Christmas is more than just a holiday; it’s a time when numerous people travel miles to meet their families and friends to gather around gorgeously decorated trees, indulge in delicacies and relax in the comfort of home and loved ones. However, many globetrotters among us also prefer celebrating the festivities by visiting old and new places. This brings us to explore some of the best Christmas destinations in Asia to visit for an amazing vacation.
The holiday season nudges many of us to make plans and spend it in unique ways. While some tourists might seek a tranquil place covered in a sheet of snow to wean off the fatigue of a fast-paced life, for others, unwinding could mean a thrilling getaway with adventure sports in freezing temperatures. Additionally, most of these places are decked up with lights and all things nice at this time of the year. So, if you would like to just stroll around the town holding hands with your special someone, these Asian holiday destinations can be ideal for you.
Moreover, the balmy breezes of some of these holiday destinations are just perfect for travellers who would want to escape the chill of winter or the heat of the northern and southern hemispheres, respectively. While some can head to the white sandy beaches, lay back and watch the pristine azure waters lash the shores while enjoying a tropical drink for leisure, others with a zeal for adventure can choose from the many activities like snorkelling, surfing and diving for a glimpse of the thriving marine life.
And as the sun sets, you can prepare yourself for a lavish dinner or explore distinctive places to see how the citizens celebrate the Christmas season at these places. All said, do not forget to carry your polaroid camera and take memorable pictures of lit-up Christmas trees at these destinations across Asia.
Here is your checklist of the best places to spend Christmas in Asia
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Bali, also known as the Land of Gods, is a serene landscape with endless rice fields, breathtaking waterfalls and towering volcanic mountains. Besides these features, Bali’s many vibrant festivals, enchanting dance performances, intricately carved temples and an array of gift shops for Balinese souvenirs make the Indonesian province a perfect holiday destination.
But what makes it a favourable Christmas destination in Asia is its balmy weather, especially for tourists who want to get away from extreme heat or the snow at this time of the year and sip on a refreshing tropical drink by the beach. Other spanking options travellers could engage in include surfing, yoga, meditation, trekking, trying exotic food, enjoying nightlife and shopping.
Additionally, Bali hosts the Denpasar festival every year in December, which features spectacular fashion exhibits that give designers a distinctive platform to display their traditional clothing.
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The Nagano Basin, in the central Chubu area of Japan, is home to one of the important cities in the country — Nagano. This snow-clad town offers a tonne of snowboarding and skiing options, making it a winter sports enthusiast’s utopia where they can glide down the snowy mountains in just a fraction of a second.
Zenkoji Temple, Nishinomon-Yoshinoya Sake Brewery, Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum, Sanada Treasure Museum and Togakushi Shrine are some places you must visit while in Nagano. Interestingly, during the Christmas season, you can check out some Jigokudani snow monkeys bathe in the hot springs.
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Expect your fairytale dreams to turn into reality at this Turkish destination known for its diverse geographical landscape and traditional architecture. Enjoy a panoramic aerial view of the city in a hot-air balloon and release the hustle in your mind.
Cappadocia looks like a winter wonderland as the snow-dusted town is replete with fairy-chimney-shaped rock structures when the temperature is as low as -10 degrees Celsius in the Christmas season.
From spending cosy nights in famous Caves Hotels to exhilarating hikes through the windy valleys of Goreme, there are countless activities and things to do in Cappadocia during this peak winter season. The city will surprise you with the aesthetic sunrise and eventful evenings at any cafe of your choice. Christmas celebration in this Asian snow-clad town will surely be one of your most memorable winter vacations you’ll cherish years after.
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Kashmir was once described as ‘Paradise on Earth’ by Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Why, you ask? It’s because the peace and charm and the coniferous kissed hills of this serene wonderland that serve as one of the best holiday destinations travellers hunt for. The harmonious perennial streams and the almost frozen Dal Lake create a surreal experience during the festival season, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Pahalgam, Srinagar and Kupwara are some very famous towns in Kashmir that are usually covered in snow during this time of the year, which make them must-see Christmas holiday destinations.
Other things to do here include enjoying the most adventurous snow sports. Hop on a Gondola ride in Gulmarg and scale the snowy mountains for a thrilling experience.
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Jeju, famously known as Hawaii of South Korea, is the ideal weekend trip from Seoul, which is also a beautiful city to visit during this time of the year. Jeju draws tourists with its breathtaking hiking trails dotted with waterfalls, museums exhibiting a variety of flora and delectable cuisine.
Seven routes are available for hikers of various skill levels on South Korea’s highest summit, Hallasan Mountain. You may also refuel with a substantial bowl of jeonbokjuk (abalone porridge), a regional speciality that will instantly warm you up.
The largest and most established permanent market on Jeju Island is Dongmun Market. This market combines a night market, a traditional market, a street market, and a seafood market.
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Momotaro, the “Peach Boy,” is the hometown hero and a symbol for Okayama Prefecture, which is well-recognised for its wonderful fruits and frequently referred to as the “country of sunshine.”
In addition, Okayama serves as a starting point for Naoshima, a sanctuary for contemporary art in the surrounding Kagawa Prefecture. During the New Year’s celebrations, Saijo Inari is Okayama’s most well-known shrine, and the numerous shops lining both sides of the lengthy approach provide interesting mementos, delectable food, and thirst-quenching beverages.
The nearby medieval trading centre of Kurashiki is renowned for its canals and largely unaltered environment, while Kollam is home to some of the best denim producers in the world.
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Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is located in the enchanted Himalayan region. It experiences cool breezes and flaming sunrises during the winter season when the temperature is low till -8 degrees. Kathmandu is a visual treat for your eyes to experience the stunning foliage-filled landscape with some astounding natural biodiversity.
Paragliding, boating, camping and wildlife tours are some activities that you must try during your Christmas holiday in Kathmandu to discover your adventurous side. The festivities are particularly notable in Kathmandu and Pokhara, where Christmas decorations are brightly lit throughout the streets.
The holiday is usually observed by locals at home with their loved ones. The hospitality of the hosts is extended to visitors staying in guest houses in order to make them feel at home, and this tradition has only been flourishing as tourism has grown.
Additionally, Kathmandu has a thriving cultural scene that perfectly blends Hindu and Buddhist traditions. There are several Hindu temples and flourishing Buddhist stupas among Kathmandu’s many religious sites.
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Paro is a majestic town in the Paro Valleys of Bhutan with an expansive landscape, alpine forests, and revered monasteries. During Christmas, the town is cold and surreal enough to have a great holiday with your friends and family.
An ideal place for thrill seekers to test their mettle, any rider looking to scale the height on wheels will be drawn to Paro’s biking trails, which are among the world’s most difficult ones. One of the well-known Buddhist sites in Bhutan is Tiger’s Nest Monastery, also known as Paro Taktsang (pictured).
In addition, you can go stargazing, rafting, trekking and kayaking in the chilly winter, only to trail your path back with some fun-filled memories of Christmas in Asia.
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Harbin, a town in Heilongjiang province, is one of the best Asian Christmas holiday destinations that travellers can visit. With wooden houses lit with red lamps and streets covered in a sheet of snow exuding bona fide winter vibes, you can feel like you’re in a winter wonderland.
The city has the most fascinating Ice and Snow Festival every year during winter, with that you can also visit out-of-town sites like China Snow Town, Volga Manor, or the Yabuli Ski Resort to enjoy a winter adventure. Here you get a chance to meet the rare and endangered Siberian tigers up close and personal. You can visit St. Sophia Cathedral, the largest Orthodox church in the Far East.
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Doha, a fusion of various lifestyles and cultures, is a seaside Arabian town in Asia with a sparkling landscape, classic residences inspired by Islamic architecture, high-rise skyscrapers, and expansive deserts.
What makes it an ideal Christmas vacation spot is its peaceful setting, with stunning scenery of modern cities interspersed therein. You can have the most expensive Christmas celebrations in Qatar with luxurious spa sessions to experience relaxation to various rejuvenating treatments.
Safaris and camping areas in the desert, cultural events, themed activities and a wide range of other activities are some of the famous sources of entertainment here that you can explore.
Also, the crown jewel of Qatar is its stunning coastline, which is composed of calm, ethereal blue waters. There are several expansive, lengthy beaches in Qatar that provide a breathtaking perspective of the surrounding deserts, mangrove forests and natural habitat.
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Maldives, the beach town of Aisa, is one of the best places to visit for an offbeat Christmas vacation. It promises a very distinct kind of white Christmas from everlasting white sand beaches enveloped by crystal-clear skies and the sparkling sunshine. The temperature during the day averages around 28-30° Celsius and rarely falls below 27° Celsius at night.
Also, Maldives offers some of the best underwater sports like scuba diving, snorkelling and kayaking. You can have the most expensive Christmas celebrations in Maldives by booking a lavish beach villa. The turquoise waves that crash on the coast create a harmonious sound that will lure you to go for a swim to discover corals, reef sharks and manta rays.
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Cambodia is an Asian scenic masterpiece that blends rich architectural heritage with diverse culture to enthral visitors. You can discover the most distinctive dense woods, picturesque valleys and a variety of rich flora and fauna here. Cambodia experiences summer during the Christmas season where you can enjoy all the summer things you were waiting to do.
It has a very small percentage of Christian population which makes Christmas seem like any other day in Cambodia. However, this makes it a perfect destination to celebrate in peace with your family and friends.
Cambodia is known for both its ultra-chic and spiritual locations. It’s also worthwhile to explore the national parks, islands and architectural ruins, which reveal the various faces of this nation.
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From tranquil sea shores to unparalleled nightlife, Pattaya has it all to make your Christmas merry, ranging from performances at the Alcazar Cabaret Show to dining at the Revolving Restaurant.
Alcazar Cabaret Show is a twenty-themed show, featuring techniques and influences from all around Thailand and the world. Be ready to get amazed by the performance from the transgender community at the renowned theatre with state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment.
You can enjoy the lit view of the Pattaya streets during Christmas and enjoy famous wines and beers at the many pubs on Christmas Eve. Additionally, you can go on a serene leisure vacation to Thailand’s east coast, Koh Larn, widely known as Coral Island — a tiny paradise with marvellous marine vibes where you can revive your senses.
Koh Larn is a popular weekend hideaway for visitors to Pattaya, which is famous for watersports.
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This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong