Exploring Vibrant Cities

Cities are ever changing and with half the world’s population now urban dwellers, both old and new cities are transforming into multi-cultural melting pots that create innovative ways of living closely together. Cities are also becoming increasingly interconnected and play an important role in our global economy, while retaining and building on their uniqueness, as do these 4 different cities on our destination list in this issue Royal Orchid Plus of eNews.

Hong Kong,
Electrifying and Enchanting

Hong Kong translates into English as “fragrant harbor” and has transformed from its early days as an exotic colonial trading port into one of the world’s financial centers with a towering skyline that hosts the highest density of human population on the planet. Within the city there remains remnants of its colonial past, large parks, period buildings, neighborhoods that proudly preserve and promote traditions and a tramway that continues operating today.

A well elevated spot for orientation of Hong Kong might start at The Sky 100 – an observation deck located on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Center in Kowloon, with panoramic views of the city.

On the ground, the historical Sheung Wan district, located just west of Central, is one of the hippest and oldest districts in Hong Kong, where there is a vibrant mix of trendy coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries as well as traditional shops, markets and temples.

For culture and science buffs a stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade exploring the Avenue of Stars, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and the Hong Kong Space Museum is both informative and entertaining, plus you are never far from the glorious Victoria Harbour.

For those with a passion for shopping, Hong Kong has something for everyone. Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street and Tin Hau Temple Street Night Market should not be missed, and the choice of department stores and luxury brands is seemingly never ending.

Hong Kong is also renowned as one of the world’s culinary capitals. From humble roadside stalls to world-class Michelin starred restaurants, and everything between, any palate can be satisfied with famed Cantonese dim sum and succulent pork buns, elegant French cuisine and Japanese master chefs offering some of Asia’s best sushi.

Lastly for a full day, Disneyland Hong Kong and Ocean Park are the city’s most renowned international attractions that never fail to enthrall visitors of all ages.

Garden City of Cultural Diversity

Known as the ‘Lion City’ as a long-ago outpost of the Sumatran empire of Srivijaya, and now as ‘Asia’s Garden City’ for its many parks and tree-lined streets, Singapore is also very much a multi-cultural city – a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and more recently expat communities. These diverse elements make Singapore one of Asia’s most vibrant cites.

A great place to begin in Singapore is with a bird’s eye view from the Marina Bay Sands Skypark Observation Deck or the Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest revolving observation wheel. You’ll also see a transformation in the skyline from concrete jungle to green skyscrapers, fulfilling Singapore’s ambition to become a ‘City in a Garden’. There are so many venues at which to explore Singapore’s green credentials, Singapore Botanical Gardens, Gardens by the Bay, Julong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo and its wildly popular night safari and numerous walking trails or jungle bridges where nature abounds and the city is merely a backdrop.

For shoppers there is no other place like the Orchard Road district with a parade of multi-story shopping centers that are interconnected underground for an endless and cool shopping experience of local, high street and luxury brands for any wallet.

Singapore is also all about food and Singaporeans take their food very seriously with hawker centers and food courts vying for attention with Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisine at the heart of the island’s cuisine. An iconic hawker center is the Old Airport Road Food Center that has served generations of Singaporeans, while Chinatown and Little India are unbeatable in both quality and quantity of stall or restaurant choices.

Singapore is also home to the restaurant currently recognized as Asia’s best, French Asian fusion, and tops an astounding choice of Michelin starred restaurants from humble to opulent.

Singapore’s excellent public transport system covers the entire island city state, an efficient, clean, inexpensive way to go to any destination. Using public transportation will also burnish your green credential with locals and enable to you to explore all that Singapore has to offer.

Unveiling the Unseen Zurich

While Zurich is well known as a global financial center and discreet banking, the city is one of Europe’s greenest and most cultured. Situated on the northern tip of Lake Zurich and surrounded by rolling hills and distant mountain peaks, the city itself is steeped in history with landmark buildings, grand boulevards and genteel neighborhoods to explore.

For art lovers there are a myriad of galleries offering artworks both old and new for collectors. Museums abound, with The Kunsthaus a highlight exhibiting Old Masters to Impressionists in ornate and stately galleries. For football enthusiasts the FIFA World Football Museum is located in Zurich and draws fans from around the world to experience the history and crowning achievements of footballers and teams over the years.

Local cuisine, with a focus on farm to market particularly during the warm summer months when produce is in abundance, is undergoing a renaissance that is attracting food lovers from across Europe. Artisanal cheeses, breads, cured meats, fresh water fish from mountain streams and fresh produce are lovingly prepared by master chefs with an emphasis on freshness, quality and often with innovative techniques that dazzle with flavor and uniqueness in presentation.

The many fine lakeside restaurants offer exceptional dining experiences, while a growing number of cafes, bistros and restaurants are appearing in re-purposed buildings throughout the city. Currently a new establishment located beneath a bridge in the old city is attracting international attention for its creativity in both space and cuisine, one of many that is transforming a traditionally staid dining culture.

A visit to Zurich is not complete without long leisurely strolls in the city center around the Bahnhofstrasse and Viadukt. There is shopping for everyone, from high street to absolute luxury, while many of the trendiest shops, bars, cafes and fresh food halls are perfect for a relaxing pause to savor a rich coffee, a local beer, a typical Swiss pastry and of course chocolate in any form that the Swiss have transformed into pure artistry.

Refreshing and Colorful

Among 23 major European cities Copenhagen’s air is amongst the cleanest, largely because the preferred mode of transportation in this city is by bicycle, for young and old alike. With dedicated bicycle lanes throughout Copenhagen which is relatively small in size, joining the Danes is their passion for cycling is the ideal way to see and experience the capital has to offer.

However, if being on 2 wheels is not in your comfort zone, Copenhagen can be explored easily by walking, by boat on the many canals in the city, or hop on, hop off bus tours that include all the major sites and attractions.

The Little Mermaid statue in the harbor is arguably Copenhagen’s most photographed landmark and perfect for that first selfie. The Danish Royal Palace is close by, as are other historic buildings and cozy squares that will take you on a journey through Danish history and culture.

You can head on to other attractions like Christiania Freetown, Frederik’s Church and more.

This most livable city has an incredible variety of attractions for everyone. The Round Tower, the oldest functioning observatory in Europe is the best place to get a magnificent 360º view of Copenhagen. The National Aquarium is a stunning example of futuristic architecture with immersive exhibitions to delight visitors of all ages. For music lovers the Ragnarock Museum is not to be missed, an interactive and entertaining journey through the history of music from the 1950’s onwards that showcases youth culture through pop, rock, hip hop and more.

No trip in Copenhagen is complete without a visit to Tivoli Gardens, Europe’s oldest amusement park that dates back to 1824. A night visit is best to take in the thousands of colored lights that create a fairytale atmosphere that is completely unique.

Lastly, Denmark is home to new Nordic cuisine and Copenhagen the center of this universe. There are a number of eateries that specialize in foraging locally so do your research and enjoy at least one meal that will thrill all your senses.

Fly THAI direct to Hong Kong, Singapore, Zurich and Copenhagen for a vibrant experience. Book now at thaiairways.com