If you’re ready to plan your next trip but you’re not looking for another week on the beach, check out a couple of our favourite city breaks from Hong Kong. No more than a four-hour flight away, these cities offer up new experiences, bustling streets and even better food! Whether you’re after the best Korean barbecue, are desperate to get up close and personal with pandas, or want to watch the sunset from atop a pagoda, these spots are definitely worth a visit…
Seoul is one of the coolest cities I’ve ever visited. If you’re from London, the closest thing I can compare this city to is a trendier version of Shoreditch. Filled with coffee houses, bars and plenty of places to shop, I loved wandering the streets and finding cool and quirky independent boutiques. The food is also incredible, so get ready to fill up on Korean barbecue, Korean fried chicken and a whole lot of beer! I highly recommend the barbecue from Maple Tree House, which has several locations in the city.
To explore the culture, make sure to take the time to see Leeum, Samsung 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.
Sassy Tip: Although it’s not traditional Korean cuisine, the Korean-Mexican fusion at Vatos Urban Tacos is great. Order plenty of tacos and sample the Makgeolitas (made with tequila and Korean rice alcohol) – be warned, they’re deceivingly strong!
One of the shortest flights from HK, it’s easy to hop on HK Express or a China Airlines flight straight after work 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
Sassy Tip: If you’re able to stay for an extra day 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.
With so much to do, see and eat, Japan’s capital city is a buzzing metropolis of activity! Make a trip to Tsukiji Fish Market and try to get there as early as possible (the tuna auction is a great watch, but starts at 3am!). It’s the best place to pick up some amazingly fresh fish – think massive oysters, incredible sushi and sashimi, along with wholesale fish to purchase.
If you can, try to visit Tokyo in April and catch the famous Sakura (cherry blossom) that lines the streets. 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 have time and are a gamer at heart, I also love paying 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!)
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 and sake
Sassy Tip: While you’re there, try to scope out a couple of Tokyo’s small bars for a backstreet brew! If you’re travelling to Japan for a week or more, I would also suggest purchasing a JR pass (prices start at around $2,000 for a seven-day pass), and can be used on JR lines in Tokyo and to travel further afield via the Shinkansen (bullet train).
Read more: Your Japan Travel Itinerary: Where To Stay, Eat & Explore In Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka
Mainland China has a lot to offer for a quick trip. If you’re a lover of all things spicy, a must visit is Chengdu. As the capital of the Sichuan Province, expect to devour hot pots, laden with fiery peppercorns. Another obvious draw has got to be the Pandas. Visit The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding along with the Leshan Giant Buddha, before heading out for a night at Chengdu’s very own LKF!
Fly To: Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
Flight Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Best For: Spicy food and panda sightings
Sassy Tip: The easiest way to navigate the city is to hire a driver, who will also be able to help with any translations. Go-to guy, Mickal comes highly recommended on TripAdvisor and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more: Your Chengdu Travel Guide: Where To Stay, Eat & Explore
Myanmar is top of our list this year. Fly to Yangon in just over three hours and spend your time exploring Myanmar’s capital city and eating your way around its many restaurants.
Catch the sunset from Shwedagon Pagoda and explore Kandawgyi Park in the evening (when the sun isn’t at its hottest!). If you want to go further afield, you can either fly or a take a night bus to Bagan, where you’ll find plenty more food to chow down on, but most of all, pagodas! The best way to get around is by bike, which you can easily rent in the area.
Fly To: Yangon International Airport
Flight Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Best For: Pagoda hoping!
Sassy Tip: Make sure to scope out somewhere to try a Tea Leaf Salad, and head to 999 Shan Noodles, a little hole in the wall serving up the best noodles in Yangon.
Read more: A Weekend In Singapore: Where To Stay, Eat & Explore
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2017 by Annie Simpson and was updated in October 2019.