This is a great place for either a few drinks in the bars downstairs (The Star bars) or an amazing dinner in the Italian-influenced restaurant upstairs (The Dove). I've done both (the bars several times!) and I love it there! Always have a good time. Really close to Victoria Park so it's the perfect place for a cheeky cider during a day in the sun. Get involved!
The Star & Dove, 75-78 St Luke's Road, Totterdown, Bristol BS3 4RY
0117 300 3712
An icon for Singapore is the ultra-hygienic eating stalls. Nowhere else in the world do they have such hawker food stalls with freshly cooked foods of all kinds - for example, chilli crabs, shark's fin soup, mee goreng, fish head curry and many more. You can even get a fantastically cooked steak to your liking, or oysters with eggs all cooked in front of you within minutes. All ingredients are fresh and very hygienic - carefully and strictly monitored by the Singapore government.
The best place for lunch or dinner with an exotic feel is Newton Place Hawker Centre, where it's easy to park and even easier to get a cab. It is only a stone's throw from Orchard Road (Singapore's famous shopping street). If you are feeling a bit peckish at 1am Newton is the place to go for some Taiwan porridge which is served from 9pm till 3am at their Coffee Lounge. The Goodwood Park hotel is one of the oldest on the islandand is considered a national monument to the British colonisation of Singapore dating back to 1900. It is splendid for business and families alike. If you would like something to do, go to East Coast beach where you will see a number of seafood restaurants on the beach - about eight of them side by side to choose from.
If you are feeling more adventurous go on a boat ride to the Indonesian Island of Batan for the day from the Pier - right in the financial district. You can obtain the timetable of departure times from the tourist board - it is pretty reasonable. Serangoon (Singapore's little India), where you can find lots of Indian cafes and restaurants, has excellent Indian food where you can also find the famous 'teh tarik' (literal meaning is 'tea pulled'). It is sweet milky tea that is cooled down by pouring tea from one glass to another from about two or three feet apart depending on the skills of each waiter.
Whilst at Serangoon go to MUSTAFA's shopping centre. It is the Indian version of Debenhams but you will find almost everything exotic there and pretty reasonably priced. Whilst there also visit Tekka Market. It is the first wet market in Singapore where you will find more hawkers' stalls, shopping and local restaurants. It really is fascinating.
It is very very safe as crime is low and the people are very sophisticated and highly educated. You can find almost anything in Singapore. It is a multicultural country and more and more westerners are opting to live and work there, and they are well catered for.
If you fancy a bit of waterskiing go to Ponggol (along the coast) and hire out a boat - they will offer an instructor/driver with the hire of the boat with the gear (at a fee of course). You certainly do not have to worry about the weather. Fancy some original Malay satay - then the Esplanade is the place to go to. Depending on the time of the year you may even be lucky enough to get some Malay entertainment along the way. Want to hit the nightclubs but don't know which ones? There are about 20 nightclubs from samba to R&B, disco, blues, jazz, Chinese etc. all side by side at the World Trade Centre (or rather right next to it). They are open seven nights a week and some close at 5am. If you fancy a blues night out then try The Crazy Elephant at Clarke Quay, where you can sample a lychee martini. How exotic is that! I could go on - just do a bit of research or ask around at your hotel concierge and they will tell you. I am sure you will be spoilt...
Please be aware that no chewing of gum is allowed in Singapore and travellers are not allowed to bring in more than a cigarette packet of 20s into Singapore or there is a hefty fine.
If you are feeling pretty brave or have lost all sense of smell, then why not try durian fruit on your trip to Asia. This soft yellow fruit is considered quite tasty (well why else would anyone eat it) but it is most famous for its strong and pungent smell. Note, public transport systems will not allow you to board with this fruit! If you can get over the smell, then you discover a soft creamy texture with a unique taste (just try holding your breath whilst swallowing). Buy pre-prepared durian from market stalls and eat with caution!
More details online en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durian
Junior's in Brookyln, New York (Corner of Flatbush Avenue Extension and DeKalb Avenue) is home to the original 'New York Style' cheesecake. Famous worldwide, if you are in the area, it's definitely worth a visit. After all, where better to get New York style cheesecake than in New York!
There’s a restaurant called Indigo Colaba, which is just adjacent to the business district of Nairman Point, and it serves very good European food with pan-Asian influences and has a lovely ambience. It’s very popular, so get your hotel to book you a table.
For the best, fresh Indian food, try Mahesh Lunch Home on the Juhu Road. You can choose your own (huge) live crab and have it cooked in whatever way you like. All their fresh fish is fantastic. It's also very reasonably priced. You'll find it 100-200 yards from the JW Marriott, Juhu as you turn left out of the hotel.
Juhu Road, Juhu, Mumbai
Great food (lentil soup is amazing!) and incredibly friendly staff. Ask to meet Nemo, the owner - he can also arrange all your trips for you and if you need any shopping done, he's your man! A visit to Luxor without a visit to Smileys simply wouldn't be right!
Passport Street, Opposite Nile Palace Hotel
It's a restaurant in Rio, where you can order good native food from northern Brazil and eat looking at Rodrigo de Freitas's Lagoon. I recommend it because there you can feel closer to nature and have a fantastic view while you are eating. Pai d'égua e arrombado was one of the plates I ate! Delicious!
Avenida Epitácio Pessoa, S/N Qiosque 20 - Parque do Cantagalo - Lagoa
(55) (21) 2227-0837
Full of character, situated in the trendy Jordaan area. Excellent Dutch apple cake, and a wonderful array of interesting lunchtime snacks with healthy options. Very reasonably priced as well. Sit outside on the canal and watch the world go by.
If you are around on Saturday mornings and want to explore some of London's finer markets, I can't recommend any more than Borough market.
Located just off London Bridge, you will find a busy hustle and bustle as tourists and locals alike taste and buy some of the freshest and most well-produced foods in the country. Key tip is to pop to Roast for brunch or a takeaway sandwich. The menu can change daily depending on the market freshness of the produce.
There is a stunning array of tea and coffee and amazing cakes and pastries in this little café and salon de thé. Beautiful decorations and friendly staff add to the effect.
7 Rue Saint François de Paul, Nice
A wonderful ristorante and wine bar in a 15th century building, complete with vaulted ceilings, in the Centro Storico of Sarnano, near to the Sibillini Mountains National Park in Italy's Le Marche region. They offer you a choice of seven house wines at giveaway prices (we settled on an aged Rosso Piceno) and have a choice of set menu, at an amazing €13, or a la carte. The food is all sourced locally and consists of antipastis of selected meats and cheeses, roasted stuffed vegetables, pasta made with local truffles, wild mushrooms and vegetables, wonderful grilled meats and sweets.
Via Mazzini in the Centro Storico at Sarnano, Marche, Italy
Dim sum is to Hong Kong as fish and chips (or perhaps a chicken korma) is to the UK. However, with countless restaurants in Hong Kong, where you do start? My recommendation would be at the dim sum restaurant (Lung King Heen) at the Four Seasons, Hong Kong. The dim sum served is of a different standard, each with its own twist on traditional classics. This delicous food is complimented with outstanding views of the harbour and impeccable service.
Situated on the first floor of the Four Seasons hotel. Make a reservation beforehand. Ask for a window view.
An American-style pizza restaurant with beer on tap.
They serve the best pizza in Beijing and it's perfect for when you get tired of gloopy soup and fatty Chinese pork. If you're only in town for a short stay you should, of course, try local dishes (especially duck) but after a few days you'll probably want to try Kro's Nest.
It's not easy to find though. Apparently there are a couple of branches but I've only been to the one at Workers' Stadium.
I read about it in Beijing for Beginners: An Irishman in the People's Republic and it has been a life-saver since.
Take the subway to Dongsishitao and walk east. When you get to Workers Stadium, walk inside the gates to the car park. The restaurant is on the left but the entrance is around the corner down a gravelly walkway. Not a very attractive entrance but inside makes up for it.
'Ley ho ma?' (That's 'How are you?' in Cantonese) and welcome to Hong Kong. You'll be arriving at Hong Kong International Airport (www.hongkongairport.com), just 25 minutes away from the Hong Kong Island and regular winner of the Best International Airport award. Hong Kong International Airport (IATA Code: HKG) serves as the gateway to this buzzing city or as a hub to further connections to the rest of Asia. Terminal 1 serves as the low-cost terminal and features a full sized cinema as well as the Hong Kong essential - shops. Yes, shopping (along with eating) is the national pastime in Hong Kong with shops staying open until late. Service is generally good (as long as you are spending money) and best of all - Hong Kong is has no sales tax.
Tip 1: Forget the 'duty-free shops' at the airport. The whole of Hong Kong is duty-free so the airport is often the most expensive places to buy your souvenirs. The Hong Kong Airport Express train offers an efficient way straight to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. Note that Kowloon station is not very well connected to the MTR (the distances are quite large - if carrying a suitcase, you may want to take a taxi from the station).
Practicalities and getting around
As a former British Colony, Hong Kong is a breeze to navigate even for the most novice business traveller. Signs and announcements are typically in three languages (Mandarin, Cantonese and English, although written Mandarin is the same as Cantonese) so as long as you can read English you shouldn't have a problem getting around. Most people in the main business areas also speak English but it's always worthwhile having the address of where you want to go to written down in Chinese, just in case your taxi driver doesn't know the English name for the destination (street names have both English and Chinese names - sometimes they don't correlate and they certainly aren't pronounced the same). The Hong Kong Dollar is pegged to the US Dollar so this is the most common currency of exchange.
Tip 2: If you have spare US Dollars on you, it may be more cost efficient to change USD into HKD as the exchange rate will be fixed. However, given the current weakness of the USD vs GBP, you might want to capture a good rate now. (www.hsbc.com.hk)
Tip 3: Get yourself an Octopus card - accepted as payment on the MTR and public transport systems - buy one with an Airport Express ticket included at the airport (www.octopuscards.com).
Where to stay
Hong Kong benefits from a strong portfolio of hotels which can cater for all tastes and budgets - ranging from the surprising and excellently located YMCA to the pinnacle of luxury - the Peninsula Hong Kong. However, one common denominator can be found across most hotels - service is generally outstanding and standards are higher than those found in North America and Europe. Hong Kong is split across three key areas - New Territories, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. New Territories is the area that borders China and is not usually frequented by business travellers and tourists alike. Given the lack of business or tourist interests in this area, I would not recommend staying here. Kowloon is connected to the mainline and features shopping (the national pastime), food (the other national pastime) and business. This area tends to be slightly older than Hong Kong Island but it does benefit from slightly more space (which is hard to come by in Hong Kong) and offers greater value for money.
Tip 4: Always ask the hotel if offers special corporate rates. Most tend to do and you may be able to benefit from a complimentary upgrade or better price.
Kowloon hotel recommendations
YMCA - USD120 per night
Located on Waterloo road right by the Peninsula hotel, this YMCA is unlike any other YMCA in the world. Despite the name, it functions more as a main stream hotel rather than a hostel, offering clean and modern rooms are at great prices. Staff are friendly and down to earth. Location is perfect for exploring all that Kowloon has to offer.
Tip 5: If you want a taste of luxury - why not upgrade to a suite at the YMCA. This could at a cost similar to that of a normal luxury hotel room.
Marco Polo Prince - USD180 per night
Located as part of the huge waterfront (Harbour Plaza) shopping complex, you will never be short of all things to do in this classic Hong Kong institution. This hotel forms part of the Marco Polo chain and you will find other Marco Polo hotels adjacent to this hotel. Well located for shopping and perfect for journeys on the star ferry. Traffic in this area can sometimes be bad which means travelling by car is not ideal.
Peninsula - USD450 per night
Look up luxury in the dictionary and you may find the Peninsula Hong Kong listed. Every whim and care is catered for in this five-star complex. Famed for its old colonial style, high tea still features strongly on the tourist trail. As a guest, you will benefit from access to the first class spa and pool facilities. Try whiling away the day and escaping the rush of the city as you sip cocktails by the pool. Rooms are luxurious as expected and even the smallest detail is catered for.
Hong Kong Island recommendation
Lang Kwai Fong Hotel - USD200 per night
Small but well formed, the Lang Kwai Fong Hotel is actually located about a 10 minute walk from its expat haven namesake but the hotel is close enough to wonder back to after a night out. It is also five minutes away from Hong Kong's Soho district which is famed for its al fresco dining and the outdoor escalator which claims to be the world's only outdoor escalator. Rooms are small but the location is excellent for anyone wanting to stay centrally without the cost.
Lanson Place - USD250 per night
This boutique hotel is the real gem of Hong Kong. Set back from the hub of Causeway Bay, shopping and dining are just moments away. Rooms are well decorated and feature small kitchenettes. Breakfast is generally included in room rates and the hotel staff are very helpful. Rooms feature flat screen TVs and DVD players. The hotel lends out DVDs and books as part of its library. The gym is well equipped and modern.
Four Seasons - USD450 per night
Perfectly located on top of Hong Kong Station (connected to the Airport Express), this bastion of luxury does not disappoint. The rooms are bright and well appointed and can overlook the harbour. Conveniently located by the International Finance Tower, the Four Seasons hotel boasts one of the most convenient locations for business meetings. As a business traveller, you may find it very convenient for your trips in and out of the airport and to meetings.
Where to eat
Hong Kong's streets are filled with places to eat. Depending on how adventurous you are, you can eat for as little as a couple of USD and be very satisfied with the fresh and delightful food. Food halls also offer a convenient and accessible way of finding a quick lunch. Recommended food halls include Pacific Place and the shopping centre attached to Kowloon Tong. Try market stalls (they have been cleaned up post-SARs) for a true experience of local Hong Kong. The one over the road from Soho, Causeway Bay, is the most accessible (although apparently the most expensive according to locals).
What to do
Top ten Hong Kong attractions that won't take too much out time out of your schedule. Estimated time for each is included so that you can squeeze it into your busy schedule.
1. Peak tram - great views of the city travelling up the Peak Tram.
Time required - 2 hours
2. Star ferry - cross the harbour with classic style on board the famous (and fantastically cheap) Star Ferry.
Time required - 20 mins
3. Shopping - shop till you drop at huge shopping malls. Try Pacific Place, Hong Kong Island and Harbour City, Kowloon
Time required - 2 hours
4. Ladies market (Tung Choi Street) - better to browse rather than buy, this market features cheap goods and 'almost authentic' goods.
Time required - 1 hour
5. Stanley market - step away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy this small former fishing town and its market.
Time required - 2 hours
6. Ocean Park - if family are accompanying you, then take them to Ocean Park for some marine-themed fun.
Time required - 5 hours
7. Causeway Bay - best seen at dusk - watch the hip and trendy come out to meet for movies, karaoke and of course food and shopping. Check out the Times Square shopping centre and restaurant complex.
Time required - 2 hours
8. Happy Valley racecourse - check online to see the race timetable. Get yourself a general admission ticket or arrange a box for an experience you can bet on. www.happyvalleyracecourse.com
Time required - 3.5 hours
9. Ride a tram - be taken back to Hong Kong's colonial past whilst riding on these trams that run through Hong Kong island's central district.
Time required - 20 mins
10. High team at the Peninsula - OK, not so much Hong Kong but luxury at its finest. Enjoy fresh pastries in a delightful setting. Reservations recommended.
Time required - 2 hours
La Quincaillerie (if you can pronounce it) is the place to go for upmarket Belgian dining in the atmospheric, bustling setting of an old ironmonger's store. It's a really memorable experience for visitors to Brussels and has fantastic seafood.
A fantastic little restaurant in the most gorgeous village ever. Restaurant is superb, great food, excellent value for money. French chef, English wife (front of house). Gastronomic cuisine served with regional and local produce, old-fashioned but modern, trendy yet unpretentious. Worth visiting.
A very nice jet-black Fullers pub with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The food was simple and filling, and the beer cool and refreshing. One of the best pubs for away fans visiting Stamford Bridge.
The Blackbird, 209 Earls Court Road, London, SW5 9AN
020 7835 1855
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com