Best Of Taiwan Cruise ADVENTURE STARTS HERE

Hong Kong , China | Kaohsiung , Taiwan | Taichung , Taiwan | Taipei (Keelung) , Taiwan | Hong Kong , China

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DAY 1 - Departure Day

Hong Kong, China

DEPARTS:
5:00 PM

COASTAL SKYLINE

After you arrive at Hong Kong's airport on Lantau Island, see the enormous Tian Tan Buddha, measuring 112 feet tall and weighing over 200 tons. Then, take a harbor cruise to get your bearings and see Hong Kong's modern architecture. Later, slurp noodles at the Temple Street Night Market. If you have an extra day, head out to Dragon's Back portion of the Hong Kong Trail for some scenic hiking among mist-covered peaks.

A red bridge leading to a temple Chinese architecture in a garden in Hong Kong, China
Ferris wheel and skyscrapers during the day in Hong Kong, China
View from a mountain top looking down at the Hong Kong skyline

After you arrive at Hong Kong's airport on Lantau Island, see the enormous Tian Tan Buddha, measuring 112 feet tall and weighing over 200 tons. Then, take a harbor cruise to get your bearings and see Hong Kong's modern architecture. Later, slurp noodles at the Temple Street Night Market. If you have an extra day, head out to Dragon's Back portion of the Hong Kong Trail for some scenic hiking among mist-covered peaks.

A red bridge leading to a temple Chinese architecture in a garden in Hong Kong, China
Ferris wheel and skyscrapers during the day in Hong Kong, China
View from a mountain top looking down at the Hong Kong skyline
Things To Do

in Hong Kong

The Victoria peak tram arriving at a station overlooking the skyline in Hong Kong, China

Peek From the Peak

The Peak Tram takes you up to Victoria Peak, Hong Kong's 1,800-foot-high mountain. Less expensive buses will get you there, too. Once you're up top, admire the views over the city from the hiking trails. The Peak also offers an escape from the subtropical climate below — the air here is cooler and less humid.

Boats out on the harbor alongside a rocky coast in Hong Kong

Scenic Ride to Stanley

Stanley Harbour, on the other side of Hong Kong Island, will give you a taste of a different Hong Kong. It's a fishing village on Repulse Bay with a lovely seaside walk (snap some photos of the fishing boats) as well as a famous street market. There's lots of British history, a boardwalk and even a few beaches. You can take the bus from Central for a scenic trip, though the express bus is faster.

Tourist sailboat crosses Victoria Harbour to the Hong Kong Island with skyscrapers in the background

Out on the Harbor

Use an Octopus card for a ride on Hong Kong's iconic Star Ferry for inexpensive views of Hong Kong's harbor. The tour makes a scenic circular route between Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island, stopping at three piers. Skyscrapers are everywhere, but look closely for the smaller Golden Bauhinia near the Wan Chai Pier, a golden flower statue where the handover of Hong Kong took place in 1997.

Delicious array of dim sum in bamboo steamers in Hong Kong, China

Local Cuisine

Hong Kong is famous for dim sum, a meal of bite-sized foods with various selections brought to your table. Traditionally eaten for brunch, you'll find it at other hours, too. Choose from steamed buns, dumplings or fried rolls filled with spinach, crab or chicken. You'll likely need to share a table — but then you'll have help deciding what to order. Restaurants with lots of locals are a sign of quality and good prices.

Traditional Jade necklaces sold in markets while souvenir shopping in Hong Kong, China

Shopping

Head to Causeway Bay for modern retail therapy: This stretch of Hong Kong is virtually covered in malls and shops. Central is the district to go to for upscale designer clothes, shoes and other items. But don't overlook the markets for local handicrafts during your Hong Kong cruise. Pick up an inexpensive but distinctive jade necklace or ornament, or look for poetry-inscribed paintings and bamboo handicrafts from the antique dealers on Cat Street.

DAY 2 - DOCKED

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

ARRIVES:
1:00 PM
DEPARTS:
10:00 PM

Adventure in Taiwan

Start by taking in the city on foot — check out the Pier-2 art district, where you can see Kaohsiung's rich tradition of street art murals. Keep your visual faculties stimulated at the Dome of the Light, the largest public stained-glass installation in the world. And don't miss Taiwan's largest temple at Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center, with its red pagoda and countless Buddha statues.

Two dragon bridges with two pagodas at lotus pond on a sunny day in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Giant Banyan tree in a forest with moss growing like a curtain at the National Nature Park in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
View of the city in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Start by taking in the city on foot — check out the Pier-2 art district, where you can see Kaohsiung's rich tradition of street art murals. Keep your visual faculties stimulated at the Dome of the Light, the largest public stained-glass installation in the world. And don't miss Taiwan's largest temple at Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center, with its red pagoda and countless Buddha statues.

Two dragon bridges with two pagodas at lotus pond on a sunny day in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Giant Banyan tree in a forest with moss growing like a curtain at the National Nature Park in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
View of the city in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Things To Do

in Kaohsiung

Macaque sitting on a bench in the forest of monkey mountain in Taiwan

Monkey Around

Hike up Kaohsiung's Monkey Mountain via one of the many paths or the wooden staircase. Stop at Ya Zuo, about 45 minutes up, for views of the Straits of Taiwan. Many macaques live on the mountain. Don't bring any food with you — they've been known to swipe snacks from bags and pockets. Shy barking deer also live on Monkey Mountain, so keep your camera ready.

Street view of Kaohsiung City

River of Romance

The eight-mile-long Love River is to Kaohsiung as the Thames is to London. Take a solar-powered boat tour past architecture like the Kaohsiung Bridge and the Holy Rosary Cathedral. Stroll along the water's edge, or rent a bike and cycle to the Pier-2 art district.

A colorful dragon with two pagodas known as the Dragon Towers in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Animals at the Temple

On Lotus Lake, visit the multicolored, cartoon-like Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, set in front of the traditional temple towers. Choose your path carefully — tradition holds that you can reverse bad luck by entering through the dragon's jaws and exiting through those of the tiger.

Grilled squid street food in Taiwan

Local Cuisine

Kaohsiung is one of the best spots in Taiwan for sampling the country's unique and varied cuisine. During your Taiwan cruise, try braised duck served cold (to retain tenderness) over fragrant rice alongside stir-fried kangkong, water spinach shoots. Pick up freshly grilled local squid and prawns from a street-food vendor. Hunt down slippery danzai noodles, served in a long-simmered prawn-head broth and topped with minced pork, shrimp and bean sprouts.

A red tea set with asian designs on a wooden platform in Taiwan

Shopping

The Dream Mall, Chang Ming Street and An-Ning Street all have lots of shops, the latter two specialize in women's clothing. For a more Kaohsiung-specific souvenir, seek out some of Taiwan's high-quality loose-leaf teas or a handmade tea set. You can also find miniature versions of Taiwanese sky lanterns.

INSIDER TIP

While Kaohsiung is very walkable, pay close attention when crossing streets — drivers tend to run red lights here.

DAY 3 - DOCKED

Taichung, Taiwan

ARRIVES:
8:00 AM
DEPARTS:
6:00 PM

Discover Taichung

Taiwan's bustling city Taichung is one for the bucket list. Stroll through the Calligraphy Greenway, which will take you past some of the city's best attractions: See robotic dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural Science, and check out the brightly hued murals of Rainbow Village. Before you go, stop by the Fengjia Night Market — it opens at 4 p.m. — for local specialties octopus meatballs or an oyster omelette.

Traditional architecture by a lake at a park in Taichung, Taiwan, China
Riverside Park in Taichung, Taiwan, China
A cherry blosson in Wuling Farm in Taichung, Taiwan, China

Taiwan's bustling city Taichung is one for the bucket list. Stroll through the Calligraphy Greenway, which will take you past some of the city's best attractions: See robotic dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural Science, and check out the brightly hued murals of Rainbow Village. Before you go, stop by the Fengjia Night Market — it opens at 4 p.m. — for local specialties octopus meatballs or an oyster omelette.

Traditional architecture by a lake at a park in Taichung, Taiwan, China
Riverside Park in Taichung, Taiwan, China
A cherry blosson in Wuling Farm in Taichung, Taiwan, China
Things To Do

in Taichung

Painted walls of the Rainbow Village in Taiwan, China

Travel in Color

Hop into a taxi and 15 minutes later come face-to-face with an explosion of bright, vivid colors when you step into the Rainbow Village. Hand-painted by a former military soldier when the houses were facing demolition, the Rainbow Village has now become a protected attraction in Taichung. Visit in the morning and see if you can spot the grandfather of the Rainbow Village wandering around the property.

The Hall of Large Flowers in Taiwan, China

Mind Your Mansions

Journey back into history and explore the Wufeng Lin Family Mansion. The largest, finest and most complete traditional compound in all Taiwan is worth the price tag if you're a history or architecture buff. Or head to the Lin Family Gardens next door, which is free to enter and has several traditional buildings and exhibits to see.

A woman drinking pearl milk tea

Teaming with Taste

Bubble, or Boba Tea, originated in the early 1980s right in Taichung at the Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House. Instead of simply visiting the shop and ordering this refreshing beverage, why not learn how to make it yourself? Join a DIY workshop and learn how to make both Boba Tea and Pearl Milk Tea. Add the ingredients together, and shake your way to a tasty drink.

Braised pork on rice

Local Cuisine

Head to one of Taichung's street markets to sample Taiwanese staples like braised minced pork over rice. You can also find quirky takes on international indulgence, like the tender beef and French fries topped with melty cheese and served in a soda cup at Overlord. If you have a sweet tooth, stop by Miyahara — this dessert shop serves up interesting flavors of ice cream like dragon fruit, lavender tea and any type of chocolate you want.

Leather purses with painted animals at a Taiwan street market

Shopping

Taichung has many markets great for shopping. Cruise to Taichung and start at Jingming 1st Street Market for boutique-style stores, food and more. Or head to Tung Hai Arts Street to pick up handmade crafts and vintage accessories to bring home as souvenirs — cute leather pouches painted with animals are a popular trinket. Head to the Fenguan neighborhood for traditional lacquerware — it's known as one of Taiwan's best spots for traditional lacquered items.

INSIDER TIP

Use Uber if you can't walk to the place you want to go to. It's easier because you won't have to say the address in Chinese.

DAY 4 - DOCKED

Taipei (Keelung), Taiwan

ARRIVES:
8:00 AM
DEPARTS:
6:00 PM

Mountains of Thrills

Take the short trip from Keelung into Taipei, learn more about the city's history and traditions at Long Shan Temple, dating back to the 1600s in the early days of the Qing Dynasty. Then, head to Jiufen Old Street to take in some of stunning views of the bay and mountains as you wander through picturesque streets lined with quaint, traditional buildings — pop into one of the small, family-run spots here serving up fish ball soup with vermicelli noodles.

Statues on the roof of the temple at Jiufen Old Street in Taipei, Taiwan
View of the Taipei, Taiwan cityscape
The National Palace Museum gate in Taipei, Taiwan

Take the short trip from Keelung into Taipei, learn more about the city's history and traditions at Long Shan Temple, dating back to the 1600s in the early days of the Qing Dynasty. Then, head to Jiufen Old Street to take in some of stunning views of the bay and mountains as you wander through picturesque streets lined with quaint, traditional buildings — pop into one of the small, family-run spots here serving up fish ball soup with vermicelli noodles.

Statues on the roof of the temple at Jiufen Old Street in Taipei, Taiwan
View of the Taipei, Taiwan cityscape
The National Palace Museum gate in Taipei, Taiwan
Things To Do

in Taipei (Keelung)

Rocky coast of Hi Park in Taiwan

Moonwalk

Ho Ping Island Park is a little slice of coastal terrain that will make you feel as if you've just landed on the moon. Wander through the park while listening to the waves crash on the shore, and discover the unique rock structures that have been carved by thousands of years of erosion.

The Baimiweng Fort in Keelung, Taiwan

Easy Breezy

Once safeguarding the Keelung Harbor, Baimiweng Fort is now the perfect place to take in the stunning coastal views of Northern Taiwan. Explore the three stations with your camera in hand. Snap a photo of the boats in the harbor from the top, and enjoy the breeze coming off the sea.

Giant Buddha statue in Keelung, Taiwan

Visit a Goddess

Stretch your legs and climb the hilltop of Zhongzheng Park to visit Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy statue. On your way back down, stop at the Buddhist Temple and the Statue of Confucius before wandering the grounds, which are home to tennis courts and a skating rink.

A bowl of beef noodle soup

Local Cuisine

Taipei's night markets are the place to go for Taiwanese street food — and despite their name, many open around noon. Cruise to Taipei to fill up on lu rou fan (braised minced pork over rice), or niu rou mien, a bowl of noodles topped with tender braised beef and served in comforting beef broth. Then, cool down with pao pao bing, a sweet flavored ice. Or try liu sha, a golden-fried donut filled with sweet, eggy custard.

Red lanterns in Taiwan

Shopping

Head to Jiufen Old Street, lined with beautiful red lanterns, for distinctive, traditional souvenirs. The street is home to several tea houses, where you can purchase handmade tea leaves and delicate tea sets so you can brew your own Taiwanese tea at home. With your Taiwan cruise vacation, bring home a miniature replica of the sky lanterns you see hanging above the alleys here.

INSIDER TIP

Plan your day out in advance! Most of the best spots to visit in Keelung are a 30-minute taxi ride away.

DAY 5 - AT SEA

CRUISING

DAY 6 - Arrival Day

Hong Kong, China

ARRIVES:
7:00 AM

ASIA'S URBAN HEARTBEAT

Before leaving Hong Kong, pop over to the island of Macau — you'll need to bring your passport but not a Chinese visa. Check out the island's Vegas-style casinos like the Grand Lisboa, one of the oldest. Inside the Venetian Hotel and Casino, see singing gondoliers and do some shopping. Stroll through Senado Square and the narrow surrounding streets and grab a Portuguese egg tart, the iconic Macau brunch food.

The Giant Buddha Monastery in Hong Kong, Lantau Island
The Golden Pagoda of Nan Lian garden in Hong Kong
Lanterns hanging at the Wong Tai Sin temple in Hong Kong

Before leaving Hong Kong, pop over to the island of Macau — you'll need to bring your passport but not a Chinese visa. Check out the island's Vegas-style casinos like the Grand Lisboa, one of the oldest. Inside the Venetian Hotel and Casino, see singing gondoliers and do some shopping. Stroll through Senado Square and the narrow surrounding streets and grab a Portuguese egg tart, the iconic Macau brunch food.

The Giant Buddha Monastery in Hong Kong, Lantau Island
The Golden Pagoda of Nan Lian garden in Hong Kong
Lanterns hanging at the Wong Tai Sin temple in Hong Kong
Things To Do

in Hong Kong

The Victoria peak tram arriving at a station overlooking the skyline in Hong Kong, China

Peek From the Peak

The Peak Tram takes you up to Victoria Peak, Hong Kong's 1,800-foot-high mountain. Less expensive buses will get you there, too. Once you're up top, admire the views over the city from the hiking trails. The Peak also offers an escape from the subtropical climate below — the air here is cooler and less humid.

Boats out on the harbor alongside a rocky coast in Hong Kong

Scenic Ride to Stanley

Stanley Harbour, on the other side of Hong Kong Island, will give you a taste of a different Hong Kong. It's a fishing village on Repulse Bay with a lovely seaside walk (snap some photos of the fishing boats) as well as a famous street market. There's lots of British history, a boardwalk and even a few beaches. You can take the bus from Central for a scenic trip, though the express bus is faster.

Tourist sailboat crosses Victoria Harbour to the Hong Kong Island with skyscrapers in the background

Out on the Harbor

Use an Octopus card for a ride on Hong Kong's iconic Star Ferry for inexpensive views of Hong Kong's harbor. The tour makes a scenic circular route between Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island, stopping at three piers. Skyscrapers are everywhere, but look closely for the smaller Golden Bauhinia near the Wan Chai Pier, a golden flower statue where the handover of Hong Kong took place in 1997.

Delicious array of dim sum in bamboo steamers in Hong Kong, China

Local Cuisine

Hong Kong is famous for dim sum, a meal of bite-sized foods with various selections brought to your table. Traditionally eaten for brunch, you'll find it at other hours, too. Choose from steamed buns, dumplings or fried rolls filled with spinach, crab or chicken. You'll likely need to share a table — but then you'll have help deciding what to order. Restaurants with lots of locals are a sign of quality and good prices.

Traditional Jade necklaces sold in markets while souvenir shopping in Hong Kong, China

Shopping

Head to Causeway Bay for modern retail therapy: This stretch of Hong Kong is virtually covered in malls and shops. Central is the district to go to for upscale designer clothes, shoes and other items. But don't overlook the markets for local handicrafts during your Hong Kong cruise. Pick up an inexpensive but distinctive jade necklace or ornament, or look for poetry-inscribed paintings and bamboo handicrafts from the antique dealers on Cat Street.

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