In tran­sit

A per­fect day in seven stopover ci­ties

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

HONG KONG

ONE PER­FECT DAY

Sky-scrap­ing, pul­sat­ing Hong Kong has some of the world’s best ac­com­mo­da­tion, shop­ping and din­ing, mak­ing it a com­pelling stopover city.

Start early on the rack rail­way up The Peak (the­p­eak.com.hk) for fab­u­lous views and a spec­tac­u­lar walk around Vic­to­ria Peak. Then ex­plore the city be­low, in­clud­ing Man Mo Tem­ple, the an­tique shops of Hol­ly­wood Rd and the depart­ment stores of Cen­tral.

In the af­ter­noon, shop­pers can cross the har­bour by ferry (www.star­ferry.com.hk), where the busy streets of Kowloon are crammed with mar­kets, in­clud­ing Ladies’ Mar­ket (ladies-mar­ket.hk), early evening Tem­ple Street Mar­ket (tem­ple-street-night­mar­ket.hk) and hip Fa Yuen Street Mar­ket (sneak­ersstreet.hk). Mid-range Novo­tel Hong Kong Nathan Road (novo­tel.com) is well­po­si­tioned for shopa­holics.

Tuck in at Tim Ho Wan (2-20 Kwong Wa St), famed for its dumplings and one of the world’s cheap­est Miche­lin-star meals.

Al­ter­na­tively, mu­se­um­go­ers can ex­plore the Mar­itime Mu­seum (hk­mar­itime mu­seum.org), which has been en­larged and re­lo­cated. The Vol­cano Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre (geop­ark.gov.hk) and 3D Mu­seum (hk3dm.com.hk) both opened in June; the lat­ter has in­ter­ac­tive art­works that make you feel you’re part of imag­i­nary worlds.

STAY­ING LONGER

Lan­tau Is­land has forests, quiet beaches and hik­ing trails. A shady walk from Ngong Ping (np360.com.hk) takes in a gi­ant Bud­dha and or­nate Po Lin Monastery (www.plm.org.hk), with its just-opened Grand Hall of Ten Thou­sand Bud­dhas.

IN­SIDER TIP

For young trav­ellers, Ocean Park (ocean­park.com.hk) has roller­coast­ers, di­nosaur ex­hibits, play­grounds and an­i­mals, in­clud­ing two gi­ant pan­das. Its new Shark Mys­tique ex­hibit is a walk-through aquar­ium.

Brian John­ston

DUBAI

ONE PER­FECT DAY

Glam­orous, gaudy and ris­ing from the desert like a mirage, there are few bet­ter places than Dubai for a jam-packed stopover. Start in old Dubai by vis­it­ing Al-Fa­haidi Fort and its ex­cel­lent Dubai Mu­seum, and the spice, gold and per­fume souks across the river. The shops at nearby Beniyas Rd mix elec­tronic goods and sou­venirs: sil­ver lanterns, camel sad­dles and mother-of-pearl ta­bles.

Lo­cal eater­ies serve the likes of match­bous, a dish of spicy lamb with rice.

In the af­ter­noon, ex­plore glitzy Jumeirah’s beau­ti­ful mosque (cul­tures.ae) and fine palm-lined beach. Beat the heat at the Wild Wadi water­park ( jumeirah.com), where rides in­clude the newly revamped 80km/h Jumeirah Sceirah. Head to the stores at Mad­i­nat Jumeirah ( jumeirah.com), where old-style Ara­bian ar­chi­tec­ture com­bines with great shop­ping and mul­ti­ple restau­rant choices.

By evening, tackle the huge Dubai Mall (the­dubaimall.com), with its ex­tra­or­di­nary foun­tain show and aquar­ium (the­duba­iaquar­ium.com).

Ad­ja­cent Burj Khal­ifa (bur­jkhal­ifa.ae) has a newly opened ob­ser­va­tion deck which, at 555m, is the world’s high­est.

If you like the look and feel of a new ho­tel, stay at nearby Con­rad Dubai (con­rad­ho­tels3.hil­ton.com).

STAY­ING LONGER

For a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, rise above the desert on an early-morn­ing hot-air bal­loon ride (bal­loon­ing.ae), plough through the dunes by four-wheel drive (desert­sa­faridubai.com), or learn about the art of fal­conry with Ara­bian Ad­ven­tures (ara­bian-ad­ven­tures.com).

IN­SIDER TIP

There’ll be more rea­sons to ride Dubai Metro (dubaimetro.eu) next year, when a se­ries of min­imu­se­ums are opened at sev­eral metro sta­tions.

Brian John­ston

LOS AN­GE­LES

ONE PER­FECT DAY

Make like a Hol­ly­wood heavy­weight at the Bev­erly Hills Ho­tel’s famed Polo Lounge (dorch­ester col­lec­tion.com). Or­der its $US36 ($A42) Deal Maker break­fast or slip down­stairs for pikelet-sized sil­ver-dol­lar pan­cakes from the cozy 19-stool Foun­tain Cof­fee Room. From the 90210 zip code, take Santa Mon­ica Blvd west to reach the city’s land­mark amuse­ment pier, which runs free walk­ing tours on week­ends (san­ta­mon­i­capier.org).

Stay at Shut­ters on the Beach (shut­ter­son­the­beach.com) for a posh beach-house vibe.

Celebri­ties can be spot­ted any­where in this town but they’re par­tic­u­larly fond of hik­ing Run­yon Canyon Park (lam­oun­tains.com). Head to Hol­ly­wood via Sun­set Blvd, pass­ing Chateau Mar­mont, and turn left on to Vista St or Fuller Ave to find a park en­trance. For a laugh at celebrity cul­ture, take the trash-talk­ing TMZ Hol­ly­wood tour from TCL Chi­nese The­atre (tmz.com/tour). Re­fuel at a celebrity haunt: Gwyneth Pal­trow dined re­cently at West Hol­ly­wood’s Osteria Mozza (os­te­ri­amozza.com) and Robert de Niro co-owns Ago (agorestau­rant.com).

Vis­it­ing LA over Christ­mas? Un­til Jan­uary 2, Rodeo Drive is be­jew­elled with Bac­carat chan­de­liers worth $1 mil­lion. And look down as well as up: de­signer Cather­ine Martin this year be­came the first Aus­tralian to join other style leg­ends with a Rodeo Drive side­walk plaque.

STAY­ING LONGER

To ex­tend a theme-park stay, check into the Le­goland Ho­tel (cal­i­for­nia.le­goland.com), which opened last year an hour’s drive south of Ana­heim.

IN­SIDER TIP

Down­town LA has had hip surgery: tour the Frank Gehry­de­signed Walt Dis­ney Con­cert Hall (mu­s­ic­cen­ter.org) or hang at the Ace Ho­tel (ace­ho­tel.com) in the re­stored United Artists the­atre build­ing or at the equally cool The Stan­dard (stan­dard­ho­tels.com).

Ka­t­rina Lob­ley

ABU DHABI

ONE PER­FECT DAY

Abu Dhabi is emerg­ing from the shadow of neigh­bour­ing Dubai, of­fer­ing a smaller-scale, more in­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence of the

United Arab Emi­rates, of which it is the cap­i­tal.

Stay at the new Ho­tel Novo­tel Abu Dhabi Al Bus­tan (novo­tel.com). Spend the morn­ing tak­ing in the premier sights, in­clud­ing Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (szgmc.ae) and the Fal­con Hos­pi­tal (fal­con­hos­pi­tal.com). Fish and date mar­kets lie near the water­front cor­niche; while hot new restau­rant Rhodes 44 (streg­is­abud­habi.com) of­fers a so­phis­ti­cated lunch.

Spend the af­ter­noon ex­plor­ing Abu Dhabi’s two is­lands, cur­rently the cen­tre of nu­mer­ous mega-projects.

Saadiyat Is­land (saadiy­at­cul­turald­is­trict.ae) is the city’s cul­tural dis­trict in the mak­ing; its Ma­narat Al Saadiyat arts and cul­ture cen­tre (saadiyat.ae) has an in­ter­est­ing multi-me­dia ex­hibit show­ing the scale of Abu Dhabi’s build­ing projects. Yas Is­land (ya­sis­land.ae) is for fun: splash about at Yas Water­world (yaswa­ter­world.com) or ride the world’s fastest roller-coaster at amuse­ment park Fer­rari World (fer­rari­world­abud­habi.com). Yas Mall (yas­mall.ae) has just opened its doors, with 370 shops, a 20-screen cin­ema and fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment zone. Dine at glam­orous new Bur­lesque Restau­rant (viceroy­ho­tel­san­dresorts.com).

STAY­ING LONGER

Head to Abu Dhabi’s her­itage heart­land at Al Ain in the Ha­j­jar Moun­tains, about 200km away. Ex­plore old forts, her­itage and his­tory at Al Ain Na­tional Mu­seum, the zoo (alain­zoo.ae) and the re­cently ren­o­vated Hili Fun City theme park (hili­funcity.ae).

IN­SIDER TIP

The much-an­tic­i­pated Lou­vre Abu Dhabi (lou­vre­abud­habi.ae) in a spec­tac­u­lar Jean Nou­velde­signed build­ing on Saadiyat Is­land is due to open next year with 300 mas­ter­pieces on loan from French mu­se­ums.

Brian John­ston

SIN­GA­PORE

ONE PER­FECT DAY

Small and rel­a­tively se­date by Asian stan­dards, Sin­ga­pore is an old favourite for Aus­tralian trav­ellers yet the is­land city con­tin­ues to spring sur­prises.

Spend half a day ex­plor­ing Chi­na­town, where his­tory comes alive at the Chi­na­town Her­itage Cen­tre (chi­na­town­her­itage­cen­tre.sg), shop for sou­venirs and visit two im­pres­sive tem­ples: Chi­nese Thian Hock Keng Tem­ple (thi­an­hock­keng.com.sg) and Hindu Sri Mari­amman Tem­ple (heb.gov.sg). Nearby Smith St has a great range of eater­ies. And check in at the Sof­i­tel So Sin­ga­pore (sof­i­tel.com) or Westin Sin­ga­pore (thewest­insin­ga­pore.com) on Ma­rina Bay.

For fam­i­lies, there’s a packed half-day’s en­ter­tain­ment at Univer­sal Stu­dios Sin­ga­pore (rwsen­tosa.com) and River Sa­fari (river­sa­fari.com.sg) ad­ja­cent to the zoo, which fea­tures pan­das and wa­ter rides.

In the evening, head to Boat Quay for oys­ters and cock­tails at the new, rooftop South­bridge (south­bridge.sg) be­fore hav­ing sa­tay and ren­dang from hawker stalls at ad­ja­cent, river­side Clarke Quay. Head to Ma­rina Bay (ma­rina-bay.sg), the city’s hot con­tem­po­rary re­de­vel­op­ment for a per­for­mance at The­atres on the Bay (es­planade.com) or a neon­lit ride on the Sin­ga­pore Flyer (sin­ga­pore­flyer.com), which has a new hi-tech at­trac­tion.

STAY­ING LONGER

The city’s favourite week­end get­away, Sen­tosa Is­land (sen­tosa.com.sg) lies just off­shore and is reached by a 12-minute cable car ride. Ex­pect beaches, na­ture walks, ad­ven­ture rides and golf cour­ses, as well as sev­eral lux­ury re­sorts and spas.

IN­SIDER TIP

The Na­tional Gallery Sin­ga­pore (na­tion­al­gallery.sg) is open­ing late next year inside two grand colo­nial mon­u­ments – City Hall, and the Old Supreme Court Build­ing.

Brian John­ston

DAL­LAS- FORT WORTH

ONE PER­FECT DAY

When Qan­tas launched di­rect Syd­ney-Dal­las flights in 2011, Aus­tralians em­braced the mid­con­ti­nen­tal hub. Avi­a­tion geeks can spend a stopover en­tirely at Dal­las-Fort Worth air­port – the Grand Hy­att DFW (granddfw.hy­att.com) of­fers un­beat­able views over the western run­ways of the world’s fourth busiest air­port (ask for an even-num­bered room on floors four to eight).

In Dal­las, get the Lone Star look with hand-tooled cow­boy boots from Wild Bill’s Western Store (wild­bill­swest­ern.com). It’s just up the street from The Sixth Floor Mu­seum (www.jfk.org) – the for­mer Texas School Book De­pos­i­tory from where Lee Har­vey Oswald al­legedly took aim at Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Stroll to the Renzo Pi­ano-de­signed Nasher Sculp­ture Cen­tre (nash­er­sculp­ture cen­ter.org) in the arts dis­trict, then hop aboard the M-Line Street­car to Up­town – one trol­ley, Matilda, is a for­mer Mel­bourne tram (mata.org).

Head to Fort Worth for the twice-daily 4pm drive of Texas longhorns (fortworth stock­yards.org). Scoot the boots to Billy Bob’s Texas – the world’s largest honky-tonk – to twostep around the dance floor un­der the glit­ter­ing disco sad­dle (billy­bob­s­texas.com). Then tackle the in-house chick­en­fried steak, ribs or cat­fish. Back in Dal­las, shuck the boots at the the 5-star Omni Dal­las Ho­tel (om­nidal­lashotel.com).

STAY­ING LONGER

Home of the Dal­las Cow­boys, AT&T Sta­dium in Ar­ling­ton, has self-guided tours where you can throw passes on the foot­ball field (sta­dium.dal­las­cow­boys.com).

More ac­ces­si­ble is Dal­las’s Amer­i­can Air­lines Cen­tre, home of the Mav­er­icks bas­ket­ball team (amer­i­can air­li­nes­cen­ter.com).

IN­SIDER TIP

Oak Cliff is in­fa­mous as the haunt of Bon­nie and Clyde; it’s also where Lee Har­vey Oswald was ar­rested after sneak­ing into the Texas The­atre. The on­ce­seedy area is on the rise, with the cin­ema (thetex­as­the­atre.com) now a re­stored art-house gem.

Ka­t­rina Lob­ley

GUANGZHOU

ONE PER­FECT DAY

Guangzhou is one of the Chi­nese hub air­ports al­low­ing 72-hour, visa-free stays for Aus­tralians when en route to another coun­try. Find a driver and dive into a me­trop­o­lis of more than 16 mil­lion peo­ple.

The city hosted the Asian Games in 2010, a piv­otal year in which a slew of land­marks opened, in­clud­ing Can­ton Tower (can­ton­tower.com) and, across the Pearl River, Guang­dong Mu­seum (gdmu­seum.com) and Guangzhou Opera House (gzdjy.org). If it’s a clear(ish) morn­ing, head up Can­ton Tower to ride the Bub­ble Tram.

Pritzker Prize-win­ning ar­chi­tect Zaha Hadid’s “dou­ble peb­ble” Opera House was in­spired by Pearl River-pol­ished rocks. Sip a tea-in­spired cock­tail or ask the tea som­me­lier for a spe­cial­ist brew at the Mar-Tea-Ni lounge in the Sof­i­tel Guangzhou Sun­rich (sof­i­tel-guangzhou.com) in the Tianhe dis­trict.

STAY­ING LONGER

In the Li­wan dis­trict, gape at the in­tri­cate mytho­log­i­cal beasts dec­o­rat­ing the facades of the Chen Clan Academy, home to the Guang­dong Folk Arts Mu­seum (gzchen­jiaci.com). Graze along Shangx­i­a­jiu Pedes­trian St, a famed snack street and ex­plore Shamian Is­land, a time cap­sule of colo­nial build­ings.

IN­SIDER TIP

Tianhe’s Red­tory Art & De­sign Fac­tory (red­tory.com.cn) was an aban­doned Soviet-style canned-food fac­tory un­til 2009, when it was trans­formed into an arts hub with sculp­tures, gal­leries, cafes and mar­kets.

Ka­t­rina Lob­ley

LINGER A WHILE: (clock­wise from far left) Burj Khal­ifa and Dubai foun­tains at sun­set; Hong Kong at night; the Walt Dis­ney Con­cert Hall in Los An­ge­les; night mar­ket on Treng­ganu St in Chi­na­town, Sin­ga­pore; and Guangzhou rail­way sta­tion. Main pic­ture:...

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