Be Right Back: Luxury Destinations Less Than 5 Hours Away From Hong Kong
1/7 Da Nang, Vietnam—2 hours
Vietnam continues its steady climb to becoming one of Asia's top destinations for a tropical escape, thanks in large part to Da Nang. The former French colonial port is now bustling with cultural and culinary offerings, white sand beaches and some truly beautiful places to stay. Don't forget to stop by historic Hoi An—with lantern-lined streets, old shophouses and an 18th-century Japanese bridge, this charming corner of the world is one that's lost in time.
Where to stay: Designed by renowned architect Bill Bensley, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort boasts a bold black and white colour palette throughout its 201 luxurious rooms, suites, penthouses and villas. With lush mountains behind and endless ocean ahead, you'll feel at one with nature in no time.
If it's wellness you're after, Naman Retreat offers traditional methods of healing—from holistic spa treatments to yoga and tai chi—in a stunning modern setting just steps away from the beach.
2/7 Siem Reap, Cambodia—2 hours 45 minutes
Adventurers have flocked to Siem Reap since the 1900s, and despite its darker years under Pol Pot, it has proven to be a city built on resilience. Aside from incredible Angkor Wat, Siem Reap has stolen tourists' hearts with its fresh crop of chic hotels and trendy cafes that embrace Cambodian style and tradition while moving it into the future.
Where to stay: Leafy tropical gardens, a state-of-the-art spa and classic Cambodian architecture, Belmond La Residence d'Angkor immerses its guests in the spirit of Cambodia while offering all the modern comforts of a five-star hotel. Best of all, it gives back to the community by employing local trainees and supporting the area's orphans and schools.
The property that is now Amansara was once a residence for the king's guests. Through thoughtful renovation, it's been restored to its former glory enhanced with a touch of contemporary design. Just 10 minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor Archaeological Park, Amansara offers guests one-of-a-kind customised itineraries including cycling through crowd-free ruins, meditation in an ancient forest and more.
3/7 Chiang Mai, Thailand—3 hours
Though just as laidback, Northern Thailand feels like another world compared to its beachy southern shores, with Burmese-style temples and ornately carved teak houses set against a backdrop of rainforest and jungle. Today it is home to an array of artist communities living side by side with hilltribes, cool boutiques and galleries and of course—being the home of Isaan cuisine—some of Thailand's best street food.
Where to stay: 137 Pillars House certainly has that "wow" factor down pat with its dramatic features perfectly balanced with understated luxury. Located in the trendy Wat Gate district, it's the perfect base for perusing Chiang Mai's markets and temples.
The Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle is, in a word, legendary. Boasting 15 ridiculously luxurious tents and a two-bedroom Explorer's Lodge, it is located in a spectacular bamboo forest on the border of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, overlooking the Mekong River. For animal lovers, there's even a chance to interact with and care for rescued elephants.
4/7 Tokyo, Japan—3.5 hours
There is so much to say about Tokyo, and yet nothing really needs to be said at all. It is simply one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world, and no matter how many times you visit, there's always something new to discover that will inspire all senses. From beautiful parks to bustling cityscapes, zen gardens to contemporary art galleries, traditional cuisine to innovative gastronomical experiences, there is always a good reason to go to Tokyo.
Where to stay: Aman Tokyo offers the calm charm and authenticity of traditional Japanese bathhouses while inviting the city's electric energy in through soaring floor-to-ceiling windows. In a sentence? It's a ryokan in the sky.
The Peninsula Tokyo is a work of art. From the exteriors, which architect Kazukiyo Sato designed to resemble a traditional Japanese lantern, to the imposing bamboo sculpture that dominates the lobby by artist Japanese designer Keisen Hama. The rooms offer sweeping views of Tokyo and the service is Peninsula perfect.
See also: 48 Hours In Tokyo
5/7 Chengdu, China—3 hours 50 minutes
With skyscrapers sitting side by side with Qing Dynasty siheyuan (courtyard houses), and with high-end fashion labels on the same streets where traditional Chinese marionettes and spun sugar sculptures are showcased, Chengdu is truly a city of contrasts. Not to mention it was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, so head here to get your fix of authentic Sichuan cuisine straight from the source.
Where to stay: The third chapter of Swire Hotels' luxurious and design-centric House Collective, The Temple House "celebrates a city with a rich and fabled past and extremely exciting future." Built around Biteshi, a beautifully restored sihueyan built over 100 years ago, the hotel is a masterpiece of craftsmanship with the five-star service and amenities to match.
If it's total opulance you're after, then book yourself into the St. Regis Chengdu. It's the quintessential five-star experience with stellar service and spacious, luxurious rooms decked with plush furnishings. Not to mention its very Instagrammable indoor pool, which boasts panoramic skyline views, coloured lighting and private poolside dining.
6/7 Seoul, South Korea—4 hours
K-pop, Korean BBQ and cosmetics that have taken the world by storm; South Korea's influence on global pop culture is second to none. So it's no surprise that its epicentre, Seoul, is at the top of many travellers' lists. Amongst its historic and spiritual offerings—including its breathtaking Joseon Dynasty palaces—it's a city where the soju is cheaper than water and where brilliant young creatives are patientily waiting to take on the world.
Where to stay: For art lovers and the creatively inclined, Ryse is the place to be. Its industrial-chic interiors are met with earthy, pastel touches and colourful artworks, its 15th floor rooftop bar houses a stellar vinyl collection and its restaurant, Long Chim, is indeed that of Australian chef David Thompson's renowned restuarant chain.
You can tell a lot of thought and love has gone into the design at Park Hyatt Seoul. The stone baths and lattice screens are a nod to the past, while floor to ceiling windows open to arresting views of the World Trade Center and surrounding skyscrapers, painting a Tron-like picture of Korea thats particularly impressive at night. On the lower level floor, The Timber House is one of the best jazz bars in town.
7/7 Bali, Indonesia—5 hours
A trip to the Island of the Gods is never a bad idea. Whether you’re looking for a lush jungle hideaway or laidback beachfront bliss, Bali’s rich and diverse landscape offers all forms of relief from the stresses of city life. From spiritual experiences to surf lessons, it won’t be hard to pack plenty of adventure into your itinerary—even if it’s just or a few days.
Where to stay: Head for the hills and escape into the Balinese jungle at Amandari. Its stunning villas boast interiors that blend local touches—from coconut and teak wood accents to artistic details by local artisans—with all of the appropriate modern comforts, with a select few featuring private emerald-green pools that melt into the lush Ayung Valley that surrounds.
If you want to be amongst Bali's flow of high-brow hippie types, book yourself into Como Uma Canggu for chic surf vibes. Located in the island's coolest enclave, there's no shortage of healthy eateries, wellness centers and chic bars and restaurants.
See also: 7 Healthy Eating Havens In Bali