Hong Kong

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FOR COSMOPOLITAN COUPLES WHO PREFER THE HIGH LIFE TO THE HIGH TIDE, THE PEARL OF THE ORIENT CAN OFFER UP A GLAMOROUS HONEYMOON EXPERIENCE WITH AN ENDLESS ARRAY OF ROMANTIC OPTIONS.

WHY HONEYMOON HERE?
A beach-bound honeymoon is fine for couples that want to do little more than stare into each other’s eye while lounging by the waves, but for others, excitement and romance are intrinsically linked and the siren song of the big city must be heeded.

When it comes to cosmopolitan glamour and variety in Asia, Hong Kong is where it’s at. The increasingly high-tech metropolis features a unique mélange of cultures thanks to its years as a British colony, making it a wonderful mix of old and new as well as East and West. In the last decade especially, Hong Kong has become much more pristine and orderly, making it a pleasure for visitors looking to sample everything it has to offer, from panoramic skylines to ancient temples to innumerable world-class restaurants.

THE HEIGHTS OF ROMANTIC DINING
Hong Kong’s dining scene is one of the world’s best, with everything from glorious and cheap dim sum to 62 Michelin-starred restaurants. But for couple’s looking for a truly romantic eating experience, many of the city-states best restaurants offer incredible views of the glittering skyline or the breathtaking bay, as well as incomparable epicurean delights.

Of course any trip to Hong Kong would be incomplete without a sampling of gourmet Chinese delicacies. For exquisite modern takes on classic dishes, with views and ambiance to match, head to the top of the Hotel Icon and get a window side seat at Above and Beyond (hotel-icon.com/dining.aspx#/above-and-beyond; Hotel Icon, 17 Science Museum Rd; +852 3400 1000). Featuring 360 degree panoramic views of the city and surrounding harbour, this restaurant offers indulgent dim sum lunches and a dinner menu filled with haute cuisine takes on Chinese cuisine such as a delicate dish of steamed lobster with egg whites and black truffles or a plate of coral crab marinated in 10-year-old Huadio wine. After dinner, be sure to grab a drink at the Panoramic Bar, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll get an excellent view of the fireworks that frequently light up Victoria Harbour.

Another romantic eatery at the top of the city is the Sheraton Hong Kong’s Oyster and Wine Bar (starwoodhotels.com/sheraton; 20 Nathan Road, Kowloon; +852 2369 1111). In addition to the breathtaking views, this place earns a spot on the list thanks to its dim lighting, intimate booths and, of course, the oysters. Often proclaimed to be a powerful aphrodisiac, the oysters here come in 25-30 varieties, flown in fresh daily from the choicest waters of the season. Paired with just the right wine by their sommelier, the magnificent mollusks at this establishment are sure to have the intended effect.

For a truly once-in-a-lifetime dining experience befitting a honeymoon, you can splash out and reserve (weeks in advance, of course) a table at one of Hong Kong’s elite 3-Michelin-starred restaurants. The Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong (fourseasons.com/hongkong; 8 Finance St; +852 3196 8888) happens to house two of them (the only hotel in the world that can make that claim). Food critics say that Caprice might just be the best place to enjoy the finest French cuisine outside of Paris. With enormous Czech crystal chandeliers and a glamorous catwalk entrance, this is where the city’s jet set crowds come to wine and dine. Lung King Heen, on the other hand, is the world’s first Chinese restaurant to receive 3 stars. It features refined Chinese decor, an undulating silver leaf ceiling to reflect the city’s skyline, and a menu full of intricately and immaculately prepared Cantonese dishes unlike any you’ve ever tried.

BIG CITY SEDUCTION
Couples need never be bored on a Hong Kong honeymoon, as there are activities perfect for twosomes that should fit any appetite. While the definition of what counts as romantic varies from person to person, at least one half of every couple will agree that shopping rates highly. Hong Kong might just be the best place to shop in all of Asia, with everything from the most high-end fashion to bargain-packed street markets. If the new Mrs. wants to put her plastic through its paces, Causeway Bay is the place to go, with up-market fashion houses to be found in Lee Gardens, Times Square and Fashion Walk shopping centers. For something more chaotic but authentic, head to the Temple Street Night Market, a lively street bazaar filled with stalls selling everything from electronics to antiques and opera singers and other street performers entertaining the haggling crowds. Be sure to visit one of the market’s many fortune tellers so they can tell you and your loved one how much prosperity your new marriage will provide.

Couples looking to recapture the thrills of youth can take a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland (park.hongkongdisneyland.com; +852 3510 6000). Located on Lantau Island, it may not be as massive as some of its counterparts, but this Magic Kingdom contains classic Disneyland elements, such as Main Street USA and Tomorrowland, but with a uniquely Chinese flavor. The park is also constantly expanding; it just opened up a new area, called Mystic Point, which is set in a mysterious rainforest. The highlight of this new area is the Mystic Manor ride, which offers high-tech thrills and scares that are sure to have you holding on to your loved one with a tight grip.

For couples looking for more authentic culture, Hong Kong has it in spades. A visit to the Chi Lin Buddhist Nunnery, in the Diamond Hill district of Kowloon, is perfect for a leisurely afternoon stroll through some of the city’s most beautiful traditional buildings and gardens. Founded in the 1930s and reconstructed in the 1990s in the style of Tang dynasty monastic architecture, the nunnery was rebuilt using both ancient and modern techniques. Not a single nail was used in the buildings’ construction – instead the imported yellow cedar planks were precisely carved by Chinese artisans and put together like a jigsaw puzzle using a system of wooden doweling and brackets.  The gardens feature a lotus pond, sculpted bonsai trees and statues of divine figures from Chinese and Buddhist mythology. Across the street from the Nunnery is the similarly impressive Nan Lian Garden.

If none of that fits the bill for your ideal big city honeymoon, you can also hop on a ferry to nearby Macau and indulge in a James Bondian vision of high-rolling romance at one of the city’s many glamorous casinos, which rival Las Vegas in terms of over-the-top opulence. Head to the City of Dreams (cityofdreamsmacau.com) and if you win big on their enormous gaming floor, you can stay in one of the attached Hard Rock Hotel’s blinged-out Rock Star Suites, filled with high-tech features and authentic rock memorabilia.  Even if you don’t, be sure to go to the City of Dreams’ Club Cubic to check out TABOO, which may just be the best burlesque show in Asia – definitely a show that will stir some passions.

HONG KONG’S MOST ROMANTIC HOTELS
If you want to stay in a honeymoon hotel that captures all of the history and romanticism to be found in the Pearl of the Orient, the legendary Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong (mandarinoriental.com/hongkong; 5 Connaught Road, Central; +852 2522 0111) would be a perfect choice. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the originator and standard bearer of the international Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is one of Hong Kong’s most beloved icons. The aim of The Mandarin, as it was originally called, was to create a luxury hotel firmly rooted in Asian culture and service traditions. Despite its age, the original Mandarin Oriental still feels just as lush and luxurious as ever, thanks largely to major renovations in 2005, which included the creation of the opulent three-story Mandarin Spa, one of only three spas rated a Forbes Five Star in Hong Kong. As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is offering a number of excellent packages until the end of 2013. A perfect package for a truly luxurious honeymoon would be the “Fantastic and 50,” which includes a stay in the opulent Oriental Suite, a bottle of champagne, airport transfer and Meet & Greet service, champagne breakfast, a special 1963 dinner menu, Golden Sparkling Body Treatment at the Mandarin Spa, a 1963 port flight and two keepsake engraved silver tankards. Rates start from HKD 19,888 for the first night and HKD 9,888 including buffet breakfast for the second night.

If you’re more of a hip, high-tech couple, you might want to stay at The Mira (themirahotel.com; 118 Nathan Rd; +852 2368 1111). Centrally located in Tsim Sha Tsui, The Mira, a member of the esteemed Design Hotel group, features a futuristic look thanks to the colourful lighting, bold lines and sleek, modern decor. The 492-room luxury hotel features 56 suites, including several one-off speciality suites. Honeymooners can splash out on the Platinum Suite, which features ceiling-to-floor windows offering amazing views of the city,  an expansive terrace with an outdoor jacuzzi, high-tech features like intelligent room controls, two 40” Bang & Olufsen TVs and speakers, multiple iPod docking stations and even a smartphone you can use for the duration of your stay with unlimited 3G data connectivity and free international calling.

For those seeking the dizzying heights of romance, it’d be hard to go wrong with The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong (ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/HongKong; 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon; +852 2263 2263). It occupies floors 102 to 118 of the International Commerce Centre Building in West Kowloon, making it one of the tallest hotels in the world. The highest pool in the world and the highest bar in the world both happen to sit on the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong’s 118th floor. The infinity-style pool features LED screens covering the ceiling and one of the walls in which swimmers can see images of coral reefs and peaceful skies if they get tired of trying to look down at Victoria Harbor far far below. Until December 28, couples can indulge in their “Romantic Getaway” package, which includes overnight accommodations in a club or suite room, roundtrip airport transfer, 24 hour Club Lounge access, a welcome bottle of champagne, a 3-course dinner for two in your room and a 90-minute spa treatment for two in the spa’s Couple Suite. The package starts at HKD 8,888 per night.

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