors a taste of the bustling atmosphere of Hong Kong. Peruse the stalls of bargain items, and if you’re lucky you might catch an open-air Cantonese opera performance right there in the market! Street food is also a large part of the market, and you can get anything from a bowl of noodles to an entire meal.
If you’re looking for a more upscale meal than a plate from a street cart, make sure to check out Luk Yu Tea House. Serving up old school Cantonese fare like sweet-and-sour pork or dim-sum dumplings, Luk Yu Tea House also offers different special teas for the tea connoisseur in everyone. The restaurant’s atmosphere and Eastern art decor help set the scene for an incredible meal. Another important stop on a visit to Hong Kong is the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple. This busy temple is suited for all walks of life, from young professionals and parents to CEO’s. Behind the temple are the Good Wish Gardens full of colorful pavilions, bridges, carp ponds, and even waterfalls.
No trip to Asia is complete without spending some time in Tokyo, the capitol of Japan. With the greater Tokyo area being the most populous metropolitan area in the entire world, there is no shortage of sights to see and activities to participate. The Tokyo National Museum is not only one of the largest art museums in the world, but the largest in Tokyo. Holding over 110,000 objects, including 87 National Japanese Treasure holdings, the museum tells the history of Tokyo. It also even hosts educational events related to its art, so be sure not to miss out on the museum. It even houses a small collection of beautiful works of Greco-Buddhist art. Famous for its unique scramble crossing that allows pedestrians to take up the entire intersection, Shibuya Crossing is another must-see in Tokyo, located in the Shibuya Ward. The surrounding area contains shops and Shibuya Station, one of the busiest rail stations in all of Tokyo. Shibuya is is also known as one of the main areas of fashion for young people, and where you can see many different styles and trends like harajuku and kawaii which are both popular among young adults.
If you are lucky enough to be visiting Tokyo during one of the tournaments be sure to check out Ryōgoku Kokugikan, Japan’s largest sumo stadium. With 15 day long events in January, May, and September you can purchase tickets a month in advance. While there, make sure to try a sample of the protein-rich stew all the wrestlers enjoy: chanko-nabe. For something a little less casual make sure to eat a meal at Tofuya-Ukai, which specializes in all different styles of tofu with a focus on the kaiseki style. Located in a former brewery this restaurant not only features a koi pond and beautiful foliage, but it also has an extensive japanese garden and is located at the foot of Tokyo Tower. The telecommunication and observation tower is another must-see in Tokyo. Spanning 1,092ft. it is the second tallest structure located in Japan. The structure of the tower itself is a lattice-style inspired by the Eiffel Tower, and painted white and international orange due to flight safety regulations.
From Hong Kong and Singapore’s energetic embrace of east and west to Halong Bay’s soul-stirring beauty, this journey will capture your heart. UNESCO World Heritage Sites are everywhere: the ancient trading city of Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary, Hue, Halong Bay. And between them lie miles of emerald jungle, brilliant smiles, and time at sea to make Star Legend your very own.
Unwind on a postcard-perfect Philippine beach full of natural beauty and see the blinding procession of Philippine wonders from Boracay, the “Best Island in the World” to Hundred Islands National Park including an overnight in charming Manila. Explore the tiny sultanate of Brunei and discover the maze of wooden boardwalks there. Captivating cities and untamed nature entice you, in turn, from your graceful yacht.
Layer after layer, Japan’s story unfolds. In Edo-period gardens with their perfectly sculpted karikomi. In Chiran’s exquisitely preserved samurai homes. In the peace memorials of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. And time after time you struggle to describe unforgettable moments, from your first view of Mount Fuji to the fluttering paper cranes of peace at Hiroshima’s Atomic Dome.
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