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Hong Kong embraces its stunning, island-strewn harbor with a canyon of glittering skyscrapers and a backdrop of dark mountains. Long known as a modern juggernaut of international commerce, it is also a nonstop bonanza of world-class shopping, sophisticated nightlife, and global cuisine. At the same time, its narrow alleys, traditional markets, and beachside shrines bespeak the age-old, Chinese roots that give the city its fascinating cultural underpinnings. As a bonus, your extension features a full-day excursion to Macau, which was the oldest European colony in Asia. Sound like a lot? It is! That’s why you’ll want to extend your time here with this affordable, convenient extension that lets you do justice to a fascinating region.
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Fly to Hong Kong
Depart your gateway city and fly to Hong Kong. You’ll fly overnight and cross the International Dateline, arriving at your destination on Day 3.
Welcome to Hong Kong
If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, upon arrival at the airport in Hong Kong a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. You may arrive very early in the morning, but we have arranged for an early check-in so you can get some rest. Enjoy the balance of the day free until this evening’s orientation tour, which sheds light on the nighttime markets, cafés, and other attractions in the vibrant Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood around your hotel. Dinner will be served at your hotel, following a Welcome Briefing.
The best of Hong Kong Island
After breakfast, get acquainted with some of Hong Kong’s most iconic attractions on a half-day city tour. You’ll start in Aberdeen, the original tiny village for which all of Hong Kong is now named. It was settled by the Tanka people, who speak their own dialect and have historically lived on fishing boats in floating villages. This is where locals came for the freshest seafood, and jostling next to the tiny traditional junk boats you’ll see famous, grand floating restaurants like the iconic Jumbo. A sampan ride through the harbor brings it all to you, up close.
Then, for a totally different perspective, you’ll ride to the top of Victoria Peak by tram, taking in the phenomenal views. Here, you’ll experience the dim sum tradition on an included lunch, where servers bring carts of small plate dishes to tempt you. Dim sum literally means “touch the heart,” and perhaps yours will be filled by some fluffy, pork-filled bao buns . . . mouthwatering siu mai dumplings . . . translucent shrimp cheung fan rolls . . . beef balls seasoned with coriander . . . and more.
Returning to your hotel later in the afternoon, you’ll have the balance of the day free. Dinner will be on your own, and after dark, you might consider a walk along the waterfront Avenue of the Stars. You’ll not only run into some famous (sculpted) Hong Kong movie stars, but catch the nightly Symphony of Lights, when the skyline is illuminated in what is the world's largest permanent light and sound show.
Free time in Hong Kong, base tour travelers arrive
Rise and shine for a free day to discover Hong Kong as you like. Perhaps you’ll start with the attractions right near your hotel’s vibrant Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood on Kowloon Island, or take a ride on the famous Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Island and take your pick of restaurants for lunch, from Michelin-starred trendsetters to classic Cantonese to savory street food. Alternatively, you can join our optional Hong Kong Market Tour, which will bring you to into the city's culture and commerce. You'll visit four markets total, including the city's renowned Jade Market and the Flower Market, and enjoy an included lunch to keep you sustained throughout your shopping.
Throughout the day, your fellow expedition travelers will be arriving. You’ll meet them this evening at a Welcome Briefing and Dinner. Tomorrow, as they acclimate with a city tour, you still have one more included feature of your pre-trip extension to enjoy: your full-day excursion to Macau.
Macau may be known as “the Vegas of Asia” for its famous casinos, but it is also a fascinating cultural hybrid, given its Chinese heritage and 300-year-old Portuguese colonial past. Today you will discover it on an included excursion, traveling by ferry and coach.
Macau was the first European colony in Asia, and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Only the five-tiered façade of ruined St. Paul's Cathedral still stands, but it is still worth a look, with its intricately carved Chinese lions and dragons, and Christian saints. You’ll also stop at the border gate and shopping area, and enjoy a buffet lunch at a local restaurant. Of course, this is Macau, so you will have the opportunity to try your luck at a casino before you head back to Hong Kong, and enjoy dinner on your own.
Tomorrow, you will rejoin your larger base tour group and proceed with Day 5 of your Hong Kong-Stockholm cruise tour.
Immerse yourself in the exoticism, fascinating history, and resplendent architecture of Istanbul, where Europe meets Asia along the bustling Bosphorus Strait. You’ll step into the world of Ottoman sultans at the Topkapi Palace, marvel at the towering domes and minarets of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, and roam the endless passageways of the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market, teeming with colorful carpets, leather goods, jewelry, and lanterns. Your three nights in this intoxicating cultural capital is the perfect way to round out your ocean expedition.
Fly to Istanbul
Transfer to the Athens airport to board your flight to Istanbul, Turkey’s exotic capital straddling Europe and Asia. You’ll arrive in time for an orientation walk around your hotel before a festive dinner. Cultural Discovery: Tonight's Turkish dinner is sure to be both delicious and unforgettable! Head to a local Turkish restaurant and enjoy a unique folkloric performance that will welcome you to this fascinating city where East meets West.
Royal and cultural splendors of Istanbul
After breakfast, head to the Fatih district, home to the Historic Areas of Istanbul, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin your explorations at the Topkapi Palace, once home to Ottoman sultans and today a magnificent museum. Your guided tour leads you into some of its many chambers, including the Harem Apartments.
Cultural Discovery: After lunch in the Topkapi Palace, continue to the spectacular Blue Mosque, named for the countless blue Iznik tiles that adorn its vast interior. Conclude the day among the teeming stalls and passageways of the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul’s historic marketplace.
Spectacular Sultanahmet on foot
Stretch your legs this morning during a walking tour of the Sultanahmet district. You’ll stop at the 6th-century Hagia Sophia, built as a church and later converted into a mosque. It has been a magnificent museum since 1935.
Cultural Discovery: After, follow your nose to the Spice Bazaar, where mounds of colorful turmeric, saffron, and countless other spices vie for your olfactory attentions. Be sure to sample some Turkish Delight, the nation’s favorite sweet, while you’re here!
After lunch on your own, you may join an optional scenic cruise along the legendary Bosphorus Strait, the narrow waterway separating Europe and Asia. This evening, gather for a Farewell Dinner with your fellow travelers.
Head to the Istanbul airport for you flight back to the U.S.