This upbeat country is sprinkled with eye-popping high-rise apartment buildings, thick smog, endless noodle stands, wild nights out, lively street life and shopping meccas. And if you feel like escaping the bustling, futuristic jungle, rush to the outlying areas with hills and beaches that remain untainted by commercialism. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China and one of the richest financial and trading center in Asia. Hong Kong is composed of different districts, here are some that you should definitely visit.
Kowloon. I explored the shopping haven Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui. This place is also oozing with local restaurants, a perfect place for a shopping or food trip.
Hong Kong Island. Modern and swanky, Hong Kong Island (especially the Central) is where most skyscrapers, banks, posh boutiques, high-end bars, restaurants and clubs are concentrated. I went here for the sweeping panoramas at Victoria Peak and for Causeway Bay, a lively stretch of shops, restaurants and park. While here, you can check out the famed Times Square at the corner of Russell and Matheson Street.
Lantau Island. The biggest island in Hong Kong is Lantau Island, home to Disneyland. I missed going here, so I'm definitely going back to Hong Kong for this experience too.
Victoria Peak is where famous actors, politicians, consul generals, bank CEOs and businessmen live. But the main reason tourists flock here is because of the scenic view of the city skyline and Victoria Harbour. You can use the coin-operated telescopes installed at the viewing deck to view the cityscape.
One of the famous attractions in Hong Kong for tourists is the Symphony of Lights. This is where you’ll see a harmonious display of lights, laser lights, fireworks and music lasting for a few minutes. The best place to watch this is at the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui Harbour. But you can also watch this on board sightseeing ferries passing by Victoria Harbour. Or like me, you could also experience this riding the sightseeing ferry.
Lan Kwai Fong is one of Hong Kong’s most popular nightlife hot spots and home to over 90 restaurants and bars. The atmosphere ranges from stylish wine pairings to raucous jelly shots and the food on offer is as diverse as the clientele. Thanks to Hong Kong’s dominance in Asian cinema, this centre of late-night revelry is so renowned for it's official street sign which is more photographed than anything else here. Mostly, the area is crowded with people from the surrounding offices of Central, eager to shake off the working day or week. Get in the thick of it with a street side perch, or watch the antics on the road below from one of the upper floors.
Another thing I couldn't afford to miss was to visit the Man Mo Temple, this is a picturesque tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo), both of whom were worshipped by ambitious students looking to succeed in the civil examinations of Imperial China. Built in 1847, this remains the largest Man Mo temple in Hong Kong. To pause for a moment’s respite under its giant hanging incense coils makes for a pleasant contrast with the hectic pace of the nearby financial district.
Macau is formally known as Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. It is an autonomous territory, so even though it is officially part of China, it has its own currency and immigration policy, separate from that of mainland China or Hong Kong. I took the 1-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong to Macau, and the views were totally worth it. If you enjoy gambling, then Macau needs no introduction. It’s the gambling capital of the world, home to mega casinos and hotels generating billions of dollars in gambling revenue annually. But even if you aren’t into gambling, you shouldn’t let that stop you from visiting Macau because there’s plenty to see and do here, even for non-gamblers. Macau has an old world European feel left by centuries of Portuguese influence. From its beautiful architecture to its delicious food, you’ll find touches of Iberian influence that will leave you guessing if you’re still in Asia. Remarkable considering not too far from old Macau are the glitzy hotels and casinos that have earned the peninsula its nickname, “The Las Vegas of Asia”.
Here's what you'll want to see here.
Cotai Strip. The reclaimed land between Taipa and Coloane, occupied mostly by hotels and gaming buildings.
Macau Peninsula. This is where the historical core of Macau is located. Most of the tourist spots are here. It’s also the most populated district.
I went to experience the impressive interiors of the Venetian Hotel, you can do that walking around or on a boat while being serenaded by a gondolier!
If you feel like you won’t be seeing the real Eiffel Tower in Paris anytime soon, visit this replica at the Parisian Macao, or just visit it anyway if you're already in Macau. Don’t miss the fantastic lights show that mesmerizes viewers every 15 minutes starting 6:15pm to midnight. You can also climb to the top and see the city lights from its observation deck.
The Dancing Fountain at Wynn Hotel starts mesmerizing guests at 7pm and ends at 12midnight in 15-minute intervals. This means it plays every 15 minutes and the cool thing about it is that it does not do the same number twice, at least not within the day! Inside Wynn Tower is the Tree of Prosperity.
The theatre at The Parisian Macao fuses old-world decor with state-of-the-art acoustics and lighting to create an unparalleled visual experience for our shows. Entertainment at The Parisian Macao is more than a simple concert or show, we strive to bring you the very best in global entertainment, with a selection of performances from around the globe, all staged in this incomparable, modern 1,200 seat theatre.
Exploring the local market area is another thing I wouldn't want to miss. I went to the Taipa village. Try the Koi Kei Bakery famous for their Macanese egg tarts, egg rolls and pork buns, the city’s favorite street foods! You’ll see them at many restaurants and stalls, especially at touristy areas.
The St Regis Macao, the newest luxury hotel on Macao’s Cotai Central, is where I stayed. This 400-suite property is also the biggest St Regis in the world. I was spell bound by the glorious constellation of golden light bulbs which formed a unique wave of a chandelier in the lavish lobby right above the signature grand staircase, a sight that’s bound to impress even the most jaded eyes. The understated elegance of the reception and lobby area prescribed fully to The St Regis’ standard luxury and style.
The renowned personalised service of The St Regis started when our own butler escorted us straight to our St Regis Suite. The suite was stacked with personalized welcome treats like trays of cookies, gourmet chocolates, a bottle of champagne, photo frames with pictures of me in them, pastel pink and lilac balloons all over the suite and a gold 'Welcome to Macau' sign on my window! These beautiful personalized additions extended beyond a butler for me.
The suite was absolutely gorgeous. Style, decor, color tones and forms blended royally. From the super-luxurious king sized bed to the all-marble massive bathroom with the bath tub, the walk-in closet and private dressing room, nothing was anything less than lavish. Dining options are at The Manor and The St. Regis Bar. We had a lovely dinner and breakfast at the former and a classy 'Pink Gold and Black Pearls' Afternoon Tea set and Bloody Mary making session at the latter.
We're all familiar with the Bloody Mary. It's a cocktail containing vodka, tomato juice and various combinations of spices or and/or sauces. Petiot refined the Bloody Mary into its modern form in 1934, in his stint as a barman at the King Cole Bar at New York City's St Regis Hotel, a bar which still exists today. Since then the St Regis has taken a particular pride in the drink, with each of its hotels around the world creating its own version. So the friendly barman here taught me how to whip up the local version of this famous cocktail. Maria Do Leste - a Bloody Mary inspired by the former Portuguese colony which is now China's casino hub is what we worked up. There were food items associated with the region's Portuguese heritage on the tray, including a warm lobster egg tart and a slice of chouriço and then there were the spices (both inside and outside the drink) including pink peppercorns from Brazil, piri piri from Africa, cinnamon and paprika from India, black vinegar and black peppercorns from China, and sea salt. The opulent St. Regis bar featured a bold art installation, and if you didn't already know this, each St. Regis has it's own unique art installation in the bar.
I definitely loved the subdued color palette and modern chandeliers of their grand premises. Their luxurious poolside area is an amazing place to hang out too. Being the most prestigious brand under the Starwood group, St. Regis is a luxury hotel brand with glorious legacy. And I can happily conclude that my stay at The St. Regis Macao and my experience as a whole was splendid and unforgettable, right down to the Sabre cutting welcome ritual! Sabre cutting of the Champagne represents the transition from day to evening. The hospitality staff showed me how to brandish a cutlass to cleanly sever the neck of a Champagne bottle. The dramatic ceremony had me thrilled as I enjoyed sabring my own bottle of champage!