By Cecilia Yee
Sometimes a short break is all you need to re-energise your body and mind; here are seven great destinations, all within a three-hour flight of Hong Kong.
Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful places in China, Guilin is famous for its incredible scenery, with rivers and peaks covered in lush greenery. Located in Guangzi Zhuang province, south of the border with Hunan province, the region boasts rugged mountains, crystalline rivers, and verdant forests, providing a welcome escape for city dwellers.
Flight time: Around 1 hour 25 minutes.
Where to stay: Banyan Tree Yangshuo or Shangri-La Hotel Guilin (for couples) and Club Med Guilin (for families).
VIETNAM: Hoi An
It’s easy to see why Hoi An, with its charming fusion of Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and French architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This small, atmospheric, picture-perfect city can be easily explored on foot. Wander down to the Thu Bon River and watch traditional boats float past, see farmers and fishmongers hauling their goods to market, and enjoy the fragrant aromas from the colourful food stalls which can be found on almost every street corner.
Flight time: Around 1 hour 50 minutes to Danang. Hoi An is a 30-minute taxi ride from the airport.
Where to stay: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai (for couples) and Sunrise Premium Resort Hoi An (for families).
Words you will often hear associated with Taipei include underrated, friendly and diverse. Taipei city is very much a cosmopolitan capital and a pleasant blend of the modern and the traditional. In the 1980s, concrete apartment blocks made way for green, leafy boulevards and trendy eateries, giving Taipei tourism a little wink and a nudge in the right direction. Though the streets may be lively and colourful, there are pockets of serenity everywhere with cathartic walking trails, dynastic temples and natural hot springs just minutes from the heart of the action.
Flight time: Around 1 hour 50 minutes.
Where to stay: W Hotel Taipei or The Humble House (for couples) and Grand Hyatt Taipei (for families).
Okinawa’s blue skies, white sands, and consistent subtropical temperatures make it a great escape at any time of year. The Churaumi Aquarium and WW2 memorials keep you occupied in town, while castle ruins and waterfall trails tempt you into the countryside. Most, however, head to Okinawa for its beautiful seas, and they do not disappoint. For the best beaches, hop over to Miyako-jima or Zamami. No matter which island they’re on, snorkelers and scuba divers are sure to delight in the clear waters and abundant coral offshore.
Flight time: Around 2 hours 30 minutes.
Where to stay: Hyakuna Garan (for couples) and InterContinental Manza Beach Resort or Club Med Kabira Beach (for families).
CAMBODIA: Siem Reap
Siem Reap is home to the majestic remnants of the Khmer Empire and some of the most iconic temples in the world. A chic resort town in close proximity to world-famous Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is equally loved for its excellent hotels, food and nightlife. A city that exemplifies the paradoxes of Cambodia as a country, Siem Reap offers a startling contrast between rich and poor, and tradition and modernity.
Flight time: Around 2 hours 35 minutes.
Where to stay: Belmond La Residence D’Angkor (for couples) and Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa (for families).
An incredibly diverse destination, Cebu caters to every type of visitor, from culture vultures and foodies to beach bums and divers. Close to the airport are lavish beachside resorts, perfect for those looking for quick getaways from Hong Kong. In the other direction, Cebu is a different kettle of fish, boasting the Philippines’ oldest church and a ruined Spanish fort. Take the time to explore this massive island and discover hidden gems from stunning waterfalls to secluded beaches.
Flight time: Around 2 hours 50 minutes.
Where to stay: Abaca Boutique Resort (for couples) and Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan or Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa (for families).
THAILAND: Chiang Mai
Known as ‘The Rose of the North’ and surrounded by lush mountains, wild jungles and sprawling countryside, Chiang Mai is as beautiful as it is diverse. Spend your time visiting sacred temples, exploring the city’s streets, taking Thai cooking classes or setting out on wildlife adventures. With friendly locals, a tropical climate all year round, and some of Thailand’s best regional cuisine, Chiang Mai is fast becoming a hot spot for tourists the world over.
Flight time: Around 2 hours 50 minutes.
Where to stay: Anantara Chiang Mai (for couples) and Sunrise Shangri La Hotel Chiang Mai (for families).
Contact Flight Centre on 2870 2776, visit www.flightcentre.com.hk, or contact DB-based rep Natalie Flyazhenkova on 2829 2006.