- Hong Kong,
Korean Air presents "Explore Asia" -- our guide to explore and enjoy majestic Asia.
See + Do
Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaeo, Thailand
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 623 5500
One of Thailand's most impressive sights: 54 acres featuring a collection of palatial buildings, golden stupas, sculpted nine-foot demons, and richly ornamented wats (temples). The architecture spans more than 200 years, and the highlight is undoubtedly the glorious Wat Phra Keo, the most sacred Buddhist sight in Thailand. The Wat is a complex of buildings culminating in the Chapel Royal, home to the venerated Emerald Buddha. As at all Thai temples, you must dress modestly (no bare knees or shoulders, no flip-flops) and remove your shoes before entering. The object of all the prostrations inside the Ubosoth, or Assembly Hall, is a tiny jadeite Buddha. Just two feet tall, the statue is so sacred that the king himself changes its clothing for each new season.
Ticket booth closes daily at 3:30pm; grounds at 4:30 p.m.
Mango Tree, Thailand
Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 236 2820
When Bangkok locals want to celebrate a big occasion, they book a table at this elegant Thai restaurant—either in the entry courtyard, where live traditional music and (Thursday through Saturday) Thai dance accompanies dinner, or in a fancy, quieter wooden booth inside. Cross the faded Oriental carpet and lower yourself into a booth or pad across a raised dais to recline against cushions around a shin-high table. The classic Thai food is exquisitely presented, well prepared, and doesn't cater to farang (foreign) palates by lowering the chili pepper quotient. The recipes here, like shrimp stir-fried in Choo Chee curry sauce, can be five-alarm hot. You've been warned.
Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Thailand
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 649 8888
See + Do
Outlying Islands, China
There are more than 230 Hong Kong islands, a handful of which make great day-trip destinations from the Central city district. Take the Star Ferry from Hong Kong Island (852-2367-7065; www.starferry.com.hk), or sail on a traditional Chinese junk with Jubilee International Tour Centre (852-2530-0530; www.jubilee.com.hk) to check them out.
The largest of the outlying islands, Lantau is about an hour by ferry from Central. And while the newish Hong Kong Disneyland (opened in 2005) takes up a big chunk of the island, Lantau is its own natural wonderland. A national park covers half the land mass, and Hong Kong's longest beach (Cheung Sha, almost two miles of sand), its highest mountain (2,700-foot-high Lantau Peak, a terrific hike), and the rare Chinese white dolphin are all found here (well, the dolphins are actually swimming offshore). You'll also find the world's largest Buddha statue and Tai-O, a 300-year-old fishing town filled with traditional canal-side stilt houses.
Tiny Lamma is just off of Hong Kong Island's Aberdeen district, close to Stanley Market. Thanks to a ban on cars and buses, it's an authentic dose of old Hong Kong, complete with quaint fish farms, unfussy seafood restaurants, and scenic cliff-side trails.
This small island, about half an hour from Central, has a charming clutch of traditional fishing villages and seafront restaurants. It's also got nature parks, Buddhist temples, and calm-watered, tropical-feeling beaches.
Fook Lam Moon, China
Hong Kong, China
Tel: 852 2866 0663
One of the city's top Cantonese restaurants since 1972, Fook Lam Moon is old-school—both in cuisine and decor (look for the shrine to the kitchen god near the entrance). The prices are high, but you're paying for the solicitous, old-world service as well as for beautifully prepared, classic dishes like bird's nest soup (sweetened, double-boiled, and served in a coconut shell), braised whole abalone with Chinese mushrooms, and whole roast suckling pig. There's another branch in Kowloon's Tsim Sha Tsui district (53-59 Kimberley Rd., 852-2366-0286).
Four Seasons Hotel Macau, China
Tel: 800 819 5053 (toll-free), Tel: 853 2881 8888
See + Do
Mineral Baths, Japan
Japan is famous for its rustic hot springs (onsen), and even Tokyo has its own mineral-rich baths. Azabu-Juban Onsen sits above a natural source whose dark waters are said to be good for all sorts of complaints, including poor circulation and sensitive skin (81-3-3404-2610; 1-5-22 Azabu-juban, Minato-ku; closed Tues). Soak in the old-style tiled baths and then relax with a beer and a plate of edamame soybeans. Alternatively, pay a visit to one of Tokyo's historic sento or public bathhouses. Built in the days when few houses had their own bathroom, their numbers are now sadly dwindling. One of the best is Daikokuyu, which has all the classic sento elements: spotlessly clean showers and baths for soaking (segregated for men and women) and giant murals of Mount Fuji (81-3-3881-3001; 32-6 Sento-kotobukicho, Adachi-ku). The etiquette is simple: Shower before getting into the bath, and once in the water, absolutely no soap, swimsuits, or washing of clothes!
Tel: 81 3 3337 1352
The food of OkinawaJapan's colorful slice of the tropicsis hypertrendy in Tokyo at the moment, but this lively pub-style spot predates the fad by quite a few years. The decor is an endearing mix of traditional Okinawan crafts and retro-kitsch bric-a-brac; the music follows a similar approach. The kitchen turns out a good sampling of traditional island fare: lots of pork, with the occasional goat dish for variety; interesting tofu and noodle variations; and home-style delicacies such as papaya pickled in miso. (Menus are in Japanese.)
(Located along the shopping street on the north side of the station.)
Park Hyatt Tokyo, Japan
Tel: 81 3 5322 1234
Perched high above throbbing Shinjuku on the top floors of Kenzo Tange's 52-story steel and granite Park Tower, this has long been the hotel of choice for visiting celebrities (and so it was a natural location for Sofia Coppola to use in Lost in Translation). A small hotel by Tokyo standards—only 177 rooms—the Park Hyatt fairly drips with luxury. Rooms are large—all are at least 484 square feet—with low-key modern furnishings, deluxe bathrooms, and unbeatable views. There's a spectacular glass-roofed swimming pool on the 47th floor (where Bill Murray took a memorable dip in Coppola's movie), plus a revamped spa with sauna, plunge pool, and treatments rooms on the 45th. On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji from the popular New York Grill on the top floor (reopened in September 2006 with additional seating and artwork by Minoru Nomata).