Only 70 miles west of Shanghai, China’s high-tech metropolis, Suzhou is a world apart, a wonderland of lush classical gardens, age-old canals and winding rivers, and revered cultural institutions. The graceful city that once attracted ancient emperors and court officials, artists and poets, still draws Chinese vacationers as well as savvy Westerners.
Suzhou - pronounced “sue-joe” - is easily reached. Airlines fly regularly from major U.S. and Canadian gateways to Shanghai. Take the high-speed Maglev train into the city and visit mega-tall skyscrapers and elegant 19th-century European buildings along the riverside Bund. Or proceed directly to Suzhou. From Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport or Hongqiao International Airport, bullet trains make the 30-minute trip.
For those who want to visit Asia, but are not sure where to start, Taiwan is the perfect place to visit and experience Asian culture. Taiwan will ease you into the East in a very gentle and wonderful way. An island that is located in the heart of Asia, Taiwan is rich with not only modern cities, but ancient Chinese temples, and a bounty of nature, boasting hot springs and stunning mountains.
If you are faint-of-heart, forget about crossing the street in in Ho Chi Min City (Saigon), Vietnam. About two million scooters, mopeds and motorcycles swarm like bees along the thoroughfares. The skill needed to cross them is bravado.
Many people who have been to Vietnam think they have experienced all of Southeast Asia. Not true. Each mainland country - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam - is unique. Here is a tiny sampling of each.
All the world on an island - from Michelin starred restaurants to lush gorges and warm hearted people - Taiwan offers your clients experiences, that embrace the old and new.
Agents have a great opportunity to sell Taiwan, a small island with big attractions and many chances to experience the warmth of the Taiwanese people while sharing ancient Chinese traditions and modern lifestyles. Your clients will most likely start in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital and the center of modern Taiwanese life, a good example is the balance of old and new influences.
Australia is a diverse country and a huge continent - a place for adventure where excitement and natural beauty blend.
It teems with wildlife, is home to the Aboriginal people, has its own wine country and more than 900 islands in its Great Barrier Reef.
Arrayed across undulating hills overlooking its namesake bay, Japan’s Nagasaki is considered the “Naples of the Orient.” But Nagasaki is even better known as the city where the second Atomic bomb was dropped on August 9, 1945, killing 75,000 people, wounding another 75,000, and leaving generations of survivors physically and emotionally scarred.
The bombing was Nagasaki’s greatest tragedy. But it wasn’t the first. In 1597, nearly 50 years after St. Francis Xavier brought Christianity to Japan, Nagasaki witnessed the hilltop crucifixion of 26 Roman Catholic missionaries and laymen followed by more than 250 years of Christian expulsion and persecution.
Flight cancellations in New York and Toronto delayed my scheduled arrival at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea. Weary, I boarded the hotel bus bound for the Lotte Hotel Seoul, a member of WorldHotels deluxe collection. With plenty of activities and sights to see in the city, the Lotte Seoul is an elegant, comfortable five-star retreat. www.lottehotelseoul.com
In the 1550s, Portuguese traders and missionaries established an outpost along the South China coast. They named it Macao after the Chinese goddess of seafarers. Since then, Macao has become a world-class destination with glittering casino-hotels, many owned by the Sands resort and gaming empire, which also built the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas. But Macao’s appeal goes far beyond its baccarat and roulette tables.
It’s not what I expected For a moment, I am reminded of all those descriptions I have read about India’s Darjeeling. My first thought is of tea, which I discover is just a very small percentage of the charm of this former British colonial outpost. I knew to expect the lure of old traditions, but it’s much more.
I’m fascinated by the sights I see as the car climbs the 6,710-feet to get to this place above the clouds. A place that has been calling my name for years. As the road winds perilously closer to the top, I look out one window to see the Darjeeling Himalayan Railroad train (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) blowing its black smoke. Out the other car window, I see the local inhabitants, some warming themselves with small coal fires in tiny pans on the edge of the mountain. When I finally reach my destination, I am remarkably enchanted.
If you think Taiwan is just like China, then you haven’t dined at the funky Five-Dime Restaurant, visited Taipei 101 (one of the world’s tallest buildings) or toured the National Palace Museum. Each place gives Taiwan a unique personality. But there are still similarities. Think of it like difference between the U.S. and Great Britain.
Taiwan is small, about the combined area of Maryland and Delaware. The high steel and glass bamboo-like Taipei 101 stands 1,671 feet above it. Outside Taipei, verdant mountains often shroud themselves in mist and envelop Buddhist monasteries and chasms that dig deep into the earth. In between are rice paddies, tea farms, Starbucks and 7-Elevens.