See, taste and tour three of Asia’s most intriguing destinations on a single airfare. Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai should be on everyone’s list of must-sees, and now, they’re affordable as ever. Adventurous, delicious and utterly awe-inspiring, it’s Asia – Amplified!
Depending on where in Hong Kong you’re standing, you could be privy to cutting-edge design, towering architecture, sweeping mountain-top vistas of the South China Sea, and even a pod of rare white dolphins. In other words, there’s a lot to see.
Although popular in Vietnam too, visiting one of Hong Kong’s expert express tailors is a fun luxury that’s a bargain here. The most popular item is the suit, complete with a shirt n’ tie, and a vest if you so choose. Buyers get to pick the cut, fabric, buttons and even the lining of their suit that is perfectly tailored to fit just-so and is ready in 24 hours.
But it isn’t just suits. Bring your favourite leather purse in and have them knock it off with incredible attention to detail, in any material and colour you like. Always wished that old purse had a burgundy silk lining? Your new one can! While custom clothing and accessories aren’t cheap here, they’re still a bargain compared to elsewhere. For one of the city’s best, head to Sam’s Tailors in Kowloon.
We know, typical. There is a reason that Dim Sum makes everyone’s list of mandatory Hong Kong eating experiences though, and it’s that it truly is amazing, good enough to warrant a Michelin star. A good spot is Maxim’s Palace in City Hall. Make your way to Central before noon to avoid a long queue and get ready for the trolleys full of goodness.
If you want the best though, Tim Ho Wan is the way to go. This Michelin-starred world-famous eatery might be the most affordable decorated restaurant around. Search the opening hours and get there a half-hour before opening to put your name on a seating list, selecting your Dim Sum options while you wait. Once you sit down, there’s no time to poke around and the busy waitstaff will let you know it.
You’ll feel like you just walked out of a time machine if visiting Tai O from Kowloon or Centre. Welcome to the Hong Kong of yesteryear!
In Tai O, things haven’t changed much. Villagers still dwell in stilt homes and fishing is the main source of income and nutrition. Besides offering a step back in time, Tai O is also famous for the endangered Chinese white dolphin, now only found here. While spotting these magnificent creatures isn’t yet uncommon, for how long is anyone’s guess.
The Dragon’s Back Trail
If you brought your hiking boots (and even if you didn’t), don’t miss your chance to experience what TIME magazine listed as the Best Urban Hiking Trail in Asia.
Starting at Victoria Peak, Dragon’s Back takes in the most picturesque portions of the much longer Hong Kong Trail, passing several mountain peaks, lookouts, and the Shek O Country Park before finishing up on a sandy beach – your sweaty reward.
You could make a point of seeing all eight of Beijing’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and all the guidebook musts of this impressive imperial city, or you can see it all through an artist’s lens in Beijing’s many museums and galleries. You can learn the most about its culture through its lively bar and restaurant scene, and even find yourself in the stillness of a bamboo park. And if you can’t cuddle one in Chengdu, a Giant Panda sighting at the Beijing Zoo will have to do.
With a history as rich as Beijing’s, you know the art has got to be good. Learn about the Ming and Qing dynasties through a collection of works at The Palace Museum (Forbidden City) and over 100,000 paintings and calligraphies at the National Art Museum of China, before turning your sites to China’s rising contemporary art scene, best captured at the UCCA (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art) and the Today Art Museum.
Located in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, Sanlitun offers more than just a glimpse into modern Chinese culture, it’s writing the book on it, or at least the chapter on how the new middle class blows off steam.
China’s drinking culture is legendary and best depicted here. Bars range from simple karaoke halls and new boutique taverns to dance clubs and even stuffier high-end establishments. And you don’t even have to drink to have fun. When the munchies hit, the area is full of options for late night bites and yet another opportunity for some authentic people watching.
Built over five dynasties, the 1,000-year old imperial park and gardens is one of the world’s oldest. A lake covers more than a half of it, but the grounds feature some stunning architecture as well, like the Five-Dragons Pavilions and Chengguang Hall, which holds the extremely precious white jade statue of Buddha from Burma.
Hands-down Beijing’s prettiest green space, Zizhuyuan Park, also known as Purple Bamboo Park, is a painting come to life at any time of the year. Ancient weeping willows line the waterway and a beautiful bamboo forest holds it all in. Expect various types of bamboo throughout and three lakes dotted with fragrant lotus blossoms, peaceful islets and intricate pavilions to rest in. Admission is free.
Shanghai is a mammoth, sprawling metropolis with loads to see but you can easily get stuck on The Bund with the rest of the tourists if your time is limited. If you want to return from your Chinese adventure with a different story than the next guy, get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
Spas are nice, but once you’re inside one, you could really be anywhere. When in Shanghai, why not do as the locals and hit up a Korean bathhouse instead?
New Star is a national chain with multiple locations throughout Shanghai, all offering clean spaces and a truly invigorating experience. The gender-specific sections are both nude but there’s a clothed unisex recreation area as well. Most offer a fully equipped gym and an on-site restaurant, too. Perfect after heavy sightseeing or on cooler days, the various pools are heated to around 40°C to soothe achy muscles or the winter chill.
Hit the Bund, Old Town Market and French Concession to sample some of Shanghai’s legendary street food. Savoury to sweet, bounce between stalls and backstreets learning some history along the way. From your first tanggao (a doughnut-like sugar cake) to your last crab xiaolongbao (steamed bun), you’ll be overwhelmed by Shanghai’s striking flavours. While the city is as safe as it gets, a guide is recommended to maximize your time exploring and to find the best of the best street food in Asia.
The ‘Door to the Yangtze’ is China’s third largest island, just an hour by bus from downtown Shanghai. In what feels like an entirely separate world, visitors get the Dongping National Forest Park, protected wetlands full of migratory birds, rice paddies, fish farms and a slew of unique annual festivals to celebrate with the locals, like the Hairy Crab Festival, the Stove Painting Festival, fishing competitions and even cricket fighting. I kid you not.
One City, Nine Towns
And now for the biggest trip of all, the strange ghost towns on the outskirts of Shanghai. China’s knock-off culture doesn’t stop at handbags and sunglasses but also includes entire cities made to look like others from countries around the world. That’s right. Designed to lure wealthy Shanghai residents to the suburbs, China built entire cities to resemble those in Holland, Spain, Italy, Germany, England, Canada, and others. While the One City, Nine Towns project never really took off, leaving most of these cities empty spoofs, they make for an interesting, if not an eerie, visit.
And there you have it. But if you need another reason to visit this fascinating part of the world, take another look at this brilliant 3-city airfare with China Eastern Airlines, our Fare of the Month, on sale now.
To book, visit your nearest Flight Centre store location or give us a call at 1877 967 5302.