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It’s August. Everyone on your Instagram feed seems to be on a lengthy European vacation in Portofino, Puglia or Mykonos – and you’re reading this while chained to your desk. But while you might not be able to make it as far as Europe this summer, there’s a good chance you can escape the city for a quick weekender, and we’re here to provide you with a little inspiration.

Our requirements? Flights need to be non-stop and less than three hours away. We also asked ourselves, what do Hongkongers want from a weekend break? Probably the opposite of what we have now! So we took the large, metropolitan cities off the table and focused on the slower-paced destinations that feel, well, more like a holiday.

Guilin boasts a dramatic and picturesque landscape. Image by Farzaan Kassam / Unsplash

1. Guilin, China

Formed some 200 million years ago when the area was below sea level, Guilin, in China’s Guangxi province, is undeniably picturesque. Along with green hills, winding rivers and karst mountains, there are scenes of fishermen on bamboo rafts, water buffalo, and farmers in conical hats. If you find the town centre a little touristy (today it’s peppered with souvenir shops and restaurants serving everything from pad thai to pizza) escape on bike to explore the surrounding villages.

The Style Sheet’s Tip: Stay at Alila Yangshuo – housed within a restored sugar mill that overlooks the Li River, the stylish accommodation makes for a dreamy retreat after a day exploring.

Flight Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Jeju Island is home to a dormant volcano that’s a popular spot for hiking. Image courtesy of

2. Jeju Island, South Korea

Located less than 100 kilometres off the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, Jeju Island – nicknamed the Hawaii of South Korea – is home to clear blue waters, sandy beaches and a dormant volcano. It’s a popular spot for hikers, with a trek up to Hallasan, South Korea’s highest mountain, offering spectacular views of the ocean as a reward. There’s also a rising crop of luxury resorts popping up for those who simply want to soak up the subtropical weather around a pool.

The Style Sheet’s Tip: Get off your sun lounger for long enough to visit some of the island’s seriously quirky museums and exhibitions – including Hello Kitty Island and sex-themed sculpture park Love Land.

Flight Time: 3 hours

Hanoi offers travellers many enticing sights amid the chaos. Image by Neville Wootton / Flickr

3. Hanoi, Vietnam

Once you acclimatise to the slightly stressful traffic conditions – blaring horns and herds of scooters transporting cramped, helmet-less passengers – Hanoi offers plenty to enjoy: Buddhist temples, crumbing French colonial architecture, swarming markets offering textiles and local cuisine, street performances and winding alleyways peppered with places to stop for a cold beer and some people watching.

The Style Sheet’s Tip: Make sure to stop at one of the local coffee shops and ask for a cà phê trứng – a local coffee-dessert hybrid made from beaten egg yolks poured over an espresso that won’t disappoint.

Flight time: 2 hours

Okinawa is an idyllic subtropical escape. Image by Hayato Shin / Unsplash

4. Okinawa, Japan

With castle ruins and waterfall trails bordering a spectacular turquoise sea filled with an abundance of coral, Okinawa is an idyllic subtropical escape. While it’s well-known as a refuge for experienced surfers and divers, it’s actually beginner-friendly too; it’s one of the few places where anyone can scuba dive without prior training. (At only about five metres deep, The Blue Cave at Cape Maeda is a great place for newbies to start with a guide). The beaches also tend to be gloriously empty. For the best ones, head to Miyako-jima or Zamami.

The Style Sheet’s Tip: You have to try Awamori – a uniquely Okinawan rice liquor that you can find all over the island – but make sure to sip, not scull. While it tastes deceptively weak, most versions are distilled to a hefty 30% alcohol by volume.

Flight Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

As spectacular as Angkor Wat is, it’s only one of many reasons to visit Siem Reap. Image by Łukasz Maźnica / Unsplash

5. Siem Reap, Cambodia

A gateway to the ruins of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap attracts temple-seeking tourists in droves. And while the 12th-century temple complex should be on your agenda, there’s plenty more to explore in Siem Reap. Along with upscale boutiques and spas, a must is Psah Chas – an authentic market filled with baskets of spices, fried banana kebabs, and for the more adventurous, crispy fried tarantulas. There’s also a surprisingly vibrant art and cultural scene there, with film and photo festivals being hosted annually and a growing community of artists and designers.

The Style Sheet’s Tip: For those photography fans after a clear shot of iconic Angkor Wat at sunrise, be prepared to get up early. By 5a.m. there’ll be a few lines formed, so to avoid having the back of a head in your photo, aim for an ambitious arrival time of 4:30.

Flight Time: 2 hours 40 minutes