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China Travel Guide

Hong Kong & Macau

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    Hong Kong & Macau
    Hong Kong & Macau
    The Star Ferry dwarfed by Central’s modern skyscrapers, Hong Kong
    The Star Ferry dwarfed by Central’s
    modern skyscrapers, Hong Kong

    Although Tiny and relatively recently developed, Hong Kong and Macau are rich and fascinating oddities. They owe their unique identities as administrative regions separate from China to the trade that flourished between East and West from the 16th century onwards, and to the British and Portuguese powers that annexed and held them until 1997 and 1999 respectively.

    The Portuguese were the first Europeans to settle at "A-Ma Gau" or the Bay of A-Ma – the region's patron goddess – in 1557. Today, Macau, as it came to be known, is a charming haven of pastel-colored colonial mansions and glitzy casinos, the proceeds of which, along with tourism, keep this tiny region financially afloat.

    Incense burning in Daoist Man Mo temple
    Incense burning in Daoist Man Mo temple

    In the 1800s, China’s attempt to destroy Britain’s lucrative opium trade drove the British to blockade Chinese ports and eventually secure Hong Kong as their own trading enclave in 1841. The area, hitherto inhabited by farmers and fisherfolk, quickly flourished. After World War II and the four-year Japanese occupation, trade resumed and Hong Kong’s manufacturing industry boomed. It soon grew into a densely packed, high-rise city built by ambitious colonial administrators and millions of Chinese migrants escaping the turmoil convulsing their Communist homeland. In its final years as a British territory, Hong Kong’s status as a major financial center was established. Despite the 1997 Asian financial crisis, it retains its sleek international gloss, its enterprise, and its breathtaking visual impact. Standing in Kowloon and gazing at the skyscrapers scaling Hong Kong Island’s hills, writer Pico Iyer’s description sums it up succinctly: "a dream of Manhattan, arising from the South China Sea."

    Exploring Hong Kong & Macau
    The bustling heart of Hong Kong is broken in two and divided by Victoria Harbour. Its key sights, cultural attractions, shopping, and eating spots are found along the northern shore of Hong Kong Island, and at, or close to, Kowloon’s southern tip. Between Kowloon and the border with the rest of China lie the New Territories, with their rugged mountains and most of Hong Kong’s modern, high-rise dormitory towns. The other major islands – Lamma, Cheung Chau, and Lantau – are west of Hong Kong Island, and beyond these is Macau. A passport is necessary to leave or arrive in both Macau and Hong Kong, as they are still administered as autonomous regions of China.

    Hong Kong & Macau

    Ceramic art, Tsim Sha Tsui
    Ceramic art, Tsim Sha Tsui

    Shopping in Hong Kong & Macau
    Label-mad Hong Kong is a paradise for shoppers, and is jammed with opportunities to buy from swanky designer boutiques in modern shopping malls to inexpensive street markets. It is a competitive destination for some electronic and computing items as well as good-quality, custom-made suits, shirts and cheongsams – the tight-fitting, traditional Chinese silk dresses. Visitors are unlikely to find good bargains, however, especially if comparing prices with those in China. Hong Kong’s main advantage, though, is the sheer, unrivaled profusion of items on sale. Don’t be afraid to haggle in markets and smaller stores, though prices are usually fixed in smarter shops and department stores.

    Markets
    Street markets are one of the best bargain-hunting grounds in Hong Kong, as long as you’re prepared to sift through the ever-present fake designer goods. The Temple Street Night Market in Yau Ma Tei is perhaps the most celebrated for its atmosphere, its prices and the range of accessories, clothes, trinkets, and other memorabilia. The Jade Market, near the night market, sells exactly what it advertises. The market at Stanley, on Hong Kong Island’s southern coast, is as much fun for the trip out on the dramatic winding roads across the island. It is a good place to shop for arts, crafts, clothes, and accessories.

    Western Market is a more sedate place, located in the western district of Sheung Wan. Inside the handsome colonial-era building are dozens of small stalls selling antiques, watches, chinoiserie, and jade. The middle floor spills over with huge bolts of fabric in every color and stripe. Upstairs there is a good café serving excellent dim sum.

    Shopping centers, malls & department stores
    Even seasoned department store junkies can over-dose on the huge variety available in Hong Kong’s sprawling shopping malls. Harbour City, with its massive and recently extended malls containing hundreds of individual shops, even dwarfes the big liners that dock near the Star Ferry at Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. Across Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island, The Landmark in Central and Pacific Place in Admiralty are the places to go to for designer clothing labels such as Prada, Versace, and Zegna, and super-chic consumables from Vuitton, Bulgari, and Tiffany. Sogo at Causeway Bay is another mammoth department store, while Island Beverley, nearby, crams hundreds of small outlets into its dozen or so floors, and sells modish street fashion.

    Antiques & jewelry
    Hollywood road in Central is best for antiques, and is full of emporia selling everything from huge terracotta tomb guards to delicate little snuff bottles. Established names include Honeychurch Antiques specializing in wooden carvings, bracelets, and necklaces, Gorgeous Arts & Crafts, which stocks reasonable antique furniture, and Dragon Culture, offering a good selection of pottery, bamboo carvings, and snuff bottles. Gallery One is another good place to browse for antique jewelry. There are also some good antique shops in Macau, immediately to the south of the Ruinas de São Paulo.

    Electronics, cameras & computers
    Tsim Sha Tsui as well as the rest of Kowloon are generally the places to head to for electronics and gadgetry. Once the bargain basement of international electronics retail, Nathan Road is still packed with camera and electronics outlets, but prices aren’t as competitive as they once were. Be wary, as there are numerous tales of less-than-honest vendors. If you plan to shop here anyway, do your homework, make sure you compare like for like, ask questions (ensuring that your purchase is compatible with your home country’s voltage), and you may find a bargain.

    Star House, opposite the bus terminal and the Star Ferry at Tsim Sha Tsui, is convenient and contains about 20 computer boutiques on its second floor. Farther north, the Mongkok Computer Centre houses more retailers. Its prices are generally lower than other stores, and visitors can try bargaining. However, if you would like to keep your shopping more straight-forward, the Fortress chain stores are reasonably-priced and a safe bet for cameras and handhelds. They will provide warranties and guidance on foreign voltages.

    Chinese arts & crafts
    There’s little doubt that the wares on offer in Chinese Arts & Crafts can be found at a much cheaper price over the border, but it is a convenient place to go to when buying last-minute presents. The store in Tsim Sha Tsui is packed with silk goods, carvings, ceramics, jade, and teapots. The Lok Cha Tea Shop, just below Hollywood Road in Central, is a cosy, friendly place, where visitors can sample delicate green and jasmine teas and buy some exquisite traditional teapots. Bargain teapots can also be found at Macau’s Culture Club. For a modern take on Chinese style, the upmarket G.O.D. (Goods of Desire) chain offers smart interior goods at reasonable prices.

    Clothes
    Needless to say, the malls and department stores are the best places for clothes. However, Joyce is also a good destination for shoppers seeking a large range of smart labels under one roof. Great value Gap-style clothing can be found at one of the many Giordano stores in town. Shanghai Tang in Central offers traditional Chinese clothes and home decor with a contemporary twist. For Europeans who despair of finding essentials in their size, there is always the well-known British Marks & Spencer chain of stores.

    Party-goers may want to sift through the stylish, modern and retro street fashion offerings at the independent boutiques in King Wah Building. Legendary for its tailors and shirt makers, Hong Kong is still the place to come. Take a chance with the ever-present street stores in Tsim Sha Tsui or go for established names such as David’s Shirts at the Mandarin Oriental or the renowned Sam’s Tailor, who has made elegant outfits for an illustrious clientele. For end-of-line designer bargains, the small boutiques at the top of the Pedder Building (floors four and above), may yield some big savings.

    Hong Kong’s markets are awash with fake designer wear, whose quality and cut are often far inferior to the real thing. If looking for authentic labels, it is best to avoid the street markets altogether, and shop only at the larger department stores and boutiques.

    Directory

    Markets

    Jade Market

    • Kansu & Shanghai Sts, Yau Ma Tei
    • 1 B1
    • 10am–3:30pm daily

    Stanley Market

    • Stanley, Hong Kong Island
    • 9am–6pm daily

    Temple Street Night Market

    • Temple St, Yau Ma Tei
    • 1 B2
    • 6pm–midnight daily

    Western Market

    • Des Voeux Rd Central, Sheung Wan
    • 2 A2
    • 10am–7pm daily

    Department stores

    Harbour City

    • 3 Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
    • 1 A4
    • 0852 2118 8666

    Island Beverley

    • 1 Great George St, Causeway Bay
    • Causeway Bay

    The Landmark

    • 12–16 Des Voeux Rd Central
    • 2 C3
    • 0852 2526 4416

    Pacific Place

    • 88 Queensway
    • 3 D4
    • 0852 2844 8988

    Sogo

    • 555 Hennessy Rd, Causeway Bay
    • 0852 2833 8338
    • Causeway Bay

    Antiques & Jewelry

    Dragon Culture

    • 231 Hollywood Rd, Central
    • 2 A2
    • 0852 2545 8098

    Gallery One

    • 31–33 Hollywood Rd, Central
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 2545 6436

    Gorgeous Arts & Crafts

    • Upper Ground Floor, 30 Hollywood Rd, Central
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 2973 0034

    Honeychurch Antiques

    • 29 Hollywood Rd, Central
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 2543 2433

    Electronics, Cameras & Computers

    Fortress

    • Shop 3320, The Gateway, Harbour City, Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
    • 1 A4
    • 0852 2116 1022

    Mongkok Computer Centre

    • 8a Nelson St, Mongkok
    • Mongkok
    • 0852 2384 6823

    Star House

    • 3 Salisbury Rd.
    • 1 A5

    Traditional Arts & Crafts

    Chinese Arts & Crafts

    • Star House, 3 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
    • 1 A5
    • 0852 2735 4061

    Culture Club

    • 390 & 398 Avenida Almeida Ribeiro, Macau
    • 0853 921 811

    G.O.D.

    • Sharp St, Leighton Centre, Causeway Bay
    • 0852 2890 5555
    • Causeway Bay. Hong Kong Hotel, Harbour City, Canton Rd.
    • 1 A4
    • 0852 2784 5555

    Lok Cha Tea Shop

    • 290b Queen’s Rd Central, Sheung Wan
    • 2 A2
    • 0852 2805 1360

    Clothes

    David’s Shirts

    • M17, Mandarin Oriental, Queen’s Rd Central
    • 2 C3
    • 0852 2524 2979

    Giordano

    • Shop 4, Grd Floor, China Building, 29 Queen’s Rd Central
    • 2 C3
    • 0852 2921 2028

    Joyce

    • 18 Queen’s Rd Central
    • 2 C3
    • 0852 2810 1120

    King Wah Building

    • 628 Nathan Rd, Mongkok
    • Mongkok

    Marks & Spencer

    • Ocean Terminal, Canton Rd.
    • 1 A4
    • 0852 2926 3331
    • Central Tower, 24–28 Queen’s Rd Central
    • 2 C3
    • 0852 2921 8365

    Pedder Building

    • 12 Pedder St, Central
    • 2 C3

    Sam’s Tailor

    • Burlington Arcade, Shop K, 94 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
    • 1 B4
    • 0852 2367 9423

    Shanghai Tang

    • Pedder Building, 12 Pedder St, Central
    • 2 C3
    • 0852 2525 7333
    Fruity cocktails
    Fruity cocktails

    Entertainment in Hong Kong & Macau
    Hong Kong’s entertainment options are incredible. There are several good venues attracting local and international musicians, Chinese opera groups, and theater and comedy shows, particularly during the arts festival in February and March. In recent years, the city’s nightlife has begun to boom, and bars, dance venues, pubs, and music clubs are plentiful. The younger crowd have discovered an appetite for house and techno music, although they retain their liking for Cantopop, the older pop genre. Karaoke bars are also a favorite with locals.

    Macau, although a lot quieter, is the place to go to for serious gambling or to eat at its excellent restaurants.

    Entertainment guides
    Visitors will be spoilt for choice in terms of good listings in Hong Kong. Perhaps the best is the free, weekly HK Magazine, available in most cafés and bars, that offers a thorough guide to eating, drinking, shopping, and entertainment. The Friday edition of the South China Morning Post is another good listings guide. The free BC Magazine is a glossy fortnightly, with listings of clubs aimed at the young.

    Bars & pubs
    The places to find many of the best clubs, bars and pubs in Hong Kong are in Lan Kwai Fong near Central, the streets around the Escalator, and SoHo. Goccia, in Wyndham Street, is always full of Hong Kong’s most beautiful people. Le Jardin, around the corner, is less frenetic than nearby Lan Kwai Fong, and quiet enough to have a conversation in. If you want to drink with the jet-set, there are a number of super-smart bars including Felix above the Peninsula Hotel with sensational harbor views. Alternatively, try the C Bar in Central, or the fashionable Drop in SoHo, which turns into a club later in the evening. For a more laid-back drink in a pleasant organic café, go to Life, just off the Escalator in SoHo.

    Nightclubs
    Nightclubs vary hugely from down-at-heel, free-to-enter clubs that just play music to slick, cutting edge venues for the rich and famous. Cover prices vary but a typical mid-range fee would be around HK$100. In Lan Kwai Fong, Club 97 is small and smart with an exclusive reputation. Its disc jockeys spin fine jazz, funk, and house tunes. C Club just round the corner below C Bar, is a great place for house music. The Drop, Homebase and the exclusive Dragon I are a few of the other popular clubs.

    Music & arts venues
    There’s no shortage of venues for large musical, operatic, and dramatic productions. These include the Cultural Centre, that sometimes offers free concerts, the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai and the Hong Kong Coliseum in Hung Hom. Close to the Coliseum, the Ko Shan Theatre is the place to go for Chinese opera and orchestral music performances. The Hong Kong Arts Centre, The Fringe Club, and The Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts all offer more intimate venues for an excellent and diverse range of arts from dance to stand-up comedy. The Wanch is a tiny place that hosts local folk and indie acts.

    The Macau Cultural Centre is also worth a visit. It houses art, history and architecture exhibitions and runs a busy calendar of music, theater, opera, and dance, particularly in May during Macau’s arts festival.

    Sports
    Spring heralds the start of the dragon boating season check the HKTB for event details. The Rugby Sevens tournament in March is a huge, boisterous event for Hong Kong’s expats, many of whom see its main purpose as an opportunity to drink large quantities of beer. For those interested in the actual game, 50 matches are played by the assembled internationals in 72 hours. Hong Kong is also host to a number of professional tennis tournaments from October to December.

    Gambling
    Horse racing at the tracks in Sha Tin and Happy Valley is the only spectator sport where you can gamble legally in Hong Kong. It is the biggest such spectator event in the region and race days or nights are well worth attending for the sheer atmosphere alone. Macau also has its own, less fevered horse racing nights as well as an excellent greyhound racing track, the rather grandly titled Canidrome. Macau, of course, is best known for its glitzy casinos, running all day and night. The most spectacular of them is The Venetian, complete with miniature campanile, Rialto Bridge, gondolas, and themed shopping.

    Children’s entertainment
    Hong Kong’s recent attractions are two state-of-the-art amusement parks: Ocean Park, the region’s oldest amusement park, and more recently built Disneyland, offering a massive range of rides, attractions and entertainment. At the top of Victoria Peak, EA Experience offers virtual sports and car racing zones as well as do-it-yourself computer gaming. A little more educational, and certainly more charming, is the enchanting Edward Youde Aviary in Hong Kong Park, which is built to resemble a tropical rainforest.

    Traditional festivals
    One of Hong Kong’s grandest annual celebrations is the Chinese New Year. Victoria Park becomes a huge open-air market and there are spectacular harbor fireworks that rival any display in the world. The Birthday of Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, is more low key. Parades and lion dances take place at the larger temples, including the one at Joss House Bay in the New Territories, and temples and fishing boats are decorated all over Hong Kong. The Cheung Chau Bun Festival in May is a fun week-long celebration on Cheung Chau Island. It culminates in the eating of huge piles of buns offered, some say, to the unhappy spirits of victims of the island’s pirate past, and a procession of “floating” children, carried aloft on hidden poles. The Dragon Boat Festival in June is marked with a great flourish, making it one of the region’s most exciting events. Other traditional festivals celebrated in Hong Kong include the Hungry Ghost Festival in mid/late August and the Mid-Autumn Festival in late September/early October.

    Directory

    Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB)

    • Hong Kong Island: The Centre, 99 Queen’s Road Central
    • 2 C3
    • Kowloon: Star Ferry Concourse
    • 1 5A
    • 0852 2508 1234
    • www.discoverhongkong.com

    Bars & Pubs

    C Bar

    • 30–32 D’Aguilar St, Central
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 2530 3695

    Drop

    • Basement, On Lok Mansion, 39–43 Hollywood Rd, Central (entrance on Cochrane St)
    • 3 B3
    • 0852 2543 8856

    Felix

    • Peninsula Hotel, Salisbury Road
    • 1 B4
    • 0852 2315 3188

    Goccia

    • Shop 1 & 2, G/F 73 Wyndham St.
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 2167 8181

    Life

    • 10 Shelley Street, SoHo
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 2810 9777

    Le Jardin

    • 10 Wing Wah Lane, Central
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 2526 2717

    Nightclubs

    C Club

    • 30–32 D’Aiguilar St, California Tower
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 2526 1139

    Club 97

    • 9 Lan Kwai Fong
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 2810 9333

    Dragon I

    • The Centrium, 60 Wyndham St.
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 3110 1222
    • www.dragon-i.com.hk

    Homebase

    • LG/F Au’s Bldg, 17-19 Hollywood Rd, Central
    • 2 B3
    • 0852 2537 1000

    Music & Arts Venues

    Hong Kong Cultural Centre

    • L5, Auditoria Building, 10 Salisbury Rd.
    • 1 B5
    • 0852 2734 2009
    • www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/cs.php

    The Fringe Club

    • 2 Lower Albert Rd, Central
    • 2 C3
    • 0852 2521 7251
    • www.hkfringe.com.hk

    Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

    • 1 Gloucester Rd, Wan Chai
    • 3 E3
    • 0852 2584 8500
    • www.hkapa.edu

    Hong Kong Arts Centre

    • 2 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai
    • 3 E3
    • 0852 2582 0200
    • www.hkac.org.hk

    Hong Kong Coliseum

    • 9 Cheong Wan Rd, Hung Hom, Kowloon
    • 0852 2355 7233
    • Hung Hom KCR
    • www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/Entertainment/Stadia/HKC

    Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre

    • 1 Expo Drive
    • 3 F3
    • 0852 2582 8888
    • www.hkcec.com.hk

    Ko Shan Theatre

    • 77 Ko Shan Road, Hung Hom
    • 0852 2740 9212
    • www.lcsd.gov.hk

    Macau Cultural Centre

    • Av. Xian Xing Hai S/N NAPE, Macau
    • 0853 28700 699
    • www.ccm.gov.mo/

    The Wanch

    • 54 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai
    • 3 F4
    • 0852 2861 1621

    Gambling

    The Canidrome

    • Avenida General Castelo Branco, Macau
    • 0853 28333 399
    • www.macaudog.com

    Happy Valley Racecourse

    • Happy Valley, Hong Kong Island
    • 0853 1817
    • www.hkjc.com/english

    Sha Tin Racecourse

    • 0853 1817
    • www.hkjc.com/english

    Children’s entertainment

    Disneyland

    • Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island
    • 0852 2203 2000
    • Penny’s Bay
    • www.hongkongdisneyland.com/english

    EA Experience

    • Shop 101, Level 1, The Peak Tower
    • 2 A5
    • 0852 2849 7710
    • www.ea.com

    Edward Youde Aviary

    • Hong Kong Park, Cotton Tree Drive, Central
    • 2 C4
    • 0852 2521 5041
    • www.lcsd.gov.hk/parks

    Hong Kong Street Finder

    Key to Street Finder
    • Place of interest
    • Other important building
    • Train station
    • MTR station
    • Bus station
    • Ferry terminal
    • Tram station
    • Tourist information
    • Police station
    • Hospital
    • Post office
    • Temple
    • Railroad
    • Tramline

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