Planning ahead for 2020? Make the most of your leave and tick these trending travel destinations off your bucket list.
If you’re anything like us, then you’re already going to be planning for the year ahead when it comes to holidays. Our bucket lists are fit to burst as we look into exploring new and exciting destinations. With Lonely Planet having recently released its annual Best in Travel List for the year ahead, we have our finger hovering above the “book now” button, keen to see as much of the world as we can over the next twelve months. And with 13 public holidays that fall on weekdays to enjoy throughout 2020, we’re already working out how best to use our annual leave. Read on for a little holiday inspo…
Public Holiday: Chinese New Year – Monday, 27 January to Tuesday, 28 January
Annual leave days used: 3
Total days holiday: 9 (Saturday, 25 January to Sunday, 2 February)
Largely cut off from the rest of the world until the 1960s, Bhutan has claimed the number one spot in Lonely Planet’s best countries to travel to in 2020. And though only one international airport and limited airlines service the country (with a stopover in either Nepal, Singapore, India or Thailand required from Hong Kong), the trip promises to be worth the travel. Keeping the extra travel time in mind, Chinese New Year may just be the perfect time to explore Bhutan; as for just three annual leave days, travellers can score nine days holiday! The country operates a strict “high-value, low-impact” tourism policy, with daily fees required, meaning that it is relatively untouched compared to other tourist hotspots. We recommend working with a travel agent to help with your flight itinerary, tourism fees and other logistics, so all you have to do is look forward to exploring the “Last Shangri-La”. Expect mountain trails, Buddhist monasteries, stunning scenery and plenty of local culture.
Public Holiday: Tuen Ng Festival – Thursday, 25 June, and HKSAR Establishment Day – Wednesday, 1 July
Annual leave days used: 5
Total days holiday: 11 (Thursday, 25 June to Sunday, 5 July)
Coming second only to Bhutan, England also claimed one of the top spots on Lonely Planet’s best countries for the year ahead. With many Hongkongers having ties to the country, we think that 2020 is the perfect opportunity to spend some time getting better acquainted with the leafy land. And though you can never quite predict England’s tricky weather, planning a trip during the summer months will hopefully give you a few fine days (along with a break from Hong Kong’s humidity!). With Tuen Ng Festival falling on Thursday, 25 June, and HKSAR Establishment Day following shortly after, by linking the two public holidays you can get an 11-day holiday for just five days leave! Meaning that long summer days, pub lunches and picnics in the park are more of a reality than you might have thought. Along with exploring the capital, England’s coastline is not to be missed for first-time visitors.
Public Holiday: National Day – Thursday, 1 October and The day following the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival – Friday, 2 October
Destination: Kochi, India
Annual leave days used: 3
Total days holiday: 9 (Saturday, 26 September to Sunday, 4 October)
Rated by Lonely Planet as one of the best cities to explore in 2020, Kochi, India should be high on your list. Located in Kerala, the vibrant city can be reached from Hong Kong via a stopover in Bangalore – offering the perfect excuse to explore another city for a day or two! The relaxed southern city differs from busier Indian destinations with its laid back vibe. Don’t miss checking out the giant Chinese fishing nets, and taking the time to walk the streets and explore the unique mix of Portuguese, Dutch and old English architecture. Expect colourful side streets, lazy art cafes and heritage hotels. Kochi is also only a short distance from the famed Kerala backwaters, so is the perfect launch pad for a day or overnight visit. A trip at the end of September coincides with the end of monsoon season, with temperatures averaging between 24°C and 30°C.
Public Holiday: Christmas and New Year’s Day – Friday, 25, December and Friday, 1 January
Destination: Cape Winelands, South Africa
Annual leave days used: 8
Total days holiday: 16 (Saturday, 19 December to Sunday, 3 January)
Although temperatures rarely drop into single figures in Hong Kong, we still love the thought of escaping for some winter sun. And as one of Lonely Planet’s Best Value options for 2020, we think that South Africa’s Cape Winelands are the perfect choice. With opposite seasons to us, December is peak tourist time in the country for good reason, so it’s a great time to make a long-haul trip. To reach the Cape Winelands, travellers from Hong Kong can fly to Cape Town, with a stopover in Johannesburg. We recommend spending a few days exploring the city before escaping to the region for a Christmas trip that’s sure to be remembered. Found just a two-hour drive from the capital city, historic towns such Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are not to be missed. A dream for gourmands, both areas are renowned for the stella wine produced, alone with their abundance of restaurants and beautiful landscapes.
Read more: A Local’s Guide To Cape Town
Long Weekend Getaways:
Public Holiday: Easter – Friday, 10 April to Monday, 13 April
Destination: Siargao, Philippines
Annual leave days used: 1
Total days holiday: 5 (Thursday, 9 April to Monday, 13 April)
Looking for somewhere a little closer to home to travel to next year? Siargao, the (fairly) undiscovered idyllic island in the South-East of the Philippines is high on our list. Plus, it has been highly rated by Condé Nast Traveller as a top holiday destination for 2020. Although it requires a connecting flight from either Cebu or Manila, you can keep travel time down to about 6-7 hours in total. So, if you’re looking for a long weekend getaway for sand, sea, sun and surf (and have already ticked off the likes of Thailand and Bali), we think that this lesser-known island is a great choice. March to October is dry season, so Easter is the perfect time to book in. And though you may want to plan a longer trip away, for only one day of annual leave, you’ll be able to get five days off (if you use the public holiday days wisely)! Once you’ve reached this tropical paradise, look forward to spending your days surfing and exploring the island on bike or foot, along with activities such as wakeboarding, kite surfing and tasting the array of local and international cuisine on offer.
Public Holiday: Birthday of the Buddha – Thursday, 30 April, and Labour Day – Friday, 1 May
Destination: Kyoto, Japan
Annual leave days used: 0
Total days holiday: 4 (Thursday, 30 April to Sunday, 3 May)
After just hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and with the Olympics to come in summer 2020, Japan is sure to be a popular choice for travel next year. And bringing the best of old world charm and modern city life, the ancient city of Kyoto is a top choice. Reachable in just four hours by flight (to Osaka Kansai International airport and then a 50-minute drive to the city), it’s a good option for a shorter city break. Don’t have annual leave days to use? You can still bag yourself a four-day holiday by linking the Birthday of the Buddha and Labour Day public holidays in early May. Main attractions include the city’s numerous classical Buddhist temples, gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. And a trip during spring may even grant you some Insta snaps of the beautiful sakura (cherry blossom) which blooms all over the country between March and May. Plus, like any Japanese city, foodies will be well taken care of here. If travelling on by train, don’t miss the famed “Ramen Street” in Kyoto station.
Public Holiday: The day following Chung Yeung Festival – Monday, 26 October
Destination: Guizhou Province, China
Annual leave days used: 0
Total days holiday: 3 (Saturday, 24 October to Monday, 26 October)
With a flight time of just over two hours from Hong Kong, Guizhou is ideal for a short break. Lesser known to international travellers, this Chinese province has claimed a spot on Lonely Planet’s top regions to travel to for 2020 and is a great choice for those who may have already travelled to other parts of the vast country. The capital city of Guiyang promises everything from streets brimming with food stalls, to artisan businesses, cafes and craft bars. In the countryside, you’ll also find quaint, unchanged villages along with two of the country’s largest and most spectacular natural features – a waterfall and a cave. We suggest booking the evening Hong Kong airlines flight from the city on Friday, 23 October, to maximise your time exploring.