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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. Ride to the top of Penha Hill, and see the Chapel of Our Lady of Penha, which was a pilgrimage site for 17th-century Portuguese sailors. See the oldest temple in Macau, A-Ma, dating to 1488. 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 lunch at a local restaurant serving the unique Chinese-Macanese cuisine. 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-Petra cruise tour.
The stark beauty of the Dead Sea is almost extraterrestrial, with its barren backdrop of rocky mountains and flat sandy plains, and its bright blue shock of water, ringed by bands of white, crystallized salt. But beyond these natural marvels lies a trove of historic and cultural relics that predate biblical times. Discover them by adding a few days to your cruise tour on this fascinating extension that features the Roman ruined city of Jerash; Mt. Nebo, where Moses died after laying eyes on the Promised Land; the UNESCO site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan; and the mosaics of Madaba. While your itinerary is rich with discovery, your Dead Sea resort spa accommodations ensure that you’ll also be fully relaxed.
Roman ruins of Jerash, Dead Sea experience
Departing after breakfast, you’ll ride to Jerash, an extensive archaeological site that has been called the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. Explore the remains of this amazing desert city, including the Forum, a plaza surrounded by 160 columns; Hadrian’s Arch; the Hippodrome; and the Cardo, a colonnaded street that runs nearly a half mile through the site.
From here we continue southwards into the wilderness region of the Dead Sea — a low-elevation salt sea that rests at the lowest elevation on Earth. It is among the world’s saltiest bodies of water and one of its first health resorts. The remarkably high salt concentration allows for effortless floating, while its rich mineral content is believed to offer therapeutic and cosmetic benefits, and tomorrow you'll get the full floating experience!
Dinner is included at the hotel tonight.
Discover biblical history in Bethany, then enjoy a Dead Sea experience
This morning you’ll do some biblical time traveling as we ride to the east bank of the Jordan River and Al-Maghtas, also called Bethany. It is believed to be where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, thereby beginning his ministry. Excavation only began here in 1996, and since then archaeologists have unearthed some 20 treasures including several churches, a prayer hall, baptismal pools, and a water reticulation system that dates back to Roman and Byzantine times. The area is also associated with the prophet Elijah, who was said to have ascended to heaven here on ”chariots of fire.”
Cultural Discovery: From here you’ll return to your Dead Sea resort for lunch on your own, and with time to swim in the Dead Sea (or the hotel pool filled with Dead Sea water), enjoy a traditional hamman bath treatment, or relax with a mud facial. Dinner tonight will be here in one of the resort’s nine restaurants.
Mount Nebo and Madaba, return to Amman
After breakfast you’ll depart to explore Mount Nebo, the biblical mountain from which Moses was said to have glimpsed the Promised Land prior to his death.
After lunch in a local restaurant you’ll visit the market town of Madaba, renowned for its exquisite mosaics from the Byzantine era. The most famous is the Madaba Map, a 6th-century mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land that is preserved on the floor of the 19th-century Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. From here we proceed to Amman, traveling along the King’s Highway — an ancient route that has been a pathway for pilgrims, traders, soldiers and Crusaders for centuries. Once we reach Amman, settle into your hotel before we adjoin for a final dinner.
Depending on your home city, you may be departing for home this evening on a late flight, or some time tomorrow.
Return flight home
After an included breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for your return flight home.