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Travellers' checks

Adam Nebbs

 

High five Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16 (right) is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year by selling the Anniversary Room Package, which starts from a reasonable HK$1,105 for one night's accommodation with room upgrade, buffet breakfast, 50 and 25 per cent restaurant discounts, Hermès amenities and more. The hotel is located in the old Inner Harbour, away from all the tackiness of recent international "luxury" developments. The Inner Harbour runs along the edge of Rua do Almirante Sergio and Rua das Lorchas, and was once the landing place for ships and ferries from Hong Kong and beyond. But as it silted up and a new ferry terminal opened, in the Outer Harbour, in the 1960s, it fell into a long period of neglect. For centuries, the Inner Harbour was a thriving area, dotted with numbered pontes, or piers, which - some occupied, some deserted - can still be found today, with a little effort. Visitors from Hong Kong usually landed at Ponte No 12, also known as Pier Tai Yip, from where they would take rickshaws to smart hotels nearby, such as the Riviera and the Havana. Another option was the closer, cheaper and now derelict Hotel Cantao, just off Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro - the street running from the historic centre of Macau to the Inner Harbour - which was once lined with duty-free Portuguese liquor stores, perfume outlets, tobacconists and smart souvenir shops. The area remains a shadow of its former self but the fifth anniversary of a hotel trying to brighten up this old area is worth celebrating.

Past experience Encouraging tourists to discover Singapore's unique heritage - and to visit its fairly modest portfolio of hotels and "residences" - Far East Hospitality will be running a Far East Heritage Festival from July 19 to September 18, in conjunction with the Singapore HeritageFest 2013. Guests staying at the group's properties, which include The Fullerton Hotel as well as several more midrange choices, will be invited to join guided tours, head off alone on recommended trails and take part in various activities designed to showcase several sides of the city state's cultural heritage, from Little India to Kampong Glam and, a bit farther out, the colourful Peranakan district of Katong (above). Guests will also receive a Heritage Passport, shopping vouchers and discount coupons. For further details and a list of participating hotels, go to www.stayfareast.com/heritage.

New up north Originally expected to open a couple of years ago (like most new mainland hotels), the Banyan Tree Tianjin Riverside (above) is the latest international hotel to appear in the northern city. Rather than sprucing up a faded classic, like Starwood did with the old Astor House Hotel, or making a pseudohistorical nod to the past with a new building such as Hotel Indigo or the upcoming Ritz-Carlton, Banyan Tree has gone with a grey concrete semicircle. The interior, though, promises an infusion of "local history and cultural references into the resort's aesthetic". The 159-room hotel is located in the former Austro-Hungarian concession, which was next to the Italian concession (Tientsin, as it was then known, was carved up by an unusually large number of nations from 1860 to 1947, when the Italians finally decamped). Facilities include a spa and a "plethora of dining options" (actually five). For launch rates and details of an Opening Celebration Offer, visit www.banyantree.com/en/tianjin_riverside.

 

Walk this way The Kokoda Track (or Trail) in Papua New Guinea is well known to most Australasians as the site of a fierce engagement between Australian and Japanese forces during the second world war. In recent years it has also become known for its hiking potential, and the number of people following the 96-kilometre trail annually over the past dozen years has reportedly gone up from less than 100 to about 3,000. Now that number looks set to increase even more with an unlikely addition to the For Dummies series of books, titled Kokoda Trail for Dummies. It has actually been offered as a Kindle e-book since last year, but from tomorrow it will be available (at amazon.co.uk among other places) in paperback form. Air Niugini flies once a week from Hong Kong to Port Moresby, which is quite close to the trail-head. Another source of information is Lonely Planet's Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands guide. Information on Kokoda is available in the Plan Your Trip chapter, which can be downloaded without you having to buy the whole book, at shop.lonelyplanet.com. For updates, news and information on hiking the Kokoda Trail, and a hiking guide in PDF format, visit www.kokodatrackfoundation.org.

 

Deal of the week Cathay Pacific Holidays is offering a choice of three of the best hotels in Yangon, Myanmar, with a business-class package. Prices start from HK$9,690 (not including airport taxes and fuel surcharges) for round-trip business-class flights and two nights at The Governor's Residence (below). The Parkroyal and The Strand are offered from HK$9,860 and HK$10,270, respectively, but The Governor's Residence is currently top of the tree on TripAdvisor. Daily breakfast and round-trip airport transfers are also included. These prices are available until the second week in July and packages can be booked by going to www.cxholidays.com.

 

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