Cruise with Confidence - Covid-19 Updates - Flexible Cancellations - Future Cruise Credits
0203 848 3600
  • Over 1.5 Million Happy Cruise Customers
  • Price Match Guarantee
  • ATOL Protected
02038483600

Cruise Blog

Discover sacred temples in Shanghai

6th October 2015

Any trip to the Far East is going to be a memorable one. The region can feel for many like a step into the unknown but the culture and customs are worth the trip alone.

Countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand have become popular amongst those wanting a taste of the Far East, whilst China also remains a great location for a holiday. It is not just the culture that keeps people coming back, it is the amazing architecture that populates these countries. Shanghai in particular boasts a host of historic temples.

The largest city by population in the world, Shanghai combines both the modern with the traditional. While the centre is home to some of the planet's biggest businesses, Shanghai stays true to its heritage with a large number of historic temples remaining nearby. With Iglu offering cruises to the Chinese city, why not check out some of these traditional places of spirituality? Here is our rundown of the best temples Shanghai has to offer.

shanghai temple

Jade Buddha Temple

By far the most famous temple in Shanghai, the Jade Buddha is an iconic image of the city. Founded in 1882, the structure draws from both the Pure Land and Chan traditions of Mahayana Buddhism. It is an intriguing place to stroll around and learn about the history of the temple while gazing upon the many statues.

In the Jade Buddha itself is the Chamber of Four Heavenly Kings, which contains images of Maitreya, Wei Tuo Bodhisattva and the Four Heavenly Kings. These figures represent favourable circumstance and good fortune.

There is also the Grand Hall which features the statues of the Three Golden Buddhas (Gautama Buddha, Amitabha and Bhaisajyaguru), the Gods of the Twenty Heavens which are covered in gold on the eastern and western sides of the Grand Hall and of course the 18 Arhats, statues of what the Buddhists consider to be "perfected people".

jade buddha temple shanghai

Jing'An Temple

Translated as the Temple of Peace and Tranquillity, the Jing'An Temple perfectly portrays modern day Shanghai. It can trace its history back to 247 AD but set against the backdrop of towering skyscrapers, it highlights the juxtaposition between the historic side of Shanghai and its now urban metropolis.

Built in the Wu Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms period of ancient China and having sat in the same location beside the Suzhou Creek since 1216, the features of the Jing'An Temple are simply remarkable.

It has three Southern-style main halls each with its own courtyard dating back to 1880. Among the main features is the Guanyin Hall, which is made out of camphor wood along, with paintings by master artists such as Chu Zhishan, Zhang Daqian and Wen Zhenming.

jing'an temple shanghai

Wen Miao

The Shanghai Wen Mao is one of the understated temples in Shanghai and is set away from the city centre. However, it is one of major spirituality and pays homage to Confucius, a legendary ancient Chinese philosopher who lived between 551 and 479 BC. It is similar to the original Temple of Confucius in his hometown Qufu but smaller in its stature.

Wen Miao was first founded during the Yuan Dynasty and quickly became the most prestigious learning institution in Shanghai, when it gained the status of a county. A visit is not complete without viewing the bizarre-shaped stones and wood and, of course, the Kuixing Pavilion which is situated in the western part of the compound.

chinese lanterns in shanghai

Chenghuang Miao

Moving back into the centre of Shanghai and Chenghuang Miao is another must when visiting the city's temples. Translated as The City God Temple, Chenghuang is dedicated to three city gods - Huo Guang, Qin Yubo and Chen Huacheng.

The former was a famous Han Dynasty chancellor and is known for overthrowing a young emperor and replacing him with another. Qin Yubo lived in Shanghai during the 12th and 13th centuries and served as the Imperial examiner for the Hongwu Emperor before his death in 1373.

Chen Huacheng was a Qing Dynasty general and helped to defend Shanghai from the British during the First Opium War.

The temple acts as a shrine to these city gods and is adjoined to the famous Yuyuan Garden.

Learn more with a river cruise to China, or for more information about cruising in this beautiful part of the world, sign up for our new Asia brochure.


Practical Guide to China

14th September 2015

With diverse cultural experiences on offer and a vast expanse of land, it is no wonder that many holidaymakers are heading to China.

The country is experiencing somewhat of a boom in tourism of late with international visitors soaring to 26.36 million last year. People flock from all corners of the globe to see iconic wonders such as the Great Wall of China and embrace the culture and customs of the Chinese way of life.

Many ocean and river cruises visit China with stop offs in cities such as Beijing, Xian, Fengdu and Shanghai, making for some incredible experiences. However, there are a few things you need to know before heading for the Far East, here is our practical guide to holidaying in China.

Getting in

Hong Kong Harbour

China is hugely accessible from the UK with flights leaving airports such as London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh among others. Airlines such as Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Hainan Airlines all offer direct services to reduce the need for transfers. Flight time from the UK is around ten and a half hours.

To enter China you must have both your passport and a visa, the latter can be obtained from a Chinese Embassy or Consulate prior to your trip.

Currency

China deals in the Chinese Yuan with the current exchange at 9.62 CNY to the pound.

What to see

If you are heading on an Iglu river cruise, the first destination is likely to be Shanghai. China's largest city combines modern architecture with the history and culture of the nation's past. Head down to the Jing'an District to see the famous Jing'an Temple, a Buddhist place of worship which has sat on the same the site since 1216. Literally meaning 'Temple of Peace and Tranquillity', the temple was originally built in the Wu Kingdom in 247 AD. It features the Hall of Heavenly Kings, Hall of the Three Saints and The Precious Hall of the Great Hero. Once inside you will be transported away from the urban metropolis in which it sits.

If you are visiting Shanghai for the first time then a trip to the Bund is an absolute must. From the Anglo-Indian term for muddy embankment, Bund was once considered to be the most important financial street in Asia and is filled with Western institutional banks and business buildings. A walk along will provide great views of Old Shanghai, a beautiful juxtaposition between classic and modern.

South of the Bund is Nanshi, the old town of Shanghai, which will give you a clear idea of what the city was like in generations gone by. These lively streets are filled with locals going about their daily business providing a real buzz around the place.

Make sure to visit the Zhujiajiao Water Town, a 400-year-old water village with a signature five-arch bridge spanning the Cao Gang River. This is an important place for local trade and goods being shipped up and down the river. It is a little way out from Shanghai itself but is well worth a visit and is connected via public transport.

 

Eat and drink

Chinese food

While Chinese food is attainable all over the world, there is nothing better than tasting the real deal. Different approaches and twists are taken on classics across the country but Shanghai food is characterised by some sweet and oily dishes. Pork is the meat of choice in the city and it is used in dumplings and bun fillings, as well as served in strips.

Arguably the most famous dish in Shanghai is xiaolongbao, small steamed buns served with a delicious broth and some form of meat inside. Before heading off on your cruise around China, be sure to try both xiefen shizitou, crab meat and pork meatballs, and Shanghai mao xie, the city's 'hairy crab'.

Across China food tends to be split into the Four Great Traditions - Jiangsu, Cantonese, Shandong and Sichuan. All of these display a different style of cooking, some of which you may be familiar with while others could be foreign concepts. There are other traditions such as Teochew, Guizhou, Hainan and Imperial, experience them all for a true culinary adventure.

When it comes to drinking, China loves a beer with Tsingtao remaining the nation's most popular brew. Grape wine is also popular in the nation with Suntime, Yizhu, Mogao Ice Win and Shangrila Estate widely available brands. For non-alcoholic beverages, you can't go wrong with authentic Chinese tea.

 

Stay safe

As with any major country across the globe, China's crime rate differs from place to place. While the larger cities are relatively safe, tourists should be aware of potential pickpockets at some of the popular attractions. It is always wise to bring a little extra money just in case of the unlikely event that something does happen.

Browse our Yangtze River cruise deals

Browse our Asia cruise deals, and sign up for our Asia brochure today.


The World's Best Festivals

20th July 2015

Updated August 2017

Introducing the IGLU guide to the best and most interesting festivals and cultural celebrations from around the world. Perfectly organised with date and destination information to help you plan your travels, so that you can witness some of the most magnificent festivals the world has to offer. From Samba dancers in Rio, to dragons parading the streets of Hong Kong, this list has it all. Now is the time to experience life the way it should be lived.


Holi Festival 



When: March Where: India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Worldwide

Why you should go: Holi Festival, or The Festival of Colours, celebrates the end of winter and beginning of spring. It’s fun, safe, and free. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival that is celebrated with enthusiasm, singing, dancing, and a rainbow of colours. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments and go from place to place, while everyone plays, chases, and colours each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and coloured water-filled balloons.




Snow & Ice Festival 



When: Late December to February Where: Harbin, China

Why you should go: The Harbin festival is the largest snow and ice festival in the world, exhibiting the most exquisite ice and snow sculptures ever made. Experience the magnificent Ice and Snow World - with incredible carvings that tower an amazing 20 feet high. Not to mention the perfectly crafted full-size monuments, that are designed from gigantic blocks of ice and decorated with lights and lasers. This exhibition has a lot to offer, and is definitely worth a visit at least once.




Oktoberfest 



When: Mid September - Early October Where: Munich, Germany

Why you should go: The famous Oktoberfest is the largest Volksfest beer festival and travelling funfair in the world. Held annually in Munich, Germany, Oktoberfest began life as a wedding for the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig to Princess Therese on October 12, 1810. It has since grown into an extremely popular festival running from mid - late September to the first weekend in October - with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. The event is all about beer, beer, and only beer. Grab a stein and start the celebrations.




Lantern Festival 



When: Mid February to Early March Where: Taiwan

Why you should go: The Lantern Festival was originally celebrated to ward off evil and disease from the town. The Taipei Pingshi Sky Lanterns were released to let others know that the town was safe.

Witness thousands of sky lanterns light up during one of the world’s largest lantern festivals. If you’re looking for a little magic, there is nothing more surreal than a sky ablaze with thousands of floating lanterns. The lanterns are decorated with wishes and images relating to the owner before being released into the night at the same time, magically decorating transforming the sky into a sanctuary of lights. Don’t miss the great street festivals that take place during the day.




Rio Carnival 



When: February Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Why you should go: Rio carnival is simply electrifying; the combination of pulsating music, samba dancing, a nonstop party, with the special addition of Brazilian flair. The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous 5-day festival held before Lent every year, and is considered to be the biggest carnival in the world - with over 2 million people on the streets of this vibrant city every day. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1823. The typical Rio carnival parade is filled with revellers, dancers, glittering costumes, giant parades, and adornments. This festival is a mind-blowing week of sequin-fuelled fun, in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations.




Chinese New Year Parade 



When: February Where: Hong Kong and Major Cities Worldwide

Why you should go: This ancient festival is an experience like no other; it marks China's New Year - an important traditional Chinese holiday celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar. With dragons, fireworks, symbolic clothing, flowers, lanterns, and celebration, China marks their most important and significant day of the year in style. In Hong Kong, the heart pounding action features a fabulous parade of floats, dragons, symbolic clothing, international and local performers, and a stunning fireworks show over the harbour.




Albuquerque International Balloon Festival 



When: October Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Why you should go: The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival hosts the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a yearly festival of hot air balloons that takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. The Balloon Fiesta is a nine day event, and has around 750 balloons. Once the balloons are let off, watch as the Skies of Albuquerque become a rainbow of vibrant colours, creating a breath-taking spectacle. You can take part, climb aboard and take flight, or even get married way up in the clouds.




Mardi Gras Festival 



When: February - March Where: New Orleans, USA

Why you should go: In many ways Mardis Gras’ reputation precedes itself — if you want to party like there’s no tomorrow, New Orleans is where you belong. Mardi Gras, meaning “Fat Tuesday” in French, is a festival marked by an endless cyclone of feathers, costumes, beads, and booze that whips through city streets of New Orleans. It’s been called the wildest fete in the U.S and for good reason: Every year, droves of party-goers flock to New Orleans to take in the floats, the festivities, and the food, and to leave their mark on the Big Easy. Don’t miss the throwing of beads - it’s a staple of the festival.




Up Helly Aa Fire Festival 



When: The Last Tuesday in January Where: Lerwick, Scotland

Why you should go: This is Europe’s largest fire festival, complete with the burning of a full-scale Viking ship. Need we say more? This superb spectacle is a celebration of Shetland history, and a triumphant demonstration of the islanders' skills and spirit. Up Helly Aa day involves a Nordic themed series of marches and visitations, and the procession culminates in a torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley. This is followed by hours of performing acts and dancing in halls throughout Lerwick. This northern Mardi Gras lasts just one day (and night). But it takes several thousand people 364 days to organise. Much of the preparation is in strictest secrecy.

image credit: www.no-straight-lines.com


Carnevale di Venezia 



When: Late January to Early February Where: Venice, Italy

Why you should go: Carnevale, or “Carnival,” has been a Venice tradition dating back to the 13th century. The Carnival of Venice is an annual two-week festival that ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The carnival is well renowned with visitors flocking from around the world to admire and even participate in the masquerade masked celebrations, arguably making it one of the best and visually stunning shows on Earth.



Do any of these festivals sound intriguing to you? Why not plan your next trip so that you can attend. We can tailor-make your cruise holiday to add additional stays in destinations before or after your cruise. Call us to find out more. 


Best Places To Celebrate Chinese New Year

13th February 2015

Also known as Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year celebrates the start of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. This year, it falls at the beginning of February, with vibrant festivals, fairs and parades taking place worldwide. Here, we take a look at the biggest and best Chinese New Year celebrations across the globe!

 

Beijing, China


Must visit:

  • Spring Festival Temple Fairs - A great opportunity to try traditional food, drink and gifts
  • Longtan Fair - For fantastic sporting events with audience participation

Chinese New Year in Beijing

Traditionally, residents of Beijing will begin by enjoying a family dinner at home. For this reason, many restaurants and shops are closed to allow staff the time to visit relatives but after this quieter time, the vibrantly-decorated streets of China come alive with the arrival of numerous firework displays. These displays are thought to chase away evil spirits and last the whole week. Beijing’s temples and parks are buzzing with fairs, carnivals and parades. Circus-style acrobats fill the streets alongside lion and dragon dancers as well as families celebrating alongside.

 

Singapore


Must visit:

  • Chingay Parade – A once-in-a-lifetime experience of Asia’s biggest celebration
  • River Hongbao Celebration – A perfect alternative to the above for those travelling with children

Chinese New Year in Singapore is an event everyone should have on their bucket list. The annual Chingay Parade, Asia’s largest street procession, is a spectacle of music, dancers, lights, acrobats and more, and is a mass celebration of good health, prosperity and luck for the coming year. The River Hongbao celebration is also considered one of the main festivities of Chinese New Year, as well as an ideal family event, with culture and entertainment for all ages. Huge lanterns illuminate the route and depict ancient myths and legends of China, while there are plenty of carnival games and amusement rides to enjoy.

 

Hong Kong


Must visit:

  • Chinese New Year Cup Horserace – An exhilarating experience for keen fans of racing
  • Victoria Harbour fireworks and lights show – This fascinatingly choreographed display is a must-see for all ages

Hong Kong Light Show

With one of the loudest and most lively celebrations of all, Hong Kong brings in lively crowds from all over the world to experince its Chinese New Year celebrations. Combining tradition with modern twists, this region brings exciting parades, spectacular firework and light displays, and hugely popular horse racing. The first three days of Chinese New Year are the primetime to visit Hong Kong to make the most of the celebrations. Visitors are guaranteed to enjoy authentic, delicious street food at the Temple Street night market before watching countless floats, acrobats and dragons dance well into midnight.

 

Penang, Malaysia


Must visit:

  • Kek Lok Si Temple – A stunning illumination of the temple and surrounding area
  • Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta – An incredible sight to behold as many hot air balloons take to the skies over Penang

For traditional Chinese performing arts, Penang, Malaysia is the place to visit. Temples, which are otherwise closed to the public, open their doors to visitors for lion dances and performances. Kek Lok Si Temple in Georgetown lights up with over 200,000 lights around the beginning of Chinese New Year, illuminating the area throughout the night. During the fifteenth night of Lantern Festival, single women and girls throw oranges into the sea in the belief that this will help them find good husbands. They write their contact details on the fruit, and the men scour the water for the oranges in the hope of finding ‘the one’.

 

London, Chinatown


Must visit:

  • Shaftsbury Avenue – For expertly-crafted martial arts, taekwondo and music demonstrations.
  • Leicester Square – The perfect destination for families and kids, with workshops and performances that all ages will enjoy

Lanterns in Chinatown

It’s not always possible to get to the other side of the globe for Chinese New Year. Fortunately, London is renowned for hosting fun, vibrant events for all ages in the city centre, saving you the journey! Boasting one of the biggest and best Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia, you can expect inspiring performances, arts and crafts stools and hundreds of bars and restaurants with open doors. Events take place across the West End with Trafalgar Square providing the main stage performances, including a thanksgiving ceremony, dragon and lion dances, Chinese rock hits and so much more.

 

Our top tips:

  • Wherever you choose to celebrate Chinese New Year, remember – it will be very busy! To make your time as stress-free as possible and ensure you get to the events and restaurants you want to visit, try and book ahead.
  • Many restaurants close for the holidays, giving staff time to see their families. In the busiest areas, some may remain open but it’s always a good idea to contact them beforehand and book a table where possible.
  • Not all festivities will require tickets, but arriving to events early will ensure the best vantage point and optimal viewing opportunities.
  • It’s good to keep in mind that fireworks last all week. For very young children, bringing ear-guards allows them to enjoy the stunning displays without the concern of too much noise.
  • If you’re staying with friends or hosts throughout the festivities, bringing a small, modest gift is a great idea! Red, yellow and gold are all symbols of good luck, health and prosperity, while tea, fruit, health foods and healthcare products are widely-enjoyed as gifts for the new year.

Chinese New Year is a celebration of new beginnings, with fun for all the family. Whether you choose to join the festivities in China, Malaysia or at home in the UK, it promises to be an experience to remember for years to come. Combine a stop in Beijing with the gems of Japan, Australia or South Korea, and cross off multiple items on your bucket list – the possibilities are endless! Check out our Asia cruises, or contact one our friendly experts.


Book with Confidence

We are ATOL Holders and members of ABTA for your financial protection.


Price Match Guarantee
Search Cruises
Your Shortlist

You do not currently have any cruises in your shortlist.


What our customers say


"I booked a Fred Olsen cruise with IGLU last month and was so impressed by the service I received. The staff member I spoke to was Kimberley and she was exemplary. Capable, kind, professional, patient, friendly and knowledgeable. She went through every step of the way calmly and thoroughly. IGLU were recommended to me by friends and I have no hesitation in passing the recommendation along. Well done IGLU and thank you. "

Christina
(March 2019)

"So easy to deal with, I studied the Cruise I wanted, did my research with different company's and returned to Iglu. I had three quotes matching Iglu’s cost, but with one phone call they beat the price themselves by £40 without me even asking, how easy was that! "

Gary
(February 2019)


Read more feedback


Are you rebooking a cancelled cruise due to Covid-19?