From relaxing beaches to historical sites…
Spending time planning our next holiday is right up there on on our list of guilty pleasures. We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the amazing locales we can easily access from Hong Kong but if you’re pregnant or TTC (trying to conceive), concerns about the Zika Virus can put a damper on the fun. If you want to read more specifically about the recommended precautions for couples trying to become pregnant or who are currently pregnant, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have the most up to date information.
The good news is that you don’t have to forgo your holiday or worry about being covered head to toe, drowning in bug spray to enjoy an amazing holiday. Look on the bright side; now is your chance to go to all of those places that you kept putting off so you could head to Bali one more time! And, although we’ve checked these locations against the CDC and WHO guidelines, please speak to your doctor directly prior to booking any travel to ensure that all precautions are being taken since Zika related health alerts may change frequently.
Click through the slideshows to check out holiday locations that are safe for when you’ve got a baby on board. From city breaks and beach bums to historical sites and breathtaking views…
Walking down the immaculately clean sidewalks of Tokyo can be a welcome relief after navigating Hong Kong’s many carts and air con drips. You’ll want to take advantage by strolling through Cat Street, where you can find some cool shops and little places to eat (gyoza anyone?). Whether you want to have idyllic walks through the Imperial Palace gardens followed by a massage or a shop ’til you drop experience (check out Ginza and Shinjuku) followed by karaoke, you will find something suited to your tastes. And as far as food goes, skipping sushi won’t be a hardship – there are so many other delicious options (ramen, yakitori, tempura, soba… the list is long!). We suggest you rely on your hotel’s concierge to point you in the right direction for where to eat, and have them write out addresses in Japanese so you can use a taxi without language issues.
Flight Time: 4.5 to 4 hours and 50 minutes.
Airport: Hong Kong Express flies directly to Nartia (NRT) or Haneda (HND). It takes about an hour to get into Tokyo from Narita. Take the bus – trust us, even while pregnant it is comfortable and easy – we’ve done it ourselves! A taxi costs a bomb and doesn’t offer any additional comfort. Fun fact: Hong Kong and Tokyo have the exact same taxis!
Other things to consider: The Shinkansen, or bullet train, makes it very easy to travel outside of Tokyo for a few days. Head south to Kyoto (and be sure to keep an eye out for views of Mt. Fiji from the train) or Osaka to round out your trip to Japan.
Read more from our sister site, Sassy: 24-hour guide to Tokyo.
Pop culture and beauty might come to mind when you think of Korea (perhaps not the best selling point for your other half) but we can assure you that the capital city has so much more to offer. From the food to the shopping to the beautiful parks, you’ll surely find something for you both. Like many world capitals, Seoul has an exciting mix of modern and traditional woven throughout the city’s architecture, fashion, and food. It really is an exciting city – you’ll wonder why you kept putting it off!
Flight Time: 3 hours and 40 minutes to 4 hours and 15 minutes depending on what kind of plane you are on and which direction you are going.
Airport: Hong Kong Express flies directly to Incheon (ICN) and you can get amazing prices pending your itinerary. It takes about an hour to get into Seoul from the airport but longer if there is bad traffic (and there has always been traffic in our experience!). We’ve taken the bus and had a hotel car pick us up and both options are ok. The bus is easy, even while pregnant, but here we are inclined to get a car. Also, don’t forget to the airport early – the duty-free options here are pretty good with lots of brands we don’t always see on the regular.
Read more from our sister site, Sassy Mama Dubai: 16 Reasons You Should Go to Seoul
Other things to consider: It gets really cold in Seoul in the winter. Needless to say, it is a bit of a shock to the system coming from Hong Kong – if you aren’t keen to pull out full-on winter clothes (or buy cold-weather maternity wear) plan on booking for Spring, Autumn, or Summer if your timeline permits. Also, Korea is the only country that uses metal chopsticks and they might cause even the most confident chopstick user a few meal-time slips – just a head’s up!
You might have noticed that we can’t shut up about Japan’s southern-most islands. With world-class snorkeling, hikes, diving (for those of you not yet pregnant), and some of the clearest water and whitest sand we’ve ever seen, we just can’t say enough good things. Okinawa is the largest of what is formally known as the Ryukyu Islands but also check out Ishigaki, Taketomi, Irimote and Yonagun, all accessible via ferry. Also, you won’t have to worry about pregnancy-safe foods here. Okinawans have one of the longest life expectancies in the world thanks to their low-fat, low-salt diet that focuses on fish, pork, and veggies. Dig in!
Flight Time: Under 3 hours in both directions.
Airport: Hong Kong Airlines and Cathay Dragon fly directly to Okinawa (OKA) and you can get some great prices pending your itinerary. You can also fly Hong Kong Express directly to Ishigaki (ISG).
Other things to consider: You’ll want to rent a car so you can get around the main island. If you truly want to be on the beach, aim to book for with the peak months being July through the end of September. From April through early December you will find average temperatures ranging from 25 to 32. But if you want to see whales, it’s worth sacrificing laying out on the beach to arrive between the cool and windy months of January and the end of March. Fun fact: Okinawa is the birthplace of the “Hawaiian Shirt” – Okinawans who moved to Hawaii introduced them to the shirt (so dress accordingly!).
Sydney could have easily ended up in any of our categories and we would take any excuse to go back! In addition to the must-sees in the city (the Opera House, etc), there are two famous beaches. You might want to split your time between them. Bondi – you’ll recognise the stunning Bondi Icebergs Club rock pool from Instagram/Pinterest – and Manly, the leafy, yet no less stunning area, accessible by a 30-minute ferry ride from Sydney Harbour.
Bondi is buzzing in the summer and even if you don’t want to lay out in the hot, hot sun, you’ll have plenty to do. The Bondi to Cogee (or Bronte, in our case!) coastal walk is just stunning. The spray from the sea hitting the rocks and the stunning views make you forget you are exercising! When you get to Bronte you’ll have several options for a tasty meal – if you head out early, most of the places serve a lovely breakfast. When you get back you can check out the local shopping (everything from local boutiques with small Aussie labels to Lululemon). In Manly you’ll find a less iconic beach that still ticks all the boxes. From the ferry, a quick walk across town brings you to the beach. There are plenty of places to stock up on snacks and food to picnic or take the walk to Shelly Beach and get takeaway from The Boathouse.
Sassy Mama Tip: If you take the tourist ferry you can stop off at the Sydney Zoo on your way back into the city. Totally random in this context, but still worth mentioning as it is a one stop shop for kolas, kangaroos, and lovely views of the water.
Flight Time: 9-ish hours and worth every second of the flight to lay your eyes on this beauty!
Airport: There are a ton of flight options direct to Sydney (SYD) but they can get pricey depending on the time of year. It is a quick 30-minute ride from the airport to the city centre. Cabs are expensive but worth it after a long flight.
Other things to consider: Even though there isn’t a bad time to visit this gem, don’t forget the seasons are opposite Down Under and the prime beach months are December and January. Also, the sun in Australia is intense – don’t forget to totally slather on high SPF sunblock, even if you are only out for a stroll.
If anyone were to ask us if we wanted to go see a really old wall, the normal response would be “thanks, but we have other plans”. But THE Great Wall? That’s another story. One of the great manmade wonders of the world – 5,500 miles of wall, built over 2,000 years – the Great Wall is easily accessible from Beijing and it can be reached by taxi. Plus, most hotels can book private or well-priced tours. Juyongguan, Badaling and Mutianyu are probably the most accessible places to walk on the wall and they are restored. You can make an epic hike out of it and even camp on the wall. Or, if you aren’t up for a hike, Badaling (downside: this part is crowded) and Mutianyu have cable cars that bring you to the wall (sign us up!). Either way, you’ll be able to take in all the sights. After spending about 3-4 hours at the wall you’ll be ready to head back to the comforts of your hotel. Make sure to make time to explore Beijing itself.
Flight Time: Three and a half to four hours to Beijing
Airport: There are a lot of well-priced options direct from Hong Kong into Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) with a variety of carriers. If you are staying in Beijing, it is a 30-minute Airport Express train ride into the city.
Other things to consider: Don’t forget your visa. Also, summer in Beijing can be really hot and rainy, in the winter it is chilly, but April/May and September/October are ideal. For your trip to the wall, it is recommended to bring sturdy shoes with grips – even the restored areas are uneven. Also, skip weekends and holidays to avoid huge crowds. Fun fact: You can take a mile-long toboggan ride from the Mutianyu area of the wall to the village at the bottom!
If seeing the world’s longest wall doesn’t suit you, maybe laying your eyes on the world’s largest living structure will. The Great Barrier Reef is an amazing UNESCO site that is not only stunning in and of itself, but the surrounding area has lovely islands (look into Whitsunday Island). You can do everything from sailing the seas to hiking the rainforest to exploring the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. This could easily get exhausting so we’d suggest scheduling this trip while trying to conceive or in your second trimester.
Flight Time: Seven to seven and a half hours to Cairns.
Airport: From Hong Kong, you can fly directly to Cairns (at a price) or with a layover for a real steal. From the airport you can either choose to stay in Cairns proper or head about an hour’s drive north to Port Douglas, one of the best towns to use as your gateway to the reef.
Other things to consider: April and May are probably the best months to visit for great weather and crystal clear water. November to May is the rainy season and that means you’ll have cloudy water to deal with. If you are planning on snorkeling or diving, work with a tour group and avoid dangerous jellyfish at all costs. Fun fact: The reef covers an area roughly the size of Japan and is home to 10% of all the world’s fish species.
Up for a longer journey? If you are trying for a baby or if you are early in your pregnancy and your doctor signs off on a longer trip, consider Cape Town.
Featured image via Unsplash. All other images via Unsplash, Pexels or Stocksnap. Sydney Photograph taken by Katie Lavin.