Summer is here, spring is gone. In many places it's hot. Really hot. Not surprisingly, we look to the beach for some relief from the sun, or look for the sun after a long winter's hibernation behind a desk. Well, time to strike out a bit and use up some of that vacation time you've been squirreling away. Here are some suggestions that should get you salivating for a little summer fun.
1. Chill out on one of Hong Kong's beaches
While Hong Kong's beaches might not be quite up to Bali or Vietnam levels of awesomeness, they still provide a pretty damn nice way to spend an afternoon. The best overall Hong Kong beach is probably Shek O. While it can get crowded with nearly 4,000 people visiting Shek O Beach on weekends, its still big enough to absorb the crowds without making things too uncomfortable. Take bus 9 or the red minibus from Shau Kei Wan MTR.
2. Lounge on Vietnam's finest beach -- Jungle Beach
Vietnam’s finest beach is hidden about an hour north of Nha Trang on a remote stretch of the Hon Khoi Peninsula. The boundaries of air and water are indistinct in the crystal sea, where night swimming with bioluminescent algae is on the regular activities list. The most intriguing views from this unique bamboo cabana homestay are the troupes of Black-shanked Douc Langurs, one of Indochina’s rarest primates.
3. Go super luxury at one of these Thai resorts
Thailand has dozens of supremely luxurious resorts that will easily allow you to spend a month’s salary in a single night if you want to, from pool villas overlooking the Andaman Sea to tiny boutique hotels so exclusive they don't even want you to have heard of them. But hey, you've seen one run-of-the-mill luxury villa, you've seen them all. If you’re looking for some next level pampering and opulent surroundings, check out these extraordinarily fancy digs.
4. Take off on a golf getaway
Whack a ball on a course in the Himalayas, play a course at an UNESCO world heritage site in Siem Reap, Cambodia, or enjoy the five star treatment like the former French Colonialists in Vietnam. Golf is a sunshine sport, so get out there while the gettin' is good.
5. Have a romantic tropical vacation at Le Taha'a Island Resort and Spa, Tahiti
Yes there are a lot of beaches on this list, but hey, it is summer time and Le Taha's golden beaches, turquoise water and perfume of native vanilla plants in one of the prettiest resorts in French Polynesia make Le Taha a great place to go for a "hot" summer getaway. Resort activities range from diving and snorkeling to jet-skiing and whale watching.
6. Have a long luxury weekend in Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang’s hip restaurants and buzzy bars are no longer a secret, but the town -- along with its surrounding caves, waterfalls, jungle and Mekong river villages -- is yet to be discovered by the masses. Languid and laid-back, its intimate scale is ideal for a long weekend. Read more about Luang Prabang.
7. Picnic in Hong Kong
Many Hong Kong country parks have rest areas that are ready-made for picnics. So if you're living in or visiting Hong Kong this summer, pick a day where it's not raining and thaw out those air-conditioner frozen limbs in the sweet, humid Hong Kong sunshine.
8. Dive in Pulau Redang, Malaysia
Heaven underwater? Sounds cheesy, but apparently this place is as close to perfection as it gets for diving. Redang Island (locally known as Pulau Redang or just "Redang") off the east coast of Malaysia, is one of those places where you'd expect a shiny-chested James Bond to come dripping out of the waters and stride down the sands for a martini.
Fine white sand, clear blue waters and colorful marine life -- it's almost a cliché of the Blue Lagoon type tropical paradise, but it's real and it's just a short ride or flight away from Singapore. Stay at Laguna Redang Island Resort -- a beautiful expanse of classic buildings, filled with wooden structures and lush greenery -- which offers various packages to visitors, of which numerous snorkeling trips are included.
9. Experience Japanese summer culture at Enoshima
Enoshima is a core sample of Japanese summer culture, a mini-mountain of rock, stone and wood rising steep and green from the Shonan surf. It is one of Eastern Japan's favorite summer destinations, visited by families, courting couples and visitors to the area looking to get away from the beach for a while.
10. Sleep on a beach in Goa, India
Or relax with the Goa hippies, or eat out at the numerous restaurants or motorbike through the countryside. Goa has your summer fix. If the heat proves too much, there's always the air conditioned confines of a five-star hotel to cool you off after a day of biking.
11. Go native -- Tibetan style -- in Jiuzhaigou
Jiuzhaigou, Tibet is home to a pristine national park chock full of Alpine lakes and waterfalls located in northwest Sichuan province. Many tours equipped with flag-bearing guides depart from Chengdu by bus (11 hours) or plane (one hour) and after the trip, return to the originating city. But you can ditch the flag and tour guides and get to experience the real Jiuzhaigou by participating in home-stay programs.
12. Visit one of Asia's next gen tourist hot spots
13. Surf in Hainan, China
Speaking of Hainan, why not go surfing? Hainan Island, sometimes called, perhaps generously, “China’s Hawaii,” is a growing tourist destination off the country’s southern coast, just east of Vietnam. It’s famous for hosting Chinese beauty pageants, but is also home to a small but growing community of surfers -- both Chinese and foreign. Each November, Sanya, the island's capital, hosts the second annual Surfing Hainan Open.
14. Relax like a rock star at Amanpuri Resort in Phuket
Make no mistake about it, a visit to Aman Resort's Amanpuri in Phuket, Thailand is an eye-opening experience. Vacation like a rock star this summer at Amanpuri.
15. Escape on an affordable last minute getaway
Party hard in Dubai or conquer a mountain in Japan among other things. Living in Asia affords many destinations close at hand. Some affordable, some not so much.
16. Dodge military ordinance and hit the beach at Sarushima Island, Japan
Sarushima is the rock that guards the entrance to Tokyo Bay, otherwise known as Monkey Island even though there's not one primate to be found. What makes Sarushima a hot commodity to Tokyoites is that its located 1.7 km off Yokosuka, and is the only bit of land in the bay that does not have cliffs and beaches made of concrete.
17. Explore Laos all along the Mekong River
18. Kick back on one of Asia's most idyllic beaches
Life's a beach, and in Asia there's a whole lot of good living to be had. We've researched and uncovered the top beach destinations to be found in the region. We've even broken them down into three categories -- secluded beaches, action beaches and local flavor -- so all you need to do is decide exactly how much coastal paradise you can handle.
19. Get minimal at Koh Kood, Thailand
Thailand’s Koh Kood is possibly one of the very few places that can live up to the myth of the unpeopled Asian beachy paradise. It’s got the necessary props -- a rainforest, quaint fishing villages, coconut plantations, snorkeling spots, and a population of less than 2,000. It’s also sufficiently out-of-the-way. Getting there requires an hour’s plane ride from Bangkok’s Trat airport, or a train and boat expedition from Bangkok. The Koh Kood experience is like taking a step back in time: minimal electricity, scarce Internet access and few cars. The accommodation on the island ranges from wildly expensive resorts to homestays.
20. Hammocks a-plenty at An Bang Beach, Vietnam
An Bang, a beach at the end of Hai Bai Trung street outside town, is a great alternative. It’s mostly a hangout for local holiday makers but recently foreigners have opened a few beach shack bars. There’s good food, hammocks a-plenty and the odd film night at these locations. The watering holes can get blown away during the violent storm season, but rest assured -- they’re usually rebuilt in a flash.
21. Enjoy the surf at Lombok Kuta, Indonesia
Lombok, the large hill-humped island to Bali’s east, boasts bountiful jungles and awe-inspiring volcanoes. The further south one ventures, the drier the land becomes. But it is the swells off the craggy coast that draw visitors to Kuta, a sleepy seaside village frequented by surfers looking to tackle some of Indonesia’s best breaks.
22. Cool off on the beach in Port Dickson, Malaysia
The attraction of Port Dickson is not so much the town itself, but the 18km of nearby beaches against a backdrop by palms and banyan trees. Kuala Lumpur isn’t missing much, but one thing it lacks is a beach to cool off at. The only sandy beaches close enough for a day trip are the ones that stretch out along the coastal road south of Port Dickson.
23. Get Naked in the Moganshan Hills
Early last century, wealthy foreigners living in Shanghai went to Moganshan to lounge away the summer in stone villas, play tennis and swim in the municipal pool. Today, Moganshan is making a comeback, thanks in part to Naked Retreats, a collection of restored farmhouses. (Don't be fooled by the name -- any nudity should probably be confined to your bungalow.) Upon arrival, guests are taken on a 'decompression walk' and encouraged to spend a few minutes in awe of the scenery. Activities include cycling, bass fishing and mountain hikes. Visitors can wander through dewy tea plantations and bamboo forests, or swim in a reservoir to the buzz of cicadas. Accommodation is basic -- the wooden floors creak and there's no air-conditioning -- but bungalows come with Western-style kitchens, flat-screen TVs and wireless Internet.
24. Explore the hilltop tribes of Vietnam by motorbike
Despite breathtaking mountain scenery and a rich diversity of hill tribe cultures, Vietnam’s Central Highlands remain one of the least 'tourorized' areas of Southeast Asia. This region of pine tree forests, waterfalls and coffee plantations is far from the coastal beach resorts where most tourists flock, and this remoteness is all part of the charm. Read about motorbiking among Vietnam's hilltop tribes.
25. Camp out in the Great Wall of China
There's nothing better to refresh the lungs and reinvigorate the spirit than a trip out of the city and into the wilderness. Hikes along the Great Wall are a relatively simple option, easily accessible from Beijing, and can be done leisurely over several days or in a power-trek over just one or two days.
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