Much as the tourism types may bang on about Hong Kong being Asia's World City, the temptations beyond the confines of the SAR are legion, whether it's Bali's verdant vistas, the bravura that is Seoul or Colombo's newfound chic. The Airport Express departs Central every 12 minutes, and on the train you might just have time to book a hotel room from your BlackBerry before shutting it down for the holidays. Colombo, Sri Lanka Of course, no one ever actually says 'serendipity' in day-to-day conversation, but it does seem to have a knack of happening here, whether you're out shopping, thwacking balls about the place or simply chilling in the capital of the ancient isle of Serendip. Sleep Colombo's premier man about town, Shanth Fernando, has turned the former prime minister's residence into a ten-room boutique hotel, named Tintagel after King Arthur's legendary castle in England. The hotel, in Rosmead Place, is due to open at the end of the year. E-mail email@example.com , or call 94 7777 23287 for details. Shop Relaxed yet inspiring, Elephant Walk (61 Ward Place, tel: 94 11 269 1056) is a cornucopia of locally made homeware and gifts. There's a cafe attached, so you can congratulate yourself on your purchases over a cup of coffee. EW is more like a house than a shop, so bedroom stuff is laid out in the bedroom, kitchenware in the kitchen, and so on. Spa Balinese massage? Mud treatment? Universal Energizing Therapy? Until the much-touted spa in the Galle Face Hotel's Regency wing opens, Sanctuary (47/1 Jawatte Road, tel: 94 11 250 1269) remains the only international spa in the city. Swing More than a century old, the Royal Colombo (tel: 94 11 269 1401; royalcolombogolf.lk) blends history with excellent golf 20 minutes' drive from the city centre. Green fees cost from 2,500 rupees (HK$190) a day. Sup The number one place to eat is Number 18 (Cambridge Place, tel: 94 11 269 4000), serving Euro-Australian cuisine. The patio is an especially endearing spot to dine. Sip On the third floor of the AA Building (Automobile Association, as opposed to Alcoholics Anonymous), Glow (42a Sir Mohamed Marcan Marker Mawatha, tel: 94 11 47166) is the place to go. Cathay Pacific (cathaypacific.com) flies to Colombo daily; SriLankan Airlines ( www.srilankan.aero ) flies to Colombo four times a week. Okinawa, Japan Once an independent principality, the island of Okinawa remains at one remove from the rest of the country, a magnet for sun worshippers and hedonists with a relaxed, happy-go-lucky ambience that's almost un-Japanese. Sleep The Manza Beach (tel: 81 98 966 1211; www.anahotels.com ) is Okinawa's top resort, with extensive facilities and only traces of the Japanese affection for kitsch. The resort is very much a family property, with both the beach and the pool populated by gambolling youngsters from dawn to dusk. Shop For electronic goods and gizmos with all the bells, whistles and flashing lights - many of which are not sold outside the country (check compatibility before you buy) - pop by Best Denki (1-1-2 Matsuo, Naha-shi, tel: 81 98 866 7588). The sales staff's English is halting but they are fluent in tech-talk. Spa The big draw at the Loisir Spa (321 Nishi, Naha, tel: 81 98 868 2222) is its natural, mineral-rich spring, which feeds three hot pools. A range of treatments is also available if basking in super-hot temperatures is not your style. Swing There are said to be upwards of 2,000 golf courses in Japan, and Onna Village's 18 holes are playable year-round (2451 Onna Village, Kunigami-gun, tel: 81 98 966 1200). Sup Teechi (2-4-5 Makishi, Naha, tel: 81 98 861 4917) serves local, Japanese and international dishes. Seating includes tatami mats for those looking for a more traditional Japanese experience. Sip The presence of some 25,000-plus American military personnel gives rise to a lively nightlife scene that might be charitably described as lively. For a more refined evening, head for the Taira Bar at the Marriott (1490-1 Kise Nago-shi, Nago City, tel: 81 980 511000). Flights from Tokyo Haneda to Okinawa aboard Japan Airlines ( www.jal.co.jp ) take two and a half hours. Hua Hin, Thailand Renowned as the Thai royal family's summer retreat (though their royal highnesses keep a very low profile indeed while in situ), Hua Hin hosts some of the kingdom's best golf courses and spas, while the more exotic forms of nightlife are kept well under wraps. Sleep Cinema buffs will recall that the Sofitel Central (tel: 66 32 512 021; www.sofitel.com ) was used as a location in The Killing Fields. Dating from the 1920s but brought thoroughly up to date, the hotel is a delightful blend of colonial and modern. It is right on the beach but boasts an anundance of gardens and topiary as well. Shop Rashnee Thai Silk Village (18/1 Thalang Naep Khehat, tel: 66 32 531 155) not only sells the stuff but has a mini expo on the entire process, from worm to loom to draping your bod. Spa Chiva Som (tel: 66 32 536 536; www.chivasom.com ) remains the alpha and omega of spas in the area, if not the country, eschewing the 'slap and tickle' of lesser places to take a truly holistic approach. Posh and Becks loved it, anyway. An alternative pied a terre and on a more intimate scale than the Sofitel. Swing Given Hua Hin's regal associations, it's fitting that Thailand's first ever golf course (18 holes, par 72) should have been built here, in 1924. Green fees at the Royal Hua Hin (Damneonkasem Road, tel: 66 32 512 475) are 1,200 baht (HK$250). Sup Long-time habitues might remember Monsoon (62 Thalang Naredamri, tel: 66 32 531 062) as Cafe Indochine. Primarily listing Vietnamese cuisine, the menu also features some Thai food. The garden is v v romantic, pace Bridget Jones. Sip Fulfilling the United Nations' criteria that all holiday resorts must have at least one Irish pub, Crawfords (5 Thalang Phunsuk, tel: 66 32 511 517) does the Guinness and craic thing but manages to avoid being too rowdy. SGA's 11-seater Cessna Caravans make the one-hour flight from Bangkok to Hua Hin four times a day. Browse www.sga.aero for information. Seoul, S. Korea Of all the region's capitals, Seoul undeservedly gets the least favourable press. Rather than being a Seoul survivor, it makes more sense to aim to be a Seoul thriver; the city's dining is as tangy as kimchi, the fashion scene is cool and the better hotels aspire to 'out of this world' class. Sleep Seoul's been called a lot of things, but funky isn't one of them - unless, of course, one is talking about the W at Walkerhill (tel: 82 2465 2222; www.whotels.com ). Tremendously designed and admirably service-oriented, the W has a Whenever/Whatever You Want motto and a warm welcome for pets. Shop There are markets and malls galore, so to get your bearings start by making a bee-line for Hello apM (tel: 82 2 6388 1202) around Dongdaemun, which stocks a vast range of casual wear, leather and fashion items. Spa The Guerlain Spa (202 Jangchung-dong, Jung-gu, tel: 82 2 2230 1167) is scented with pine trees and equipped with everything from Vichy showers to Bouvier hydrotherapy units. It's the ideal place to revive body and - intentional pun - Seoul. Swing Courses around Seoul are heavily booked but hotel concierges usually have a contact at affiliated clubs. The Asiana Country Club (tel: 82 31 330 1103; www.asianacc.co.kr ), 25km from the city centre, is one of the most convenient. Expect green fees of 20,000 won (HK$165) and up. Sup Favoured by sports stars and their fashion-model girlfriends, Krazy Krab (84-6, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam Gu, tel: 82 2 3448 5691) serves crustaceans in every conceivable manner. Gawking at fellow diners is all part of the fun. Sip Cave (35-240 Samchoeng-dong, Jongno, tel: 82 2 739 1788), a wine bar, is the bar du jour, with rock-face walls and a guitarist. Korean Air ( www.koreanair.com ) and Asiana (hk.flyasiana.com) fly to Seoul daily. Hainan, China Formerly a place of exile for recalcitrant bureaucrats, the punters are practically queuing up to get into 'China's Hawaii' nowadays. It's a lot closer than Maui and hosts rather fewer midwestern vacationers. Sleep Cliched though it may sound, 'Take me to the Hilton' is still the phrase to utter on arrival. Set on Yalong Bay, the 501-room, low-rise Hilton Sanya resort (tel: 86 898 8858 8888; www.hiltonworldresorts.com ) is the island's classiest and best-run accommodation. Shop Just as you go for antiques in Macau and artworks in Hanoi, Hainan's best buy is pearls. There's a fair number of stores selling bivalve by-products - and some of rather dubious quality - but the wares at Jingrun Pearl in Haikou (opposite Wanghai Tower, Haixiu East Road, tel: 86 898 6675 0129) are top notch and the staff resist temptation to indulge in high-pressure sales spiels. Spa China's nouveaux riches are rapidly catching on to spas and the Spa Retreat at the Hilton provides personal valets to guide guests through its treatments, which are based around the four traditional elements of earth, air, fire and water. Swing Robert Trent Jones took care to give the 18-hole, par-72 course at Yalong Bay (tel: 86 898 8856 5888 ) a pleasantly tropical air as well as some challenging drives. Green fees are 850 yuan and caddies cost 145 yuan. Sup Put a chicken on a diet of rice and peanuts, and it evolves into the Hainanese speciality wen chang ji. Aiwanting Restaurant (61 Jinlong Road, Sanya, tel: 86 898 6698 2233) is a great place to sample this local delicacy. Sip If it's good enough for the Miss World Contest, then it must be an OK sort of place to come for a cocktail or two - the Sea and Sand Beach Bar at the Sheraton (tel: 86 898 8855 8855) in Sanya provides great views even when the planet's most pulchritudinous aren't in residence. Dragonair ( www.dragonair.com ) flies to Haikou once a week, and to Sanya six times a week. Bali, Indonesia Call it 'island of the gods' or 'morning of the world', no sobriquet can truly sum up Bali's cultured brand of magic, where luxury dallies amid culture and the shopping and nightlife constantly reinvent themselves. The island is fabulous for a party, a pamper or simply a romantic getaway a deux. Sleep The remarkable Villa Tugu (tel: 62 361 731 701; www.tuguhotels.com ) next to Changgu beach is part museum, part retreat and totally Bali. A private beach, individually decorated rooms and some very unusual dining venues set it well apart from other accommodation on the island. Shop Bali is synonymous with artistry; the Seniwati Gallery in Ubud (tel: 62 361 975 485; www.seniwatigallery.com ) is devoted to promoting women's art, both by foreigners and locals. Even if you're not buying, a donation to the gallery's children's academy is welcome. Spa A raft of massages, body treatments and facials await at the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay (tel: 62 361 701 010; www.fourseasons.com ). The rain shower ritual in the Royal Spa Suite is blissfully relaxing. Swing Greg Norman designed the 18-hole, par-72 Bali Nirwana golf course (tel: 62 361 815 960; nirwanabaligolf.com) which stands in sight of the island's most iconic temple, Tanah Lot. Green fees cost US$150. Sup Ku De Ta (tel: 62 361 736 969; www.kudeta.net ) is seminal Seminyak, melding beachside location, international cuisine and libation with ultra-hip sounds and a scene that pulls in the pretty people. Sip Three-syllable venue names are in, and nowhere more so than at De Ja Vu on Jalan Double Six (tel: 62 361 732 777) in Seminyak where outside tables offer some respite from the high-decibel furore within. Note that turning up before midnight just isn't cool. Dress to impress and drink similarly. Cathay Pacific ( www.cathaypacific.com ) and Garuda Indonesia ( www.garuda-indonesia.com ) fly to Bali daily. Clockwise from left: the Elephant Walk shop is arranged like a house; a Dutch church in Galle; the Galle Face Regency hotel; washing elephants.; Clockwise from left: Higashi Henna promontory - the Pacific is on the right, the East China Sea on the left; diving in the crystal-clear waters; a procession; the Manza Beach resort.; Clockwise from right: the lobby of the Sofitel Central; the night market; horse-riding on the beach; Hua Hin beach; Clockwise from left: the Incheon Bridge; the skiing around Seoul is excellent; the Lotus Lantern festival; the Guerlain Spa.; Clockwise from left: Yalong Bay golf course; the Nanshan Guanyin statue looms over the South China Sea; the Spa Retreat at the Hilton; soaking in the Jacuzzi. Centre: the Hilton Sanya resort.; Clockwise from above left: Ulundanu Water Temple; Villa Tugu is part museum, part retreat; sunset in Bali; Villa Tugu; terraced paddy fields.