Hong Kong Travel Guide
Steamy and gargantuan, Hong Kong has evolved into one of asia's most lovable cities. Its incredible skyline – part neon, part steel-and-glass, part towering hills – is one of the most majestic in the world, but it's a mere backdrop to the 24-hour flurry of activity that makes Hong Kong what it is.
From its boat-buzzed waterfront to its packed dim sum restaurants, its incense-smoked temples to its clattering teahouses, its street markets to its old-world hotels, Hong Kong is a destination teeming with energy. For travellers, the best advice is to go with the flow.
Situated at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta on China's southwestern coast, Hong Kong is a city that has a remarkable mix of Eastern and Western influences. The handover of this territory from Britain to China was back in 1997, but the centuries of British rule still have a lasting legacy, tangible in everything from the grand period architecture to the local passion for horse-racing.
Even the name of Hong Kong's centrepiece – the iconic Victoria Harbour – harks back to another era, and today there's an international flavour to the destination that sets it apart from other Chinese cities. The gastronomy, nightlife and shopping are all world-class.
Hong Kong Island, with its glistening skyscrapers and high-end shopping malls, is in many ways the heartbeat of the city. Get down to street level, however, and the laneways, wet markets and traditional Chinese haunts are a reminder that beyond the city lies a working class populace still making ends meet the old fashioned way – and often the hard way.
It's also worth remembering, of course, that there's far more to Hong Kong than the city itself. Its natural attractions include hiker-friendly ranges, volcanic landscapes, pristine woodlands, sleepy islands, protected marine parks and miles of golden beaches.
Macau Travel Guide
Slipping more and more comfortably into its reputation as the “Vegas of the East,” Macau plays host to a dizzying array of large-scale casino resorts. Famously the world's biggest gambling hub, it is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China – the other being neighbouring Hong Kong.
Macau showcases many of the same brands as its Nevada counterpart: MGM, Wynn and Sands are all in town, while its flagship Venetian Resort – complete with canals and mock Italianate plazas – is currently the largest casino on the planet.
But there's more to the destination than poker tables and betting halls. When Macau's historic centre was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list in 2005, it underlined the strategic and cultural importance which the territory has had over the centuries.
Portuguese colonists arrived in the mid-16th century and developed Macau into a major regional trading post. They held onto it long after it had been eclipsed by Hong Kong as a magnet for merchants; longer than they held onto Goa or Brazil.
Overlooking the South China Sea, Macau consists of a peninsula and two small islands, Taipa and Coloane. The three areas have been artificially joined by land reclamation, much of which is covered in casinos. Mercifully, it is possible to escape the neon lights and gambling dens in Macau's urban parks and historic centre, where colonial Portuguese architecture sits among the bustle of a modern Asian city.
The street stalls and restaurants of the old town are also a fine introduction to local food, which encompasses traditional Chinese and Portuguese dishes alongside Goan, Brazilian and African influences.