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  #1  
Old May 15th, 2012, 04:41 PM
Bowie MeMe Bowie MeMe is offline
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Default Shore excursions off Diamond Princess?

We take cruise line shore excursions. We know all the reasons that folks like to plan their own but we prefer to go with the ship excursions (laughingly we always do private tour guides/transfers/hotels for pre- and post-cruise which will be 12 days on this trip )

For anyone who has been on shore excursions -- particularly Princess shore excursions off the Diamond Princess-- could you comment on which were good and which to choose? We will visit Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Nagasaki, Busan. We will spend 5 days in Beijing, 2 in Xian and 5 days in Bangkok prior to the cruise Oct. 25. We like history, culture, scenery, some walking but mostly easy on feet . Thanks for your suggestions.
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Bowie, Md.

2014Oceanic Discoverer New Zealand South Island
2013 Disney Dream 2012Diamond Princess The Orient route Star Princess Cape Horn Route SA 2011M/V Evolution Galapagos Islands 2011 Uniworld River Duchess Tulips/windmills;2010 Crown Princess Canada/New England;2010 Coral Princess Panama Canal;2009 Oceania Nautica Greece and Turkey;2008 Cunard QM2 Southern Caribbean;2008 Celebrity Constellation Iberia & TA;2007 Majestic American Queen of West ColumbiaR;2006 Princess Star Princess Baltic;2004 Princess Tahitian Princess South Pacific;2003 Viking River Cruises Clara Schumann Elbe R;2002 Coral Princess (Aust) Coral Princess2 Reef;2001 Princess Royal Princess Norwegian Fijords;2000 Jungle Expeditions La Turmalina Amazon R;1999 Disney Magic Bahamas;1998 RCCL Enchanment of Seas Western Carib.;1996 Princess Star Princess (old) Alaska;1994 RCCL Monarch of the Seas Southern Carib;1990 RCCL Nordic Prince Bermuda;1987 RCCL Sun Viking Eastern Carib.
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  #2  
Old May 15th, 2012, 09:48 PM
lithlith lithlith is offline
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Default Diamond Princess Excursions

We were on the Diamond Princess Singapore to Beijing in March 2012.

Bangkok -- We took the all day tour from the port into Bangkok -- tour 100A. It was about a 2 hour bus ride from the port to the city. It was a good tour, but very crowded and very hot. The only thing we didn't like about this tour was that there was that the only shopping on this trip was to a gem/jewelry store at the end of the tour. (There was some shopping available at the cruise terminal when we arrived back from our tour.)



Ho Chi Minh City -- We took the all day tour from the port into Ho Chi Minh City -- tour 100A. It was about a 2 hour bus ride from the port to the city. The tour was very good and we saw all of the sights that we wanted to see there.



Nha Trang -- We took the half day (although it felt like a full day) tour -- tour 200A. It was a good tour. (There is some shopping available where the tender port is - lots of fake everything.) This was our favorite port and one of the few places we thought we would like to go back to again some day.


Hong Kong -- We did not take a Princess tour. We used the MRT and buses to get around - easy and inexpensive. We went to Lantau Island to see the big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, then to Hong Kong Island to Victoria Peak, and ended our day with a walk through the Temple Street night market.



Shanghai -- We took the all day tour from the port into Shanghai -- tour 100A, which went to the Jin Mao Tower, Yu Gardens, Jade Buddha Temple, and Shanghai Museum. It was about a 1 hour bus ride from the port to the city. Looking back at it now, we wished we would have taken tour 180A that went to Yu garden, Jin Mao tower and then gave you time on your own. Our tour went to those places, but also the Shanghai Museum, which was ok, but there was no guided tour of the exhibits. We also went to the Jade Buddha temple, which was also ok, but at this point of the trip we had seen enough temples. The part we hated on our tour was the last stop a silk store where we had to spend over an hour. This was the only shopping during the trip and it wasn't good - however, later we found that all the princess tours stopped there. (There was no shopping at the cruise terminal in Shanghai when we returned.)



Nagasaki -- We did not take a Princess tour. This city is very doable on your own. We used the local tram to get around - very easy and inexpensive. We went to the Peace Memorial Park, Atomic Bomb Hypo-center, and Atomic Bomb Museum (and we beat most of the tour groups there!). Then we went up Mt. Inasa for panoramic views of Nagasaki, and we ended our day seeing Spectacles Bridge and a little shopping. We were back on the ship by 2pm. (There was a tiny bit of shopping at the cruise terminal in Nagasaki.)



Busan -- We took the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple tour -- tour 200A. It was a good tour with just enough time at each stop, although, it might be a little fasted paced for some people.



Beijing -- We had arrangements with a local guide (Catherine Lu) to pick us up at the port, transfer us to Beijing and sightseeing. Our second day in Beijing, we had arrangements with another local guide (The China Guide) for a full day of sight seeing. In the evening, we used the MRT to get around, it was easy to use and very very inexpensive, but was crowded.
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  #3  
Old May 15th, 2012, 10:02 PM
Bowie MeMe Bowie MeMe is offline
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Thank you. That's exactly what I am looking for. Just hard to tell what the tours may be like though generally the tours are great.
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Bowie, Md.

2014Oceanic Discoverer New Zealand South Island
2013 Disney Dream 2012Diamond Princess The Orient route Star Princess Cape Horn Route SA 2011M/V Evolution Galapagos Islands 2011 Uniworld River Duchess Tulips/windmills;2010 Crown Princess Canada/New England;2010 Coral Princess Panama Canal;2009 Oceania Nautica Greece and Turkey;2008 Cunard QM2 Southern Caribbean;2008 Celebrity Constellation Iberia & TA;2007 Majestic American Queen of West ColumbiaR;2006 Princess Star Princess Baltic;2004 Princess Tahitian Princess South Pacific;2003 Viking River Cruises Clara Schumann Elbe R;2002 Coral Princess (Aust) Coral Princess2 Reef;2001 Princess Royal Princess Norwegian Fijords;2000 Jungle Expeditions La Turmalina Amazon R;1999 Disney Magic Bahamas;1998 RCCL Enchanment of Seas Western Carib.;1996 Princess Star Princess (old) Alaska;1994 RCCL Monarch of the Seas Southern Carib;1990 RCCL Nordic Prince Bermuda;1987 RCCL Sun Viking Eastern Carib.
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  #4  
Old May 16th, 2012, 11:11 PM
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weaselwatchr weaselwatchr is offline
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We were on the same cruise as Lithlith. I will look for my notes on our cruise and post for you this weekend. We did some different excursions than lithlith and some private tours too.
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  #5  
Old May 17th, 2012, 01:42 PM
chrispb chrispb is offline
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If you have 5 days in Bangkok, I wouldn't bother with a trip unless you plan on going outside the city. Buy Nancy Chandler's map of Bangkok and you can get most places using the skytrain, easypeasy.
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  #6  
Old May 26th, 2012, 12:00 AM
Bowie MeMe Bowie MeMe is offline
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Bangkok is embarkation port so will have 5 full days to tour with private guide and car. We have contracted with Wandee tours and we are really looking forward to seeing lots of Bangkok and the ancient capital, elephant camp, Rose Garden and River Kwai. We will need a sea day badly as soon as cruise starts

Any suggestions on Singapore?
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Barbara and Walter
Bowie, Md.

2014Oceanic Discoverer New Zealand South Island
2013 Disney Dream 2012Diamond Princess The Orient route Star Princess Cape Horn Route SA 2011M/V Evolution Galapagos Islands 2011 Uniworld River Duchess Tulips/windmills;2010 Crown Princess Canada/New England;2010 Coral Princess Panama Canal;2009 Oceania Nautica Greece and Turkey;2008 Cunard QM2 Southern Caribbean;2008 Celebrity Constellation Iberia & TA;2007 Majestic American Queen of West ColumbiaR;2006 Princess Star Princess Baltic;2004 Princess Tahitian Princess South Pacific;2003 Viking River Cruises Clara Schumann Elbe R;2002 Coral Princess (Aust) Coral Princess2 Reef;2001 Princess Royal Princess Norwegian Fijords;2000 Jungle Expeditions La Turmalina Amazon R;1999 Disney Magic Bahamas;1998 RCCL Enchanment of Seas Western Carib.;1996 Princess Star Princess (old) Alaska;1994 RCCL Monarch of the Seas Southern Carib;1990 RCCL Nordic Prince Bermuda;1987 RCCL Sun Viking Eastern Carib.

Last edited by Bowie MeMe; May 26th, 2012 at 12:01 AM.
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  #7  
Old May 26th, 2012, 12:57 PM
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weaselwatchr weaselwatchr is offline
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We did the hop on hop off bus in Singapore. The one we used had two free walking tours in China town, and India town, as well as a river cruise. We did the India town walking tour and there were a total of four people and the guide. My husband and I then walked through the Temple in India Town on our own, and got back on the bus. The bus also stopped at the Flyer.

http://www.city-sightseeing.com/tour...andingposition
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  #8  
Old May 26th, 2012, 10:33 PM
lithlith lithlith is offline
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Default Singapore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowie MeMe View Post

Any suggestions on Singapore?

We took the MRT around Singapore sightseeing. They have some sort of tourist pass I don't remember if it was a 1 or 2 day pass, but that's what we bought and it worked out great for us. The MRT was super easy to use.

We spent time wandering around Chinatown and Little India. But our favorite place in Singapore was the Botanical Gardens (free), especially the orchid garden (I think it was $5 singapore money per person and worth every penny!). We have tons of great pictures from there!

There are also plenty of shopping malls throughout Singapore if you're up for some shopping...in fact a lot of places are connected with underground tunnels/walkways of malls, keeping you out of the heat or rain as you get from place to place.
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Cruises:
April 2015 Norwegian Pride of America Hawaii; July 2014 Celebrity Xpedition - Galapagos; April 2014 Royal Caribbean - Western Caribbean; December 2013 Carnival Breeze - Southern Caribbean; March 2013 Carnival Legend - Western Caribbean; June 2012 Paul Gauguin - South Pacific; March 2012 Diamond Princess - Asia; June 2011 Coral Princess - Alaska; April 2010 Carnival Victory - Eastern Caribbean; February 2008 Carnival Fascination - Bahamas; June 2002 Carnival Fascination - Western Caribbean

Land Tours:
June 2013 - Insight Eastern Europe (Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Romania); October 2011 - Globus Polar Bears Churchill, Canada; June 2011 - Princess Alaska; July 2010 - Globus Peru; June 2009 - Globus Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland); March 2009 - Prometour Costa Rica; July 2008 - Globus Eastern Europe (Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria); July 2007 - Globus New Zealand & Australia; July/August 2006 - Globus Great Britain (England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland); June 2005 - Globus Europe (Netherlands,Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, England)
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  #9  
Old May 27th, 2012, 12:57 PM
greatam greatam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowie MeMe View Post
Bangkok is embarkation port so will have 5 full days to tour with private guide and car. We have contracted with Wandee tours and we are really looking forward to seeing lots of Bangkok and the ancient capital, elephant camp, Rose Garden and River Kwai. We will need a sea day badly as soon as cruise starts


Just a few suggestions for Thailand since you are spending 5 days.

If you are going to the Kanchanaburi area, make sure you spend the night. Don't let your tour guide short change you. They all want to do the day trip and go home. There is just too much to see and too much history to absorb in the area to relegate it to a day trip. The area is about a 2.5 hour drive each way from Bangkok, so a good part of the day is just spent driving.

There are some really neat hotels in the area-my favorites are the "raft type"hotels, floating on the water. I have stayed at The Floathouse River Kwai http://www.thefloathouseriverkwai.com/, Yoko River Kwai (no website) and Jungle Rafts-the original http://www.riverkwaijunglerafts.com/

I have also stayed at the tented camp hotel-not my personal favorite-I prefer the ones on the water-but certainly a very popular hotel because it is booked full frequently. http://www.hintokrivercamp.com/

A trip on a raft pulled behind a long tail boat up and down the river to the water falls is great fun. When we went, our hotel-the Yoko River Kwai-was totally filled with Russians and their families. This trip was the hotel's raft and boat. What a hoot-our driver and guide and us speaking English and all the rest Russian. DH had a great time daring the kids to jump off the raft into the water falls and hanging on a rope off the raft. Fun knows no language barriers.

MAKE SURE you get to a GOOD elephant camp. There are some that are strictly tourist. Wangpo is probably the best in the area. Humane treatment of the elephants, the mahouts live in the village with the elephants and washing them in the river is great fun.

Tiger Temple is another not to be missed area. Pretty special to be surrounded in the canyon with tigers. Do a search through this forum to see pictures of DH and I with tigers all around us.

Sai Yok waterfall in Sai Yok National Park is pretty interesting and very scenic. You can get there via car or boat.

Hellfire Pass-the museum is very, very interesting. Since all of us have seen the movie, Bridge on the River Kwai, this puts the real story in perspective. The history walk through the canyon really make you think what the prisoners endured. It only took 3 months without much machinery to make the cut through the Pass. The prisoners really worked hard just to stay alive.

The "death" railroad-it is regularly scheduled RR BUT if you have a good guide, they know the history and will be able to share the story. This is a very nice, short RR trip. And the t-shirts and hats they sell on the train are very cheap and not bad quality. DH bought 10 hats for $2.00 each in 2005 and is still wearing them today.

When you are at the Bridge on the River Kwai, walk down the tracks to the cave. It is a Buddhist temple with a resident monk and very impressive inside.

Another really off the wall trip but one I will remember as very special is a trip from Kanchanaburi to the "Golden Triangle"-border of Thailand, Burma and Laos. You are WAY off the beaten path doing this trip but it is pretty neat to stand in the corner of three countries, two of them rarely visited by Westerners. If you have friends or relatives that were in the Vietnam War, they may have spent time in this area, although this was totally disavowed all during the Vietnam War. There were special forces and CIA operators in the area during almost all the Vietnam War-they were going after the drug lords who were in charge of the opium and heroin trade out of the Golden Triangle. Money flowed from the drug lords to the VietCong, much like money flows from the drug lords in Afghanistan to the Taliban and then to Al Queda today. You won't find many tour guides who recommend this trip but it is truly interesting. The scarves that are handwoven in the border village by the Burmese refugees are very, very nice.

Enjoy!!!

Last edited by greatam; May 27th, 2012 at 01:07 PM.
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  #10  
Old May 27th, 2012, 03:49 PM
Bowie MeMe Bowie MeMe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greatam View Post
Just a few suggestions for Thailand since you are spending 5 days.

If you are going to the Kanchanaburi area, make sure you spend the night. Don't let your tour guide short change you. They all want to do the day trip and go home. There is just too much to see and too much history to absorb in the area to relegate it to a day trip. The area is about a 2.5 hour drive each way from Bangkok, so a good part of the day is just spent driving.

There are some really neat hotels in the area-my favorites are the "raft type"hotels, floating on the water. I have stayed at The Floathouse River Kwai http://www.thefloathouseriverkwai.com/, Yoko River Kwai (no website) and Jungle Rafts-the original http://www.riverkwaijunglerafts.com/

I have also stayed at the tented camp hotel-not my personal favorite-I prefer the ones on the water-but certainly a very popular hotel because it is booked full frequently. http://www.hintokrivercamp.com/

A trip on a raft pulled behind a long tail boat up and down the river to the water falls is great fun. When we went, our hotel-the Yoko River Kwai-was totally filled with Russians and their families. This trip was the hotel's raft and boat. What a hoot-our driver and guide and us speaking English and all the rest Russian. DH had a great time daring the kids to jump off the raft into the water falls and hanging on a rope off the raft. Fun knows no language barriers.

MAKE SURE you get to a GOOD elephant camp. There are some that are strictly tourist. Wangpo is probably the best in the area. Humane treatment of the elephants, the mahouts live in the village with the elephants and washing them in the river is great fun.

Tiger Temple is another not to be missed area. Pretty special to be surrounded in the canyon with tigers. Do a search through this forum to see pictures of DH and I with tigers all around us.

Sai Yok waterfall in Sai Yok National Park is pretty interesting and very scenic. You can get there via car or boat.

Hellfire Pass-the museum is very, very interesting. Since all of us have seen the movie, Bridge on the River Kwai, this puts the real story in perspective. The history walk through the canyon really make you think what the prisoners endured. It only took 3 months without much machinery to make the cut through the Pass. The prisoners really worked hard just to stay alive.

The "death" railroad-it is regularly scheduled RR BUT if you have a good guide, they know the history and will be able to share the story. This is a very nice, short RR trip. And the t-shirts and hats they sell on the train are very cheap and not bad quality. DH bought 10 hats for $2.00 each in 2005 and is still wearing them today.

When you are at the Bridge on the River Kwai, walk down the tracks to the cave. It is a Buddhist temple with a resident monk and very impressive inside.

Another really off the wall trip but one I will remember as very special is a trip from Kanchanaburi to the "Golden Triangle"-border of Thailand, Burma and Laos. You are WAY off the beaten path doing this trip but it is pretty neat to stand in the corner of three countries, two of them rarely visited by Westerners. If you have friends or relatives that were in the Vietnam War, they may have spent time in this area, although this was totally disavowed all during the Vietnam War. There were special forces and CIA operators in the area during almost all the Vietnam War-they were going after the drug lords who were in charge of the opium and heroin trade out of the Golden Triangle. Money flowed from the drug lords to the VietCong, much like money flows from the drug lords in Afghanistan to the Taliban and then to Al Queda today. You won't find many tour guides who recommend this trip but it is truly interesting. The scarves that are handwoven in the border village by the Burmese refugees are very, very nice.

Enjoy!!!
Oh thank you for so many great ideas. We really went round and round on the schedule and trying to get as much packed in as possible. Walter went to Thailand with oldest daughter in 1988 when my youngest daughter and I went to the Korean Olympics after winning a writing contest at 12 years of age. He wants to show me some of what they saw so that is Rose Garden and city temples and markets. We thought about Tiger Temple but I am of very mixed thoughts there so just side stepped it and that took care of it. The greatest thing about having just our family on this pre tour means we really get to do exactly what most interests us. I just hope that the heat does not cause misery because I don't "steam" well in heat and humidity and so back to hotel at night to "chill out". Again thanks for the ideas and anymore you have to share.
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Barbara and Walter
Bowie, Md.

2014Oceanic Discoverer New Zealand South Island
2013 Disney Dream 2012Diamond Princess The Orient route Star Princess Cape Horn Route SA 2011M/V Evolution Galapagos Islands 2011 Uniworld River Duchess Tulips/windmills;2010 Crown Princess Canada/New England;2010 Coral Princess Panama Canal;2009 Oceania Nautica Greece and Turkey;2008 Cunard QM2 Southern Caribbean;2008 Celebrity Constellation Iberia & TA;2007 Majestic American Queen of West ColumbiaR;2006 Princess Star Princess Baltic;2004 Princess Tahitian Princess South Pacific;2003 Viking River Cruises Clara Schumann Elbe R;2002 Coral Princess (Aust) Coral Princess2 Reef;2001 Princess Royal Princess Norwegian Fijords;2000 Jungle Expeditions La Turmalina Amazon R;1999 Disney Magic Bahamas;1998 RCCL Enchanment of Seas Western Carib.;1996 Princess Star Princess (old) Alaska;1994 RCCL Monarch of the Seas Southern Carib;1990 RCCL Nordic Prince Bermuda;1987 RCCL Sun Viking Eastern Carib.
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