Are you bored of doing the usual drinks or dinner on the first date? Me too.
In Hong Kong we’re out for dinner or drinks almost every night of the week with our friends or colleagues so it’s not a novel thing to do. In fact, it’s a little tired and should be retired.
It’s not like drinks or dinner are even conducive to creating chemistry. Sure, a couple of glasses of wine may make your date funnier or better looking but sitting across from each other at a table for an hour or two is a little….shall we say, boring? The success of the entire night is sitting squarely on your shoulders and it can be a heavy load to bear.
My suggestion is to think beyond the usual suspects. By doing something not-so-ordinary you will show your date you’ve given your time together some thought and this effort will not go unnoticed. Being out and about also ensures you and your date will always have things to talk about. For example, if you go for a walk, you can observe and comment on your ever-changing surroundings.
One of the greatest problems I have with first dates is that we tend to have small talk and boring chit chat, which neither inspires or exposes who we really are. This is only exacerbated when we’re sitting at a bar or restaurant because we have few outside stimuli stimulating the conversation.
Below is a list of ideas that you may wish to consider if you too are tired of dinner or drinks.
However, if I may make a suggestion, even if something jumps out at you and you think it’s a great idea, first consider your date’s interests and/or what you and your date have in common. Perhaps you both love art or doing outdoorsy activities. Maybe you share a penchant for photography. Or maybe your date is new to the city and keen to explore what it has to offer.
If either or both of you are new to Hong Kong, why not try something touristy such as lunch at the Lockcha tea house in Hong Kong Park. The restaurant is so cute and you get to choose from 100+ different types of tea, which are served in the traditional manner. The food isn’t to die for but it’s all delicately-flavoured vegetarian fare. Afterwards, you can check out the aviary or wish newlyweds at the Marriage Registry a prosperous and blessed life together.
There’s also the 10,000 buddhas monastery, which has to be seen to believed. It’s serene, a little gaudy, scenic, and there are literally dozens of mischievous monkeys running around (which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you and your date feel about monkeys so definitely make sure everyone is comfortable around them). If you are feeling peckish, there is a vegetarian restaurant on site but your best bet is to go into the shopping mall connected to Sha Tin MTR station for more choices.
Tai O village is adorable and feels like you have been transported back in time. You can walk around, take photos, and even take a little boat tour of the neighbourhood. If you take public transit to get to Tai O village, you may wish to keep this for the second or third date because it is far and you could possibly run out of conversation topics.
Inspiration Lake makes for a beautiful daytrip. Bring a picnic, a blanket, sunglasses and you’re good to go. Other cute day trips are to Peng Chau, Poi Toi, and Cheung Chau.
If you are both of the sporty sort why not do a yoga class and then grab a smoothie or juice? You may wish to try biking along the water in Shatin or, of course, hiking is a no brainer. Everyone in Hong Kong (except for me) loves to hike. You can do Dragon’s Back and then go for Thai food by Shek-O beach, the Twins and a beer at Stanley or up the Peak and treat yourself to an ice cream before taking the tram back down.
Find hiking inspiration in our Top 10 Hong Kong Hikes here.
But just say it’s too hot to do something outside. I got you covered (pun intended). If you are feeling a little competitive, give indoor racing a try or, if either of you are even just a little creative, let your inner artist shine with some art jamming. Feeling lethargic? Foot massage and then a snack at the nearest dai pai dong is the perfect lazy Sunday date. If one of you is a cinephile, you can catch an independent film at the Hong Kong Film Archive or Broadway Cinematheque and then discuss it over a tea or wine. Lastly, a wine tasting lets you both get a little tipsy while learning something at the same time. Flying Winemaker organizes events as does Watsons Wine.
Everything is more romantic once the sun goes down. If you rather do something in the evening, why not tour Hong Kong at dusk and take photos together, crash an art gallery opening, or catch some live jazz (only on Wednesdays) at Le Boudoir.
A Little Effort Goes a Long Way
I hope these ideas will inspire you to do something that’s a bit out of the ordinary. In a place like Hong Kong, where everyone is so consumed with work, taking the time to plan an ‘out of the box’ date will put you in a class of your own – not only because of the thought you put into it but because the special and unique surroundings and/or activity you do will affect – for the better! – your conversation so there will be less small talk and more meaningful talk, and that is how you build a real connection and score a second date.
But, if you must do drinks or dinner for your first date. My go-tos are Figaro Wine Bar or Sugar for drinks and Winebeast or Iberico & Co for dinner.
Ariadna is founder of Maitre D’ate, a matchmaking agency and date concierge for Hong Kong singles who are ready to fall in love.