Hard though it may be to admit, we’ve left the best of the long weekends in the first part of the year. That means a week-long holiday is going to require some serious forward planning and careful budgeting of annual leave allowances – right? Wrong! If you’re looking for a whirlwind adventure on a whim, then you’re in luck, as there are dozens of holiday destinations just a short flight from Hong Kong. Once you’ve sussed out the seasons (wet and dry, as winter is less of a concern in Southeast Asia), you’ll want to keep these destinations on your radar for a last-minute getaway.
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, Hoi An offers a seamless blend of old-world charm and contemporary comforts. The Old Town (a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site) is filled with historic sight-seeing, plus the opportunity to take a cooking class, sample local delicacies, or people watch at artisan coffee shops and wine bars. Flights from Hong Kong arrive in Da Nang – well worth a stop-over if you’re looking to squeeze in some beach time, too.
When to go: February to July
Kota Kinabalu provides island adventures for all who venture there. From leisurely island hopping to snorkelling and diving to some serious trekking (Mount Kinabalu is the archipelago’s tallest mountain at over 4,000 metres). Direct flights from Hong Kong take just three hours. Interested travellers are advised to visit between May and September, or to try their luck and book a trip on the tail end of wet season.
When to go: May to September
Known as the island Hong Kongers love to hate, Singapore has a lot in store for a quick weekend trip. The island boasts a Universal Studios, seaside resort facilities on Sentosa Island, and an incredible array of food across its many hawker centres (Lau Pa Sat and Newton are firm favourites). The equatorial island is hardly seasonal – think hot and wet and hot and less wet – so it’s a fairly safe bet for year-round travel. This is a great place for young families to travel, especially those with active tots.
When to go: February to May
On the southern tip of Thailand, Phuket is the perfect family beachside holiday. With a whole host of family-friendly hotels and resorts, water sports, and activities to keep even the most excitable of thrill-seekers entertained, there’s something for everyone. There are daily flights from Hong Kong, both direct and via Bangkok. Monsoon season tends to last from May to October, but if you’re willing to chance the beginning or the end of the season you could have blue skies and perfect weather for a fraction of the price. But best bring a book — just in case.
When to go: November to April
The tropical Indonesian island paradise has been off the tourist radar for some months now, owing to the plumbing Mt Agung and its looming threat of eruption. With its threat level lowered and just a few weeks left remaining of the rainy season, it’s high time to head back. Bali’s seasons are the opposite to Phuket, which means you’re never short of an option for a quick beach holiday. Endless white sandy beaches, sprawling rice terraces, and the option to take part in (or steer clear of) a thriving night-life scene – what more could you ask for?
When to go: May to September
Taipei is a popular destination for weekend travellers from Hong Kong, and for good reason. Less than a two-hour flight away, the city boasts a whole host of cultural and culinary offerings. Known for its street food and night markets, you’d be forgiven if you never made it to a restaurant! Heed our warnings though, as Taipei suffers from torrential downpours and is frequently hit by typhoons, so checking the weather forecast before you visit is well worth your while.
When to go: November to May
As tempting as a beachside retreat might sound, sometimes luck just isn’t on your side. At times like these, a city break is in order, and there are few better places than Bangkok. A visit to the famed Chatuchak Market could help re-furnish your flat, while the city’s many rooftop bars offer the perfect place to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand. Though monsoon season runs from July to October and can leave some serious flooding in its wake, there’s plenty to do indoors to occupy yourself year-round.
When to go: November to June