We know it’s only September, but planning for Christmas is already at the forefront of our minds. Work, present shopping, and finding the perfect Christmas jumper aside, deciding where to spend Christmas Day itself can be tricky, and if you’re not jetting off to visit family in far-flung lands, Hong Kong has plenty of destinations to make the day extra special, right on its doorstep.
With this in mind why not take a look at some of our picks for a Christmas trip, whether you’re a ski-loving snow bunny, or just want to lie on a beach and forget all about the holidays, we might just be able to tempt you to book that trip…
Famous for its tea, beaches, buzzing cities and expansive national parks, Sri Lanka has been top of our travel bucket list for a while now. Seen as one of the travel destinations for 2017, what better time to explore this gorgeous country than at Christmas? Although you have to fly into the capital of Colombo, we don’t recommend spending more than one day here, and instead travel south to hit the beautiful beaches and discover other delights along the way.
The train ride between Ella and Kandy is known to be one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world, so try to fit this once in a lifetime experience into your travels (just make sure to book your tickets in advance!). After checking out the tea plantations of Kandy, head to Ella, and then travel further south and safari at Yala National Park, before relaxing on the beaches of Galle or Mirissa for an unbeatable trip.
Read more: 8 Things Travel Guides Won’t Tell You About Sri Lanka
Fly To: Bandaranaike International Airport (also known as Colombo International Airport, or Katunayake International Airport)
Flight Time: 5 hours, 40 minutes
Best For: Ticking off a bucket list destination
Sassy Tip: It’s best to stick to the south and west coasts of Sri Lanka, if travelling for Christmas. The east coast tends to get hit by more monsoons from November until February, while December through to April/May tend to be the best times to visit the south and east coasts.
Niseko is the largest, and one of Japan’s most famous ski resorts, and is said to receive more snowfall than any other ski resort in the world, making it the perfect choice for a snowy Christmas trip. With many trails to choose from, Niseko is the perfect option for skiers and boarders of all abilities. Along with having great conditions for ski lovers, and plenty of powder, it is also known for its great nightlife and choice of restaurants. What better way to warm up after a long day on the slopes than with a comforting bowl of ramen, and a sake or two?
While Niseko is one the of the most popular ski destinations in Japan, there are plenty of other snowy resorts such as Sapporo, Nagano and Hakuba which will also offer great conditions (and potentially lower prices), along with a merry festive vibe at this time of year!
Fly To: Sapporo Chitose Airport
Flight Time: Between 4 hours, 35 minutes and 5 hours, 10 minutes (depending on airline route), plus a 2 hour, 30-minute drive to Niseko
Best For: Skiing!
Sassy Tip: If you’re not too fussy or time-constrained, and don’t need to fly direct, you may be able to get cheaper flights by flying via big cities such as Osaka and Tokyo. If you have time for a longer trip, why not make the most of the stopover and spend a night or two exploring another city, pre-or post-ski?
Read more: Travelling around Japan: 24 Hours in Tokyo
Beautiful beaches, the bluest water, exotic wildlife, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some of the best dive spots in the world, it’s no wonder that Palawan is synonymous with paradise. Voted as the Best Island in the World by Travel + Leisure in this year’s awards (for the second year in a row!), we can’t think of many better places to spend the holidays.
From the airport in the capital of Puerto Princesa, many head north to El Nido (roughly a 5-hour drive away), as a base for island hopping, or to Coron, which is further north, and famed for its ship-wreck diving spots. Christmas lovers will also be in luck if heading to Palawan for the holidays. As the largest Catholic country in Asia, Filipinos actually begin their Christmas celebrations in September, with the festivities lasting until January 6, so you’ll be sure to get a true taste of the season here, even if it is from the comfort of a white sand beach.
Fly To: Puerto Princesa International airport
Flight Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes to Manila Ninoy Aquino, plus 1 hour 10 minutes to Palawan
Best For: Some of the best beaches and diving spots in Asia
Sassy Tip: There are currently no flight options for travel between Puerto Princesa and El Nido, so you can either choose to book a spot on a van or a bus. Vans tend to be a little more reliable, yet more expensive than buses, and both www.elnidotransfer.com and www.daytripperpalawan.com come recommended on TripAdvisor for booking private vans.
Voted as number one in the top 25 destinations in the world by TripAdvisor’s Travellers Choice 2017 awards, it’s no surprise that Bali is more popular than ever. If you’re tempted to plan a Balinese getaway for the holidays, we recommend visiting two areas on the island to get the most from your trip. Our picks? Seminyak and Ubud. Located not too far from the airport, Seminyak is a good location to start your Bali adventure. Get your fill of beach bars (the famed Potato Head and Ku De Ta are must visits), sunsets, shopping and luxe resorts, before heading to the lush greenery of Ubud, in Central Bali.
Read more: Alila Ubud: A Luxury Eco Escape into the Hills of Bali
Less than a two-hour drive from Seminyak, Ubud is often referred to as the cultural capital of Bali, and is the place to go all “Eat, Pray, Love;” with yoga retreats, art and cooking classes, and bicycle tours of the local villages. Both areas have lots of options for where to stay, along with plenty of restaurants to get your hands on some of Bali’s fresh food. If you’re looking to celebrate Christmas in style, many of the resorts in Seminyak will offer special menus for over this period, so make sure to book in advance!
Fly To: Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar International Airport)
Flight Time: 5 hours, plus a one hour drive to Ubud
Best For: A little bit of beach, a little bit of culture
Sassy Tip: Whilst in Ubud, why not seek out some of the best natural eateries in Bali? You’ll be in açai bowl heaven!
With the city’s year-round fair weather, Kuala Lumpur definitely won’t be seeing a white Christmas (the average temperature for December is a balmy 27°C), but that doesn’t mean you won’t be feelin’ festive here.
Despite the heat, KL’s streets will be lined with glistening lights come the season, with malls bringing out its best decorations, and markets popping up all over the city. For a truly special holiday, spend Christmas Eve on the Helipad rooftop bar, for stunning 360-degree views of the city, or spend the night having a drink or two at the fancy Luna Bar. As with many cities, all major hotels in KL will also be celebrating the holidays with special menus and feasts for Christmas Day itself.
Fly To: Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Flight Time: 4 hours
Best For: A relaxed city break
Sassy Tip: While hotel Christmas spreads will most certainly sustain your appetite for Turkey and cranberry sauce, spend Christmas Eve roaming the streets for the best (and cheapest!) local eats. Tuck into Banana Leaf at Nirvana in Bangsar Baru (from just $15), a set meal of rice, your choice of curries, chutney and crispy papadums. Fancy something sweet? Devour Mr. Chiam’s made-to-order Pisang Goreng (fried banana) opposite the YMCA Brickfields for just $2.50 a piece. End your afternoon with the best no-frills massage you’ll ever have at PB Blind Massage, a traditional massage conducted by blind masseurs.