Chinese Whispers- Hong Kong and Macau

by Judith Baker on 14 October 2015, 15:10PM

A two centre trip to Hong Kong and Macau combines old European colonial charm with a taste of the Orient, says journalist Judith Baker.


It is 16 years since Portuguese conceded Macau back to the Chinese, and 18 since the British did the same with Hong Kong. Now, these two places are becoming a hot twin centre destination with travellers from all over the world. Travel between the two is by a fast ferry service which takes less than an hour, and the journey looks set to be even speedier when a new bridge opens next year.


Hong Kong has the vibe of a modern 21st century hot spot and although it still retains some of its Britishness, it has a cosmopolitan energy found in  new bars like Ce La Vi, as well as established diners like Duddells, showcasing fine art and serving sophisticated Cantonese cuisine.

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What to See:


The World’s Biggest Outdoor Sitting Buddha – the impressive bronze Tian Tian Buddha on Lantau Island

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Temple Street Night Market: Local traders sell jade, antiques, trinkets and you can pick up tasty seafood and local delicacies

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The vintage trams, unchanged in design since 1904 are a creaky but pleasant way to explore the city like a local, (they call them Ding Dongs) but the iconic skyline and Victoria harbour is best viewed from a traditional Junk like the Aqua Luna which takes a leisurely cruise around the shore as you relax with a drink.

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The Symphony of Light show happens every evening at 8 pm, lighting up the sky with an explosion of colour from 40 buildings on both sides of the harbour.

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Shopping: Apple products sell at about 20% less than the UK, while fashion addicts can indulge at the many designer malls and Fayuan Street (also known as Sneaker Street) is famous for its trendy footwear.


The Peak is the highest point in Hong Kong Island and offers great views across the skyscrapers to the hills of the New Territories.


And if you are young at heart, hit the rides at Honk Kong’s Disneyland in Lantau which has four themed lands.

MACAU


It might be called The Vegas of Asia, but away from the casinos Macau has a colonial charm found in its historic squares, sleepy outlying islands and friendly Portuguese restaurants.

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The ruined St Pauls church which has become Macau’s landmark is just round the corner from Chinese temples and its restored facade includes Chinese dragons as well as Christian saints. The historic centre of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is said to be the most complete array of European architecture standing on Chinese soil.

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Macau comprises the Macau peninsula, were you find the main squares and the frantic entertainment and casinos, but also the quiet islands of Taipa and Coloane.


Isolated from the mainland, sleepy Coloane is home to the tiny church of St Francis, painted canary yellow, which houses the only painting of the Madonna and Child in the world to be depicted with Chinese features.  Down the road The Macau Giant panda pavilion is home to Kai Kai and Xin Xin who recently moved here from mainland China.

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In Taipa old village in front of a field of lotus flowers, a row of five distinctive green colonial style residences which were once home to Portuguese officials now house small museums explaining the history of Macau.

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Macau Tower, one of Asia’s tallest buildings, has the worlds’ highest bungee jump at 338metres, from where you can view the resorts and 24-hour casinos.

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Judith Baker is a travel writer and editor based in London, contributing to a number of national newspapers and magazines. Follow her on Twitter @bakerjudith


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