Last updated at 12:35 11 April 2005

Whilst 1990s Johannesburg would regularly compete for the dubious honour of 'World's Least Desirable Tourist Destination', if you dare to scratch beneath this nightmare reputation you will find that 21st century Jo'burg is a vibrant hot-bed of activity, with friendly and hospitable people embracing cultural diversity in the spirit of reconciliation and regeneration.

Jo'burg acknowledges its past and the newly-opened Apartheid Museum presents a remarkably well-balanced journey through those years, whilst Museum Africa, hidden within the thriving central districts, is a worthy reminder of South Africa's chequered history. Neighbouring Gold Reef City is great fun, though less authentic.

An essential if over-commercialised tour focuses on Soweto, South Africa's most famous township.

The corrugated-iron shacks provide a sharp contrast to the distant corporate skyline, and mesmerising a group of locals with my football skills was a particular highlight.

Jo'burg offers a magnificent range of shopping facilities, from purely functional to the wallet-stripping excess of Sandton City. Although you lose sense of Africa amongst the designer labels, be sure your bartering skills are well-honed for any one of the bustling flea markets, with Rosebank and Bruma probably the pick.

Any culinary palate or stomach capacity can be amply satisfied in Jo'burg, though the Carnivore offers a curious twist by serving wild meats on an 'all-you-can-eat' basis. For nightlife, Melville boasts an abundance of bars, clubs, music and entertainment with enough variety to cater for any taste.

Johannesburg deserves greater recognition than simply as a convenient 'Gateway to the Rainbow Nation'.

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