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China See And Do

2010 World Expo Site
1200 Expo Avenue
Pudong
Shanghai
China 200126
Tel: 86 400 181 6688
www.mercedes-benzarena.com

Hosting the 2010 World Expo left Shanghai a legacy of improved infrastructure, plus some visually striking Expo pavilions. The World Fair's centerpiece, the 207-foot-high China Pavilion, remains in place, as do the national pavilions of Saudi Arabia, Spain, Italy, France, and Russia. The most dramatic remaining structure is the oyster shell–shaped Mercedes-Benz Arena. Formerly the Expo Performance Center, it reopened in late 2010 as China's first sports venue with corporate branding. Inside the spaceshiplike building is an 18,000-seat arena for sports, musical, and theatrical events; an ice rink; a music club; a shopping mall; and an exhibition center.—Gary Bowerman

798 Dashanzi Gallery District
4 Jiuxianqiao Lu
Chaoyang
Beijing
China

Beijing's burgeoning modern art scene buzzes around this Bauhaus-inspired neighborhood. Once a factory district that produced electronics for the military, it began to attract artists with its affordable warehouse space in the early 2000s; it's now a hipster hangout filled with galleries, cafés, and bars. Thirty-odd exhibit spaces host the work of Chinese artists, some of them famous; minimalist art star Ai Weiwei and political pop artist Wang Guangyi have both displayed their work here. Plan to spend an afternoon wandering through the galleries; three don't-miss spots are Star Gallery (2 Jiuxianqiao Lu; 86-10-8456-0591), Beijing Tokyo Art Project (86-10-8457-3245; www.tokyo-gallery.com; closed Mon.), and Beijing Commune (86-10-8654-9428; www.beijingcommune.com; closed Mon.).

Acupressure and Massage Centre
40-42 Des Voeux Road
Central
Hong Kong
China
Tel: 852 2810 6666

If you've been hitting Hong Kong's nightspots a little too hard (or if you're just jetlagged from a long trip over), make like a local and head to this clinic. Pressure-point massages by blind masseurs are a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition that continues to thrive to this day; after kneading, pressing, slapping, and occasionally tickling your pressure points, the practitioners here will have you feeling fresh as a daisy.

The Bund
Zhong Shan Dong Yi Lu
Shanghai
China 200002

This stretch of Zhong Shan Dong Yi Lu, on the western bank of the Huangpu River, was once home to the Wall Street of Asia. The grand mansions were built as headquarters for British, French, American, Russian, and Japanese banking institutions that had established themselves in the city following the Opium Wars in the 1840s, when Shanghai was opened up to foreign trade. The hodgepodge of architectural styles—Art Deco, Gothic, Renaissance, Romanesque, and neoclassical—illustrates the many foreign influences. On the promenade, locals gather at dawn to practice kung fu, qigong, and tai chi, as well as ballroom dancing. The rest of the day, snap-happy tourists take pictures of one another in front of the Pudong skyline across the water, or catch a scenic riverboat tour. The Bund underwent major relandscaping ahead of the 2010 World Expo, connecting it to river taxi stops that go to the Expo site and channeling traffic underground.

Contemporary Art

As China's contemporary art scene continues to heat up, one of the best places to catch a glimpse (or even buy) is the growing cluster of galleries in the Moganshan Lu warehouse district. Once known mostly for its polluted river, Moganshan Lu began to attract local artists in the late 1990s with its enormous loft spaces and cheap rent. Start at the city's first contemporary art space, ShanghART Gallery, which focuses on local artists and, to a lesser degree, the rest of China. The massive Art Scene Warehouse often hosts group exhibits that offer a good overview, while Eastlink regularly shows work by art stars Ai Weiwei and the Gao Brothers. Browse art tomes at Timezone 8 before taking a well-deserved break in the bright café.

Drum & Bell Tower
Gulou Dong Dajie
Beijing
China 100009

Separated by a rectangular courtyard filled with trees, small cafés, and rickshaws, these two majestic towers are often overlooked by visitors. Don't make the same mistake, as this area is a most charming remnant of old Beijing. More than 150-foot high, the Drum Tower is a wide-bodied gem painted in red with a turquoise pitched roof, upturned eaves, and ancient Chinese insignias. The slimmer, gray-brick Bell Tower is more austere in appearance, with a crenellated fortification wall. First constructed in the ninth century but later rebuilt, the Drum Tower offers great views. Climb the 69 steep stone steps for a broad panorama of Houhai Lake and old hutongs ringed by Beijing's new sky towers and the outline of mountains in the distance. Only one antique relic of the original 24 drums remains, but large cylindrical replicas are on show, and watching the short drumming performance at 9 am is highly recommended.

Forbidden City
City Center
Beijing
China

Built during the Ming dynasty by 200,000 laborers and completed in 1422, this grandiose palace sits at the heart of the modern-day capital city. The complex is a vast maze of courtyards and ceremonial halls surrounded by towering walls—it's designed to make you feel tiny, and it does. It's a fitting home for an emperor, and for about 500 years, only Sons of Heaven, their families, and their attendants were allowed inside the walls. The site became a museum in the early 20th century (after the abdication of the Qing dynasty's last emperor, Puyi), and today you can stroll through ornamental gardens and ornate buildings and admire the palace treasures on display. Unfortunately, many of the main buildings are undergoing centenary refurbishment and are swathed in scaffolding (the overhaul will be completed in 2020), but they're splendid nonetheless.

French Concession (Luwan)
Shanghai
China

In the area around Huaihai Lu, a street known for its department stores, boutiques, antique shops, and cafés, lies the marvelous old French Concession. In 1854, this area was designated to the French, who opted out of a move to combine all the foreign settlements in the city. Many of the French Concession's Tudor-style mansions—complete with colorful flower boxes—still stand on the tree-lined streets off Yan'an Lu. Vestiges of the Japanese occupation (1937–1945) also remain, alongside the buildings of what used to be the Jewish and Russian quarters. Fuxing Park is a tree-lined green oasis in the French Concession that dates back to the early 1900s. Early in the morning, people stroke the air in the smooth patterns of tai chi. Later, women sing Chinese opera, old men gamble at tables beside the main pavilion, and couples waltz to piped dance music. Go here for a typical—and marvelous—slice of Chinese life.

Great Wall
China

Stretching almost 4,000 miles across northern China, the Great Wall of China was a 1,800-year construction project designed to keep out invading Mongolian warriors. Begun during the Qin dynasty in 200 B.C., the wall has inspired many myths—and for the record, it is not visible from space, nor is it a continuous structure. Several sections are easily accessible from Beijing. The most famous, and consequently overrun, is Badaling, an hour's drive northwest of the city. The location makes it ideal for a whistle-stop tour, and you'll get a window into the Chinese tourism machine (take a gondola up one side and a roller coaster down the other to a market jam-packed with stalls, all selling identical T-shirts). To dodge the worst of the crowds, avoid weekends and arrive in the early morning or late afternoon.

About an hour northeast of the city, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall has expansive scenery, fewer tourists, and a cable car for quick trips up and down. A bit farther afield (about three hours northeast of the city), fit types can take the four-hour hike between the "wild wall" sections of Simatai and Jinshanling, which are indeed overgrown and semi-ruined, but beautiful. Most Beijing hotels can arrange day trips to the Great Wall, but visitors who prefer to take their time exploring should consider staying nearby, at the Commune by the Great Wall Kempinski or the Red Capital Ranch. More intrepid types can book a guide for an overnight hike and either camp atop one of the crumbling watchtowers or stay with a family in a nearby farmhouse. Cycle China arranges private guides for overnight trips.

Happy Valley Racing
2 Sports Road, Happy Valley
Central
Hong Kong
China
Tel: 852 2895 1523
www.happyvalleyracecourse.com

Hong Kong locals are horse-racing fanatics—so it's no surprise that this track, an oasis of green lit by giant floodlights at night, sits right at the heart of the city. In fact, it's occupied its place since 1846; Hong Kong practically grew around it. Betting on horses is one of the oldest legally sanctioned forms of gambling here, and with all the money flying around the city these days, it's a big, big business.

The best time to experience the track is at night, when thousands of spectators fill the stands and watch from the balconies of surrounding high-rises. The stakes are huge, the bets are outrageous, and the crowds are appropriately enthused. Wednesday evenings (between September and May) are the liveliest.

Hong Kong Museum of Art
10 Salisbury Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
China
Tel: 852 2721 0116
www.lcsd.gov.hk/hkma

Right on the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, this museum mounts fine temporary exhibitions and has a huge permanent collection of more than 14,000 Chinese antiquities and objets d'art. The artworks here are not only beautiful; they often help visitors understand Hong Kong from a cultural and historical context. This is especially true of the prints and paintings from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, which show scenes of daily life in the city.

Closed Thursdays.

Huangpu Cruise
Huangpu River Cruise Company
219 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu
Shanghai
China
Tel: 86 21 6374 4461

Winding through the heart of Shanghai, the Huangpu River is the city's primary artery, a freshwater tributary that leads to the Yangtze River and beyond to the East China Sea. The Huangpu River Cruise Company offers leisurely boat tours with tickets ranging from $6.25 to $13 (pricier seats come with better views and snacks). Glide up and down the murky waters, past one of the world's biggest and busiest ports—one third of China's trade flows through here—to the mouth of the Yangtze and back again. Catch a cruise at sundown so you can watch the lights glow on shore in a juxtaposition of old and new—to the west lies the historic Bund, to the east the skyscraper spires of übermodern Pudong.

Huguang Guild Hall
3 Hufang Lu
Xuanwu
Beijing
China
Tel: 86 10 6351 8284
www.beijinghuguang.com

Peking opera is performed nightly at this intimate (300-seat) 19th-century guild hall; you can enjoy the high notes and crashing gongs while sipping tea and nibbling on sunflower seeds. Before the show, take a turn around the tiny museum; it has scripts, vintage photos, and other mementos of renowned 1920s opera star Mei Lanfang, who often performed here.

Macau
www.macautourism.gov.mo/

Macau's gambling revenues may have surpassed those of Las Vegas, but cultural tourists and foodies can hit the jackpot here, too. The Portuguese colonized this small but strategic territory at the mouth of China's Pearl River in the 16th century as the first European settlement in the Far East. Today the high rollers head straight to casinos like Stanley Ho's Lisboa Hotel & Casino (2–4 Ave. de Lisboa; 853-2888-3888; www.hotellisboa.com), The Sands Macao (203 Largo de Monte Carlo; 853-2888-3388; www.sands.com.mo), Wynn Macau (Rua Cidade de Sintra; 853-2888-9966; www.wynnmacau.com), and the $2.4 billion Venetian Macao (Estrada da Baía de N. Senhora da Esperança; 853-2882-8888; www.venetianmacao.com/en), on the Cotai Strip between Taipa and Coloane islands.

Colonial vestiges remain in the stone facade of the wooden Saint Paul's Church (Rua de São Paolo), the pretty saffron Saint Dominic Church (Largo de São Domingos), and the residences around Lilau Square where the first Portuguese settlers made their homes. These settlers also left their mark on the cuisine of Macau, starting with the pastel de nata, or egg tart, that comes out of the ovens day and night at Lord Stow Bakery (1 Rua do Tassara; Coloane; 853-2888-2534; www.lordstow.com). Hong Kong day-trippers make pilgrimages for the caramel-crusted roast pork at Fernando's (9 Praia de Hac Sa; Coloane; 853-2888-2264) or to A Lorcha (289 Rua do Almirante Sergio; 853-2831-3193), which serves traditional Macanese dishes like deep-fried king prawns with chile and garlic.

Turbojet hydrofoils make the one-hour trip between Hong Kong and Macau around the clock (853-8790-7039; www.turbojet.com.hk), but those with the cash may prefer to cut travel time down to a mere 20 minutes by arriving via helicopter (Heliservices; 852-2802-0200; www.heliservices.com.hk).

Maglev Train
Shanghai

Blink and you'll miss the ride. The world's fastest passenger train, with a top speed of 268 miles per hour, takes just eight minutes to journey back and forth between Pudong International Airport and Longyang Lu metro station (the same journey takes at least 45 minutes by car). Unless you are averse to g-force, simply sit back and enjoy the smooth ride—or join the throng of passengers pointing their digital cameras at the onboard speedometer waiting to catch the optimum moment. Longyang Lu connects with the Shanghai metro system and there are plenty of taxis on hand; it's a 30-minute drive from downtown Puxi, and just 10 to 15 minutes from Pudong's best hotels. A one-way ticket costs $6.90, but if you show your same-day flight ticket at the counter, it'll only be $5.50 (www.smtdc.com).

Open daily 6:45 am to 9:30 pm; trains run at a reduced speed (186 miles per hour) before 8:45 am and after 5 pm.

National Museum of China
16 East Chang'an Avenue
Beijing
China 100006
Tel: 86 10 6511 9031
www.chnmuseum.cn

Reopened to great fanfare in March 2011 after a four-year renovation, the world's largest museum flanks the east side of Tiananmen Square. Inside its cavernous halls are several permanent history galleries, plus temporary art shows. The Road of Rejuvenation exhibition, charting Chinese history from the 1840 Opium War to the present day, is the most compelling—though far from complete. Don't expect mentions of the Tiananmen Square protests, or the harsh facts of the Cultural Revolution. Do expect copious political rhetoric, a professionally curated photographic and interactive display, and some eye-catching carved murals depicting Chinese achievements through the centuries.—Gary Bowerman

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 9 am to 5 pm.

Ohel Moshe Synagogue
62 Changyang Lu
Hongkou
Shanghai
China
Tel: 86 21 6541 5008

During the 1930s and 40s, more than 10,000 Jews fleeing Nazi persecution landed in Shanghai, which offered refuge to "stateless individuals." Herded by occupying Japanese soldiers into the Hongkou district's narrow houses, they patiently waited out the war years, many in greatly reduced circumstances. Built in 1927, the Ohel Moshe Synagogue now houses the Jewish Refugee Museum, which features black-and-white period photographs and an attic bedroom frozen in time; a 2007 renovation will add more exhibit space. Though little remains of the rest of the former Jewish ghetto, you can explore its crumbling remnants in an informative tour led by Israeli journalist Dvir Bar-Gal (86-130-0214-6702).

Old City (Nanshi)
Shanghai
China

Once home to the impoverished Chinese masses—who lived in close quarters here while wealthy foreigners spread out around them—the old city is full of twisting alleys and street vendors. Here you will catch a glimpse of the cramped, colorful old world (its origins date back to the 16th century) in the bustling heart of a modern city. Start at the Dongtai Lu Antique Market, where street-side stalls display myriad antique (and antique-looking) objets d'art. Continue past neighborhood Buddhist temples like the bustling Fangzangjiang, then line up with the locals at the 100-year-old Nanxiang Dumpling House inside the Yu Garden Bazaar for soupy pork and crabmeat xiaolongbao dumplings, before heading to the winding paths and craggy rockery of the Yu Garden.

Olympic Park
Olympic Green
Beijing
China 100029
en.beijing2008.cn

Beijing's giant Olympic Park features two of the most eye-catching sports venues in history. Herzog & de Meuron's circular 91,000-seat "Bird's Nest" National Stadium is 225-foot high and dominates the vista. Standing adjacent is PTW's equally stunning rectangular "Water Cube" National Aquatics Center, which is draped in a luminescent blue Teflon skin that reflects light and creates the appearance of crystallized bubbles. Other highlights of the park include the 18,000-seat National Indoor Stadium, Olympic Village, Media Center, National Sports Museum, China International Exhibition Center, and National Olympic Sports Center.

Outlying Islands
Hong Kong
China

There are more than 230 Hong Kong islands, a handful of which make great day-trip destinations from the Central city district. Take the Star Ferry from Hong Kong Island (852-2367-7065; www.starferry.com.hk), or sail on a traditional Chinese junk with Jubilee International Tour Centre (852-2530-0530; www.jubilee.com.hk) to check them out.

Lantau
The largest of the outlying islands, Lantau is about an hour by ferry from Central. And while the newish Hong Kong Disneyland (opened in 2005) takes up a big chunk of the island, Lantau is its own natural wonderland. A national park covers half the land mass, and Hong Kong's longest beach (Cheung Sha, almost two miles of sand), its highest mountain (2,700-foot-high Lantau Peak, a terrific hike), and the rare Chinese white dolphin are all found here (well, the dolphins are actually swimming offshore). You'll also find the world's largest Buddha statue and Tai-O, a 300-year-old fishing town filled with traditional canal-side stilt houses.

Lamma
Tiny Lamma is just off of Hong Kong Island's Aberdeen district, close to Stanley Market. Thanks to a ban on cars and buses, it's an authentic dose of old Hong Kong, complete with quaint fish farms, unfussy seafood restaurants, and scenic cliff-side trails.

Sai Kung
This small island, about half an hour from Central, has a charming clutch of traditional fishing villages and seafront restaurants. It's also got nature parks, Buddhist temples, and calm-watered, tropical-feeling beaches.

Shanghai Museum
No. 2 Renmin Da Dao
Shanghai
China 200003
Tel: 86 21 6372 3500
www.shanghaimuseum.net/en/index.asp

With 120,000 works of art on view, this premier collection of Chinese artifacts warrants at least half a day to browse the ten galleries of calligraphy, jade, bronze, ceramics, and sculptures—not to mention furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties, paintings, coins, and other historical treasures. The audio tours are worthwhile, and written descriptions of the relics are also offered in English. Take a break in the museum's tearoom, and hit the bookshop for souvenirs.

Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre
100 Renmin Dadao at Xizang Zhong Lu
People's Square
Shanghai
China 200003
Tel: 86 21 6318 4477
www.supec.org/index.html

More interesting than it sounds, this dramatic five-story glass building showcases the city's future urban development through detailed models and multimedia displays. On the third floor, an enormous model shows Shanghai in 2020, an endless sprawl of skyscrapers. The fourth floor offers an aerial view of the model, as well as exhibits on future transportation projects, including a Maglev train, while in the basement there's a charming mock-up of 1930s Shanghai with shops and restaurants. If you're wondering just how far (and high) the city's planners are going to take Shanghai's development, you'll find all the answers here.

Shanghai World Financial Center
100 Century Avenue
Pudong
Shanghai
China 200135
Tel: 86 21 3867 2008
www.swfc-shanghai.com

Opened in 2008, mainland China's tallest tower stands 101 floors and 1,615 feet high. Owned and built by Japan's Mori Corporation, it has been dubbed the "Corkscrew" Tower, because of a large rectangular hole near the top. Architects Kohn Pederson Fox designed the SWFC as a "vertical integrated city"; the building features a five-floor shopping mall rising from the basement, and more than 70 floors of office and convention space. The Park Hyatt Shanghai sits between floors 79 and 93. For visitors, the main draw is the 100th-floor glass corridor Observatory Deck, with cloud-floating views over the city. The 97th-floor Sky Bridge is another viewing area, with a glass roof that opens in summer. The second-floor Exhibition Center features an intriguing display of photos and scale models, and a narrated history of the construction of this New China megatower.

Summer Palace
19 Xinjingongmen Road
Haidian
Beijing
China 100091
Tel: 86 10 6228 1144
www.ebeijing.gov.cn/Travel/Sightseeing/Summer_Palace/

Once a warm-weather retreat for the Qing dynasty's imperial court, the Summer Palace (just ten miles outside the city, but about a 40-minute taxi ride in traffic) is a lovely place to escape the urban smog. The main draw is the expansive, beautifully landscaped property, dominated by the large, man-made Kunming Lake. The grounds are dotted with delicate pavilions and ornate halls; don't miss the Long Corridor, a 2,300-foot covered walkway that's hand-painted with mythological scenes. Arrive early to avoid crowds, or dodge them with a stroll around the water, as the Qing Empress Dowager Cixi might have done in the 19th century. The recently opened hotel, Aman at Summer Palace, allows residents day and night access to the palace and gardens.

Symphony of Lights
Victoria Harbor
Hong Kong
China

Every evening at 8 pm sharp, the world's largest light and sound show turns Hong Kong's urban jungle into a futuristic beauty pageant starring 44 of its waterfront skyscrapers. Discerning locals watch from the Star Ferry, Tsim Sha Tsui harborside promenade, or restaurants like Aqua and Huton, agreeing that the disco lights make even imposing structures like Sir Norman Foster's Bank of China building look rather groovy. The crowd swells considerably on holidays, when China's best pyrotechnics add extended sparkle to the otherwise 15-minute affair. If the whole thing sounds a bit over-the-top, it is. But it's still one of the must-see events in the city.

Tai Chi
Hong Kong
China

Limbering up and clearing your mind—Asian style—is a great way to start the day. Free tai chi lessons are given by English-speaking instructors near the Avenue of Stars, right on the Kowloon waterfront, several mornings a week. The classes usually begin at 8 a.m. and last an hour. Call the Hong Kong Visitor Hotline (852-2508-1234) for more information.

Temples
Beijing
China

Beijing has dozens of ancient temples, some chaotic complexes, others quiet jewels. There are far too many to visit in one trip—but Beijing's three most famous temples are all must-sees.

Built during the Ming dynasty, the ornate Temple of Heaven was closed to commoners until 1912. Today, the main halls retain their splendor (helped by an ongoing renovation in preparation for the 2008 Olympics), and anyone can admire the magnificent architecture and stroll in the tranquil park (Yongdingmen Dajie, Chongwen District; 86-10-6702-8866).

North of the Temple of Heaven, the grand and gorgeous Lama Temple is often thronged with Tibetan Buddhists issuing clouds of purifying incense into the sky. The collection of buildings, with their imperial-yellow tiles, ornate halls, and formal gardens, were once the home of the Qing dynasty's Prince Yin Zhen. Today, the crowds of monks, worshippers, and tourists can make it feel like an enormous spiritual party (12 Yonghegong Dajie, Dongcheng District; 86-10-6404-4499).

The Confucius Temple has been a tranquil oasis amid the bustle of Beijing for 700 years. Built to honor the great Chinese philosopher, the main courtyard of this tiny temple has stone tablets carved with the names of all the scholars who passed the imperial civil service exam in the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. The temple halls are plain and visitors scarce, making this a peaceful spot to rest under the ancient gingko trees (13 Guozijian Jie, Dongcheng District; 86-10-8402-7224).

Tiananmen Square
Beijing
China

Named for the Gate of Heavenly Peace, an entrance to the Forbidden City that stands at the north end of the square, this vast concrete expanse (it covers more than a hundred acres) is dominated by an unsmiling portrait of Chairman Mao. It was here that the former dictator announced the formation of the People's Republic in 1949. In the center stands the towering Monument to the People's Heroes, a ten-story obelisk that honors revolutionaries from 1839 to 1949. Also in the heart of the square is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, where you can glimpse the embalmed Great Helmsman. No trace remains of the 1989 pro-democracy protest, in which hundreds of students died when columns of military tanks suppressed the uprising. Instead, you'll find digicam-wielding Chinese tourists strolling the perimeter or watching the daily flag ceremonies at dawn and dusk. Just off the southeast corner of the square is the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall, featuring an impressive nearly 3,230-square-foot scale model of Beijing in 2020 and an exhibition detailing the capital's 2008 Olympic planning.

Tours of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
China

Hong Kong may have been called a barren rock by its first foreign visitors, but these days it's so packed with attractions that it's hard to get oriented. The government-run Hong Kong Tourism Board publishes reams of maps and touring pamphlets, and organizes bus, boat, walking, and shopping tours. Though the names aren't terribly catchy, some of the best include: the Land Between Tour of the New Territories, Feng Shui Tour, Tea & Tai Chi Tour, and the Come Horse Racing Tour. For more upscale options, lift off from the rooftop of the Peninsula Hotel and look down upon the taipans from Heliservices' twin-engine Aerospatiale Squirrel helicopter. The 15- to 30- minute tours circumnavigate Hong Kong Island and give you a great feel for the layout of the city. Longer, pricier journeys take in the big Buddha, Lantau Island, and the New Territories.

To explore the area by water, hop aboard a traditional sailboat, known as a junk. The best is the Cheung Po Tsai, a 92-foot-long traditional red sailboat named after an infamous pirate who once terrorized these waters. The boat was handcrafted according to original Chinese designs and in traditional materials by an 80-year-old local craftsman. The two wooden decks are among the best spots to watch Hong Kong Harbor's nightly 8 pm sound and light extravaganza in vintage style.

Victoria Peak
Hong Kong
China
www.thepeak.com.hk

At 1,810 feet tall, Victoria Peak is Hong Kong's highest and most notable landmark, as well as its ritziest residential area. Its well-heeled 19th-century residents were hand-carried up the mountain via sedan chair, but modern visitors can take the Peak Tram (the steepest funicular in the world) from Central Terminal at 33 Garden Road. The tacky Peak Tower shopping and entertainment complex is forever packed with the camera-wielding crowd. You can pop in and taste bottled waters from around the world at O Bar or sample dishes by Down Under celebrity chef Geoff Lindsay at Pearl on the Peak, but it's best to leave the crowds behind and explore the Peak on foot. Head for Mount Austin Road, which climbs through the Peak's public gardens to the actual pinnacle. Along the way you'll get sprawling views of Macau, the outlying islands, and the jostling junks and sampans of Aberdeen Harbor.

Xintiandi
Shanghai
China

In the 1930s, Shanghai was covered with blocks of shikumen (traditional stone-gated structures). Today, most of these narrow middle-class houses, which typically featured five rooms upstairs and down, have been destroyed to make room for glitzy high-rise buildings. Xintiandi is a preserved neighborhood—one of the city's best (and only) examples of old Shanghai architecture—now transformed into an upscale mall, boasting a collection of swank restaurants, bars, and shops. For a glimpse into the life of a typical 1920s middle-class family, don't miss the Shikumen Museum, formerly a residential property that has been restored to its former charm and decorated with artifacts found in nearby houses (25 Lane 181, Taicang Lu; 86-21-3307-0337). Wash the taste of capitalism from your mouth with a visit to the nearby Museum of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, which pays homage to the party's 1921 founding with a wax tableau of the first meeting and a brief tour of the humble brick lane house where it all started (374 Huangpi Nan Lu, by Xingye Lu; 86-21-5383-2171).

Yu Garden
218 Anren Jie
Shanghai
China 200010
Tel: 86 21 6326 0830

A lot of history resides in this little garden and its City God Temple. They were commissioned in 1559, built over the course of 19 years, destroyed in 1842 during the first Opium War, and later rebuilt and reopened to the public in their current incarnation in 1961. Pathways wind through rock gardens and bamboo stands, and stone bridges cross pools filled with bright carp. The word yu translates to "peace and health"—and the park was certainly designed with tranquility in mind—but today, especially on weekends, swarms of tourists get in the way of the garden's serenity.

Garden open daily 8:30 am to 5 pm. City God Temple open daily 8:30 am to 4 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.