Siem Riep is on river cruises or is an excursion from cruise ships in Bangkok. The whole reason is Angkor Wat.Angkor Wat is amazing. This is a complex of temples and Angkor Wat is just one. There are more temples in the area still to be uncovered. There are elephants to ride, and evening illuminations.Siem Riep is still a town small enough to walk across in 10-15 minutes. There are dozens of hotels into town from the new airport. The best is the Grand Hotel with it's beautiful pool.Downtown there are a couple of streets with all the atmosphere of a Hollywood movie. The market closes up early but well worth the experience. There's also a school and store for traditional artisans making lacquer, silk and stone products.
Excitement, colors, food, shopping, neon, the New China, harbor traffic, tea!
Be prepared to be lost in a sea of rushing Cantonese
The best city ever for a short stay. There's everything from the most expensive and sophisticated to the down and out. The city pulses with life 24 hours a day. Probably the only city in the world that carries itself off in two completely different worlds. It is in Hong Kong that East truly meets West.Brace yourself. The escalator, the subway, the street life and the buses and trams. Don't forget the funicular with it's amazing views. High rises that are high up on subtropical peaks to start with. Restaurants that seem to serve hundreds at the same time. And, small shops that seem too small to survive. Ancient art work and tomorrow's electronics right on top of each other.For some reason Hong Kong is for indulgences. Whether it is jewelry, food, clothes, or cricket cages you can find it here. Maybe it's that it doesn't have to be expensive. The small bit of tasty dim sum, or the cup of oolong tea, can be an indulgence.And, no trip would be complete without one crossing of the harbor on the Star ferry.
Hakodate is located in very southern Hokkaido. This is the most northern of the Japanese islands. Most of what we think of as Japanese doesn't really apply to this northern town.Hakodate has a beautiful harbor. There are some lovely Victorian style homes and buildings surrounding the harbor dating from the Meiji period starting around 1860. The harbor is basically a commercial port that doesn't see that much passenger traffic. The city is a bit drab. You can feel that the winters here are long and cold. Don't expect the lively colorful street life common in other Japanese towns. There's a gondola ride to the top of the mountain that anchors the harbor.For the Japanese, the market in the morning with its huge variety of seafood and marine products is a huge attraction. There are Japanese-style hot spring resorts nearby, but these are usually only for overnight guests.The airport is close to town and fairly new. Hakodate is sometimes the last Japanese port before going on to the Russian Far East.
Kobe is to Kyoto what Yokohama is to Tokyo. Kyoto is the ancient capital, Tokyo the modern capital.Kobe is on the opposite side of Osaka bay from the international airport KIX. There are direct trains, but if your cruise line has arranged a bus transfer be prepared for a long ride. The cruise port is one of the busiest in Japan and is well done. The area around the port is not very nice, but it is safe. The good news is that the Inland Sea cruising either before or after Kobe is some of the most beautiful in the world.Kobe is a narrow strip of land (recently not so narrow due to huge reclamation projects). You can ride up to the top of the montain right behind Kobe. The downtown has the usual assortment of department stores and endless arcades full of shops and stores.You can get to Kyoto either by Shinkansen high speed train, or by bus. Osaka, the commercial center of western Japan, is just one stop away on the high speed line. There are also other trains that connect these three cities.Yes, there is Kobe beef in Kobe, but don't expect to find it on every corner and it is more expensive that you mght have seen it in the U.S.
Yokohama is the traditional harbor city for Tokyo. The huge harbor facilities dwarf the city behind them. You can see most of the important sights in Yokohama right from the ship, the towers, ferris wheel and the bridges in the harbor area.Most passengers will choose between going into Tokyo or Kamakura. Tokyo is the most modern city in the world. If you were expecting geisha and bonsai then you should head for Kyoto. However, Kamakura with it's famous buddha is just about one hour south.Take your pick of excursions, but don't stay in town.