Modern ports are economic powerhouses of a country, evolving rapidly using infrastructure and technology to herald a country's growth in handling global trade. History seems to be repeating in bringing back Asian domination in ports through sheer volume of trade handled at their harbours, just like they had millennia ago. Incidentally, all five top container ports of the world are in Asia and here's a peek into what these busy port cities have on offer for a tourist

SHANGHAI

The Port of Shanghai facing East China Sea and Hangzhou Bay to the south includes the confluences of the Yangtze River, Huangpu River (which enters the Yangtze River) and Qiantang River. Its Yangshan Deepwater Harbour is the biggest container port in the world

There are no marked visitor attractions at the harbour but a flight of stairs around the harbour lead to viewing platforms from where one can sight the chaotic movement of cranes loading and unloading at the docks. Donghai Bridge (length 20.2 miles) connects the city to the harbour. Di Shui Lake, a man-made lake nearby has an interesting Maritime Museum

One can enjoy the views of Shanghai's remarkable skyline and the harbour at the Bund, the popular riverfront of the Huangpu River. A walk through the pedestrian promenade along the western bank offers views of the Pudong skyscraper, including two of the five tallest buildings in the world. Iconic Shanghai World Financial Center standing at 492m, provides a panoramic view of the city from the observation deck

The Bund or Zhongshan East No. 1 Road was the heart of colonial Shanghai and is home to some beautiful architecture of gothic buildings on the Puxi side. A cruise, especially during sunset, along the river is a great way to enjoy spectacular neon lightings. The sightseeing tourist tunnel travels underneath the river between Pudong and Puxi

There are many shops and restaurants tucked away along the historic buildings. The Fabric market in the region is best to have a dress or suit tailored at bargain prices

Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai's Old Town area gives a glimpse of ancient China of the Ming Dynasty while the bazaar outside has many touristy souvenirs. The main public square with a green space known as People's Park has many quiet corners to explore with some important museums

SINGAPORE

Singapore is conceived and designed as a free port and is an important calling station between India and West Asia due to its strategic geographical location. With a Port operation that is made seamless through sophisticated technology, Singapore port can handle mega ships and is continuously expanding

The city begins right at the doorstep of Singapore Cruise Centre with the Harbour front itself being a lifestyle destination for locals as well as visitors. Regional Ferry Terminal next to it handles visitors going to Indonesian Riau Islands, such as Batam. New Sentosa HarbourFront Precinct is just across the water and can be reached by cable car offering 360-degree views of the Singapore skyline. Sentosa Island is home to the world's largest Oceanarium, Universal Studios, several world-class hotels and the Resorts World Sentosa

One can connect to the city easily within minutes with convenient underground train, taxi, limo or public buses. Changi Airport is just a 20-minute cab-ride away

HONG KONG

Hong Kong, literally meaning 'Fragrant Harbour', has long enjoyed a reputation as the glitziest, vibrant city in Asia. The waterfront city-country has maintained its east and west blend and continues to enjoy its identity as a free port Unique, fast paced, dynamic and contrast filled, the city offers a vast range of activities including a cosmopolitan culture, shopping, variety of cuisines and transport facilities Hong Kong totals just 1,100 square kilometers and it's easy to get around and see a lot in a short time. The bustling business hub of the city is an exuberant mix of high fashion, high finance, hi-tech and is headquarters to deluxe international hotels and high-rise office blocks along with some exciting shopping stops

Flagstaff house (once the residence of British Commanding General) in the vast manicured garden, home to the Museum of Tea Ware is one of Hong Kong's oldest surviving buildings and remains tucked in-between the skyscrapers. Fung Shui being metaphysical and deep rooted in ancient Chinese folk culture is easily evidenced by visitors. Change your foreign currency at a Hang Seng Bank branch and it is likely you will find yourself walking through diagonally-aligned doors that never face directly onto the street

The skyline of Victoria Harbour dazzles at night, and that can be viewed from the Victoria Peak. Getting there on the peak tram funicular railway, the oldest of its kind in Asia, is a spectacular eight-minute ride. The Peak houses Wax Museum and is also home to some of the most affluent and rich. The panoramic view of Hong Kong harbour, Kowloon, the mountains of China beyond and the islands of South China Sea from the Peak are the best sights of Hong Kong

SHENZHEN

Shenzhen, in China's Guangdong Province, is a modern metropolis linking Hong Kong to China's mainland. The fishing village-turned-city on The Pearl River Delta was the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of China as declared in 1980. It has since then become a highlight of China with its rapid economic growth

Its attractions are some contemporary buildings and mostly theme parks created to entertain visitors to the city. It's better known as a shopping destination that includes Luohu Commercial City, a massive mall with a vast array of goods. Splendid China - Folk Culture Village vividly depicts China's long history and varied cultures. Window of the World is a showcase of the world in a miniature with replicas of Taj Mahal, the Pyramids and the Eiffel Tower. Happy Valley is a huge theme park along the picturesque coastline. Dameisha and Xiaomeisha are activity beaches good for swimming and lazing around and a photo hot spot

BUSAN

Busan (also known as Pusan) Port is ranked amongst the top 5 ports of the world. Geopolitically situated harbour city sits adjacent to the Korean Straits and Japan, and connects Asia, Europe and North America

Sightseeing in Busan can typically be classified into two groups: seaside spots and sights on interior land. Busan's charming spots are along the seafront which includes beach areas, islands, and Hae Ahn Park. Downtown Busan, historical ruins and sites, Dongnae Shrine and World Cup Stadium are on the landside. Cruise boats around the picturesque area of Taejongdae and Achi Islands are available to get closer to these picturesque sights. Popular beaches like Haeundae, Gwangalli, and Songjeong offer exciting water sport facilities. Korea is known for quality, affordable electronics and cultural artefacts and that makes Busan a good shopping destination


As shared with IFIN Panorama Editorial Team


Anand & Madhura Katti
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