Where to go and what to do in these femme-friendly destinations
Planning your next trip with your best gal pals? We recommend 10 domestic and international destinations within the CEB network:
If you have time for only one temple visit in Thailand’s congested capital, go to Wat Arun, which has a 79m tall intricately constructed spire decorated with ceramic tiles, colored glass, and Chinese porcelain — a stunning sight when viewed at sunset or when brightly lit up at night. Then head on over to Chatuchak Weekend Market, where you and your BFFs can shop to your hearts’ content at a sprawling arcade with more than 15,000 stalls spread out over 27 acres of space. If that’s not enough for you, try the less crowded shopping areas including Rod Fai Train Night Market, Klongsan Plaza Market or the Bangkok Farmers Market.
End the day with a relaxing Thai massage. Asia Herb Association, Health Land, and Let’s Relax Spa are among the top-rated reasonably priced spas and massage chains in Bangkok. Pro tip: book an appointment before you go to make your experience even more stress-free.
The most convenient way to explore this postcard-pretty destination is to purchase a packaged tour that includes accommodation (try: Bisumi Tours). Transportation and refreshments are included at affordable rates. If you are really fit or an avid biker, you can also go around Basco in Batanes by bicycle. With so many gorgeous attractions to see — lighthouses, old stone houses, churches, beaches, caves, cliffs, rolling hills, and fishing villages — plan to stay at least four days. Make it a point to sample the local cuisine but opt for lobsters or paying instead of tatus or coconut crabs, which have been declared a threatened species.
3. Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin
Women looking for an adrenaline fix or those looking for a bite-sized extreme adventure — not that death-defying yet still guaranteed to get your heart rate up — would do well to check out the white water rafting tours offered by Eco Extreme Rafting Adventure and Great White Water Rafting in Cagayan de Oro. You can choose from basic, advanced and extreme courses and take on from Class 2 to 4 rapids. First timer? Not to worry, the beginners’ package includes an orientation and river guides are in the raft to provide assistance. Then take the ferry to nearby Camiguin island (pictured). Rent a tricycle, or a “multicab” for groups of more than four, and tour the whole island and its beaches.
4. Hong Kong
Book a dinner to remember with your foodie girlfriends at Dialogue in the Dark, where you get served a meal by blind waiters in total darkness. Take in a spectacular nighttime view of Hong Kong’s buzzing skyline by having cocktails at Ozone, which sits on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong and has the distinction of being the highest bar in Asia.
The hip suburb of Fitzroy in Melbourne is chock-full of trendy bars, markets, cafes, boutiques, coffee shops and street art. Other must-sees in Melbourne are Degraves Street, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Abbotsford Convent, the Nicholas building, and the Tote. Animal lovers willing to make a trip less than two hours outside the city to Healesville Sanctuary can interact with koalas, platypuses, wombats, and kangaroos.
Seoul is a girl’s go-to place for K-beauty staples, K-pop and K-drama tourism. Rent a hanbok, Korea’s vibrantly colored national dress, and gain free admission to an unforgettable photo op at Seoul’s five palaces: Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Gyeonghuigung. When you’ve changed out of the hanbok, head on over to Myeongdong for fashion, street food, cosmetics, and skincare; glamorous Gangnam for the nightlife and the chance to glimpse your favorite Korean celebrity; or Hongdae for a more artsy, college-town vibe. One of the best times to visit Seoul is in the fall when the foliage turns a beautiful reddish brown color and the weather becomes pleasantly cool.
Start your girls’ tour of upwardly mobile Shanghai, China’s largest city, at the Bund, its postcard-worthy waterfront area where you can snap the best photos of Shanghai’s ever-changing skyline. Not far is Nanjing Road, where you can get a quick shopping fix. A must-visit is the Former French Concession (FCC), which has pretty tree-lined streets, elegant Tudor-style houses, unique cafés, restaurants, speakeasy bars, and antique stores. Don’t forget to check out the M50 Art District, a creative hub of more than 120 art galleries.
After taking the requisite outdoor selfies at Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, grab brunch at the Rocks market (open Fri-Sun), which has a great view of Harbour Bridge, and spend an hour or two browsing the 200 stalls that offer artisanal food, fashion and trinkets. Get a dose of cool art at the Museum of Contemporary Art (pictured), where Sydney’s 21st Bienniale is ongoing until June 11. For something fabulously unusual among Sydney’s bars, try Tuesday’s queer karaoke night and weekend drag shows at gay bar Stonewall.
Prepare your stomach and forget about your diet for a few days because feasting is mandatory at Taipei’s Shilin (pictured) and Ningxia night markets. For drinks, head to the innovative Fourplay, which has no drinks menu and instead will mix up a cocktail for you based on the flavors that you like. If it’s a Wednesday, take advantage of Carnegie’s free champagne for women. If you’re staying overnight and discover you’ve lost your phone, make a quick trip to NOVA, which has every conceivable gadget and tech accessory. Several blocks behind it is a camera geek’s paradise at Bo Ai and Hankou streets.
For something different, try Solakzade, a boutique that specializes in vintage eyewear, some dating back to the 19th century. Prepare a spread of onigiri, bento, and mochi and celebrate cherry blossom season by having a picnic under the flowering trees. As an alternative to the bustle of Tokyo’s designer shops and high-end department stores, stroll down the tree-lined lanes of Nakameguro or artsy Kōenji. Cap the night by forming your own girl band and hitting one of the many karaoke bars in town.