The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is often called the hub of Asia because it functions as a portal to other fascinating Asian locales, including Macau and Shenzhen – both wonderful day-trip destinations for shopping and dining.
An atmosphere of yesteryear pervades in the distinctive neighbourhoods of these old yet modern cities, replete with historical monuments and Chinese history hand-in-hand with glitzy casinos, exciting themed attractions and nightlife.
The former Portuguese enclave, Macau, retains its Southern European flair with al fresco cafes, public squares, quaint Portuguese names, Portuguese restaurants and the occasional palm tree.
The year 2006 is Macau World Heritage Year. Macau has a colonial past 300 years longer than that of Hong Kong, but it has managed to preserve a superb collection of historic buildings and ramshackle backstreets. Don't miss the beautiful Baroque churches, old fortresses and culturally-rich architecture.
These stand proud among the newer high-rise hotels, wide highways, concrete bridges and elegant casinos – all of which contribute to Macau's unique ambience. Macau's walking tours are among the best, especially along the winding roads where antique and reproduction furniture is the purchase of choice.
Having made its fortune from the gaming tables, Macau is prosperous, as can be seen from the ongoing large-scale construction here and there, and from its airport. In Macau, the name of the game is blackjack, roulette and poker.
Macau is accessible from the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry terminal at the Shun Tak Centre in Hong Kong's Western district. Enjoy your trip!
- Tour Available: Macau Tour
Shenzhen is mainland China's closest neighbouring city to Hong Kong. It is one of the largest cities in the Pear River Delta region, boasting – at 10% of the population – over 600,000 professionals, all told. It is a manufacturing powerhouse probably best known for its bargain shopping opportunities and counterfeit designer goods. You have to haggle though, or you'll pay more than necessary.
Commerce and tourism play an important role in the city's booming economy. Shenzhen features themed attractions and historical sites, including: Splendid China: one of the world's largest theme parks showcasing China's natural landscape and cultural history; Window of the World, displaying international historic sites, sculptures, paintings, folk singing and dancing; Fairy Lake Botanical Gardens, home to Hongfa Temple, one of the largest in Guangdong Province; and Nantou Ancient City, testimony to Shenzhen's ancient civilization and a common historical resource shared by Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
Getting to Shenzhenfrom Hong Kong couldn't be easier. Just take the Kowloon - Canton Railway (KCR) from Hung Hom or Tsim Sha Tsui East stations on the Kowloon side to Lo Wu station. It takes about 30 minutes.
You can expect a slightly higher crime rate than that of Hong Kong, so when you visit Shenzhen, be mindful of your possessions and safety.
- Tour Available: Lo Wu City Shopping Tour