Around the South China Sea

Macau nightThis tour round the perimeter of the South China Sea takes in everything from crazy, 24 hour nightlife to long, lazy days on white sand beaches; from bustling, spice-scented street markets to gleaming cities bristling with skyscrapers.

Just decide whether you want to fly or – if you’ve got a month or two – go by boat…

Macau

We start in the ex-Portuguese colony of Macau, where the clash of European and Chinese cultures has produced some memorable cuisine, and some exhilarating nightlife.

When Stanley Ho’s monopA casino in Macau.oly on gambling in this tiny Special Region of China ended in 2002, the current casino boom began almost overnight. Today Macau makes Las Vegas look small-time; it generates around five times as much as the Strip in gambling revenue!

If you’re new to the card tables, consider honing your skills online first; try the Promotions at Euro Palace for decent bonuses. Food-wise, if you love pastry you’ll love Macau. Portuguese Egg Tarts are everywhere, as are Pork Chop Buns; try Tai Lei Loi Kei in Taipa Village for the latter.

Taipei

Longshan_Temple,_Taipei_01
Longshan Temple in Taipei.

Next on our clockwise trip is Taiwan. Landing in Taipei, it’ll soon become obvious that the city is stuffed full of temples and museums to visit, including the amazing Longshan Temple in Wanhua (which has been regularly rebuilt and renovated since 1738), and the National Museum of History in Zhongzheng.

When you’ve had your fill of culture, try the dazzling array of street food in one of the night markets. Raohe Market is a great place to try Taipei staples like Stinky Tofu and Duck Innards Stew – but don’t worry, there’s plenty of stuff you’ll actuaLongshan Temple, Taipeilly want to eat as well.

Manila

Now we head directly south to Manila, a 2 hour flight from Taipei with several non-stop flights per day.

The Philippine capital is a chaotic city that doesn’t give up its charms easily, but stick with it and you may find yourself falling in love with the place. There’s some fantastic shopping to be done here, with the Robinsons Place Mall one of the main attractions if that’s your thing. Manila is another vibrant, culturally mixed city, where Spanish influences are strong. Cafe Juanita in Pasig City has superb local food – try the Kare Kare, but book your table before you go!

Cafe-Juanita-manila
Da NangCafe Juanita, in Manila, Philippines.

 

Our final stop, on the western edge of the South China Sea, is Da Nang, Vietnam. There are some beautiful white sand beaches in the area, though you should look out for warning signs regarding riptides if you’re planning to swim. The Waterfront is a superb restaurant and bar on the river and well worth an end-of-trip splurge. There’s great street food in Da Nang of course; seek out Bun Cha (fish cake noodles) and Oc Hut – the latter for snail fans only.

(Images courtesy of condominiumcentral.net, smh.com.au, wikipedia, manilareviews.com)

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