Many newlyweds are so exhausted after their “I dos” that they just want to collapse on an idyllic beach somewhere, adorned fruity drink in hand, and do nothing. But then after a few days of complete relaxation, for some at least, boredom sets in. Hey, life on a paradisiacal island in the middle of nowhere can get repetitive after 10 days. For anyone fearing this situation there is a solution: Hong Kong. It may sound like the opposite of a tropical oasis if you’re unfamiliar, but actually it shares some important attributes and goes way beyond to provide a little bit of everything honeymooners might just be seeking. Oh, and it’s hot almost all the time (October to April are perfect months when it’s not too humid yet very green). Let us break it down.
1. There are beaches in Hong Kong—gorgeous ones.
Upon arrival in Hong Kong it’s clear this is no standard big city. There’s a lot of green, and a lot of blue—with the South China Sea waters sometimes backing up to totally beautiful sandy beaches. One such place is in Repulse Bay, a place whose name betrays it since the real estate here (think Hong Kong’s Malibu) is the most expensive in the world. Get the sand between your toes that any good honeymoon should require in the New Territories, like at Sao Kung island. In fact, parts look more like the islands of the Philippines or Indonesia than what you’d expect of a place closer to China. Head, for example, to Sharp Island, an ancient supervolcano that has along natural sandbar bridge connecting it to Kiu Tau Island, and you may forget all about the Maldives.
2. And not just beaches but water sports.
Not to worry, your dreams of standup paddleboarding in aquamarine water can’t be quashed by a “city” honeymoon, since that and much more is possible around Hong Kong’s wide open waters. The pursuits will take you off the beaten path a bit, since despite the fact it’s easily accessible there’s still minimal outdoor tourism in the area. Still, it’s not hard to get out on a boat, big or small, and cruise around the emerald sea, island hopping on deserted beaches as you go, and swimming in the warm crystalline water. The UNESCO Global Geopark is home to amazing 400-million-year-old sedimentary rocks, and these landforms make the landscape just epic. Make sure to bring a SUP board or kayak on the boat, for little adventurous excursions into caves and through towering archways, or try wake boarding or wake surfing off a speed boat. And hop in for a snorkel, too. There are even actual surf breaks that attract swell-seekers for fun sessions in a dreamy landscape.
3. Another surprise perk: nature!
Few people are aware that there are 24 national parks around Hong Kong—you could even go camping! There are mountains galore, often furry-looking green ones covered with thick foliage, perfect for hiking in partial shade since it’s so humid. In fact, 70 percent of the land of Hong Kong is verdant. Take the Dragon’s Back hike for a bit of physical heart-pumping activity before plopping down on the gorgeous beach that’s your treat at the end, or another trek to Daiwong Beach. Right in the city are a couple peak hikes that are unbelievable for sunrise or sunset, or even after dark when the glittering lights take over the atmosphere. Take things up a notch with a helicopter ride high over it all.
4. There are cool cultural pursuits.
One of the best things about Hong Kong is what’s all around it, and while the heart of the city is super modern, the extremities tend to be very traditional, a cool juxtaposition to experience. Head to the lesser populated dramatic landscape of Lantau Island to climb up to the Big Buddha, aka Tian Tan Buddha, a massive bronze statue weighing 250 tons and Po Lin Monastery, where fascinating and vibrant shrines and icons captivate. For more exercise there’s the Wisdom Path and subtly steeper Lantau Peak hike, for impeccable views. While out and about, check out the stilted fishing village of Tai O (called the “Venice of the Orient”) and its boat rides in search of famously elusive pink dolphins. Culturally speaking, a worthwhile outing is to Sham Shui Po—easily reached on the super clean and efficinet MTR “subway” system—which has hardly changed since the ‘60s. History buffs might appreciate a stop at YHA Mei Ho House museum, which brings to life the resettlement housing from the ‘50s and tells the story of Hong Kong’s people. Along here, the Michelin Guide also recommends the Kung Woo Beancurd Factory, where you can sample half a dozen takes on tofu pudding. In the midst of this history there is some newness, though, like the hipster hostel Wontonmeen, with the trendy Urban Coffee Roaster cafe in front and jazz nights and game nights.
5. All those Michelin stars.
Any foodie worth his or her salt is fully aware of Hong Kong’s reputation as a culinary capital of the world—after all it currently has nearly 100 Michelin stars. T’ang Court at the Langham is one of those with three sought-after sparklers, and is a beyond special place to share a memorable wine-paired meal with your honey. The concept reflects the Tang Dynasty but the mouthwatering Cantonese flavors of abalone, lobster, Kagoshima beef and even bird’s nest—served in true fine-dining form, and around a large lazy susan—are reflective of today’s palettes. The Four Seasons’ Lung King Heen was actually the first three-star Chinese restaurant in the world, known for its beloved Peking duck, which goes nicely with soju or Beijing wine selected by the expert sommelier. Even without Michelin stars, the proliferation of excellent restaurants, like May Chow’s Happy Paradise. ensures you can finally put that pre-wedding diet to bed and indulge with abandon.
6. It’s super easy to get there.
It may not seem like a snap to go halfway around the world (from America, at least), but surprisingly it’s pretty darn easy when you’re talking about Hong Kong, a single-leg journey from major U.S. cities serviced by several airlines. It’s like a gateway to the rest of Asia. Of those Hong Kong Airlines is rapidly expanding, and has one of the dreamiest yet most affordable business class products around, making it an easy choice when embarking on this all-important fantasy vacation. Lie-flat seats are practically roomy enough for two, and the TV screens make staying entertained while sipping free-flowing bubbly or booze (alongside creative cuisine) practically guaranteed, especially when beside your love. The other perk is that it’s an easy hop to dozens of other Asian destinations, so pairing a few days in Hong Kong with, say, Bali, is a no-brainer and cuts down on jet lag, too.
7. Luxury hotels that make your holiday.
You’ll most definitely feel like royalty for a good portion of your trip, especially when ensconced in the incredible hotels the city boasts. On the Hong Kong side there’s exquisite and hyper opulent Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong (the views are to die for) and boutiquey Upper House, a smaller five star option known for prioritizing privacy and personalized service. The standouts in more authentic and slightly gritty Kowloon—preferred by many since you actually get the view of Hong Kong from there, and it’s just a 5 minute ferry ride across—are the Peninsula Hong Kong (famously the grand dame hotel at 90 years old, with telescopes in its Deluxe Harbor View Suites and bathtubs with city views) and The Langham, Hong Kong, where there’s a menu of scented pillows from which to choose, not to mention luxe tubs, a nearly constant stream of bites and rosé or bubbles for those on the Club level, super plush beds and a glittering rooftop pool that is majorly Instagrammable. Speaking of, the Ozone Bar at the tip top of the Ritz-Carlton is deserving of a photo op, too.
8. From tea to tipples, you won’t go thirsty.
Begun by the Peninsula decades ago, and now a time-honored tradition in and around Hong Kong, tea is a major activity. At that hotel the experience transports you to another time. You could almost think of it as a meal in and of itself, and it should be leisurely and delicious—not unlike a honeymoon. The sign of lasting British influence is a whole affair, and all the hotels—from five-star down to one—offer their version, with the best including not only tea, scones and sandwiches but fine bubbly and a massive tiered tray of treats that look like they came from Alice in Wonderland. If you start imbibing at tea time and wish to continue, first watch a magical sunset from Paper Moon on the Ocean Terminal Deck and then set out for an evening of imaginative bars. J. Boroski is a secretive bar concept based around creating highly personalized and fresh custom cocktails for guests of the dark, moody space dependent on their requests—like “mezcal, tart, mysterious.” There’s even a naughty little room that honeymooners might want to visit for a laugh. Next door The Iron Fairies sets the mood with dozens of candles and hundreds of laser-cut butterflies, while The Old Man is a Hemingway-themed bar that celebrates the author’s favorite libation: rum.
9. Dim sum: again it comes back to food.
You can’t go to Hong Kong and not eat dim sum. It’s pretty unavoidable since it’s ubiquitous and cheap, but you’ll want the very best. The Cantonese specialty is done beautifully in the super authentic and utilitarian environs of Kim Shan, near the Temple Street Night Market bazaar, where adventurous eaters can really go with scrapbook-worthy food moments. Also try Maxim’s Palace in City Hall, and Mott 32 for the best BBQ pork in Hong Kong. The absolute must-go when talking dim sum, however, is Tim Ho Wan, one of the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants on the globe. There’s never not a line, but the flavors—think platters of steaming pork buns, egg cake, fried noodles, dumplings and glutinous noodles—are beyond.