Taking a Viking River Cruise in China

Today I am linking up with the #sundaytraveler linkup! Thanks to Pack Me To! A few years ago I begged my parents to take me to China. They are a little bit more "plan your trip in advance and have a guide who takes you everywhere," and I am a little more "plan some, walk around by yourself, explore."

Pack Me To

I finally convinced them to go to China by agreeing to go on a Viking River Cruise, which would satisfy their need to have a language-speaking tour guide while we were there. I was a little concerned that the ship would be full of old people and that I would be the only young person on the tour. But I was totally wrong!! There were a lot of families with kids my age who were doing the same exact thing we were doing.

The tour is part land-based, part-ship based and each part was equally as fascinating. Of course on the land-based part we hit all of the highlights in Beijing, Xian and Shangai. My favorite parts of course were climbing the great wall of China, seeing the iconic Tiananmen Square. In Xian the Terracotta Warriors were beyond incredible. After we finished the land portion of our journey, it was time for the cruise!

I really enjoyed the cruise portion because it took me to many places in China that I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. We cruised through the Three Gorges Dam and a bunch of cities with interesting pieces of culture.

A couple other highlights of the cruise included:

1. The food- Honestly I was excited to try local Chinese food and the tour did not disappoint. In each region we had the local cuisine and it was all fantastic (ok, there were a couple of weird things, but I like that).

2. The entertainment- I don't expect to be entertained 24/7 on a trip, but the nighttime entertainment on land was really fascinating. We saw a tradition Beijing Opera and the Shanghai acrobats.

3. The guide- Our guide was beyond amazing for this trip. It actually made me consider getting part-time guides for some of my upcoming trips. He was able to teach us so much about the history and culture of China. His information played a huge role in making this a great trip.

I still have dreams of going back to China (and Japan...and the rest of Asia), but I do feel that this trip gave me an amazing intro to an amazing country.

Have you been to China before? Would you ever consider going on a river cruise?

Five Must See Spots in China

A few years ago I somehow convinced my parents to take me on a trip to China. It was only surprising because my Mom basically said she never, ever wanted to go to China (in case you are wondering, she ended up loving it). We took a cruise with Viking River Cruises, which took us to the following places: Beijing, Xian, Chongqing, Shibaozhai, The Three Gorges, Jingzhou and all the way to Shanghai. There were my top five must see spots in China (PS. there are about a million must see spots we didn't get too, but I know there will be another trip). 1. The Great Wall of China- 4,000 miles long, a world heritage site and an absolutely breathtaking experience. It was really foggy the day we went, hence the awful picture, but this was one of the most incredible sites I have ever seen.

2. Visiting Tiananmen Square (hi MOM!)- Palaces, gardens, courtyards, history, movements and another world heritage site. I loved Beijing (more than any other stop on the trip) mostly because of this experience.

3, Embracing the local culture- Everywhere we went I tried to find one hot spot to embrace the local culture. This was in Beijing at a local night-food market. I didn't try any of the delicacies (starfish or seahorse on a stick), but it was beyond fascinating to explore.

4. Xian Terracotta Warriors- Thousands of life sizes warriors, one of the most interesting museum-type environments I've ever been in. We spent almost the entire day exploring the warriors, horses and infantry there.

5. The Bund in Shanghai- This was a chance to explore the most incredible views of historic and modern buildings together I have ever seen.

Most people don't consider China in their travels and instead venture to Japan or SE Asia, but I absolutely loved my trip to China and would return again in a heartbeat. A unique historical, but modern country with so many must-see spots.