Must-visit vacation spots in Asia
Summer is here and we’re daydreaming of holidays; often of Europe with its food, art, culture, architecture and of course, fashion. Unfortunately, many European destinations not only involve spending countless hours on the plane, but also require larger budgets. Time and money are major factors that we can’t ignore, but luckily the experts at KAYAK.com.hk have brainstormed and come up with Asian destinations that are just as stylish and exotic as their European counterparts. They’re just easier to reach and won’t break the bank!
Seoul: as fashionable as Milan
London, Paris, Milan… Seoul? For any HK fashionista in the know, Seoul is already on the radar. For those of you who need a refresher, shopping in Seoul is your number one alternative to shopping in Milan. It takes nine hours less travelling time and saves you up to $4,000 on flights. The city’s modernity and high standards guarantee gastronomic delight, and one needs only walk the streets to see the fantastic range of fashion, modelled live by Seoul’s hip residents. Looking for more for high fashion, couture and runway items? A quick online search for Seoul Fashion Week will inspire and leave you hungry for more. For the finest in clothing, department stores and top labels, try shopping in Gangnam or Cheongdam-dong, and for truly unique couture, make sure to visit Garosugil – one of the most famous streets for fashion in all of Korea – even if it’s just to people watch. Bargain hunters will be successful in the Ewha district. The street vendors originally set up here to target students at the women’s university, so now you can indulge in high fashion at student prices!
How to get there: Flights from Hong Kong to Seoul from $2,147*
Where to stay: Best Western Premier Hotel Kukdo from $680* per double room per night
Read more: 5 Hidden Beaches in the Asian Pacific
Beijing: all the culture of London
Ok, the immediate comparisons between Beijing and London may not be apparent, but they exist and are manifold. Both are sprawling metropolises that bridge the gap between the old and the new. Modernity and history live side by side – or even right on top of each other. But one of the biggest similarities is the explosion of culture at every turn. Fancy some opera? ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ or ‘The Peony Pavilion’ are both showing; and for lovers of Chinese opera, seeing a show in Beijing is worth the trip alone. If Opera doesn’t tickle your cultural bone try The National Ballet of China, catch a performance of My Fair Lady, or see the internationally acclaimed Tao dance company. If the visual arts are your thing, you can’t go past the 798 District, a decommissioned military factory which now houses a thriving arts community showing constant exhibitions. With return flights savings around $5,500, plus a time saving of nine and-a-half hours, Beijing is the perfect Euro alternative for those of us that only have time for a short getaway.
How to get there: Flights from Hong Kong to Beijing from $1,992*
Where to stay: Novotel Beijing Peace from $567* per double room per night
Phuket: the white sand of the Mediterranean in our own backyard
White sand beaches and azure waters are the first things that spring to mind when we hear the word ‘Mediterranean’. From island hopping the archipelagos, to relaxing in a resort, or sunbathing by the beach bar, this idle contemplation of life is the ultimate way to unwind. But why not make things even more relaxing by doing the exact same thing in Phuket. After all, a flight to Athens takes on average about 15 hours and will cost around $6,000. That’s even before travelling the extra hours to the final destination beach or island. A flight to Phuket, on the other hand, costs just over $2,000, and the travel time of three-and-a-half hours. According to our calculations, those savings equate to a lot of extra cocktails and sunbathing time.
How to get there: Flights from Hong Kong to Phuket from $1,939*
Where to stay: The Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa from $294* per double room per night
Bangkok: as hip as Berlin
The word is out. Berlin is officially the hippest city in the world. Famous for its relaxed attitudes and alternative culture, there aren’t many other places like it. But for those seeking that clash between sophistication and punk attitude, Bangkok does the job on a budget. The first thing most people mention when talking about these destinations is the nightlife and with a massive travel time saving of 12 hours, you’re going to have a lot more party time. Both Berlin and Bangkok are cities that never sleep, enabling you to move from bar to party to club to breakfast, and then back to the club, without anyone batting an eyelid. Bangkok has managed to achieve that rare feat; a party city that has welcomed new rooftop bars, clubs and cocktail lounges, without losing the relaxed attitude that made it cool in the first place.
This relaxed attitude permeates all facets of life. Laid-back dining at one of the many street markets or checking out some world class street art are common activities enjoyed by everyone, not just tourists. So save yourself some serious money and travel time and invest in some serious party and holiday time instead.
How to get there: Flights from Hong Kong to Bangkok from $1,041*
Where to stay: Furama Silom from $360* per double room per night
Read more: Travel to your Favourite Film Locations
Hanoi: the Paris of Asia
Ahhh, Paris, je t’aims… The city of love. In Paris, art, food and architecture are rolled together to create the heart of Europe. Walking the streets of the French capital is something all of us should do at least once in our lifetimes, but with an average flight time of 13 hours and a cost of $6,500, you might wonder if there’s an alternative. Try Hanoi: an amazing city that ticks all the Parisian boxes. Strolling the wide, tree-lined boulevards and espying the french-style villas and cafes puts one squarely in mind of the beauty and elegance of France; but with a distinctive and unique East-meets-West twist.
This may be best experienced through food. Like Paris, Hanoi is famous for its dishes, the latter offering delectable Vietnamese and French fusion cuisine. To taste the best, book a table at Nineteen11, located in the basement of the stunning Hanoi Opera House. Beforehand, work up an appetite by taking a stroll and checking out some galleries. Considered by many to be at the centre of Southeast Asia’s burgeoning art scene; Hanoi is now the central point for young Vietnamese artists. There are dozens of brilliant art spaces and galleries showcasing the fine tradition of Vietnamese art that provide a platform for the freshest, new talent; check out the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts, l’Institut Français de Hanoï, and the hippest cafe/gallery in Hanoi, Manzi.
How to get there: Flights from Hong Kong to Hanoi from $999*
Where to stay: Sofitel Legend Metropole from $1,345* per double room per night
Top Tip: Use Trips to organise all your booking confirmations into an interactive travel itinerary that’s accessible from home, office, or on the go.
*Prices displayed are based on searches conducted on 12 June, 2016. Flight prices are based on a round trip economy fare for travel from 01-08 August, 2016. Hotel prices are for double occupancy per room per night. Prices are subject to change, availability may be limited or offers may no longer be available.