Gift Guide: Less Stuff, More Experiences
What do you get the person who has everything? Refrain from buying the same old, tired gift and branch out a bit. Get them something that can’t necessarily be wrapped but will be an experience they’ll never forget. Want to know what we’re talking about? Read on and get inspired…
Don’t clutter up their apartment with more stuff – get them an experience they’ll never forget!
A day kayaking among the remote beaches and protected areas of Hong Kong should do the trick for the adventurous type on your list. Book a tour with Sea Kayak Hong Kong for a friend, and why not join them for a special outing? There are tours for beginners too, and each one takes you around the natural beauty of Hong Kong that few get a chance to see, like the inner islands of the UNESCO Global Geopark. The Sharp Island – Sai Kung tour is an easy day tour ($750 per person) starting at Shelter Bay (Sai Kung), and takes you to discover HK’s inner islands and beautiful beaches.
Tea and Chocolate Pairing Workshop
It’s likely there’s someone in your life who loves tea or chocolate – how about the person who adores both? Then get them to this Tea and Chocolate Pairing Workshop ($450 per person) offered by Plantation and The Chocolate Club Hong Kong. There are various dates throughout the year, as well as other tea-related workshops, should you want to buy for more than one person on your list. It’s the kind of workshop where one can relax and sample fine tea and chocolate – even bring some home too.
If you know someone who’s a real foodie and has checked out all the top restaurants in the city, mix things up a bit and surprise them with a seafood dinner on a sampan. It’s a truly authentic Hong Kong experience that shouldn’t be missed, as you dine aboard a swaying sampan boat on the water. This food tour from popular local guide Humid with a Chance of Fishballs costs $888 per person and includes a 6-course seafood feast, including the famous Spicy Typhoon Shelter Crab. They do other great food tours too, and any can easily be purchased via an online gift certificate.
Vegetarian Food Tour
As we’re becoming more eco-conscious, that means going vegetarian for a lot of people. For someone who has newly become vegetarian or vegan, or who just likes to eat delicious things, the Vegetarian Food Tour ($575 per person) by Hong Kong Greeters is another ideal food gift. Children are welcome ($275 per child aged 6 to 12 years, free for 5 years and under) and they’ll enjoy munching their way through Kowloon and the New Territories. The tour offers a dose of culture with the food (it’s 100% vegan-friendly too) like dim sum in Wong Tai Sin after visiting the famous temple, and exploring Nan Lian Chinese garden followed by dessert.
Once you find out about this place, you’ll want to share it with all your friends. And a great way to do that is with a gift package getaway! Saiyuen is an 11-acre outdoor adventure playground in Cheung Chau with so much to see and do. It’s is a family-friendly place, with lots of activities for kids like art workshops and outdoor adventures that will have them climbing trees. It’s also a fun getaway for couples, with several themed camping options. Spend the day in nature doing a tree top canopy walk, then relax overnight in a Mongolian Ger or a romantic tree cocoon. Choose from various packages (prices vary depending on activity), and really surprise someone.
Dinner with a Private Chef
Meals in a box are handy and all, but they entail actually cooking. Instead, let them sit back in a beautiful setting and indulge in a night of delectable food prepared by a talented chef. Andrea Oschetti’s Cuore Private Kitchen is one of the most popular choices in town, serving a four-course Italian dinner in the comfort of his amazing loft. The large space in Wong Chuck Hang adorned with curios from his many world travels, can entertain a minimum of 15 people at $880 a head (excluding drinks). Or let a private chef come to you and prepare a spectacular meal in your own home. Take a Chef offers dining experience packs (from $1620 for two people), allowing the gift recipient to customise the experience by browsing menus and talking directly with the chef.
Maybe you’ve had one too many of your friend’s rock-hard cupcakes, or you’d like to do some baking bonding with your little one. ABC Cooking Studio has several enjoyable baking courses for kids and adults alike, whether they’d like to master the art of traditional Japanese sweets, or make their own bread. Courses start at $2,880 for six lessons, or you can opt for a trial lesson ($280) to get a taste. The best part is you’ll be able to take home everything you make! Book online and choose a lesson at three different modern and spacious studios – K11, PMQ and Cityplaza.
Helicopter and Hotel Package
This is a great way to say I really like you to that someone special, as when the gift includes a helicopter ride, it’s no ordinary present. The iconic Peninsula Hotel has teamed up with Heliservices for a real treat: “Fly and Dine” and “Fly and Tea” packages. Lucky guests depart from The Peninsula’s rooftop helipad for a thrilling 18-minute private flight over the city, paired with a luxury hotel experience. Choose from lunch or dinner at one of The Peninsula’s top restaurants (from $13,290 for two to a maximum of six people) or high tea ($5,758 for two, $ 8,676 for three, $ 11,516 for four).
This one’s a great option for the teen curious about what virtual reality is really all about, or someone you know who has always wanted to experience life in the flight deck. JetOne Motion has thrilling simulation devices including flight and racing simulators, and Oculus Rift VR stations. They’re also easy to gift, through online gift vouchers from a single session ($580) or a day pass ($1,380).
Personal Styling Package
New job? Big event coming up? There are many reasons why someone may need a personal style catch-up, and thankfully, there’s a service for just that. Something different to give the woman or man in your life, a styling package can help with a style makeover overhaul, even a “wardrobe detox”. My French Elegance helps uncover the best colours, cuts and clothing styles for someone you care about through various sessions (pricing varies). Personalise your present with an online gift card and send them on their way to discovering their fabulous self.
Treasure those special moments with a family photo session, whether you want to treat yourself or extend the love to family or friends. Paula Weston is well known in the city for capturing memorable moments in dynamic outdoor HK settings through personalised sessions (from $4,100). Her lively and candid photography, be it on a neon sign-splattered Kowloon street or a tranquil beach, makes for a unique keepsake. She makes gifting easy too, with gift certificates good for all sessions, so you may want to book a couple.
Sausage-Making Masterclass at Feather & Bone
There’s nothing like getting your hands dirty and making something yourself – in this case, it’s sausage! Book a sausage-making masterclass ($980 per person) with Feather & Bone and spend a fun afternoon with friends doing something different. Classes are held at Feather & Bone’s state-of-the-art facility in Mid-Levels, where you’ll learn how to use a sausage grinder and try a signature sausage recipe, or get creative with a variety of seasonings. Free-flow beer and house wine are included, and you’ll walk away with a kilo of sausages. The good times continue afterwards, with a sit-down sausage feast at Feather & Bone’s restaurant terrace across the road.
aqua luna Dim Sum Cruise
This isn’t one of those tacky tourist cruises with mediocre food and bad music. The 2-hour aqua luna Dim Sum Cruise ($450 per adult or $350 per child) sets off in the iconic red-sailed junk from Central or Tsim Sha Tsui piers to Aberdeen. All the while, you’re sampling delicious dim sum while taking in the sights of the historical fishing port of Aberdeen, sailing past old fishing junks and sampans, not to mention luxurious private yachts. It’s not your average dim sum either – it comes from the chefs at Dim Sum Library – complete with a sweet egg tart and beverage.
Fun Family Staycation
Sometimes you need to get away but whether it’s time or money, you never manage to. This gift doesn’t take too much planning, and you don’t have to go far. The Gold Coast Hotel has wonderful themed room packages that will please kids, and the little kid inside the adult. Plan a mini staycation where you’ll overnight in a whimsically-decorated room with outer space, safari or green upcycled themes, with outdoor activities to match. All have a seaview balcony and some can be booked with adjoining rooms, if you want to leave the older children to themselves and have some alone time with the spouse.
Get Closer to Animals at Ocean Park
Book an unforgettable experience for all ages at Ocean Park, this time without roller coasters. Young and old will delight in getting up close with various animals, even real close, like nose-to-nose with dolphins in the water. Feed the penguins, seals, sea lions, even the resident walrus, who doesn’t mind the odd pat on his round body. There’s also an exciting opportunity to become an honorary panda keeper for the day, visiting the panda enclosure from the inside and preparing special meals for the cute creatures. Pricing for different encounters starts at $60 with valid admission ticket.
Luxury Spa Day
There is no shortage of pampering locales in Hong Kong, what with the many 5-star plush hotels dotted around the city. We all know someone who deserves a day of indulgence, and one of the famed spa experiences in town is at the The Ritz-Carlton. Couples can have the pleasure of a private harbour view spa suite (from $7,050) with personalized spa treatments, swimming pool access and spa cuisine. The Four Seasons is also home to some of the most luxurious treatments money can buy, including customised holistic healing packages, with different wellness programmes (from $2,780). These gifts will never be returned, trust us.
Private Drink Tasting
For the friend who fancies a posh tipple, a drink tasting will go down a treat. The Woods has curated spirits tasting (minimum spend $3,000) and cocktail workshops (minimum spend $6,000) letting you take part in a spirits tasting flight, enjoy a cocktail and even get behind the bar and make your own. Whisky afficionados will welcome what Malt Masters offers, like a premium flight of four different single malt whiskies in a guided and interactive tasting session, or something to go with that whisky: tastings paired with cheese, chocolate or cigars.
Art lovers of all genres will happily accept a day at one of the workshops offered at Bonart. There’s something for lovers of all things organic (homemade cleaner and eco paper-making workshops), creative arts (glass etching and art jam workshops) and greenery (make your own terrarium). The latter is a unique experience to create a personal mini garden, and comes with its own experience gift voucher (worth up to $1,000) so you can book more than one terrarium workshop (moss, succulent, bonsai) for that special someone.
Macau Tower Adventure
Take your adrenaline junkie pal to Macau for some sky-high adventure at the Macau Tower. What kind of thrill will make it the perfect present? A bungy jump off the 233 m-high Macau Tower, or the Skyjump, a 17-second descent landing on one’s feet at the base of the tower? If they prefer not to drop, then take them on a Skywalk, where there’s no going down, just a wee stroll around the 1.8 m-wide outer perimeter of the tower. Finally, for the fittest friend, book a Tower Climb. The reward after climbing 100 meters up the tower’s vertical ladders are some awesome 360-degree views.
Nancy Matos is a lifestyle and culture writer from Vancouver, Canada currently based in Hong Kong and London, who will happily accept any spa voucher this Christmas.