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Andrew and I have been lucky enough to travel to lots of different places around the world, so when it came to choosing a honeymoon destination, we found it quite difficult!

Being married in November helped to narrow down the choices, due to it being winter in many of the places we considered. We decided to head somewhere warmer, but it wasn’t a lazy honeymoon by the pool we had in mind. Instead we chose Hong Kong, one of my favourite places in the world, but also somewhere that Andrew had never visited.

It turned out to be an inspired choice. Andrew fell in love with the place just as much as I had previously, while I was reminded all over again just how wonderful Hong Kong is.

Hong Kong is a fascinating mix of traditional Eastern culture and modern Western influence and we experienced the best of both worlds during our two week honeymoon.

We stayed in a lovely little hotel in Kowloon. With seven million residents, real estate in Hong Kong is extremely expensive and hotel rooms are no exception. Our deluxe room at the four star Eaton Smart Hotel was tiny, but it was certainly cosy!

Prime Real Estate

We didn’t spend a lot of time in our hotel room anyway, as we had lots of exploring to do. We jumped straight into shopping at the Temple Street Night Markets, which were right near our hotel. The markets in Hong Kong are famous for their atmosphere and we thoroughly enjoyed haggling with the stallholders, who loved to joke with us despite their limited English. We did a lot of shopping at various markets and shopping centres during our honeymoon – in fact, we had to post some things home because they wouldn’t fit in our suitcases!

In Kansu Street, near the Temple Street Night Markets, we found dozens of fortune tellers waiting to tell us what our future held. Andrew and I both had our fortunes told by an elderly man who used a combination of numerology and palm reading. He was spookily accurate about our pasts and our personality traits, so hopefully his predictions for our future are correct too. Fame and fortune here we come!

Past, Present, Future

Another night we took a bus up to the famous Victoria Peak, the highest point in Hong Kong. Besides the breathtaking view, The Peak is also the home of Wonderfish! Spa. Wonderfish are tiny little sucker fish, which eat the dead and dry skin from your feet, leaving them beautifully smooth and soft. It took a little while to get over the creepiness of having fish swarm to our feet, and then we had to deal with the ticklishness, but once we were used to it we thoroughly enjoyed the unique experience.

That Tickles!

Also at The Peak is Madame Tussauds, where we had a wonderful time posing with the various celebrities and dignitaries.

Bond, James Bond

We spent many days and nights just wandering the streets, and we would always find something new and different. It didn’t seem to matter what time we went out, there were always hundreds of people around and we never saw the streets empty!

The Hong Kong Hustle

In amongst the markets, shopping centres, hotels and camera stores, we would often come across something to remind us that we were in a very foreign country … like dried lizards on a stick in a traditional medicine store!

Although we tried to do as much exploring as we could and not just stick to the usual tourist spots, there were a couple of things we simply had to visit. Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s animal theme park, most famous for its resident giant pandas. We were very lucky to see the pandas when they were very animated and playing up to the crowd.

Panda-Monium

The seals and sea lions were also fabulous and put on a very entertaining show for us.

Ocean Park Sealion

Image courtesy of Hody Images

The animals were adorable and I couldn’t resist buying a panda hat and looking like a complete tourist!

Such A Tourist

We also stayed at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and spent two days at Hong Kong Disneyland. Although it’s a relatively new park and quite small for a Disneyland, we had a wonderful time meeting all of the Disney characters.

Meeting Goofy

Oh Mickey You're So Fine

We finished off our honeymoon with a couple of nights in Macau, which is famous for its casinos and nightlife. We stayed at the ultra-luxurious MGM Grand Macau which was incredible. Our hotel room was about six times the size of the one we had in Hong Kong!

The MGM Grand Macau

It’s obvious there is a lot of money in Macau – I even had a martini with real gold flakes in it at the bar one night!

All That Glitters Is Gold

Our two week honeymoon was wonderful and we came home with two suitcases full of shopping and a lifetime of memories. Hong Kong is an amazing place and we can’t wait to visit again!

Kelly says: “I was married in November 2010 after a 20 month engagement. I loved wedding planning so much I started my own wedding community called SaySo Weddings“.

Ms Gingham says: “Hong Kong, although not your usual honeymoon destination, is such a great place. The city is alive at all hours and there’s so much to do … and when you’ve finished shopping, you can go on to shop some more! It’s a hard life …”

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Inexpensive Thailand is already a popular choice for honeymooners, so narrowing down the abundance of choices for places to stay can be very difficult.  But if you’re looking for something that combines culture and class with just a little bit of craziness, I think I’ve found just the spot!

Patong is the beating epicentre for entertainment in Phuket, but just a few kilometres south is Kata – which is perfect for honeymooners (in my humble opinion!).  We recommend Sawasdee Village, because from your first contact with resort staff – your driver – you realise Sawasdee Village is setting the standard of service in Phuket very high.  If it is your first time to Thailand I recommend arranging private transfers from the airport until you are more accustomed to bartering and the local transport.

Sawasdee Village is owned by an Australian businessman who really knows what travellers want – to relax.  Incense, lush tropical gardens, a swim-up bar, comfortable bed, friendly staff – all wrapped up in a classy combination of traditional Thai culture and architecture and comforts from home.  In terms of price, Sawasdee Village is above average, but worth every penny. If you’re looking for something cheaper, try a hotel in the Centara chain or some of the smaller places along the esplanade of Kata.  For something more upmarket, Movenpick, the Hilton or the Marriott looked like excellent choices from what we could see.

In Kata, you don’t have the constant craziness of Patong or Bangkok, but there is still plenty to do to fill your time.  Generally, shops and restaurants are a little slow to get going, but are open until around midnight every night.  In terms of shopping, the best advice I can give is to get started when the shops first open (around 10 am).  Thai people believe the first sale of the day will bring good luck, so it’s an opportune time for travellers to barter hard and bring them this so-called “good luck”.  Word is you can barter just about everywhere, but we didn’t bother in the large shopping centres and restaurants.  If you’re looking to pick up cheap clothes, accessories and souvenirs, stick to the street markets and stalls instead of the shopping centres.  There are also fabulous night markets in Old Phuket Town.

If you want to keep your food and drink costs down too, peruse the menus of the different restaurants around your hotel until you find something in your price range – they will all haggle hard for your business anyway!  You can also buy cheaper alcohol from 7-11, such as a $1 bottle of beer!

On most occasions, I opted for Western-style foods such as pizza and club sandwiches because I don’t like spicy food and didn’t want to risk it.  In saying that, my husband ate a lot of traditional fare and commented at how mild they were. Outside of the three dining options at Sawasdee Village, we can also recommend the Two Chef restaurants and a Japanese restaurant at the Central Festival Shopping Centre called Zen.  Wherever you go, you will find a variety of foods to choose from.  My only warning – there isn’t much wine or champagne to choose from and it is often very expensive compared to what we would pay at home.  I started to have withdrawals and ended up splurging $30 for a Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay!

Culture is very important in Thailand.  It is polite to say hello to everyone, particularly if they have said hello to you first.  As a female, to say hello to anyone is “sawadee-ka”, and for males, “sawadee-cup”.  Joy, the Pool Bar Waiter at Sawasdee, is always up for a chat and can tell you a lot about the Thai culture, local customs and some good stories. He loves to hear new English words (“serviette” really threw him!) and is collecting foreign currency. He told us it is very impolite to say bad things about the King or Queen of Thailand, so it is best not to comment on politics or the Royal Family.  If you visit a temple (known as a “Wat”), women should show respect by wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants, and not stare or look at the Monks.  Be sure to make a donation if you visit a Wat.

If you’re wanting to do some looking around, you can book a tour through reception or you can go and barter with the tour operators on the street.  Moped/motorbike hire is really cheap but unless you are an experienced biker I would advise against it – I saw a lot of painful-looking gravel rash!  Phi Phi Island is gorgeous as they all say, and if you stay at the Phi Phi Island Beach Resort and Spa, be sure to listen out for the amazing acoustic band that plays at the cocktail bar during the evenings. Their rendition of Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is breath-taking.

Some good resources to help with your trip are the Lonely Planet guides, particularly the Phuket book.  According to the Travel Doctor you should have Hepatitis A and B vaccinations, as well as Tyhoid, Pertussis (Whooping Cough) and Diptheria, and the Measles, Mumps and Rubella shot.  To avoid getting sick, don’t touch the dogs (no matter how much you miss your own!) and avoid drinking the water unless it has been boiled (that includes the ice).  Having said that, I drank many, many cocktails with ice and the only time I was sick was from my hangover.

Wishing you an excellent trip to Thailand for your honeymoon!

Katie is a 24 year old ”wifey” currently working in public relations for the Queensland Government. She has (not so) secret ambitions to be a writer. Katie currently resides in Brisbane with her hubby, two dogs, two chickens and now, for some ungodly reason, a kitty cat. Her favourite cocktail is a genuine Pina Colada.

Ms Gingham says: Thanks to Katie for not only sharing her honeymoon snapshots with us but also giving us some handy knowledge for planning our trip.

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When we were planning our honeymoon, we knew we wanted to go somewhere easy to get to from California (where we live), and somewhere beachy, but where we also had the option to be adventurous and not just lounge by the pool.  So we chose two islands in Hawaii – Kauai for our adventurous side, and Maui for some R&R.

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One of the very best things we did in planning our wedding was setting up a honeymoon registry. We used the site Buy Our Honeymoon (don’t worry, that title doesn’t show up in the web address when you set up your site). How it works is that you set up items or experiences for your guests to buy you on a personalized website, and the money goes into your paypal account. In our case, instead of asking people to donate to our plane tickets or hotel rooms, we asked for specific experiences we wanted to have for (i.e.“Snorkeling tour in the Molokini Crater, Maui”), and items we would need to enjoy them (i.e. “snorkeling gear for two”). We included a great range of gifts, covering everything from drinks by the pool, to bigger ticket items like a zipline tour or luau show. With each listed gift, we included information about the restaurant, tour company, or place that we wanted to visit, and included a link to a website with more information if there was one. Then, while in Hawaii, we took pictures doing each activity we were gifted, and later included the pictures with our thank you notes. It really turned out to be a win-win situation – we got to have the honeymoon vacation that we never could have afforded on our own, and our guests got to give us a gift that they felt invested in and that they knew we would enjoy and remember forever.

Now for the vacation details! Two days after our wedding, we flew directly to Kauai, where we stayed at the Westin Princeville resort.

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The views from our room

I absolutely loved this hotel. It is set up as suites and it’s really comfortable and private. It’s also right down the road from (and owned by the same company as) the St. Regis Priceville resort, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. If you go to Kauai, you must not miss brunch at the St. Regis (another gift from our registry!).

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See what I mean?  The view overlooking Hanalei Bay is incredible.

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And you can surf there, too!

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Kauai is known for being the most naturally preserved of the Hawaiian islands, and if you visit, I highly recommend you take the time to hike the Napali Coast, visit the Queen’s Baths, and take in the views of the taro fields in Hanalei.

The Napali Coast hike we did took about 3-4 hours round trip, and it was slippery and a bit treacherous, but really rewarding and the views were breathtaking.

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The Queen’s Baths are natural pools in lava formations! Be careful though, there are certain times of the year when they are unsafe for swimming.

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Make sure to try a taro smoothie in Hanalei!

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Through our registry, we also received gifts of a zipline tour with Princeville Ranch Adventures, and a mountain tubing trip with Kauai Backcountry Adventures.  Both were really thrilling and such fun activities to do together! Mountain tubing is essentially like taking a ride in an inner tube down a “lazy river” type maze of old irrigation lines and caves carved into the valleys of Kauai. Great views and the safety helmets and gloves you have to wear for mountain tubing make for hilarious pictures.

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For the second half of our honeymoon, we took a short flight over to Maui, where we stayed at the Sheraton in Kaanapali. Maui is much more resort-centric than Kauai, and the Sheraton is perfect because it has a fantastic location on the main stretch of beach, and a poolside bar where you can watch the traditional cliff diving ceremony at Black Rock every night at sunset while enjoying your happy hour mai-tais.

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The view from our room at the Sheraton on Maui

One experience that you cannot miss if you visit Maui is taking a Blue Water Rafting snorkeling tour to the Molokini Crater. It’s a smaller tour than most (around 15 people), and it includes an exhilarating ride on a blue water raft around the lava-cratered coast of Maui, and then snorkeling outside and inside the crater. It was the bluest and clearest water I’ve ever seen, and really exciting to be inside a real crater! The snorkeling was great too – lots of colorful fish, some sea turtles, and we got lucky and happened upon a pod of spinner dolphins, too!

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Another must see is the Road to Hana. The drive is long, but the waterfalls are gorgeous and the black sand beach is so cool!

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We also got to go parasailing with UFO thanks to a registry gift, and although I was scared at first, it was much more peaceful up there than I could have imagined.

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Maui is also the place to get a spa treatment or a couple’s massage – put that one on your honeymoon registry for sure!

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Finally, on our last night, we saw a luau show at the Old Lahaina Luau. I was worried that the luau would be cheesy like several others I had witnessed at hotels, but this one was completely different. It is run by a dance company, and feels much more authentic than others. It’s set right on the shore with a beautiful view of the ocean, and you sit on pillows on the ground at tables of eight. The food was unexpectedly tasty, and it’s open bar with all sorts of tropical cocktails as well. The dancing and the outfits were beautiful, and it was just a perfect way to end our trip.

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My husband, getting “lei-ed”

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I had such a wonderful experience with the honeymoon registry, and I would highly suggest it to anyone out there planning a wedding. The experiences we had on our honeymoon were the best wedding presents of all, and we are so thankful to all of our family and friends for giving us the vacation of our dreams!

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Photos are by Ashley and Brian

Ms Gingham says: “It’s such a great idea to get honeymoon experiences as wedding gifts. Sure beats the old kitchen clock or blender! Thanks to Ashley and Brian for sharing their honeymoon with us.”

Click here to see Ashley and Brian’s San Francisco wedding story.