Starting in 2024, Viking customers can extend their Chinese cruise with epic on-land itineraries in Mongolia and China. Rose Dykins reports

Cruise operator Viking has launched bookings for a new extension programme, allowing guests to add on fully guided, immersive on-land experiences to cruise itineraries in China and Mongolia, either before or after their voyage around China.

The Spirit of Mongolia extension programme will be the first time the cruise company offers destination-focused experiences in Mongolia.

Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking, says: “Our guests are curious travellers who are interested in experiences that broaden their minds. With its geographic diversity and incredible history, Mongolia is an extraordinary destination making it a natural extension to our new China itineraries.”

Guests booked on the five-night Spirit of Mongolia pre- or post-cruise extension will begin their journey in the ancient city of Ulaanbaatar. Here, they will meet their Viking Representative and explore the sites of the city – including the Chinggis Khaan National Museum, Mongolia’s largest and most contemporary cultural institution, where they’ll be invited to step behind the scenes and take a closer look at fossil specimens in the paleontology lab.

After a day exploring the city, guests will continue their journey on to the city of Dalanzadgad, where they will transfer to the award-winning Three Camel Lodge, an eco-lodge nestled in the foothills of the Altai Mountains in the Gobi Desert near the Gurvan Saikhan National Park.

They’ll stay in their own ger, a traditional yurt featuring modern amenities. For three days, guests can enjoy activities at the lodge including archery, a camel safari or an exploration of the famous Flaming Cliffs.

They can also opt to go on a sunrise trek through the desert hills with a naturalist guide, or take in panoramic views of the steppe from Bulagtai Mountain to examine ancient petroglyphs. There will also be the chance to learn the secrets of making buuz (steamed dumplings) from the lodge’s Mongolian chef.

Following their time in the Gobi Desert, guests will return to Ulaanbaatar for one more night before either continuing their journey home, or embarking on their Viking voyage in China.

As well as its Spirit of Mongolia extension, Viking is adding four other immersive pre- and post-cruise extensions for guests looking to explore more of China. These range between three and four nights, and are offered in the metropolises of Hong Kong and Beijing, as well as the breathtaking cities of Guilin and Suzhou.

Viking’s three-night Beijing extension immerses guests in the multilayered city’s body future and ancient past. The pre- or post-cruise extension is available on Viking’s ten-day China Discovery itinerary, which sails from Shanghai to Hong Kong.

The trip includes the chance to explore the Buddhist shrines of Zhoushan and the cliffs of Dongtou, follow the steps of 19th-century European diplomats on Gulangyu Island in Xiamen or try Cantonese dim sum in Shenzhen.

Meanwhile, the three-night Hong Kong extension is a cultural escape with an optional excursion to Macau to experience China’s lively southern coast. The pre-or post-cruise extension is available on both Viking’s China Discovery itinerary or its  Classic China and the Coast voyage.

The 15-day cruise from Beijing to Hong Kong combines the experiences of Viking’s China Discovery cruise with the opportunity to see the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors and other Chinese landmarks.

Viking’s new Hong Kong and Guilin extension combines the urban energy of Hong Kong with the natural beauty of Guilin, revered for its karst mountains, serene rivers and ancient caves. This four-night extension is available on both Viking’s Classic China and the Coast and its  China Discovery itineraries.

Finally, the Suzhou and Wuxi extension transports guests to the ancient charm, canals and UNESCO-listed gardens of Suzhou and Wuxi, famed for their exquisite gardens and canals. Travellers can stroll ancient alleyways, gain insight into the region’s legacy of silk making, cruise the scenic Grand Canal and view one of China’s largest Buddha statues. The three-night extension is available with Viking’s China Discovery itinerary.

Viking’s China itineraries are operated by its Viking Yi Dun ship. Classified as a small ship, the vessel has 465 all-veranda staterooms that host 930 guests in total. Each ship features Scandinavian design, light-filled public spaces and a  choice of al fresco dining options.