Real Estate Investment in Hong Kong

Posted on 6 Aug 2014 In: Hong Kong Hotels

A part of the Guangdong province as well as the Special Administrative Region of China – Hong Kong is one of the most vibrant and intriguing destinations in the world. Hong Kong is also among the world’ most busiest and fast-paced cities.

Hence, no wonder why real estate in Hong Kong is so much sought after. Real estate in Hong Kong is regarded as one of the costliest as well as the lucrative in the world. In other words, buildings and land in Hong Kong form a significant portion of the nation’s wealth and economy. Further, due to its attractive tax system, many international business firms and corporations find their way to Hong Kong for the establishment of their innovative projects. This in turn has led to great demand for high grade industrial and residential real estate in the city.

According to certain records, the cost of residential real estate in the city has gone up to US$ 585 per sq ft. The price is even higher in such posh areas as the Peak – the area between Victoria Peak and Mount Gough, covering spots such as Peak, Victoria Gap, Mount Kellet, Jardine’s Corner, Mount Gough, and Plantation Road.

Nowadays, great choices as well as potential are made available for those who are interested in real estate investment in Hong Kong. Additionally, real estate in Hong Kong provides great benefits to investors. The main advantage is that investing in a property in the city allows you to have access to world’s one of the established markets.

Another worth mentioning benefit of investing in a real estate here is that not any kind of restrictions have been imposed on international investors to buy a property or asset. Further, buying a real estate in Hong Kong is considered one of the best options for long term investment, as it can undoubtedly fetch you huge profits.

Above all, the laws and procedures involved in the process of real estate buying are liberal as well as simple. Once you have found an appropriate property, an Agreement of Sale and Purchase would be signed between the property owner and investor, and this completes the sale procedure.

Hong Kong’s property buying processes are administered by the Conveyancing and Ordinance, which is modeled in the form of English Law. In other words, the real estate law of this Special Administrative Region is quite similar to the one found in the UK, which in turn has attracted many American and British real estate investors.

One of the unique things regarding the Hong Kong Property Law is that all of the land found here belongs to government, ie, each of the real estate in Hong Kong is held under leasehold title. Hence, those who are interested in property investment buy an agreement or a lease for a period ranging from 50 to 999 years.

A real estate or property in Hong Kong can be either solely owned by one person or through jointly by several investors. However, joint investment may be usually in the form of tenant or a joint tenancy. Further, a property can also be owned through a company structure. But, in case, if a company would like to conduct its business through the purchase of a property on lease, then it should be registered with the Hong Kong Companies Registry. In addition, every type of lease should be listed at the Hong Kong’ Land Registry.

Nowadays, a large number of real estate firms and realtors are now there in order to help you find and buy your dream property in Hong Kong, no matter it is single detached home, villa, apartment, office, or industrial space. Many of them render the services of professional lawyers to help you in effectively carrying out buying procedures, such as agreement process, listing on the Hong Kong Land Registry or Hong Kong Companies Registry, tax matters, and negotiation of purchase.

In addition, there are also real estate firms providing steps to arrange mortgages for the purchase of property. But, prior to approaching a service provider, it is important to undertake an investigation with regard to their reputation and the quality of service rendered. Some firms may charge huge fee. Hence, it must be checked for. Apart from other sources such as yellow pages, magazines, and newspapers, the internet also serves as an excellent source to find the most competent service provider in Hong Kong.

No matter it is for a business trip, leisurely tour, or family matters, air journey may consume a very huge bite out of your budget. However, you needn’t have to worry about this. Nowadays, options are endless in order to enjoy air travel at a very cheap fare.

With the introduction of the concept budget airlines, alternatively known as low cost airlines, economical airlines, no-frills airlines, people including business travelers and leisurely travelers can now travel anywhere in the world, no matter you want to travel from Hong Kong to Europe or Hong Kong to Canada or US destinations.

Apart from these, you can enjoy traveling at low fares through a number of ways. If you are willing to do some leg work, it is definite that you can easily find an airline providing safe as well as quality budget travel.

One of the best ways to search for cheap flights is through the internet. With scores of airline sites on the web, you can easily find a budget flights with ease. These websites usually carry info on discounts they offer on international air travel as well as in-country travel. Some of the different methods through which these sites provide air travel discounts are :

Reduction of overhead – Many of the online air travel sites render international travel flights to anywhere in the world. This in turn allows to easily match customers to flights with considerably low overhead, thereby enabling service providers to offer flight travel at cheapest rates.

Advanced Bookings – Majority of the agencies provide considerable savings when you make air fare bookings online and in advance.

Off Day or Off Hour Flights – Some of the airline agencies provide great deals on airline by giving customers booking on flight which other travelers may sometimes not prefer to book

Unsold Seats – In some instances, airline companies provide great discounts in order to fill the unsold seats. Special deals may be provided to passengers making bookings prior to two days of the date of departure of the flight

Special Discounts – Many airlines have devised special programs in order to provide special discounts for potential customers making a great deal of flight bookings

Above all, these providers render discounts when you travel during a particular period of a year such as Christmas, New Year, or any other special occasions

However, a thorough investigation must be undertaken with regard to the reputability and the way they render discount flights, prior to approaching an online service provider. It is also important to ensure that they do not charge any kind of hidden fee. One can lean on such sources as references and reviews written by real users or passengers in order to locate a reputable budget airline.

Many of the airlines provide facilities for online ticket booking, which is not only safe and secure but also beneficial for hassle-free bookings. All you have to do is to just log into their website and inform them regarding the destination you are going to travel and date of departure. All of the rest they will take care.

One can also enjoy budget or discount air travel through different other ways including incentives on credit cards and through membership in some important travel clubs as well as certain organizations.

In some instances, credit card holders can enjoy cheap flights by utilizing these cards. In the case of travel clubs, they provide some kind of discounts on air travel for their members when they travel through some particular airlines. Apart from travel clubs, some reputable other organizations such as retirement clubs, college alumni organizations, and business clubs also provide their members discount air travel.

Above all, majority of the airlines render great incentive prices for air fares purchased or booked various weeks to months in advance. How big would be the discount will depend on the airline as well as how much earlier you have made bookings.

A budget airline provides almost the same superb services that a standard airline offers, such as excellent dining options, superb entertainment facilities, and comfortable as well as soft cabins. Additionally, some of the budget airlines render special services for passengers such as elderly travelers, children traveling alone or not accompanied by their parents, pregnant as well as passengers flying with infants, and passengers who have visual, speech, or hearing imparity.

At the beginning of 2007, when most mainstream economic analysts looked forward to what 2008 would be like, few of them got their predictions right. They all predicted slower rates of growth, both globally and in the US. But their predictions underestimated the effect of the subprime crisis, and for the most part, their predictions were quite off.

That’s a bit of an understatement, really. For the most part, they got completely blindsided by the subprime crisis. Sure, many knew that it was coming, but few realized it was going to be as bad as it was.

The big thing they missed was the huge hit the big financial companies would take when, all of a sudden the liquid, easy-to-move mortgages that they traded back and forth became as illiquid as, well, what they, in effect, were: houses. A study by the International Monetary Fund detailed recently how the valuation models analysts used for these mortgage packages simply broke down as the going got rough, and a whole lot of companies lost a whole lot of money.

So, as the world’s mainstream economic experts meet in Davos for their annual forum, the normal hyper-optimism and self-congratulations that float around the place aren’t likely to be quite so prevalent this year.

Indeed, the Commerce Department just reported that last year was the worst year for the national housing market since the Great Depression.

However, in the world’s financial capitals – New York, London and Hong Kong – the economy is still comparatively solid.

The same goes for their real estate markets. No one expects 2008 to be as kind to their real estate markets as 2007 was, but each city enjoys a

combination of limited space and significant predicted economic growth.

Indeed, in the case of the value of New York apartments, the city is relatively sheltered from the subprime crisis in two major ways: First, the city’s co-ops have kept an adequate level of regulation in place to make up for governmental malfeasance. This has largely protected the city from the direct impact of the subprime crisis. Second, the falling dollar has increased foreign demand for US housing. When foreigners think of US housing, they tend to think of NYC apartments. NYC is our most famous city – except maybe Hollywood – and citizens of other countries have thusly been buying NYC apartments at a breakneck pace.

So, even though the US financial industry, which is centered in New York City, has largely been responsible for the past two recessions, the city’s apartment market shall be relatively sheltered from the storm some of its inhabitants have brewed.

While the market definitely will not have a great year in 2008, things won’t be so bad that savvy buyers and sellers can’t make great deals, and there will most certainly be much profit to be had.

It’ll be no thanks, though, to the right-leaning economic experts meeting

in Davos this year.

Shopping in Hong Kong

Posted on 5 Aug 2014 In: Hong Kong Restaurants

Shopping in Hong Kong have been categorized from “social activity” to a “serious sport”[1][2]. It is an important part of the culture and a way of life. Few cities in the world can rival the experience from an economic, business or social standpoint.

hue”>http://www.himfr.com/buy-hue_tights/”>hue tightsHong Kong’s culture is very much dominated by consumerism. In the early Colonial Hong Kong period, the territory served as a middleman that sold far more than it consumed. Goods were largely sold via mobile hawker units or independent shops, with the majority of trade, utilities, shipping and manufacturing handled by the Hongs[3]. The establishment of banks and deposit institutions allowed people to accumulate savings, and expand their personal finance.

With significant manufacturing outputs, the economy turned around in the 1960s, setting the mall trends in motion. One of the first recognized modern shopping centre was Ocean Terminal. Daimaru opened the flood gate of Japanese goods to Hong Kong in 1966[2]. Deng Xiaoping’s 1978 Open Door Policy also made Hong Kong the definitive gateway to China[1]. The people’s mindset then begin to change from buying necessity to buying luxury.

Food and clothing supplies were always available for sale, but complex goods did not come about until the arrival of major brand name franchises. In the 1970s and 80s, items like air-conditioners, fans and refrigerators were popular items that eased the hot climate. Major increase in consumer spending continued due to the period of explosive economic growth[4].

In the late 1970s, one of the first modern shopping development was The Landmark in Central above the MTR station[2]. In 1984 Cityplaza in Taikoo Shing was also redeveloped. A large architectural project at the time was also to connect Ocean Centre to Harbour City shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui. The large mall construction movement continued into the 1990s with Pacific Place, Dragon Centre, Time Square, Plaza Hollywood and Festival Walk[2]. Developments also expanded into the New Territories.

Basic items for sale do not include duty, sales tax or import taxes[5]. Only specific import goods like alcohol, tobacco, perfumes, cosmetics, cars and petroleum products have taxes associated. For companies, there is a 17.5% corporate tax, which is lower than international standards[1].

Its proximity to manufacturing plants in China as well as being a free port provide the territory with significant advantages. Large quantities of goods could be manufactured and transported in short periods of time. Imports from Europe, Japan, US and Taiwan also add international flavor to the mix.

Convenience is a given, when most stores are tightly lined up next to one another in proximity. Tsim Sha Tsui alone offer more than 600 stores[5]. Similar statistics can be drawn from Central and numerous other areas. With its balance of international stores, shopping in Hong Kong could essentially mimic shopping around the world. Though shopping selections are based on a wide scope, ranging from the most ancient to the most hi-tech goods.

Businesses are not always catered to high-end wealthy customers, as plenty of bargains attract regular shoppers. Transportation also eases the shopping experience as MTR subway and taxis allow anyone to get around with no preceding geographical knowledge or drivers license.

Other benefits include a mild winter climate during the two most critical shopping seasons in Christmas and Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year).

Hong Kong is unique in the sense that the population is fully engaged in two very different languages. Having Cantonese derived from the Sino-Tibetan family and English from the Germanic languages family, the territory is capable of communicating with eastern or western shoppers. Merchants will find it handy to open branches in a bilingual territory. While one may argue the proficiency of English in some areas, Hong Kong, Macau and India are the only region on the GDP per capita top 50 with a 50% stake in two very different language families. The law also guarantees both Cantonese and English remain official, so bilingual sales tags and sales people are common, especially in the areas frequented by tourists.

Cultural openness is also an important factor, as Hong Kong is receptive toward selling merchandise regardless of the origin. Government believes in a hands-off policy, and do not censor, restrict or modify. An example is authentic looking toy guns.

Hong Kong is trendy and moves at a hectically fast pace. One can go shopping at a particular place, only to return a few days later to find the store completely rearranged. To survive stores must stay current, not only in merchandise but presentation.

In the mix of competition, Hong Kong has a reputation for selling counterfeits and fakes. The mishap of paying for items that turns out to be illegitimate is an ongoing problem. Items from bootleg CDs, clothing brands, watches to software have all been forged. The Hong Kong Tourism Board have introduced a plan to identify shops that offer a reliable service[5] via a 300 page book called “A Guide to Quality Shops and Restaurants”[1]. Divisions like ICAC have also taken part in the anti-corruption process. On the contrary, bargain hunting has been a controversial issue since local consumers often seek to buy imitation brand-named goods at well below market price value.

However, in recent years, this problem has shifted to mainland China, where IP laws are not enforced as strongly and prices of these counterfeit products are even lower.

Warranties and return policies vary widely depending on stores. A majority will not allow refund or exchanges if the items have been tampered with[1].

Value of Internet

According to China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC), number of Internet users in China is more than 103,000,000 in 2005.

More than half of Chinese Internet users were below 25 years of age. Out of the total, 32 per cent are students, 12 per cent are professionals and nine per cent are from business and service sectors.

People use Internet mostly for email, reading news and searching for information via search engines. Online shopping spending in China in 2005 was around RMB 9 billions, and will rise to RMB 30 billions in 2007. You can expect there will be a doubled growth in the subsequent years.

With the above figures, business persons must understand the value of using Internet to explore China market. Search engine marketing should be the most cost-effective method to reach Chinese Internet users.

China Region

In fact, China region does not only refer to the Mainland of China. You may also be aware of Hong Kong and Taiwan. Interestingly, Chinese in these 3 different areas have very different cultures due to their historical backgrounds. Even in the Mainland, people from different provinces speak totally different accents of Chinese languages and also differ in their daily life practices. For example, people in GuangDong and Hong Kong usually speak Cantonese. They speak Mandarin only when they talk with people from other provinces. Moreover, people in Mainland and Taiwan are usually not that good in English. Yet in Hong Kong, many people can speak and read English well. Therefore, you must notice the differences in order to write effective website copies to cater for different China Region readers.

Another important thing to note is that people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, GuangDong, Shanghai and Beijing usually have a higher spending power.

Search Engines in China

Major search engines in China include Baidu, Google, Sina and Yahoo. According to a study by CNNIC, Baidu has 51.5% market share, Google has 32.9%, Sina has 4% and Yahoo has 3.7%. Just based on the above figures, you may think that it should be most appropriate to spend most of your effort in Baidu and Google, right? The answer is “Yes or No. It depends!” Why?

This is because China Region is large and with complicated cultural differences. It is difficult for you to target the whole China Region unless you have millions of budget. If you are small to medium sized companies, decide your target region and focus on it first. For example, if you choose Hong Kong as your target market, I can tell you Yahoo Hong Kong is the most frequently used search engine and no almost one uses Baidu in Hong Kong!

Another point worthwhile to mention is that Google is rated the best search engine in China and the rating means a highly probable translation to its future growth in market share, according to a study made by Keynote Systems.

Paid Search Engine Marketing

Popularity in paid search engine marketing (pay-per-click) in China is increasing. Baidu, Yahoo and Google have their own programs. In order to succeed in a complicated region, search engines mainly rely on agents to sell their pay-per-click marketing. Pay-per-click is a new concept in China, and people there think it is too far too complicated. Therefore, agents usually sell paid search engine marketing by monthly flat rate according to the different schemes. It is somewhat different with the western world.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is quite a new concept in China but acceptance of this concept is increasing. Currently, there are many black-hat spammers and white-hat optimizers in the country. In China, people usually optimize for Google and Yahoo only, and use paid search engine marketing for Baidu.

The link building process in China region is somewhat different with the western world. Link exchange is uncommon in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It is far more popular in the Mainland. However, the link format is quite different. First, high quality links are usually obtained from personal/ business relationships. Second, reciprocal link format in the western world is usually composed of a Title with hyperlink and description of site but in Mainland, it is only composed of Title with hyperlink. Seems like a link farm? However, it is a common practice in China. Therefore, obtaining meaningful links in China region is no easy task.

Key Factor in Chinese Search Engine Marketing

Many people make a common mistake. Their websites do not have a Chinese version but they want to promote their website in the Mainland and in Taiwan. English may be their mother language but it is not a mother language for Chinese. To succeed, you must have a Chinese version. In addition, you need to notice that traditional Chinese is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan while simplified Chinese is used in Mainland. Sometimes, wordings used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland are also different from each other.

If you are serious in getting online sales from Chinese but are not familiar with their languages and cultures, you had better use an Internet marketing company located in the China Region to help you.

China is one of the few holiday destinations in the world ideally suited to small group touring and we are pleased to offer you an exciting choice of escorted luxury journeys & adventures through this spectacular country of ours.

With our long year’s experience, chinawondertours.com offers the straight forward tools of online confirmations with:

1. The 10 favourite spots to visit in China

2. The 10 best itinerary routes in China

3. China visa requirements

4. Weather in China

5. Safety and health in China

6. Communication means in China

Our biggest asset of this site is for:

1. Traveling on private basis

2. Traveling in small group

3. Cycling in China

4. Hotel bookings in China

The tendency in tourism world wide is a desire to travel around comfortably but independently in couple or with a small group of friends.

Chinawondertours.com has the solution as the following:

1. Classic China Tour Packages: cover the top highlight cities routes perfectly mixes the Chinese world wonders, cultural relics, imperial gardens, modern constructions and the unique breathtaking natural wonders.

2. Silk Road Tour Packages: feel the most important and charming historical cities in China, from the Great Wall to Heaven Lake and the great Southern Pasture in Urumqi

3. Tibet Tour Packages: to see the largest and highest plateau on earth. Its unique Buddhist culture, magnificent wildlife, and grand peaks have been sealed from outsiders for years.

4. Cycling China: By hiking and/or cycling tours, you will be able to go and experience things in China that ordinary tourists seldom do and discover the unique beauty of this vast country.

We promise to show you the real China and with many years experience & knowledge in organising small group tours. Our goal is to deliver above average and extraordinary choices to our clients. We don’t travel to mundane, boring, or average destinations, and don’t think you should have to either. We believe the rest of the world deserves to be explored and our specialty is finding exclusive locations and activities to excite the most world weary traveller.

We know what is worth putting into an itinerary and what to leave out. We believe in getting the balance right with a variety of different elements whilst giving you the freedom to explore and discover in your own time.

So, if touring in a large group isn’t for you and the idea of driving yourself doesn’t appeal, a small group journey might be just the answer.

We hope you enjoy planning your trip to China and look forward to having you travel with us soon.

china tour- China Wonder Tours is a leading China tour operator in China (Including Tibet and Hong Kong).We offer tour packages, customized trips covering regional flights, transfers, hotel bookings and car rentals.

Memoirs: Traveling

Posted on 2 Aug 2014 In: Hong Kong Hotels

Alrighty roo ladies and gents,

Just a quick blog entry to let you know I finally arrived in Australia this morning after the journey from hell.

Things started of brilliantly. My flight to Hong Kong from London was underbooked so I got a whole 3 seats to myself which meant I actually got some decent sleep. And the movies we’re pretty good as well, and I could have as much beer as I wanted, which contributed somewhat to the decent amount of sleep I had.

So, so far so good you must be thinking, and so was I until I got onto my connecting flight in Hong Kong. First I’m pretty sure the plane I was on was at least a third smaller than the first one I was on which meant there was absolutley no leg room unless you were somer sort of midget. Plus whereas the first flight was underbooked, this one appeared to be compensating for that fact by being over booked. At one point I was positive they were gonna ask me if I wouldnt mind having someone sitting on my lap for the journey.

I did end up sitting next to a 21 year old girl from Isreal, who at first seemed really really nice. She shared her Isrealy sweeties with me and we had a great conversation about our very different cultures.

Then about halfway through the flight we went through some pretty bad turbulance and she went absolutley mental. She kept grabbing my hand and squeezing it so hard I thought she was gonna crush my fingers to dust, then she burst into tears and started ranting and raving in Arabic in what I can only assume was some sort of prayer to her God to keep her alive, and then she took out this little book which I guessed was some sort of mini Koran or something and kept kissing it.

Overall it was pretty disturbing and I thought I was gonna have to knock her out but the air stewards came along and got her to calm down, which was a good job cause I was trying to watch Chicken Little at the time and she nearly ruined the whole film for me with her hysterics:-)

In the end she was on edge for the rest of the flight and she wouldnt even let me go the toilet without promising that I was gonna come back in case she needed to hold my hand again, which was really funny cause if the plane had crashed I kinda doubt that me being there to hold her hand woulda made much of a difference.

Anyhow I eventually made it to Sydney without any further incident. Once I got there I decided that I’d hide in the Airport for 3 hours before finally realising that if I wanted to see any of Australia I would actually have to leave the terminal. So I arranged to be dropped of at my hostel which is a bit grotty but I guess it’ll do the job. I then went for a walk down Bondi beach and the sheer volume of fit women made me forget all about my prior fears.

I then went back to my hostel, met my fellow dorm mates, two of which are 19 year old Swedish girls who seem to have absolutley no problem with stripping of right in front of me, for which I’m certainly not complaining, and now I am here writing this blog to all you guys and gals.

I know I said it was gonna be a quick one and I can see now that it’s truned into a bit of an essay but I feel I had to exorcise my demons about my first moments in my big adventure. Actually I’m beginning to regret taking this long to write the email cause I could be up in my room watching Swedish girls stripping and prancing around in their undies…. DOH!

With that thought in mind I’m gonna leave it there. I’m planning on having a quite night tonight on account of the fact I am suffering from the worst jet lag ever. Tomorrow starts the real fun.

Anyhow, take care everyone and I’ll be in touch again soon.

Cheapest Vacation Tips

Posted on 31 Jul 2014 In: Hong Kong Transportations

Vacations cost money but you do not have to be stuck on a costly holiday when there are vacation deals out there that are cheap but enjoyable. If you are on the lookout for budget travel gems, here are ways to grab a hold of the best ones:

Determine your budget range.

If you do not know what the price of your ideal cheap vacation deal is, you will have a difficulty narrowing your search. Remember that cheap do not have to be tawdry or risky. You do not have to be stuck in a roach-infested cabin with a leaking roof just so you could save some money. It is just not worth it. Decide on a budget that will get you a comfortable vacation at a lower price.

Always plan in advance.

You can not always rely on dumb luck to let a cheap vacation deal fall on your lap. You will have to be proactive enough to look for them. And that means doing your research not just about what the place you are going to has to offer, but also what other people think about it. Go to discussion forums and seek advice from people who have been to your target location and see what they did, where they stayed and where they went.

Go off season.

Another reason to plan your vacation ahead is to be able to take advantage of cheap off-season deals. Depending on which place you are going to, airfare and hotel rates experience a significant drop after all the excitement and the crowds have disappeared. The Cariban Caribbean, for example, has an off-season during the middle of April until the middle of December and you can save a lot of money going there during this period. Plus, there are a smaller number of tourists to deal with.

Plan your flights well.

When it comes to getting the cheapest flights, you can either book well ahead of your planned vacation date or get a last-minute flight. Go directly to online sites and check out the offerings. If you check the deals often enough, you will see a pattern and find the best flights to take during a particular season.

You can also slash a few bucks off your plane ticket by getting round-trip flights. They are a lot cheaper than one-way plane tickets that use different airports. Some sites to check out for cheap airfare: Air Gorilla.com, Smarter Travel.com and Cheap Air Express.com.

Go for all-inclusive vacation deals.

When you search for cheap vacation tips, ask your travel agent or resort sales reps about vacation packages that include everything: airfare, accommodation, meals and drinks. Some packages even throw in admission fees to clubs, bars, parks and attractions, along with rentals for equipment like exercise equipment, scuba and snorkeling gear and surfboards.

Do some things on your own.

Rentals are a great way to nail that cheap vacation deal. You can save a lot of money by choosing for-rent apartments, condos and houses instead of staying in a hotel. You get the room and the kitchen and you can save even more by buying and cooking your own meals. You can also rent cars and scooters and just use a tourist map to get around and visit the most interesting tourist sites.

Go to cheaper countries.

Want the oriental charm of Hong Kong but want a cheap vacation deal? Go to Macau instead. you will get the same great sites, food and history at cheaper prices. If you are going to Europe, visit places like Greece and Portugal. They are not as expensive as France and Britain and they have a charm all their own that will make your vacation unforgettable.

Flexibility is important.

Getting hold of last minute vacation deals can save you a lot of money and you do not even have to scrimp on the quality of package either. Cruise lines, for example, often offer low prices to fill the vacant spots on their ships. That is a lot better than leaving port and sailing with half-empty rooms. The only catch is that your preferred schedule may not always match the availability of the slots, so it pays to have certain flexibility.

Food For Thought: What and Where to Eat in China

I have heard it said that in China, one eats everything with four legs except a table….

This advice comes from someone who has been to China twice so consider the source. First, from my experience, do not eat in hotel dining rooms if you have better options. I recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong, Guilin and Shanghai. In Guilin, I traveled on a group tour. The hotel itself was fine but the problem is that we were only taken to the hotel restaurant to eat. The food was served in typical lazy Susan style but it was basic and bland. It was not even as good as the food at my local hometown Chinese restaurant. When I questioned one of our (American) trip leaders about this, I was told that the typical Chinese restaurant food was too “different” for Americans to tolerate hence the “safer” restaurant tourist fare.

In order to test this theory , I went out one night to a night market. Fortunately, my husband and I sat down next to a group of Shanghai businesspeople on holiday for the Ching Ming Festival. We started a conversation and soon enough, they were helping us to order from the menu. I decided on a vegetarian noodle soup type dish after one of the businessmen remarked that, “I just got the noodles with horse meat. I don’t mind that, but I won’t eat dog since I have a pet dog at home.” So, maybe our tour guide did have a point.

But, traveling to different cultures is about experiencing them, correct? Food is an integral part of that experience. In my two trips to China, the only time I became ill was eating at a Pizza Hut in Hong Kong, of all places. Mind you, I traveled all over China and not only did I eat at many local restaurants I had the good fortune to eat in peoples’ homes.

That said, it isn’t easy dining at local restaurants (or homes) unless you have a trusted local person to help. I was fortunate to be with a group that traveled all over China, with excellent Chinese guides. We ate the famous Beijing duck-thin sliced with pancakes and plum sauce as well as noodle dishes, dumplings, and the like. It was all good but it was all ordered for us by our Chinese hosts. Venturing out on my own or with a small group of friends led to a variety of experiences. In Beijing, these were mostly favorable.

During a very memorable lunch in Beijing, a small group of women and I were able to successfully order (and cook, with the servers’ help) hot pot at a restaurant in Wangfuji, the ultra

DUBAI HOTEL

Dubai’s hotel sector is set to expand dramatically over the coming years. In 2006 Dubai hotel occupancy rates were the highest in the world at 86%.

If you look closer at the 5 star hotel segment the occupancy rates are even higher at 92%. This is even with the highest price per room at $232 US. These rates are even greater than the 5 star price per room night of cities such as New York and Paris.

The Dubai tourism boom is fueling these lofty numbers and are expected to increase their 5 million annual visitors to 15 million by 2012. Most of this boom is being driven by the city run airline Emirates. Emirates has 80 direct flights to destinations around the world and is expecting to add another 20 destinations over the next few years.

Dubai’s hotel sector is set to add a Palazzo Versace and the first Trump International project outside of North America. It is no mistake that the Trump organization has spotted Dubai as its first step into the region to begin its international branding initiative.

The tourism boom spearheaded by Emirates has been strategically driven by acting initially as the stopover point for Europeans and Asian connecting through their respective continents.

The strategy has now expanded into Australia and North America with new destinations such as San Francisco and Chicago to be announced pending airline orders. Additionally given the initial demand for its Australian and its lone North American destination New York Emirates has added additional daily flights.

Much of its future focus will be on capturing the North American market similar to what they have done in Australia in addition too aggressively going after the China market. Initial destinations of Hong Kong and Shanghai and now Beijing show Emirates is committed to China.