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Brief side trip from Hong Kong in August. Destination suggestions?

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Mar 18th, 2012, 03:47 PM
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Brief side trip from Hong Kong in August. Destination suggestions?

Cliff Notes: Wife and I are traveling to Hong Kong in August and want to take a 4-5 days to do a side trip somewhere relatively close and cheap, but more "exotic". Looking for advice.

Long Version: My wife and I are going to Hong Kong on business in August. We have about 3-4 days of work there, but we figured if we have to fly halfway across the globe we might as well take it all in. The way everything worked out with airline tickets (already purchased) and the other obligations we have while there we have about 10 "free days" in Hong Kong. (6 days before business and 4 days after). After we started doing some research we started to feel like 10 days in HK might be more than we need to see/do the things we really want to do.

So now we're thinking about using a portion of those 6 straight "free days" to take a side trip from HK. (probably only 4-5 days so that we give ourselves some travel buffer room) But to where?

Relevant info about us. We aren't really "city people". Prefer outdoors and other physical activities. Although we're exciting about visiting such an impressive city, we generally get more excited about taking a hike through an exotic forest or snorkeling above a reef than shopping, going to a club, or seeing the "city sights". After a few days in a big city we both start to get a little antsy.

At first we looked at Phuket and Phi Phi island. Because they seemed to offer what we're after. (Not too far, pretty cheap, and plenty of "exotic wonders") But after some more research we became concerned that it might just rain the entire time. We're from Florida, so heat and a few thunderstorms don't bother us, we just don't want to have a high probability that we'll experience rain during our entire side trip.

So where could we go for just a few days and see and experience something very unique without getting totally rained out, flying too far, or spending too much?

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One recommendation that we're looking into and would appreciate personal experiences on is Nha Trang, Vietnam. Seems that the monsoon season hits a little later there.
Also heard that Taiwan has a lot of variety to offer.

Finally if you want to just throw in a few "off the beaten path" tips for HK or suggestions on this we could do outside of HK that might convince us to stay more local we'd love to hear that too!
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Mar 18th, 2012, 03:52 PM
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Forgot to mention that we felt the odds were too high for a typhoon in the Philippines.
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Mar 18th, 2012, 04:37 PM
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Indonesia, Java or Bali, will have nice weather in August, being their winter around then. 6 Days or 5 nights around Borobudur or Ubud would be nice. Spectacular volcanoes or rice terraces, old temples etc.
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Mar 18th, 2012, 06:09 PM
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I'd agree Bali is a good choice. Excellent weather, wide range of activities and accomodation. August is high tourist season (in Bali and other parts of SEAsia), though, so book ahead and don't expect discounts.

Central Java (Borobudur/Yogyakarta) is a great destination, but August 2012 wouldn't be the best time for a visit because of Ramadhan, the fasting month. The big Islamic holidays following Ramadhan will take place this year around August 19 and the following weeks.
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Mar 18th, 2012, 06:21 PM
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Forgot about Ramadan! Made that mistake when we visited Dubai during August.
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Mar 18th, 2012, 07:22 PM
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So would Ramadan rule out pretty much all of Indonesia and Malaysia? (Sorry, I don't have a lot of knowledge of East Asia or Islam for that matter)

Malaysia sounds cheap
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Mar 18th, 2012, 07:30 PM
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Bali is predominantly Hindu so you should not have any inconveniences with Ramadan there. I hope Marmot can confirm this!
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Mar 18th, 2012, 09:14 PM
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Hanuman is right. Ramadhan is not widely observed in Bali, except to the extent that a lot of Indonesians travel there during the Islamic holidays. It would be a factor in parts of Malaysia but not so much in the tourist areas.
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Mar 19th, 2012, 07:28 AM
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I was in KL at Ramadhan one year. It was a mistake as many places (restaurants especially) were closed.

Bali would be fine as would Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo. Malaysia is not especially cheap. It does have well developed infrastructure (it is not considered a developing country). While I loved both Sabah and Sarawak, I'm not sure what the connections are like from Hong Kong - you'd likely have to fly to either Singapore or KL in order to get there.
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Mar 19th, 2012, 07:59 AM
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Dragonair and Air Asia has non-stop HKG-BKI (Kota Kinabalu). Fairly popular destination for local HKers.
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Mar 19th, 2012, 09:19 AM
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Thanks for all the help! More research for me. Any thoughts on Vietnam or Taiwan?
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Mar 19th, 2012, 12:47 PM
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Taiwan has some lovely natural areas outside of Taipei. Thursdays wrote about them in one of her reports. I've only been to Taipei, which has an incredible museum. Go to the top of the page and choose Taiwan from the drop down menu and you'll see a list of posts about Taiwan.

The places in VN that would be easy to go in 4 or 5 days are all huge cities. To get out into the countryside, you need more time.

Since you can get to Kota Kinabalu easily, you might consider that. In the time you have, you could go to Kinabalu Park and even climb Mt. Kinabalu if you are so inclined. There is a very nice Shangri-La beach resort outside of KK you might consider. Unfortunately, you don't have enough time to get to the wild areas of Sabah where you can see orangutans. Check and see if Dragonair or Air Asia flies to Kuching, a delightful small city in Sarawak. You can get out to some wild areas closeby there.
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Apr 2nd, 2012, 08:28 PM
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Just bear in mind that 4-5 days is actually not very long when you factor in the relatively long travel time you may have, esp if you want to get to countryside areas. I think most of the above posters have mentioned this. With regard to Taiwan, which does have some really lovely countryside, this will also be the case, so look closely at travel time and how much time you would actually get to spend in the countryside with that short a period of time. Taiwan is also prone to typhoons in August, as is the Philippines (as in Hong Kong for that matter), but Taiwan and the Philippines do tend to get more severe ones.

Bali may actually be the best choice as once you get there, the island is small and it is relatively easy to get to the countryside quickly. Get a copy of the Bali Pathfinder and happy trials to you. Biking, whitewater rafting and snorkeling/diving would all be avaialbe in addition to walks and hikes and just observuing their fantastiincially interesting culture.

If I were picking a place with great beaches and snorking/diving in August, it would be the east coast of Malaysia, someplace like the Redang Island area or Tanjong Jara Resort on the mainland. See http://www.thetaaras.com/ and http://www.tanjongjararesort.com. With only 4-5 days, this area is going to be a bit of a pain to get there, as it will require connecting flights, but may be worth it. Koh Samui may also work, and may be a bit easier to get to. (I personally prefer the Malaysian islands. My first choice would be Rawa Island, but I am not sure you have the time for that.) The east coast of the Malay/Thai peninsula is dry in August, while the west coast (Phuket) is rainy.

You might consider going to the Kunming area of China, in particular Lijiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge, where you could do hikes/walks. There are non-stop flights to Kunming and from there it is a short drive to the Lijiang area. (You can also get connecting flights to Lijaing.) That may work for a short holiday. The Guilan area may also work for a short holiday.

Laos or Camdodia (i.e. Ankor Wat) may also work for a 4-5 day trip, although beaches would be less avaialbe there (or hard to fit in with that short a space of time).

I have to say that while Nha Trang is quite pretty in terms of the coastline, I find it a bit over-developed (and getting more so every day, lots of big hotels going up there). I am not sure it would fit your interests. At this point, there are no direct flights there from Hong Kong so it is kind of a pain to get there.

I can’t leave this post without saying that Hong Kong has fantastic walks and hikes. If you think it is all skyscrapers and shopping malls you have been reading the wrong guide books. About half of Hong Kong is preserved parkland, and there are excellent trials, all of which can be reached by public transport (often a great ferry ride), all are marked in English, and all can be done without guides (something which can’t be said for much of the hiking in many other countries in SE Asia, such as Borneo.) In August it will be very hot and quite humid, and there can be rain. The upside is that pollution levels are low and visibility is usually excellent so if you get a good day, there really is nothing better. An outdoor meal by the water at the end of a hike can usually always be arranged, a perfect end to a perfect day, IMO. I have volumes of suggestions for walks and hikes if you want to send me a message at [email protected] You might want to a copy of The Serious Hiker's Guide to Hong Kong by Pete Spurrier which will give you some ideas and sources of information. While I still think a short getaway outside of Hong Kong would be possible, I also would hope that during your stay in Hong Kong you will take advantage of the walks and hikes here as well.
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Apr 3rd, 2012, 02:12 AM
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Sorry, a little slow on the uptake today. If you are interested in water sports in Hong Kong, you could consider a day trip with Paul Etherington at http://www.kayak-and-hike.com. He does day kayak trip out in the Sai Kung area, which is really beautiful.

There is some snorkeling in Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park (Paul Etherington may also be able to arrange this as part of a day tour); without a car this can be a trek out and back but on a nice day could be combine with a hike and seeing some of the old villages in the area.

You could hire your own little bum boat and skipper for an afternoon going around the Sai Kung harbour area (3 hours or so about US$60) or for a bit more money hire a “junk” and spend the day someplace like the geopark area of Sai Kung, a really beautiful area, with a meal and beer/wine included, see www.jaspasjunk.com. (They run terrifc trips and if you are looking for people to join to make up numbers, let me know….) The latter would be a good idea for a group day trip for your business conference. Or join one of the Hutong restaurant’s organized junk tours to Stanely or Joss House Bay. Go to www.aqua.com.hk for info, the boat is called the Aqua Luna.
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