Looking for the best city breaks near Hong Kong? Why not book a direct flight out to Seoul for a shopping spree or hit the hawker centres in Singapore?
If you’re ready to plan your next trip but are not looking for another weekend on the beach, check out our favourite destinations that are direct flight away from Hong Kong. No more than a five-hour flight away, these city breaks offer up new experiences, bustling streets and food worth travelling for! Whether you’re after some cheap eats at Singapore’s hawker centres, would like to spend a day with a herd of elephants in Chiang Mai, or want to stock up on Korean skincare, these spots are definitely worth a visit…
Seoul, South Korea
Filled with coffee houses, bars and plenty of places to shop, Seoul is a great city for those who love to wander through streets and discover cool and quirky independent boutiques. Needless to say, the food is also incredible. Get ready to fill up on Korean barbecue, Korean fried chicken and a whole lot of beer! We recommend the Korean BBQ chain Maple Tree House, which has a few locations across the city.
To explore the culture, reserve some time to visit the Leeum Museum of Art, which has contemporary, modern art and interactive exhibits along with traditional pieces. The building alone is pretty impressive, with plenty to gawk at as you walk through.
Sassy Tip: Seoul also happens to be one of the most credit-card friendly cities in the world, with pretty much everywhere (including taxis) accepting contactless card payments, so there’s no need to carry around lots of foreign currency if you’re only going for a short trip!
Fly To: Incheon International Airport
Flight Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes
Best For: A cool and modern city break, juxtaposed alongside the old Seoul, highlighted by areas such as Bukchon Hanok Village and the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
With so much to do, see and eat, Japan’s capital city is a buzzing metropolis of activities! Make a trip to Tsukiji Fish Market and try to get there as early as possible (the tuna auction is a trilling watch, but starts at 3am!). It’s the best place to pick up some amazingly fresh seafood – think massive oysters, incredible sushi and sashimi, along with wholesale fish to purchase. In the evening, try to scope out a couple of Tokyo’s small bars or izakaya for a backstreet brew!
If you want to catch the famous Sakura (cherry blossom) that lines the streets, try to visit Tokyo in April. Ueno Park is beautiful when in full bloom. Explore the lake in a pedalo or rowing boat, which are available to hire, and don’t forget to check out the buzzing food market during Sakura season. If you’re a gamer at heart, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to one of Tokyo’s arcades. Many are open 24-hours a day and have floors full of all imaginable games, great to have a go at (or you can just watch the experts!).
Sassy Tip: If you’re travelling to Japan for a week or more, I would also suggest purchasing a JR pass (prices start at around $1,700 for a seven-day pass), and can be used on JR lines in Tokyo and to travel further afield via the Shinkansen (bullet train).
Fly To: Tokyo Narita International Airport is a little further out from the city (about 50 minutes via the Narita Express) but has more flights available – or Tokyo Haneda International Airport is only about 8km away from Tokyo Station
Flight Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes
Best For: Sushi, sake and sakura
One of the shortest flights from HK, it’s easy to hop on HK Express or a China Airlines flight straight after work on Friday and be back in time for Monday morning. The streets of Taipei are great to explore by foot and the famous night markets are a must. With street food galore, make sure you fill up on Pepper Pork Buns and other delights from Raohe Street Market after a day of window gazing and shopping in Taipei 101.
Fly To: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport
Flight Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Best For: Street food and stationery
Sassy Tip: If you’re able to stay for a couple extra days and want to get out of the city, catch a train to Hualien (around two and a half hours away), rent a scooter and spend the day cruising and taking in the epic scenery from the lookout spot at Qingshui Cliffs.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Choosing between Vietnam’s main cities can be tricky, but you can’t go wrong either way. Ho Chi Minh’s airport is much bigger compared to Hanoi’s, so it’s generally cheaper to fly there directly from Hong Kong. Watch out for zooming motorcycles as you explore the city.
There’s a lot of culture to soak up in Ho Chi Minh city – history buffs can visit the War Remnants Museum, which contains exhibits relating to the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War. Food-wise, you can find a mix of traditional and fusion cuisine. Taking its cue from the French, the city boasts a number of rooftop bars and restaurants that sty open till late.
Fly To: Tan Son Nhat International Airport
Flight Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Best For: History buffs and nightlife
Want to experience the “Crazy Rich Asians” life? Book a stay at Marina Bay Sands (Or Raffles if you really want to splash out!), where you lounge by the Insta-famous infinity pool. Lucky for your wallet, it’s free to visit Gardens by the Bay and to watch the light show, and food from the Hawker centres (like Newton Food Centre, which was featured in the movie) are crazy cheap, so you won’t have to completely break the bank.
Fly To: Singapore Changi Airport
Flight Time: 3 hours, 4 minutes
Best For: Hawker centres and shopping
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2017 by Annie Simpson and was updated by Nicole Moraleda in October 2022.